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What is a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP)? | The evolving partner channel

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What is a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP)? | The evolving partner channel

The increase in popularity of the cloud

Previously we blogged about the cloud deployment concerns for SMBs. Over recent years there has been a rapid increase in the demand for cloud deployment from customers wishing to implement a business management system. It is easy to see why with benefits such as automatic updates, cost-effectiveness and scalability to alter your solution depending upon changes in requirements.

It is predicted that this trend will increase in the future. Microsoft are leading the way with their release models now taking a “cloud first, mobile first” approach, Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft states: “In this cloud-first, mobile-first world, Microsoft is absolutely focused on empowering people to get more done wherever they need to and on any device.”.

In 2014, Microsoft unveiled its plans for the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) programme, since then it has evolved drastically. Currently customers have the choice of purchasing Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Intune, Microsoft Azure, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online through this partner channel, with Microsoft Dynamics AX 7 and Project Madeira set to follow suit. But what does this mean for partners and ultimately their customers?

What Microsoft expects from their Cloud Solution Provider partners

With the Microsoft CSP programme, partners can join as Tier-1 or Tier 2 providers, with different expectations and criteria from Microsoft partners at each tier.

The Tier-1 partner is approved by Microsoft and orders seats on behalf of customers directly from Microsoft.

To qualify for Tier-1, a partner must be able to provide:

  • Microsoft cloud value added services – Customers are demanding more from their partners and as such, Tier-1 partners must provide project services, managed services or their own IP.
  • Customer supportMicrosoft is also looking for partners with managed services IP, technical expertise and with broad market reach who can provide 24×7 support, technical integration and handle the customer lifecycle through Lifecycle Services (LCS).

Tier 2 CSP providers

For partners who are not able to provide the services mentioned above they can become a Tier-2 provider allowing them to still own the customer relationship whilst an approved CSP distribution partner provides the end billing and service support.

What are the benefits of the CSP model for customers?

Easy billing – The customer benefits from the simplicity of a single bill to pay. Customers can painlessly manage the purchase of partner tools, products, and services with their subscription in one consistent and predictable monthly bill.

A single first point of contact – Partners directly deliver, manage, and support the customers giving them one point of contact for all their business management requirements.

An established and trusted relationship – Customers will have more frequent partner interactions which can serve to deepen the relationship. Research from IDC indicates that 67% of customers anticipate they will purchase a selection of cloud services from a single provider and 84% of customers would like an established and trusting relationship with their Cloud Solution Provider.

Customers can have more than one CSP – Customers are not tied into one partner for all the products they wish to purchase, this allows customers to seek out the most effective partner for separate products which may represent different partner skillsets. With the CSP programme partners having a greater understanding of their customers’ business needs, challenges and how to help them reach their goals. In addition, they have direct access to customers’ systems allowing them to deploy, provision and manage a customer seamlessly. Through delegated admin access partners can often resolve issues more quickly than Microsoft and without the need to contact Microsoft support.

Prodware as Tier-1 Cloud Solution Provider

Ultimately the Cloud Solution Provider programme offers another business model for consideration when looking at deploying a business management solution in the cloud.

If you would like to know more about the programme and how Prodware as a Tier-1 CSP and a Microsoft Gold Partner can help you manage your cloud business management requirement, contact us.

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