Microsoft licensing for cloud solutions has changed. Again. It’s not surprising, but it is exasperating for a business wondering how to affordably obtain Azure and Microsoft 365. The updates apply to Enterprise Agreements (EA) and the Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) program.
Don’t waste your time sorting through Microsoft’s documentation and endless acronyms. Our licensing experts created this straightforward guide that will put your organization on the right path.
What’s An Enterprise Agreement (EA) Licensing?
An Enterprise Agreement (EA) is a way for organizations with 500+ users to obtain Microsoft 365 and/or Azure licensing. If this doesn’t apply to you, jump immediately to the section about Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs). When you choose an EA, you enter a 1- or 3-year agreement with Microsoft.
You pay upfront and lose flexibility
Under an EA agreement, you select the number of seats you’ll use all year and can’t make many changes. This doesn’t make sense for organizations that hire seasonally and want to take advantage of scaling licensing up and down (you can do this with a cloud solutions provider). They’ll be stuck paying for additional users, even in the off season.
It’s hard to score a discount
For the most part, the price you see is the price you get. Unless you convince the Microsoft employee handling your account that you deserve a discount. They then take your reasoning and try to convince their manager you should pay less. But some organizations are eligible for automatic discounts.
2 ways to automatically save on EA
You’ll get a 10% discount if you have 2,400+ users. The other way to save is if you’re migrating over from Software Assurance. You’d need to check your current user subscription license (USL) for “from SA” to see if you qualify for the 15% discount. But be careful. This discount disappears the minute you change your bundle to add or subtract services.
Support comes from the generic 800 number
Your built-in support option on the EA is the generic 1-800 number any business using Microsoft can call. When you dial in with a problem, you will always start with tier-one support. If you want to skip basic steps, like restarting the machine, you need to pay more to bolt on Microsoft’s Premium Support or Unified Support options.
Who benefits from the Microsoft EA license option?
For the most part, the businesses poised to benefit from an EA are larger organizations that:
- Employ enough users to qualify for a discount
- Have static cloud computing needs
- Are willing to spend extra for dedicated support specialists from Microsoft
- Already have an internal IT team
- Can use – and retain – the “from SA” discount
Everyone else should consider working with a cloud solution provider.
What’s the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program Licensing?
Microsoft’s Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP) program is an enhanced pay-as-you-go licensing structure for the cloud. When you partner with a CSP, you get more flexibility by only paying for the software and licenses needed at any given time. If you choose a managed IT provider who has cloud consulting experience, you gain invaluable strategic insight and superior support. This makes licensing more cost-effective for many organizations.
A solution for everyone
There aren’t any minimum or maximum user requirements when you work with a CSP. Anyone can choose this program. Organizations that do seasonal hiring will find it especially attractive.
CSPs take the guesswork out of resource planning
Every month, you’ll get a bill from your CSP based on what you’ve used. You’re free to add or subtract users or increase capacity as your business enters a busy period.
It’s impossible to accurately estimate cloud computing needs
Events outside your control – like the pandemic – can dramatically increase your cloud computing needs. In today’s increasingly unpredictable world, it makes little sense to tether your organization to a year-long estimate you make at the beginning of your agreement.
You don’t overpay for Microsoft cloud licensing
Under EA, you plan and pay for your highest use month, every month. Inevitably, there are months you don’t use all your capacity and leave monthly spend on the table. CSP solves this cloud budgeting and forecasting headache. You save money and people don’t waste time guessing.
Get a support specialist on the first call
When you work with a CSP like Nortec, you don’t call a generic help desk and aren’t paying at least $40,000 on support every year. You get Microsoft 365 and Azure support from Microsoft expert technicians. We know you and your business.
Who should work with a CSP?
Any organization can benefit from working with a CSP because they’ll:
- Only pay for what they use
- Access flexible solutions
- Work with Microsoft licensing experts
- Talk to experts when they call support
- Easily scale capacity up or down
Simplify the Complex World of Microsoft Licensing
Microsoft licensing is complex. If you’re not a Microsoft licensing expert, we recommend working with someone who is to ensure you get the best licensing model for your specific needs. As a Microsoft Gold certified partner, Nortec stays on top of the latest changes to products, services and licensing information to ensure that our customers never spend too much or short change themselves with their most essential office technology.
Don’t treat your licensing needs like a DIY project. Book a 15-minute consultation here.