The CSP Indirect program is a quick and relatively painless way to get started with Office 365 and other cloud solutions. In this article, we will review how it works, how it doesn’t work, and things to consider before signing up.
The point of this blog is to make things simple; let’s stay with that concept for a moment. In the simplest terms, CSP Indirect means you are “indirectly” selling solutions to your end customers. Why indirect? In this model, you do not hold (perhaps you do but don’t want to mess with it) the qualifications/authorizations to sell Microsoft cloud solutions directly to your end customers from Microsoft, you must purchase through a distributor and then sell to your customers. This could mean higher pricing, working with third-party systems instead of your own, and procurement. One of the biggest disadvantage (sometimes an advantage) is there’s no direct support line to Microsoft. If something goes wrong, you contact your distributor, who works directly with Microsoft.
As a cloud provider, you are also limited in some of the solutions you can sell to your customer from your datacenter environment. Take as an example, the Qualified Multitenant Hosting Addendum (QMH). If you are currently purchasing licenses through an indirect partner, you cannot host Windows 10 E3/E5 from your shared cloud environment. Only authorized CSP Direct partners have that luxury. The same is true for Office Pro Plus and other desktop applications.
The advantage of CSP Indirect is you do not have to spend resources (including investing in additional staff and funding a platform) That’s all on the distributor. You can think of CSP Indirect as white labeling Office 365. It’s not technically white labeled (your end customer knows they are getting Office 365) but the billing comes from you. CSP Indirect means you are leveraging someone else’s resources to deliver a solution to your end customers. You still bill your customer and can provide basic support, which has its benefits.
Is CSP Indirect right for your business? If you are just getting started in selling Office 365 or are currently purchasing Office 365 licenses on behalf of your customers from the Microsoft portal, CSP Indirect is the way to go. If you are a large provider who has the resources, personnel, and funds to support CSP Direct solution, I would recommend going CSP Direct over Indirect.
In either program, you do not get off without knowing the licensing. That’s for another article.
Thanks for reading,