Which Office 365 Licensing Program is best for your organization?
Traditionally, Microsoft has allowed small and medium sized organizations to purchase Office 365 licenses through two different programs, Open and Advisor. Organizations who purchase their licenses through the Open program buy these licenses from a Microsoft partner and pay for 12 months up front at the time of purchase. Those who buy their licenses through the Advisor program sign up for an annual contract directly with Microsoft and pay for their licenses on a month by month basis.
In late 2015, a third option for purchasing Office 365 licenses was introduced, the Cloud Solutions Provider program (CSP). The CSP program combines the monthly payment element of the Advisor model with the personalization and attentiveness that organizations have come to expect when purchasing their Office 365 licenses from a Microsoft partner.
CSP allows licensing flexibility without penalty. Purchasing Office 365 licenses directly from Microsoft through the Advisor program requires an organization to either sign an annual contract or pay a premium to have a month-to-month licensing agreement. The Open program is also an annual contract and requires up-front payment for the entire year. Refunds are not available through Open if an organization wishes to discontinue their use of Office 365 before their 12-month commitment is up. With the CSP program, an organization can pay for their licenses on a monthly basis, and they do not need to pay a premium for the ability to cancel their service any time they want.
CSP also allows organizations to work with their Microsoft partner to define the billing process that works best for them. While the Advisor program does provide organizations with the ability to spread out the cost of their licenses by paying for them on a monthly basis, it also adds an additional vendor (Microsoft) and monthly invoice for the accounting department to deal with. If an organization is already working with a Microsoft partner for their Office 365 support services, the organization would have two separate monthly invoices from two separate entities for the ability to use one product! The CSP program allows organizations to pay a single organization for both licenses and related support services.
CSP further simplifies the Office 365 purchasing experience for organizations by allowing organizations to purchase all Office 365 related services through their Microsoft partner. Organizations can work closely with their partner to select the appropriate bundle of services to meet their specific needs and come up with one simple per user/per month cost. For example, both the CSP and Advisor model offer IT administrator support, but only CSP allows organizations to add 24/7 end user support for all of their team members. This support can be bundled in with services such as additional email archiving, SharePoint back up services, and set up as one per user/per month cost for all of their Office 365 licenses.
If you believe that the flexibility, simplified billing, and customized support services that the CSP program offers are a good fit for your organization, please feel free to Contact Us for a free Office 365 consultation and quote.