An ever-widening array of cloud services and provider models is driving growth in Microsoft's premier cloud programme, with knock-on benefits for both existing and potential participants.
Microsoft's CSP programme offers significant value to an IT channel, as it not only increases participants' access to Microsoft cloud services, but also enables them to integrate these services with other cloud services, thus unlocking additional revenue streams such as configuration, migration and SLAs, with the added bonus of all billing being offered on a single invoice.
And just three years after Microsoft introduced its CSP programme, the number of strategic partners supporting the CSP partner community is continuing to expand. The United States for example has seen its Indirect Providers grow from just five to more than 14 over the last few years, in turn giving Indirect Resellers lots of choice.
(Indirect Providers, originally called 2-Tier Distributors, are the handful of distribution giants and other 'mega-partners' who transact with Microsoft and then nurture their own communities of channel partners).
This is due in some measure to Microsoft adding products other than Office 365 to the CSP mix. According to Redmond Channel Partner (RCP), from its launch in 2014 up until sometime in 2016, partner sales under the CSP model were nearly 100 percent Office 365. But in the last year, Microsoft's ongoing efforts to introduce other products into the CSP model have started paying off.
Partners can expect Microsoft to keep expanding the programme's scope to even more products.And according to RCP's Scott Bekker, with services like Azure, Dynamics 365 and Windows 10 propelling growth, partners can expect Microsoft to keep expanding the programme's scope to include even more products.
As William Lewallen, senior manager of national (U.S.) cloud partner sales at Microsoft has previously mentioned, "You can license virtually the desktop to the datacenter under CSP."
As such, RCP has identified various types of Indirect Provider, including:
The most familiar and least surprising group of Indirect Providers. With one of the main selling points of CSP being the ability to bundle different cloud solutions for a customer, a distributor is a natural fit.
Broader Cloud Resellers
All of the distributors can also be lumped into a larger class of Microsoft Indirect Providers, which is companies selling Microsoft CSP as part of a broader cloud marketplace that they offer for their partners to take to customers.
These companies have some cloud-based services of their own that they aim to move alongside the Microsoft cloud products, but they've made a marketing choice to put Microsoft and CSP partners at the centre of their messaging.
Licensing Solution Providers
Partners who have worked closely and successfully with Microsoft on licensing.
Partners specialising in MS Dynamics 365, nowadays an important component in its main strategic drive for cloud leadership.
What's clear is that the growth in the CSP programme has led to an ever-increasing diversity in business models and solution providers, as well as opening up new revenue models for those willing to invest in the cloud space.
As Scott Bekker from RCP says, "Microsoft CSP partners going the indirect route for the first time have a lot of options. For those who selected their provider when pickings were slimmer, it may be time for another look."
For those who selected their provider when pickings were slimmer, it may be time for another look.