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Making the Move From Advisor to Microsoft CSP

In the last few years, Microsoft has been slowly but surely phasing out one of its oldest and most successful partner programs. If you’re an IT service provider selling Microsoft cloud solutions, you’re probably aware of the changes to the Online Services Advisor (OSA) program. Partners have been encouraged to move to the Microsoft CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) program. To say the implications are huge is putting it mildly.

On October 1, 2016, Microsoft announced the termination of recurring incentives for OSA partners. Starting July 2017, Microsoft Advisors will no longer earn commissions for reselling cloud products such as Office 365 and Azure. Moreover, you will no longer earn commission for the subscriptions you currently manage for your customers.

The changes apply to the tens of thousands global partners signed on as resellers under the Online Services Advisor program. Under this program, Microsoft partners would earn a percentage of subscription fees on packages sold. They would even receive frontline help from Microsoft’s crack support staff. OSA gave IT service providers a hassle-free way to tap into the cloud, but something even more promising is ready to stand in its place.

IT Infrastructure

Putting your neck on the line for billing and support is a huge responsibility. CSP partners, both direct and indirect, automatically assume responsibility when something goes wrong. And when customers are involved, compliance concerns and legal issues aren’t far behind. While the company has a good reputation for taking care of its partners, there isn’t much you can do if the Microsoft cloud goes down. Reliable backup and disaster recovery services can make a difference, if you’re looking at incidents such as accidental deletion or ransomware encryption.

Microsoft Partner Setup

I’ve noticed that both Microsoft and some of its direct partners are promising a seamless transition from OSA to CSP. Sounds good, but IT migration projects are rarely ever a walk in the park. Be ready to make changes to accommodate changes related to pricing, billing, and support. All the while, make sure that customers experience as little disruption as possible. Microsoft has been sending out generic emails to notify all parties involved about the dismissal of OS. But it’s a partner’s responsibility to guide customers through the transition.

Many members of the Microsoft partner network have carved out a cozy spot in the global technology landscape. With the cloud as its catalyst, the CSP initiative could be the trend that catapults the next wave of partners to enterprise success.