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For much more detail on the emerging 2-Tier ecosystem, see the related feature in this section.
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Described by Microsoft as "a true cloud reseller program," CSP appears to align Microsoft's core cloud products with a partner business model that should let customers buy Microsoft products and related cloud offerings in the way that they would prefer.
Here's how Microsoft defines CSP in a FAQ for partners: "The Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program enables partners to directly manage their entire Microsoft cloud customer lifecycle.
Microsoft is also looking for partners with a business model around managed services IP and with broad market reach. In that one, the distributor or companies that were formerly part of the Microsoft Syndication Partner program handle the capabilities with Microsoft.
Those partners are called 2-Tier distributors or cloud distributors.
Ironically, the CSP program in many ways represents Microsoft itself finally getting ready for the cloud.
Ever since Microsoft introduced the Advisor model back before Office 365 was even called Office 365, partners were asking for the ability to bill customers themselves.
Based on interviews with senior Microsoft executives and partners, a review of Microsoft's detailed CSP FAQ and the Microsoft CSP nomination form, here are 20 essential points to consider before committing to the expanded CSP program.A partner can be a 1-Tier partner or a 2-Tier reseller.The 1-Tier partner is approved by Microsoft and orders seats on behalf of customers directly from Microsoft, rather than through another partner type.First is to have the bill to the customer go directly from the partner to the customer rather than from Microsoft to the customer.
Partners have always had concerns that Microsoft would use a direct billing relationship to upsell and cross-sell services to a partner's customer, cutting the partner out.The addition of cloud products to the Open program over the last few years did give some partners the ability to bundle services, bill customers themselves and, therefore, own the relationship.