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Details Emerging About Microsoft Cloud Reseller Program

Details are starting to emerge about Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), a promising partner program that Microsoft previewed at its Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in July.

The CSP program is designed to accommodate the requests by partners to be able to bundle Microsoft services and own the customer billing, a requirement that was partly but not fully addressed with the Office 365 Open program.

"Partners in this [Cloud Solution Provider] program will be able to directly provision customer subscriptions and provide one monthly bill for both Partner and Microsoft services. They will also directly manage their customer subscriptions with in-product tools in the Partner Admin Center and own the technical support relationship," wrote John Case, corporate vice president of Microsoft Office, in a blog entry announcing the program on July 14.

Calling CSP "a true cloud reseller program" during a WPC keynote that same day, Case also said the program would create opportunities for distributors, MSPs, ISVs and hosting providers. Those are very different types of partners, however, and as Microsoft begins to sign up partners and get feedback, the CSP is evolving.

In a blog post Wednesday, Gavriella Schuster, general manager of the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Group, revealed that CSP will now have two levels, and she provided a loose rollout schedule.

"After speaking with partners of all types and sizes, we've made the decision to rollout the CSP with two business model options for partners to participate. In the first business model, partners will sell Microsoft Cloud Services directly to customers (1-Tier). These are partners that typically have existing broad market reach, a 24/7 technical support relationship with their customers as well as direct ownership of the billing -- a feature that was the most requested from partners,"  Schuster wrote. "The second business model consists of resellers who sell Microsoft Cloud Services through distribution partners (2-Tier)."

Over the summer, Case said the program would be rolled out to select partners in 48 countries. Schuster said onboarding for the 1-Tier is happening now, but implied that the main rollout would happen after the full documentation of partner requirements is posted to the Partner Portal in mid-October.

Partners interested in the 2-Tier will need to wait a little longer. "We expect most partners to participate through the 2-Tier model, and we'll have more information to share about that program later this calendar year," Schuster said.

By product, Microsoft has said CSP would start with Office 365 and Windows Intune, and Microsoft Azure, Dynamics CRM Online and other products will follow.

The CSP is in addition to three new cloud competencies that Microsoft planned to take live next week.

Posted by Scott Bekker on September 24, 2014


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