In challenging times it’s more essential than ever for businesses to know they are making the best choice when it comes to selecting their cloud solutions for their needs. They need to make informed decisions on how to get the best value from their agreements to maximize performance and minimize cost.
For most, this means making a choice between a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) or signing up to a tailored deal with a certified Microsoft Cloud Solutions Provider (CSP), like Cobweb.
So, here’s a low-down on both alternatives which will help you decide on the best course of action for you.
What is an Enterprise Agreement?
This is the traditional way of buying your Microsoft licenses and solutions and was initially designed for businesses to take advantage of volume. However, those signing up to an EA must commit for three years – which might be a stretch in times of uncertainty. It means that if for any reason, you need to scale down your business, you are still tied to the volume you originally committed to on signing the EA. One advantage of the EA is that it came with Microsoft assurance of free technical support yet that can also be packaged into a CSP agreement as with Cobweb’s 24/7 support service.
What is a Cloud Solutions Provider?
For many, these uncertain times are becoming incredibly difficult to navigate and to foresee growth and where it will come from. The ability to seize opportunities quickly, to better engage with customers, clients, and consumers, and to adapt to their changing needs will distinguish the winners from the losers.
Today’s businesses need to be super supple in quickly adjusting to changing scenarios and to do so need flexible solutions and the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program can deliver agility to their toolboxes.
The CSP program is an increasingly popular alternative to the more traditional Enterprise Agreements because it allows partners, like ourselves at Cobweb, to deliver cloud and Microsoft services requirements on a monthly billing cycle, with no up-front payment, and manage clients’ software licensing requirements without them committing to a three-year Enterprise Agreement. It means businesses have the flexibility to sign up for more Microsoft licenses or reduce license portfolios when needed, leaving them only paying for what they use.
Consuming allocation of Microsoft’s Azure cloud is more flexible with a CSP program because it’s possible to procure allocation using Reserved Instances and Azure Hybrid Benefit both of which allow for discounts of up to 30 – 50% off your standard Azure PAYG service. And, while Reserved Instances do require an annual commitment, the discounts are deeper than with an EA and it is possible to buy allocation for a single server with a CSP program.
An additional benefit of signing up with a modern CSP partner is that they can enable your Microsoft Azure subscription to include Azure Plan which facilities total usage and cost management across the platform.
What is Azure Plan?
Azure Plan is Microsoft’s newly introduced Azure subscription purchasing process, designed to streamline your purchasing process - introducing the one Microsoft agreement, for example, was part of this move.
As a customer, actually don't need to do anything. Knowing that your chosen CSP uses Azure Plan is good enough! Why? To use Azure Plan, partners must commit to providing the highest level of managed services and support for their customers, and their offering is monitored by Microsoft.
One of the significant advantages of choosing a partner who uses Azure Plan, are the Cost Management features previously available only for EA subscriptions (and those purchased via credit card) - but now available to partner and customer, enabling the monitoring and management of cloud and efficiency.
Incorporating a full set of usage monitoring and cost management capabilities, Azure Cost Management lets you track how you are using your allocation, identify if you could better optimise the allocation and how, with insights delivering greater control of your monthly Azure spend. Remember with the Microsoft Azure cloud subscriptions you only pay for what you use, so it makes sense to track your usage, which then impacts your spend.
Not all partners offer Azure subscriptions through Azure Plan, but Cobweb sees the additional benefits doing so brings to customers, and is a pioneer in moving to Azure Plan.
So, EA vs CSP, compare the two:
Here’s how the CSP program works
With this program you engage a certified Microsoft cloud solutions provider, like Cobweb, to assess your precise requirements, current, and future, including what licensing provision you need and your required allocation of the super-secure Microsoft Azure cloud. The provider works with you directly to manage your entire Microsoft cloud lifecycle and use dedicated in-product tools to directly provision, manage, and support your subscriptions. This enables us to easily package tools, products, and services, and include them as part of your regular monthly bill.
The CSP benefits:
- Enhanced flexibility to up or downgrade licensing which can lead to significant cost saving
- Opportunity to purchase Azure allocation on Reserved Instances & Azure Hybrid Benefit with sizeable discounts
- Pay as you use Azure cloud consumption
- Inclusive access to Azure Plan usage and cost control
- Monthly billing for better budgeting
- Always on support from Cobweb
With Cobweb as your CSP partner, you also get:
- Ability to scale up or down on Microsoft 365 licenses as per your business needs
- Ability to buy Azure on PAYG, RI & AHB and reap substantial discounts
- Direct visibility of Azure resources and your active and predicted consumption for better budgeting
- Integration of Microsoft, Mimecast, Acronis, and other products into your tailored service
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