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Navigating software licensing and sales as a managed service provider (MSP)

Posted by Jeremy Singh on Mar 24, 2016 8:32:24 AM

shutterstock_727960387In the often confusing world of software licensing, it can be hard to figure out which licensing model is best for your business and, more importantly, how to make it profitable.  What you really need is a roadmap to figure out how to get there and a tour guide or two who can help along the way.


Let’s say you bravely begin your journey with licensing through Office 365. You ask your end user how many seats they need. 150? Awesome! So, it’s simple, right?


You: “Hi, distributor, I’d like 150 seats of Office  for my customer”

Microsoft Specialist: “Okay great, are you looking for volume licensing or cloud?”


At this point, you haven’t run into a dead-end, you’ve run into a fork in the road. Actually, there’s many forks. As an MSP, you want to understand if a customer anticipates their workforce growing rapidly, as some products have limits on seat count. Do they have any industry-specific licensing in place that could cause issues with new versions of Office? That’s important, because distributors are offering Office 2016 alongside Office 365. Which is also important, because Office 2016 was rolled out last year and you can’t downgrade new purchases.


There are two main programs offered by Microsoft for managed service providers. There’s the Service Provider Licensing Agreement (Microsoft SPLA) where billing is access based—if you are licensed for an app, then you are billed through distribution. You can then sell any “app” you license to your customers. There’s also the Cloud Service Provider Program where you get to own the billing process. You also have the ability to bundle in your own services (including security, support etc.) to your customers and bill them monthly.


Thankfully, the Office 365 team at your preferred distributor can help you narrow down your options so you can figure out which road you want to take. Even better, they can help you choose the best way to get there—and how to be most profitable through that model.  Promos can also be helpful, depending on which you are eligible for. At any given time, there can be ten different promos, maybe even more. It depends on the type of licensing you’re offering, whether your customer is new or existing, whether you went cloud or on-prem, and whether you’re a member of certain groups.


One of the main value-adds of partnering with a distributor is the access you’ll have to a team of dedicated specialists who can help your business. These specialists can advise you on the right licensing model to offer and which promos you qualify for. All you have to do is give them a call.


Go ahead and let them be your tour guide. They know the channel. They know how to put together a variety of solutions for your customer. This is not only helpful from a profit standpoint, it’s also helpful for usability. If you can help your customers get the solution they want—at the best price and with excellent support—it’ll be that much easier to grow your business.


Call your Tech Data Office 365 Specialist today or send them an email.


Tags: MSP Tips, MSP Best Practices