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Powering Up Microsoft Office 365 CSP

Posted by Jeff Salanco on May 17, 2016 9:43:27 AM

Complexity brings an opportunity to profit.

Microsoft’s Office 365 is a relatively simple solution to deliver to the market, so it’s no surprise that the profit profile is low for a managed service provider (MSP) to simply transact seats from the productivity tool. And while there are plenty of options for a partner to create profit pools via independent software vendors (ISV) offerings that help set up, deployment and usage, these solutions are also simple by design. Therefore, we see an increasing number of partners leveraging which creates commonality across MSPs. The complexity related to Office 365, along with the opportunity to profit, lies in Windows PowerShell.

So what is PowerShell ?  We like the explanation from Ed Wilson at Microsoft below, which includes his brief definition:

Windows PowerShell is an interactive object-oriented command environment with scripting language features that utilizes small programs called cmdlets to simplify configuration, administration, and management of heterogeneous environments in both standalone and networked typologies by utilizing standards-based remoting protocols.”

Within PowerShell, we see an opportunity for MSPs to create differentiation by leveraging Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) go-to-market strategy. Microsoft has created a specific set of modules for Office 365, which is added opportunity for MSPs! Here’s why an MSP might consider using PowerShell to drive differentiation via customer support for end user customers:

Big Changes: Making changes within an organization that is using Office 365 probably isn’t the best use of an MSP’s time, and using Microsoft’s admin center to make multiple changes at once can leave the door open for mistakes.  Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) has a great overview on an example SharePoint bulk move showing how to avoid hours of admin center time to make major changes and minimize the risk for mistakes.

Missing In Action: Over time, the cloud has improved in both reliability and availability, but files still get lost and the standard 14-day storage on email isn’t always enough. While there are great ISV solutions that allow MSPs and end-user customers to restore lost Exchange files in Office 365, some MSPs have decided to take ownership by leveraging litigation hold functionality, which preserves all mailbox content in Office 365. PowerShell can provide MSPs the tools to build out processes that allow the indefinite retention of emails. 

Put Your Filter On:  Spam is not fun. While much can be done to prevent it in Office 365, PowerShell can provide some real force behind junk mail configuration.  MSPs acting as Office 365 administrators for their end users can develop needed safe and blocked sender lists to maximize the chance that only the “right” email gets through to their clients.

Reporting for Duty: While the Office 365 admin center has many reports for an MSP or end user to leverage, sometimes more metrics are needed.  If the MSP is looking to build a script that provides reporting of usage patterns through customized output to meet very specific end user needs, PowerShell is the way to go.

Consolidation: There are five Office 365 services and each has its own connection method.  However, we have a solution for that!  An MSP can use Windows PowerShell to simultaneously manage all five from a single pane of glass—now that’s powerful!

A world of administrative resources that can drive profitability are possible for an MSP that wants to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty with a bit of scripting. For more ideas and information on Office 365 PowerShell, check out Microsoft’s site dedicated to the topic.

Power to the MSP!


About the Author:

Jeff Salanco leads the marketing organization for Tech Data Cloud where he works with teams focused on designing and executing innovative partner engagement strategies across a variety of technology segments. These initiatives enable companies of all sizes to grow by leveraging the IT channel to amplify their brand and ability to deliver technology solutions to the market.

Tags: MSP Best Practices, Microsoft O365