Six Reasons To Consider The Cloud Service Provider Program Before Signing An Enterprise Agreement

Enterprise Agreement
A Digital Dialogue based on a Redmond Fireside Chat featuring Chris Pyle, CEO of MessageOps

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is becoming Microsoft’s preferred licensing model for customers to obtain everything from cloud subscriptions to software licenses. Yet the term itself is shrouded in mystery and confusion for customers, not least because “CSP” doubles for both a licensing model and a type of Microsoft channel partner. CSP partners offer customers licenses and subscriptions through the CSP program. If there is one essential takeaway for enterprise customers to understand about CSP, Chris Pyle, CEO of Champion Solutions Group, believes it is this: “It’s the power of choice. The CSP is a lot more flexible. I think that you really have the opportunity as an IT buyer to look at what’s available, and the Enterprise Agreement is not the only game in town anymore.”

Pyle, whose cloud business unit, MessageOps, has been a leading CSP partner since before Microsoft even used the term CSP, shared his insights during the recent Redmond Fireside Chat webcast, “CSP: The Hidden Benefits, Savings and Support from Microsoft.”

Here are six key reasons that Pyle says organizations do themselves a favor when they take a close look at CSP, or when they take another look if they haven’t assessed CSP recently:

1. CSP Lets You Budget IT as an Operating Expense

The CSP model allows customers to buy Microsoft software and services on a month-to-month basis, or for price advantages on an annual contract or three-year contract. Unlike with an Enterprise Agreement, the customer can choose.  “A lot of it has to do with the cash flow,” Pyle said. “In the past, you would have to pay a three-year, cash-up-front deal. Now with CSP, you can pay by the month. Instead of maybe coming up with hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions of dollars for a three-year in-advance, purchase, you don’t need to do that anymore.” Pyle cautioned that CSP isn’t always cheaper than EA, but emphasized that CSP’s flexibility is key.

“The biggest difference for clients that have migrated from an EA to a CSP agreement is the ability to pay as you go, and pay as you grow or as you slow. If you’re growing — great, you would purchase more licensure as you need it. If your business is slowing down, you would then only pay for the licenses you’re using. So there’s no upfront commitment,” he explained.

2. CSP Includes Most Microsoft Products Now

The CSP model grew out of the Office 365 suite, a bundle of cloud email, collaboration and other services, along with online and desktop versions of the Office suite. However, CSP has expanded exponentially to include nearly all of Microsoft’s products.

“A couple years ago, you could ask me and we would have said, ‘Maybe we had 15 new line items in there.’ But now, there’s literally hundreds and hundreds of line items that you can purchase,” said Pyle, citing the availability of Microsoft products like Windows Server CALs, SQL Server and other server software.

Where customers a few years ago might only have been able to buy cloud services through CSP and would need another licensing vehicle for their on- premises server software, that’s no longer the case.

3. The EA Bar Keeps Getting Raised

If it’s been awhile since you’ve signed an Enterprise Agreement, or if your organization has become smaller in the past few years, the EA may not be an option any longer. “EA is not even available anymore for 500 seats and below,” Pyle noted.

4. It’s Easier to Stay Compliant

Organizations have gotten in trouble in the past by losing track of how their Microsoft licenses lined up with their software usage. Think of it as the flip side of shelfware, complete with big fines from Microsoft. Pyle called such software compliance “the elephant that’s in the room that nobody really likes to talk about. But with the CSP program, I haven’t heard of anybody ever getting fined for being out of licensing compliance.”

5. There Are a Lot of CSP Partners to Choose From

Customers’ choices with CSP aren’t limited to payment periods or Microsoft services and software. They also have a choice of CSP providers. The CSP channel has been growing rapidly for the past few years, with many partners joining the program and the amount of Microsoft revenue moving through that channel growing even faster.

6. CSP Partners Are Competing on Services
With all those CSP partners available, customers can be choosy. Pyle listed some of the services that his company, MessageOps, offers as examples of the types of things that enterprises should look for in a CSP partner. The baseline requirement is excellent support and high-quality onboarding systems, but partners can go much further for their customers. For MessageOps, services include tools for turning off licenses that aren’t being used; the ability to track usage and scale down to less-expensive SKUs if necessary; and even SharePoint templates to help customers get started with Microsoft’s collaboration plat- form. MessageOps also offers security reporting, cost-savings reporting and other methods to help customers level out their cash flow.

Beyond those services, MessageOps seeks opportunities to connect customers with Microsoft incentives for projects and services that can be generous, but that are often difficult for customers to identify and qualify for without the help of a well connected partner.


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Erick Bacallao joined Champion Solutions Group in 2015 after a career of Software Development in Cuba at the National Cancer Care Institute of Cuba, followed by moving to the States with allAware.


Champion acquired allAware and its properties and Erick has utilized his extensive background and expertise in IT and Software Development to rise to VP of Product Development in less than 5 years. During this time, Erick has been involved with key projects that led to the launch of numerous products including CSP Boss, Inscape platform and 365 Productivity Insights.


Erick has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Havana. He won Gold Medals for Programming from the Ministry of Education in Cuba, and he is certainly still a Gold Medalist for Champion!


As President and CEO, Chris is responsible for the development of key strategic alliances and solution portfolio. He leads Champion’s go-to market and execution strategies for integrated offerings in the cloud, in security, and in digital infrastructure, always focusing on improving the customer experience and driving transformative business outcomes.


He also aligns key partner initiatives with company strategy and oversees corporate marketing and messaging to gain mindshare with customers and partners. It’s his vision and innovativeness that have catapulted Champion up the ranks to become a $100M+ organization—and one of the most respected solution providers in the industry.


Over the past two decades, Chris has also focused on mergers and acquisitions, as well as innovative product development. He is the original founder and an active member on the Board of Managed Maintenance, Inc., a SAAS provider and consulting firm that utilizes their award-winning One-View Portal to help the IT Channel and its customers manage their IT Maintenance.


Chris is also the original founder and chief strategist behind one of the original storage cloud providers, Storage Access / BluePoint. During the course of a few short years, he had raised $20M and took that company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It has since been acquired by Pomeroy.


In 2012, Chris led the acquisition of MessageOps and continued the product development and worldwide launch of its premier SAAS, 365 Command. Built on Microsoft Azure, 365 Command is currently managing over 1 million seats of Microsoft’s Office 365. After achieving this phenomenal milestone, 365 Command and other MessageOps O365 utilities were sold to Kaseya.


Over the past 35 years, Chris as worked tirelessly to not only advance his own career, but those of his employees. In addition to leading a $100M organization, Chris can also be found sitting with sales teams, cold calling and coaching, and validating why Champion has been listed on Best Places to Work by both South Florida Business Journal and Computerworld.

Ultimately, the success garnered by Champion Solutions Group, its associated companies, and their employees is due in large part to the leadership of its President and CEO. Perhaps the most fitting award Chris has earned is South Florida Business Journal’s 2013 Ultimate CEO Award.