Advanced Support for (CSPs) Cloud Solution Providers: An IOTAP Review

Microsoft announced the new Direct CSP requirements for Partners in May with an effective start date of Aug. 31st, 2018 for Partners to become compliant based on their CSP renewal dates.

The major changes to the CSP Direct Biller program are the new requirements to purchase an Advanced Support Plan, along with a Billing Automation solution and a Managed Solution offering.

The Advanced Support plan costs $15,000 and includes quicker response times of under an hour, break/fix problem resolution, and the ability to manage support incidents on the customer’s behalf.

The Premier support plan begins at $30,000, it has additional features and is customizable to Partners’ needs.


You can check out comparisons of the two programs here.

Although the requirement was established to ensure adequate customer support among the Direct CSP Partners, it was quite controversial in the Microsoft community and there were differing opinions on why Microsoft made the change.

Some Partners had experienced the program in its early stages and had poor feedback. Partners did not want to be forced to purchase a service that wasn’t great and add additional costs.

Other Partners asserted this requirement was a deliberate strategy to reduce the number of Direct Partners, and to have the relationship be built with distributors instead.

Over the last several month partners have taken the plunge and stayed with the Direct Biller program and implemented some strategies to recuperate the cost of ASfP: 

  • Partners can provide a differentiated support offering of providing escalated Microsoft support for customers that want a faster turnaround, and then continue to offer a basic support plan as well. This is specifically helpful for Azure and Business Applications.  
  • Use the cloud consultation as a service item and service offering.
  • Leverage the differentiated messaging of having advanced Microsoft support available to customers to help increase sales.  

There are a few aspects of the program that have been highly beneficial with the biggest impact: 

1. Response Times and Quality of Support

“We spend less time waiting for a response. Response times have been cut down by as much as 50 minutes. Normally when I file a ticket sometimes I would wait for an hour. Now most times when I submit a ticket, it’s ten minutes or less for a response with ASfP.”

2. Quality of Microsoft supports improving

The difference between the quality of support is night and day. We spend less time troubleshooting, we spend less time waiting, and people are more knowledgeable. So it’s tremendous times savings both on the front end, with waiting, and with the backend with the actually troubleshooting as well. And that’s amazing.

3. Monthly Cloud Consultations

These are engagements with Microsoft technical specialists that can become involved in engagements with potential customers. Involving these technical specialists with customers keeps them interested and demonstrates our relationship with Microsoft. For example, they have been very helpful in Azure engagements such as helping set up Azure clients’ infrastructure environments that are a bit tricky.

We also use cloud consults for internal development as well. Instead of using one of our monthly cloud consults to help with a client engagement, we use it for technical training purposes.

4. Account Manager

The last and probably the most important reason our technical support experience has improved so dramatically because of our SAM (Solutions Account Manager). An effective and committed SAM will ensure Partners get the value out of the relationship.

The overall result of these features has been our ability to drive better customer experience.