Navigating the IT Landscape: A Full Guide to EA vs CSP

Is your organization making a decision between EA vs CSP ? Organizations constantly seek effective licensing solutions for their software and cloud services in the ever-evolving digital landscape. Microsoft, a leading player in this domain, offers a variety of licensing contracts.

The Enterprise Agreement (EA) and the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) are popular choices. But how do you decide between EA and CSP? This article delves into the main differences, benefits, and factors to consider when choosing between these programs.

EA vs CSP: The Basics

What is the Enterprise Agreement (EA)?

The Enterprise Agreement (EA) is Microsoft’s primary licensing vehicle, designed for organizations with 500 or more users or devices. It offers volume licensing discounts for Microsoft products and services and flexible licensing options to customize solutions based on specific needs.

What is the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP)?

On the other hand, the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) model is a licensing program that allows partners to sell and manage Microsoft cloud services like Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365 on behalf of Microsoft to their customers. It also enables customers to purchase software subscription licenses.

EA vs CSP: The Main Differences

While both EA and CSP offer unique benefits, understanding their fundamental differences is crucial in making an informed decision.

Benefits of Each Licensing Model

Benefits of the Enterprise Agreement

  1. Predictable Costs: With an EA, organizations can lock in pricing for up to three years, providing predictability and stability in licensing costs.
  2. Volume Discounts: Microsoft offers lower prices for companies that exceed certain thresholds in users and/or devices.
  3. Customized Solutions: The EA allows organizations to customize their licensing solutions to meet their needs.
  4. Software Assurance (SA) Benefits: The EA includes Software Assurance, providing additional benefits such as training, support, and the ability to upgrade to the latest software versions at no additional cost.
  5. Centralized Management: With a single agreement, organizations can manage their licensing for multiple locations and departments, streamlining software licensing across the entire organization.
  6. Priority Support: The agreement includes access to Microsoft’s technical support services, helping organizations resolve any issues or concerns with their Microsoft products and services more quickly and efficiently.

Benefits of the Cloud Solution Provider

  1. Flexible Pricing: The CSP model allows partners to offer flexible pricing and billing models to customers, including monthly or annual billing, pay-as-you-go, and fixed-term contracts.
  2. Tailored Offer: Partners can tailor their offerings to meet the specific needs of their customers, including the ability to bundle multiple services together and offer value-added services such as migration, customization, and support on top of the licensing cost.
  3. Greater Control and Visibility: The CSP model provides partners with greater control and visibility over their customers’ cloud services, including the ability to manage and monitor usage, set up alerts and notifications, and make changes to services as needed.
  4. Simplified Management: The CSP model offers a simplified management experience for partners and customers, with a single point of contact for all Microsoft cloud services and streamlined billing and invoicing processes.
  5. Support: Support in the CSP program is delivered by your selected partner. Partners in the CSP program have access to support services from Microsoft, including technical support, training, and resources to help them better serve their customers.

Choosing Between EA vs CSP: Factors to Consider

When deciding between EA and CSP, several factors come into play. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Licensing Needs: Assess your licensing needs and determine your required products and services. Consider your usage patterns and determine which billing and pricing models will be most cost-effective for your organization.
  2. Support: Consider where you want your support to come from. With an EA, your support will come from Microsoft itself, whereas with a CSP, your support will be provided by a Microsoft Partner.
  3. Discounts and Prices: For loyal Microsoft customers, a main EA benefit could be the From SA discount, which could lead to a 15% programmatic discount. In the EA, profiling your users can also generate big discounts.
  4. Familiarity with the Contract Models: If you are already used to the Enterprise Agreement, it might be difficult to move to CSP (and vice versa) as the management of these contracts is very different.


What is the main difference between EA and CSP?

The main difference lies in their target audience and the flexibility they offer. EA is designed for larger organizations with 500 or more users or devices, offering volume licensing discounts and flexible licensing options. CSP, on the other hand, allows partners to sell and manage Microsoft Cloud services to their customers, offering more flexibility and control to the partners.

Can I switch from EA to CSP?

Yes, you can switch from EA to CSP. However, it’s important to consider the differences in management, pricing, and support before switching.

Which is more cost-effective, EA or CSP?

The cost-effectiveness of EA vs. CSP depends on your organization’s specific needs and usage patterns. EA offers volume discounts and predictable costs for larger organizations, while CSP offers flexible pricing and billing models.

Does CSP offer Software Assurance (SA) benefits?

CSP does not offer SA, but it sometimes allows certain SA Benefits for software subscriptions.

Can I use both EA and CSP?

Yes, it’s possible to use a combination of EA and CSP, depending on your organization’s needs and the specific Microsoft products and services you use.

Which provides better support, EA or CSP?

With EA, support comes directly from Microsoft, while with CSP, support is provided by your selected Microsoft Partner. The support quality can vary depending on the specific circumstances and your chosen partner.


Choosing between EA and CSP is a significant decision that can impact your organization’s IT operations and budget. By understanding each program’s unique features and benefits, you can make an informed decision that best suits your needs.

Remember, the right choice depends on your organization’s needs, usage patterns, and long-term IT strategy.

Remember, the world of IT is ever-evolving, and staying informed is key to making the best decisions for your organization. Whether you choose EA or CSP, understanding these licensing models’ intricacies can help you confidently navigate the IT landscape.


  • Fredrik Filipsson

    Fredrik Filipsson possesses 20 years of experience in Oracle license management. Having worked at Oracle for 9 years, he gained an additional 11 years of expertise in Oracle license consulting projects. Fredrik has provided assistance to over 150 organizations worldwide, ranging in size and tackling various Oracle licensing challenges, including Licensing Assessments, Oracle audits, Oracle ULAs, and more.