Companies with fewer than 500 seats are no longer able to purchase an Enterprise Support Agreement from Microsoft®. Instead, if you want support for cloud services like Microsoft Azure™ and Office 365™, you will need to purchase the services, licensing, and support through a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP). Organizations with 500 or more seats can purchase an Enterprise Agreement, however there is a more flexible option through the CSP Program.

This blog will discuss the main differences between an EA and a CSP agreement, and discuss the reasons why the CSP agreement has become increasingly popular in recent years.

What is a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement?

An Enterprise Agreement (EA) provides for licensing of software and services through a single agreement that contractually locks a company into a 36-month agreement and requires them to “true-up” their licenses each year. This means IT decision makers may have to estimate the total number of users at the beginning of each yearly “true-up” cycle, potentially resulting in increased costs.

The EA is designed for companies with 500+ seats who want to standardize their Microsoft products, have the rights for the most-current version of the software, and only want to account for additional seats once a year. An EA includes a large product set across the Microsoft portfolio, including Azure, Windows, and Office 365.

What is the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program?

A Microsoft CSP is a service provider that offers value-added services on top of Microsoft Cloud products like Azure and Office 365. A CSP serves as your first touch-point for questions and assistance with any cloud resources and billing. Your CSP will also generate your consolidated invoice, covering all fees.

Below is a comparison for considering to purchase through a Microsoft enterprise agreement vs. CSP Program.

Enterprise Agreement (EA)

CSP with MessageOps


36-month agreement

Pay as you go


7-30% (Level A,

B, C, D)



Up front in full




Very flexible to meet your business needs





Direct from Microsoft

Consolidated invoicing from MessageOps

Value Add


Free value added services: quarterly security and network assessments,  Office 365 Adoption Platform, personal concierge, CSP Boss Platform for licensing orchestration, and much more!

Below are two scenarios that should better show the benefits and potential drawbacks of these offerings from Microsoft.

Example 1

Let’s take a small startup as an example that currently has 30 employees but is looking to grow to 150 within a year. They’re in need of Office 365 now, but may be adding some more robust production or supply chain resources that could require additional software offerings and tools in the near future. This sized company is completely ineligible for EA, but can have significant flexibility with a Cloud Solutions Provider. Users can be added or removed throughout the year, and the support for an EA can grow as needed.

Example 2

An enterprise level company with 750 employees has merged with another sizable company and is looking for ways to cut costs across the larger organization. If they’re currently locked into an EA, they’re essentially stuck if they take an inventory of what’s being used and realize that a large portion of their staff isn’t fully using what they’re paying for. In this instance, an EA can be seen as a roadblock that could have been easily avoided with a CSP.

6 Reasons to Consider the CSP Program Before Signing an EA

MessageOps is the top Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) partner with extensive experience in Office 365 and Azure. Recently, Redmond Magazine spoke with MessageOps about the top considerations for the CSP program:

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