Microsoft EA vs CSP: Buying Online Services

April 20, 2023

Comparing Microsoft EA vs CSP

Microsoft EA vs CSP: Introduction

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) and Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) are two popular purchasing programs for Azure services, each offering unique advantages and challenges. Whether you are a startup, SMB or enterprise buyer, comparing Microsoft EA vs CSP will help you make smart choices regarding Microsoft Azure cloud-based solutions and it’s different services such as SaaS, PaaS, IaaS, and more. This article provides detailed information on the differences between the two programs, including licensing challenges, pricing models, and purchasing options, along with case studies to help businesses decide which solution or combination is best for them.

What is Microsoft EA?

The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) is a licensing program for large organizations with over 500 users/devices. It allows them to buy Microsoft software at discounted rates, with options for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid solutions. The EA is a three-year commitment that can be paid upfront or annually. Microsoft also offers website hosting, email services, and other related services through the program. The EA provides direct support from Microsoft, making it a comprehensive and cost-effective solution for organizations seeking flexible software licensing.

What is CSP?

The Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider program offers more flexibility than the EA program, with monthly, yearly, or three-year purchases and the ability to add or remove licenses as needed. It provides access to the latest cloud technologies and dedicated support from CSP partners, including technical support, managed services, and migration services. CSP partners can also offer customized bundles with their development, customization, and deployment services along with Azure cloud services for improved efficiency and resource utilization.

 Comparing Microsoft EA vs CSP

  • Migration flexibility

EA is more suited for large organizations that need to migrate a large number of services to the cloud. EA allows organizations to move their existing on-premises licenses to Azure, thus providing considerable cost savings. Whereas CSP program is ideal for businesses that are just starting their cloud journey, or have a small infrastructure that they need to migrate to cloud

  • Cost

CSPs offer pay-as-you-go pricing, making it cost-effective for organizations with unpredictable usage patterns. EAs require upfront commitment to a set amount of cloud services, resulting in cost savings for organizations with predictable usage patterns or large cloud service requirements. CSP providers can change the cost of services after a small term, whereas in EA cost is fixed for a long pre settled term

  • Support & Services

CSPs offer a wide range of services with flexible pricing options, A CSP provider can also include their own services along with the Azure cloud services. While, EA’s offer a more tailored services, organizations can negotiate with the cloud provider to negotiate a more custom agreement, this is could be helpful for organizations with complex requirement

[download_after_email id=”5277″]

Microsoft EA vs CSP: Which is Right For You?

For a large corporation requiring consistent software across global locations and volume discounts, the EA program is ideal. It provides centralized license management and simplified updates. For a small startup needing flexibility in licenses and access to cloud services, the CSP program is preferable. It offers pay-as-you-go pricing and the ability to add or remove licenses based on need.

Following table describes some more points of differences that should be considered before making a purchasing decision.

Term Three Year Agreement Monthly, 1 year or 3 year
Minimum requirements 500 users/devices  No minimums
Support  Direct Microsoft support Through a CSP provider
Cloud Requirements Provides access to more advanced features and support Offers more flexibility for cloud services, [ Might have limited products ]
Pricing Set by the microsoft Flexible pricing, set by the partner
Pricing Lock Price is fixed for the term Can change after a short term
Incentives Partner receives rebate (direct) or uplift (indirect) Partner adds margin to price, rebates
Licensing flexibility Long term licensing commitment, you can also migrate on-premises licenses organizations can add or remove licenses as needed

Using both EA and CSP

Organizations may benefit from having both EA and CSP programs depending on their specific needs. For instance, a hybrid cloud organization may use EA for on-premises licensing and CSP for cloud services to ensure consistency and scalability. Using both programs can also be necessary if the desired services are only available through one program.


Both the EA, and CSP have their own advantages and limitations, which range from flexibility to long-term cost benefits, and whichever is better for your organization will depend upon your particular use case, budget, and strategy. Before making a decision its essential for an organization to consider all the involved factors as mentioned in the article, because the right choice, can help your organization become more efficient and save money.