Microsoft is the fifth largest tech company in the world, and their products are the most widely used by businesses across the world. Windows 10 comes standard with most ready-to-use PCs and laptops, and the Office applications are well known for their productivity – they include products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. You also get access to Outlook emails, Microsoft Teams, and OneDrive cloud storage. All of these apps and more are included in Microsoft 365.
Microsoft 365 is the name for Microsoft’s line of applications aimed at businesses and other organizations – it is a superset of products, including the Office applications, Windows 10, and other services for business processes such as security and device management. With the business subscriptions, you get access to services like Exchange (a hosted email server), and SharePoint (a company-wide file management service). Microsoft 365 comes in a range of different licenses aimed at all kinds of organizations – from businesses and enterprises; to schools, governmental bodies; even charities and other non-profit organizations. If you are a small to medium-sized business, you would look at the Microsoft 365 Business licenses – they come in 3 different plans: Basic, Standard, and Premium. If you are a larger company, you would look at the Microsoft 365 Enterprise licenses.
If you’re a business, and you’re interested in Microsoft 365 for all your users, the most cost-effective way of getting it is through a Microsoft partner. These are third-party organizations that have partnerships with Microsoft to sell licensing to their customers. The benefit of going through a partner, rather than directly through Microsoft, is that partners can often give you preferential rates on software licenses. As well as this, they will be able to offer more support options. Microsoft usually offers support for installing and setup of their products, but not ongoing support. A Microsoft partner, however, will have an excellent knowledge of the products and will be able to troubleshoot issues for you. Business IT support is often a part of the service they give to customers.
Many Microsoft partners are also managed IT service providers. This is the practice of outsourcing the maintenance of IT processes and functions – this could involve anything from hosting servers; providing software licenses; and implementing security such as disaster recovery, backup services, and firewalls. A Microsoft partner may offer their services in combination with Microsoft 365, to create a package deal. So, you won’t just get your Microsoft products, you will also get IT support for those products, and other services such as server hosting, project services, disaster recovery and backup, and much more.
Microsoft 365 is not the only product that may be of interest to you as a business. If you are interested in cloud computing, or server virtualization and hosting, you may also want to look at Microsoft Azure. If you need customer relationship management (CRM), or enterprise resource planning (ERP) capabilities, you can get them with Microsoft Dynamics 365. If you require business intelligence, or app development capabilities, consider using the Microsoft Power Platform. All of these services together are known as the Microsoft Business Solutions, and are specifically formulated for certain types of partner distribution.
You also have some different options within the Microsoft Partner Network. For example, if you are particularly interested in adopting cloud solutions, you can partner with a Cloud Solution Provider (CSP). The CSP program means partners own the end-to-end customer lifecycle – they can provision their customers with Microsoft cloud services, take full control of billing, and offer support for the services. Most importantly, CSPs create their own offers and pricing – for example, they may offer different tiers of contract to fit different sizes of business. There are two CSP models: Tier 1 CSP or Tier 2. With the Tier 2 model, the CSP works with other Microsoft partners to offer customers cloud solutions. Whereas with the Tier 1 model, the CSP works directly with customers to deliver the Cloud solutions. Neither model is better
What this all means is that many Microsoft services are only available to customers through a Microsoft partner. The benefit of this is that customers have lots of options as to how they get their Microsoft services – you can look for the best packages and the best pricing for you. Microsoft partners can be found in many countries and regions. So, if you were looking for a Microsoft partner to work with, you would look for one local to your region. Wherever you are based, you should be able to find a provider that is right for you. If you are a business in need of software for productivity and other business processes, you should definitely consider using a Microsoft partner.