For Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) partners, the question of whether to shift to the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is increasingly relevant.

Understanding SPLA and CSP

SPLA (Service Provider License Agreement): SPLA allows service providers to license Microsoft products on a monthly basis, offering flexibility and scalability for businesses that provide hosted software services. It has been a popular choice due to its pay-as-you-go model and the ability to use the latest Microsoft software versions.

CSP (Cloud Solution Provider): The CSP program, on the other hand, enables partners to sell Microsoft Cloud services, including Azure, Microsoft 365, and Dynamics 365, directly to customers. CSP partners manage the entire customer lifecycle, from billing to support, which fosters closer customer relationships.

Benefits of Staying with SPLA

1. Established Business Model:

• SPLA has been the backbone for many service providers, offering a proven and reliable model for delivering Microsoft software services. If your business is thriving under SPLA, there may be little incentive to change a successful formula.

2. Cost Predictability:

• The SPLA model offers predictable costs based on actual usage, which can be easier to manage and budget for compared to the CSP model’s variable costs tied to cloud consumption.

3. Flexibility in Service Offering:

• SPLA allows partners to offer a wide range of Microsoft software products, from Windows Server to SQL Server, on a pay-as-you-go basis. This flexibility can be crucial for meeting diverse customer needs without committing to long-term cloud contracts.

4. Customer Familiarity:

• Many customers are familiar with SPLA-based services and may prefer the stability and reliability they have come to expect. Staying with SPLA can help maintain customer trust and satisfaction.

5. Minimal Transition Disruption:

• Transitioning to CSP requires significant effort, including training, marketing, and potentially new infrastructure. By staying with SPLA, you avoid the risks and disruptions associated with such a major shift.

6. Azure Arc Integration:

• Azure Arc enables SPLA partners to extend Azure services and management to any infrastructure. This means SPLA partners can offer hybrid and multi-cloud solutions, bridging the gap between traditional on-premises services and modern cloud services without fully committing to CSP.

Challenges of Shifting to CSP

1. Initial Transition Effort:

• Moving to the CSP model involves a strategic overhaul of your current operations. This includes substantial investment in training staff, marketing new services, and possibly overhauling infrastructure, which can be both time-consuming and costly.

2. Complex Customer Migration:

• Migrating existing customers from SPLA to CSP services can be complex, particularly for those with bespoke or heavily customized setups. The risk of service disruption during the migration could affect customer satisfaction and retention.

3. Competitive Market Pressure:

• The CSP market is highly competitive, with numerous providers offering similar cloud solutions. Differentiating your services to stand out in such a crowded marketplace can be challenging and resource-intensive.

4. Regulatory and Compliance Challenges:

• Ensuring compliance with the myriad of regulations governing cloud services is critical and can be daunting. SPLA partners already accustomed to specific regulatory environments might find it challenging to navigate new compliance requirements in the CSP landscape.

Making the Decision

For SPLA partners considering whether to stay with SPLA or shift to CSP, a thorough evaluation of their current business model, customer base, and long-term goals is essential. Here are some steps to guide this decision-making process:

1. Assess Customer Preferences:

• Understand the current and future needs of your customers. Do they value the traditional software services you provide under SPLA, or are they moving towards cloud-based solutions?

2. Analyze Financial Stability:

• Conduct a financial analysis to understand the impact of staying with SPLA versus transitioning to CSP. Consider the predictability of SPLA costs against the potential variability of cloud service expenses.

3. Evaluate Operational Capabilities:

• Determine if your organization has the necessary skills and infrastructure to manage a shift to CSP. If not, consider the cost and effort required to build these capabilities.

4. Strategic Long-Term Planning:

• Develop a strategic plan that aligns with your long-term business goals. If SPLA continues to support your growth and customer satisfaction, there may be no need to disrupt a well-functioning system.

5. Consult with Industry Experts:

• Engage with industry experts (Octopus Consulting Team) and peers for example in the Octopus Community to gather insights and experiences. Understanding how other SPLA partners are navigating this decision can provide valuable perspectives.


The decision to stay with SPLA or shift to CSP is significant and requires careful consideration. While the CSP program offers access to advanced cloud technologies and potentially broader service portfolios, the SPLA model provides stability, predictability, and a proven track record.

For many SPLA partners, the benefits of staying with SPLA—such as established business models, cost predictability, minimal transition disruption, and the integration capabilities provided by Azure Arc—may outweigh the advantages of transitioning to CSP. By conducting a detailed analysis and aligning with your strategic goals, SPLA partners can make an informed decision that best supports their business and customer needs.

Feel free to adjust the content to better suit your audience or to include specific examples and insights relevant to your experience and customer base.