Part 2 – Identifying the different use cases for partner offerings and solutions scenarios

Steve Luper, Cloud Solution Architect

In Part 1 of our post Implementing a multi-tenant offering in Azure using CSP we established the foundations of what “multi-tenant” means, what the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is, and how to use the Partner Center and Partner Shared Services.

In Part 2, we show you two partner offerings that lend themselves to a deployment that works well with CSP and can take advantage of Partner Shared Services. We wrap up this article with frequently asked questions about the CSP Partner.

Example 1: Simple deployment

A partner called CSP Partner wants to take an offer to market where the partner fully provides the managed service for each customer and has components of their offer shared across all customers. In addition to the shared components, the partner deploys a customized and unique instance of their IP for each customer.

In my example below, this partner has their own IP that offers a web based line of business application deployed using IaaS for each customer. The orchestration, reporting, and business logic components are shared across all customers. Big Customer has a deployment in their own Azure subscription as does Small Customer. These VMs, based on CSP Partner’s IP, are heavily customized by CSP Partner per customer and are deployed into Azure subscriptions that the partner sold to the customer through CSP.

Here I’ve shown the simplest deployment representation. There are many additional components that will need to be considered and deployed, including required connectivity between CSP Partner’s Shared Services subscription and each customer subscription. This can be accomplished using Virtual network peering or VPN Gateways depending on your configuration. Network Security Group (NSG) configurations need to be implemented at all endpoints as well.

This example uses IaaS but there’s no reason that PaaS services couldn’t be used in the customers’ subscriptions if CSP Partner’s solution uses services like Azure Web Apps or Azure SQL Database.

In this use case, the customer pays the partner for actual compute and storage consumption (plus margin, if the partner wants) in addition to the recurring costs that the partner charges the customer for use of the partner’s IP and managed services.

Example 2: Complex environment

In this next example, CSP Partner has a more complex environment where they intend to leave some of the shared components in their own data center, including monitoring, reporting, and business logic components across their solution for all customers.

However, they have a need for incoming FTP and file shares that are shared across all customers. They have chosen to implement these components in their Partner Shared Services subscription.

Lastly, for this scenario, each customer has their own instance of CSP Partner’s N tier application deployed in their own Azure subscription acquired through CSP Partner. In addition to the comments I made above about the appropriate connectivity between resources in different Azure subscriptions, in this scenario, CSP Partner will need to leverage Site to Site VPN and/or Express Route connections to allow the resources that they have chosen to leave in their data center to interact with the resources that they have deployed both to their Partner Shared Services subscription and the resources deployed to each customer subscription.

Example 3: Non-partner Shared Services

Finally, let me give you an example that is not appropriate to include in Partner Shared Services but would be a great straight customer deployment using CSP.

As mentioned in the below example CSP Partner offers their customers a solution that does not take advantage of Partner Shared Services at all. The IP that they sell to customers is a line of business application that meets the unique needs of each customer.

Customers may have different database schema customizations, high availability, geographic distribution, scalability and client customization requirements. This example is not really all that different than if a customer deployed the product from CSP Partner on-premises in their own customer data center or in an Azure subscription that they acquired on their own. However, this is a terrific use case for CSP as CSP Partner provides billable customization, implementation, and deployment professional services to their customers in addition to monthly managed services, including OS patching and application updates, backups, and on demand support.

Both of the deployments shown below are deployed into customer Azure subscriptions acquired and configured for the customer by CSP Partner to meet the specific needs of that customer.

General CSP Partner Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: Can a CSP partner sell their Partner Shared Services subscription to customers?

Answer 1: Not directly. Only if incorporated into a broader solution where they are charging for their IP, managed services, and reselling Microsoft’s cloud services. To sell Azure subscriptions and resources directly, CSP partners create customers and subscriptions within Partner Center.

Question 2: If a partner thinks of themselves as an ISV, offers a pure SaaS solution where there isn’t differentiation between shared and customer unique components, should they use Partner Shared Services as part of their public cloud hosting for their solution?

Answer 2: No. They would be better off acquiring Azure on their own Enterprise Agreement and setting customer pricing for their solution along the lines of per user per month pricing for their IP based solution hosted in their own Azure subscription(s).

Question 3: The examples above show mostly IaaS/virtual machine based solutions. Can a partner solution include components that are PaaS like Azure Web Apps, SQL Database and Functions?

Answer 3: Absolutely. If it’s available through CSP, you should feel free to include it in your solution whether deployed in Partner Shared Services or in per customer subscriptions.

Question 4: If a CSP partner has a solution that makes sense to deploy into customers’ own Azure subscriptions with no components shared across customers, is CSP a viable option for them?

Answer 4: Absolutely! In the case of this solution, they just wouldn’t leverage Partner Shared Services.

Question 5: Where does a CSP partner see if they have created their Shared Services tenant and any associated Azure subscriptions?

Answer 5: The Partner Center Dashboard

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Join us for a Community call on Tuesday, January 30th regarding Implementing a multi-tenant offering in Azure using CSP to learn how to go beyond the basics for cloud services for your customers.

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