What is a reseller? An Office 365 reseller partners with Microsoft to deliver its suite of cloud collaboration tools with a number of value-added benefits, such as more support than Microsoft itself is willing to offer, or add-on technologies that supplement the Office 365 suite.

If you already feel confident about moving to Office 365, whether that be the cheaper business-level, or more expensive enterprise-level plans, working with a reseller might feel like a step in the wrong direction—why not simply head over to Microsoft’s site, pick the plan that works for you, and start administering accounts to your employees? The answer is somewhat complex—more on that in a moment.

If you feel less confident about moving to Office 365, the truth is that working with a Office 365 reseller can give an otherwise scary proposition a lot of confidence. Instead of buying software licenses from Microsoft, you’re partnering with the reseller to power your business with that, and much more. Again, why work with a reseller over going straight to the source? Isn’t that more expensive? Does it add any more technical hurdles?

Support that only a reseller can offer

First and foremost, working with an Office 365 reseller unlocks a degree of support that simply isn’t possible when working directly with Microsoft. Only the enterprise-level plans come with any significant support options, particularly 24/7 technical support, which so many companies want as part of their investments in the cloud. Unless you’re willing to overpay for an enterprise plan, you might be without support—only massive issues that bring your entire infrastructure to a halt are covered. Microsoft makes you pay for the privilege to access their services—in that situation, they have all the power.

With resellers, that dynamic changes completely. They’re not a monolithic enterprise—they tend to be small businesses themselves, with the primary goal of making sure their customers stay happy with their investments in the cloud. It’s much easier to pick up the phone and reach a dedicated salesperson or technical support specialist who can help you walk through your latest issue. The top-tier support plans still might require additional fees, but it still means you’re connecting with a familiar voice, and not just another random technician in a call center.

A source of information you can count on

Resellers are also subject matter experts, particularly if they “drink their own champagne,” in that they also run their business with the cloud messaging and collaboration tools they resell. Aside some from blogs it might produce, Microsoft won’t give you best practices or tips and tricks about their products, particularly if you try to get them on the phone. A reseller will be happy to offer their tips on migration processes or how to best manage employee collaboration tools.

The value-adds matter, too

It’s also important to recognize the value adds that the reseller can offer. Many have developed in-house software to make some part of the cloud migration process easier, or have partnerships with even more cloud services that can be mixed-and-matched into exactly the solution that you’re looking for. There’s more flexibility and room to grow. There’s more immediate opportunity to discover new opportunities for your cloud deployment.

And if the whole idea behind moving to the cloud was to simplify IT complexity and cost, there’s no question that a reseller will be better situated to replicate the services and support you need while also reducing the overall costs and overhead.

At Bi101, we specialize in helping companies migrate some or all of their business collaboration efforts onto the cloud. We support them along the way, help them gain more value from their existing employees, and save themselves the trouble of traditional IT implementations. Whether you’re working at the Business Premium or the E5 level, there’s true value in finding someone to partner with for your cloud investment rather than someone to work under.