Organizations with Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EA) should work closely with their Microsoft partners to maximize opportunities around license management and efficiencies over the term of their three-year contract. But did you know that several stages in the EA renewal process also offer excellent insights to reduce costs and better align your next hardware refresh to your strategy?
1) Start planning a year ahead.
To get the most from your investment, you should meet with licensing specialists and solution architects and begin planning your next agreement early in the third year. At this stage, they can review the product roadmap and licensing changes, and assess your current environment and business needs.
You should be doing the same with your hardware a year before devices reach end-of-life or end-of-warranty. Unfortunately, many organizations don’t have a systematic way of doing this. You can get a clearer view through the use of IT asset management (ITAM) tools combined with expert consultation. You can learn which devices will soon need replacing as well as your best options for replacement.
2) Meet with your vendor or reseller frequently.
Business environments evolve rapidly. As such, we recommend EA customers have quarterly meetings with their Microsoft partner to strategize and provide budgetary numbers. It helps the partner to understand the on-the-go strategy, and recommend any changes needed. From a software license compliance, it also helps to keep accurate numbers for compliance.
When looking at your hardware, it’s equally important to have frequent meetings with your vendor or reseller. It will give you an opportunity to discuss product roadmaps and how they fit into your own IT strategy. You should meet even more frequently with the leaders in your business to gauge their hardware needs.
3) Account for deployment downtime.
Planning for your software licensing so far in advance provides another benefit. If changes to software need to be made, it lets you plan your deployment around office events. If a large-scale deployment goes poorly, it could create company-wide downtime. It is crucial to account for that and ensure compliance.
Similarly, a major hardware refresh can be an even more significant ordeal. Consider conducting large refreshes during a key internal event, such as the next employee retreat. That way, end-of-life devices are replaced behind the scenes creating limited interruption. If you can, stagger refreshes in batches. Depending on the size of your organization, we recommend upgrading approximately 30 percent of your fleet at a time, which keeps it manageable and non-disruptive. Or better yet, let a trusted Solutions Provider manage your rollout, whether it’s imaging, asset tagging, or hired hands to physical install new product a remove the old. Keep your IT team available for day-to-day and proactive projects rather than tie them up with roll out projects.
EA customers find major benefits by standardizing on a single vendor because it simplifies the environment and makes it easier to manage. Standardizing your hardware to one vendor during your next refresh offers similar advantages. You will experience consistency with running applications, smoother troubleshooting and streamline support. Importantly, you will gain access to volume discounts and warranty programs. Of course, operating system and application compatibility should play a major role in device selection. Not all devices, processor chipsets, and applications play as well together.
Both software and hardware should be viewed from the perspective of the IT lifecycle, incorporating every step from planning and forecasting to procurement to disposal. By embracing the parallel best practices in software renewal and hardware refresh, organizations can map out a clear deployment strategy that aligns with business goals and delivers sustainable business results.