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You’re Not Crazy: Microsoft Licensing Is Getting More Complicated

Enterprise Software | Posted on July 31, 2018

The Ever-Evolving Licensing Landscape

Microsoft is introducing sweeping changes to their licensing programs this month. With the continued shift to Cloud, Microsoft has also increased the tempo of new product releases. With so much change, it is difficult to know what will affect your business, licensing compliance and, more importantly, how.

Many organizations see their Microsoft costs continue to increase yet, at the same time, feel like their risk and time spent managing licensing are also rising. You aren’t wrong in thinking so. Microsoft has doubled their number of products in the last 6 years. All while introducing new licensing programs and requirements. The truth is a licensing strategy created just three years ago is most certainly no longer optimized for your environment today.

Increasingly Complicated Environments Equals Increasingly Complicated Agreements

Did you know there are over 300 ways to license O365? With so many permutations, you have to ask yourself: do you think you have analyzed the most cost and risk-averse way to license every product in your environment or on your roadmap? What process do you have to keep that strategy current?

The shift to the cloud means non-compliance is becoming easier for Microsoft to identify, increasing the possibility of penalties. In fact, Gartner estimates major software vendors such as Microsoft audited 64 percent of organizations in the last year alone. Of those, 88 percent incurred unforeseen costs averaging more than 20 percent of their annual subscription and maintenance spend.

Product changes affect usage rights and support as new versions come to the fore and older ones are retired. This means shorter timeframes to understand the implications for your business. In some cases, these changes require you to move quickly to the latest version in order to maintain compliance. Many of the most significant announcements also come after Microsoft year-end in June – well after most organizations have already renewed their contracts!

More Options Than an EA

A Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) is no longer the only way to license your technology. In some cases, it may not even be the best option for you. This is particularly true for cloud-based products and services. For example, many organizations have a point-in-time need to leverage public cloud offerings like Azure, perhaps for testing and development projects. In this case, ‘pay-as-you-go’ may make more sense than making an upfront Azure commitment through your EA. Others may need more robust support as they integrate cloud computing into their digital and workforce transformation efforts. In this case, the Cloud Service Provider program, which bundles in services like Keystone Managed Service is a good option to ensure you are able to leverage Microsoft technologies to drive specific business outcomes.

A New Way to Approach Licensing

Finding time and expertise to optimize your licensing in such a dynamic environment is challenging to say the least. You not only need the tools, but also the program knowledge to identify the most prudent purchasing solution. It is little wonder most organizations lack confidence in their ability to maintain compliance and avoid overspending.

This is why businesses across North America are looking to modernize their licensing strategy. They are right-sizing their spend by leveraging newer and more adaptable licensing options, and keeping that strategy current with proactive processes and supporting resources, typically with the help of a 3rd party provider.

Working with a License Service Provider (LSP) helps you understand how changes to Microsoft technology affect your business. You’ll receive expert guidance on options to maintain compliance and prepare for the introduction of new products and services. A good partner can help you avoid surprises, maximize your budget and increase the impact of Microsoft technology on your business.


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