Microsoft is one of, if not the biggest and most used software vendors currently on the market. They provide a variety of desktop and server based products including the Office bundle, Visio, Project, Windows Server and SharePoint.
New Licensing models
When Microsoft introduced Office 365 back in 2011 it changed the way end users license and use their products. The Office 365 model gave end users a different way of licensing and accessing Microsoft products, but with changes comes confusion. Instead of the old device-based perpetual license, you are now required to sign up to the Office 365 non-perpetual subscription model. Basically, you’re renting the license for the agreement period and you will have no rights to use the software should you not renew that agreement period. There are now a number of packages available to customers based on their needs and organisation size.
Determining what license package is required for your organisation means you need a Microsoft licensing expert. With the old licensing model, if you’ve handled a renegotiation or a true-up you should have a solid knowledge of the licensing metrics and what is needed for your organisation. But as Microsoft have thrown a curve ball with the new licensing model you’ll need an expert to help guide you through your new agreement.
Along with confusion over what licensing model or packages go with and what licenses are now required, end users also became confused with the new licensing terms that Microsoft introduced, including the CSL (Companion Subscription License), which allows up to four mobile devices to connect to corporate desktop products. Along with the CSL model, they also introduced Bridge CAL’s to help existing customers move to Cloud based services. But what exactly does this mean? The two new structures have not been well communicated and trying to find an official Microsoft source that explains them is troublesome.
Common Microsoft Licensing issues
There are a number of Microsoft licensing issues faced by users on a regular basis. These include both desktop, server, virtual and now Cloud based licensing issues. However, with the introduction of Office 365 over the past few years’ users have become increasing confused about how to license what, and how many licenses they actually need.
Pre-Cloud the issues faced revolved around the requirement for either Standard or Professional licenses. A number of organisations without a SAM structure in place or without a licensing professional would have purchased the professional version just because it sounded better. They wouldn’t necessarily need the professional features. Project Professional was only useful if you had a Project server, which the majority of Project Pro licensee’s did not have.
Furthermore there was a lot of confusion (and lack of awareness) over secondary use rights, the 90-day rule and also the Visual Studio licensing model. Then there were issues over Windows operating system downgrade and upgrade rights if it was an OEM (original manufacturer equipment) and how to correctly license servers and virtual environments.
Microsoft Licensing education
Due to the complex nature of Microsoft licensing there needs to be great awareness and education around the licensing models. The education factor is now even more important with Office 365 and the cloud based subscription model. The current qualifications that Microsoft offers were last updated in 2009, which was before the Cloud structure was introduced.
There is a clear need for updated education material and services around the new licensing structure for both end users and practitioners to increase the awareness and understanding. Once customers are educated on the new licensing structure then they will become far more responsive to its positive points and far more receptive to using the new model. It will also help end users make the most out of their licences.
The need for training
With the complex licensing structure of Microsoft, the best way to promote and educate the various Microsoft licensing models is to provide training for end users and practitioners. The new licensing model is great for Microsoft as it helps combats piracy and helps generate bigger revenue streams, but it has made it slightly more complex for end users. With the current up-take of Software Asset Management and the need for experienced SAM professionals, licensing and managing software assets has shot up the list of ‘things to do’ for organisations.
But what if the SAM or licensing professional has been miss-informed by a third party or has found inaccurate information on the Internet? That end user could end up breaching copyright or worse, paying for more or the wrong licenses than required! The SAM practitioner and licensing expert will of course educate themselves on the new licensing structure and how to ensure the they purchase the right software, but what about a general IT Manager or end user that has been lumbered with moving over to Office 365?
One question that we receive from readers on a regular basis is “where should I look for training?” or “which training course should I take?”. There are always lots of different options, but if you’re looking for training specific to Microsoft Licensing we recommend taking a look at Directions on Microsoft. They run Microsoft Licensing Boot Camps aimed at helping you develop current expertise as well as equipping you with the critical knowledge required to drive maximum value from Microsoft software investments.
Upcoming boot camps include:
- London, May 20-21 2014
- Seattle, July 24-25 2014
- Chicago, September 8-9 2014
- Dallas, October 20-21 2014
If your job has anything to do with licensing Microsoft technology then it would likely be a worthwhile investment to take a look at these seminars.
Life was relatively easy on the desktop side of things before Microsoft introduced the Office 365 model, and to be fair it still is. Once an education has been provided or a training course has been attended you realise that it’s not that much harder to manage than previously. There just needs to be an understanding regarding the changes made and how this will impact on your organisation. Users are definitely crying out for a refresher course or training material for Office 365 products, especially around true-ups and the server infrastructure model. Once adequate training has been provided then it’s only a matter of time before 99% of organisations heads are in the clouds.