During the international Coronavirus outbreak, there are various free software offers from many vendors, to help organisations quickly adopt/expand remote working procedures. These vendors include:
Microsoft are offering Office 365 E1 free for 6 months – this includes Microsoft Teams with premium features. It appears to be available only via CSP partners and is “intended for customers managed by a Microsoft account rep…who haven’t activated any other Office 365 E1 trials in the past”
Google are offering free advanced Hangouts Meet features to existing customers until July 1, 2020.
Zoom have lifted the 40 min limit in their free plan for everyone in China and CFO Kelly Steckelberg announced it also applies to schools in Japan and Italy, and on-request for universities/schools in the USA.
More info – https://blog.zoom.us/wordpress/2020/02/26/zoom-commitment-user-support-business-continuity-during-coronavirus-outbreak/
LogMeIn are offering “Emergency Remote Work Kits” to eligible organisations, which include several of their products including GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, and GoToMyPC free for 3 months.
Cisco have removed the time limit from the free WebEx offering and increased the maximum number of participants to 100. They are also offering free 90-day trials to businesses that are not currently WebEx customers.
Citrix have detailed three areas in which they’re offering assistance:
- Citrix Business Continuity Assurance Program
- Citrix Managed Desktops Business Continuity Program
- Secure Citrix Workspace for Small Businesses
For the first two solution areas, they say organisations will be provided “special offers” and for Small Businesses they have introduced “a new, low-cost entry-level version” of their product. Organisations must contact their Citrix account manager or complete an online enquiry form to get more information.
More info – https://www.citrix.com/news/announcements/mar-2020/citrix-commitments-during-the-covid-19-crisis.html
I wasn’t familiar with Bitrix24 until someone mentioned them to me the other day, but they too are offering an unlimited number of users on their free plan. The main reason I mention them here is that they’re giving clear information about next steps:
“We are going to give an advanced warning for all free plan changes, giving you at least 30 days to save your data if needed. Also, as per the GDPR compliance requirement, you will be able to request full personal data removal from our servers, if necessary”
More info – https://www.bitrix24.com/promo/staysafe/
What happens afterwards?
While it’s commendable that vendors are currently running these free software offers, what happens once the free period ends? Of the above vendors, only Microsoft and Bitrix24 appear to have made any reference to this.
There are several unknowns but, to me, the primary concern is that organisations will find themselves unexpectedly paying for additional software, potentially software they no longer need. When the free trials and offers are taken up, what do the EULAs say and for how long are you committing? Are you locked into high-watermark numbers that are way above your actual, average usage? What about any data that may have been put into these services? How do you get it back/deleted? Is it a simple process and/or perhaps it incurs costs?
While it’s understandable that these things may not be top of mind for organisations as they make a rapid, unexpected shift to remote working – they do need to be considered at some point, and the sooner the better. With the economic impact of this situation already making itself known, organisations do not want to be getting hit with large audit penalties further down the line. Nor do you want to be wasting money in the cloud – be it too many SaaS licenses or over-provisioned (or no longer needed) IaaS resources, there’s plenty of opportunity to spend more than you need to.
About Rich Gibbons
A Northerner renowned for his shirts, Rich is a big Hip-Hop head, and loves travel, football in general (specifically MUFC), baseball, Marvel, and reading as many books as possible. Finding ways to combine all of these with ITAM & software licensing is always fun!
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