Is there a best way through a Microsoft licensing review?

Winston Churchill is famously quoted as saying, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” But the British PM never had to deal with Microsoft licensing.

Info-Tech Research Group is pretty much stating the obvious when it notes that Microsoft licensing is a complicated, unpleasant necessity that is made additionally difficult as it changes with new releases of software.

The challenge for CIOs and IT departments is they are frequently asked to reduce capital and operating expenses wherever possible during tough economic times, it notes, and as one of the top five expense items in most enterprise software budgets, Microsoft licensing is a primary target for cost reduction.

The firm does makes recommendations for enterprises that are fairly common sense:

  • Conduct a thorough needs assessment as part of your Microsoft licensing review, and document the results;
  • Assign a dedicated license and software administrator;
  • Critically assess the value of software assurance as it can be a large part of the total cost of a Microsoft agreement.

Beyond the most pressing, immediate licensing review, Info-Tech suggests taking a cyclical approach and actively manage licensing to ease the process of defining your requirements.

While most organizations are overspending on Microsoft licensing and missing simple ways to reduce their licensing costs, Info-Tech said organizations should watch out for licensing shortfalls. If these are not caught and addressed, they could eventually trigger an audit. The good news is the average savings identified per contract is 25% if enterprises take their approach.

Microsoft licencing seems to be constantly evolving. The subscription model for Office, for example, makes licensing easier, but the software giant gets more money in the long haul than it did from the old model. Microsoft is moving to a service model for Windows 10… which will reportedly have seven different flavours. Meanwhile, don’t expect compliance under a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) to be a barrel of monkeys. But Microsoft’s move from processor licences to core licences for SQL might be the excuse you’re looking for to buy a sexy all-flash storage array for your database.

While reviewing your Microsoft licensing will never be a soul-defining journey, you could view it as invigorating spring cleaning and an opportunity implement some best practices. Just don’t expect it to get any less complicated.

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Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson
Gary Hilson is a Toronto-based freelance writer who has written thousands of words for print and pixel in publications across North America. His areas of interest and expertise include software, enterprise and networking technology, memory systems, green energy, sustainable transportation, and research and education. His articles have been published by EE Times, SolarEnergy.Net, Network Computing, InformationWeek, Computing Canada, Computer Dealer News, Toronto Business Times and the Ottawa Citizen, among others.

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