EAP, ECI, EWA, and SCE: The evolving landscape of Microsoft volume licensing

Remember the good old days when you likely had a simple choice between two volume licensing programs to license your Microsoft software: Select Agreement or Enterprise Agreement? Over the past three years, Microsoft has introduced new volume licensing program options that have provided organizations with more flexibility, but have also added another layer of complexity to the decision-making process. Most recently, Microsoft announced a new program called Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) slated for availability in the fourth quarter 2013, adding even more choices to its volume licensing pool.

SCE is designed to simplify the program terms, pricing, requirements, and decision points for organizations interested in committing to the products and technologies offered under this enrollment. As with any significant change, it is important to understand how organizations currently procure their licenses and how that process will change in the future.

Today, Microsoft offers organizations the ability to procure licenses under single or multiple enrollments depending on various factors, including:

  • License, License and Software Assurance, Subscription
  • Commitment terms (e.g., enterprise wide vs. buy as you go)
  • Price discounts
  • Bundled vs. single SKUs (e.g., Core Infrastructure Suite vs. Windows Server)
  • Program benefits (e.g., Software Assurance benefits)
  • True-up terms (e.g., one year vs. three years)

When you factor in the various volume licensing vehicles that Microsoft offers, IT and procurement managers must weigh a complex set of options during their decision-making process. Today, organizations with more than 250 desktops have the following enrollment types available to them to procure their Microsoft licenses and services:

  • Select Plus Agreement
  • Enrollment for Enterprise Desktop – Enterprise Agreement (EA)
  • Enrollment for Office 365 (O365-only EA)
  • Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP)
  • Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI)
  • Enrollment for Windows Azure (EWA)

Many organizations are currently utilizing more than one of these enrollment options, with some under as many as five. Once you incorporate the various factors into each enrollment type, you have the potential for a convoluted approach to procuring and managing your Microsoft licenses and services. On a more positive note, choice does provide flexibility, assuming customers weigh the pros and cons for each procurement option and, of course, the license and service costs.

The EAP, ECI, and EWA enrollments will remain intact for organizations that enrolled in these programs prior to November 2013. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of these current offerings as compared to the new SCE enrollment is important as part of an overall, long-term strategy.

To help organizations navigate this complex volume licensing landscape, SHI has created a SCE Enrollment Comparison Table that provides a side-by-side view of the key features of each enrollment type. Certain features of the SCE program are yet to be defined; however, this comparison table provides a foundation for additional analysis on how organizations can procure their software and services over the long term.

SCE licensing from Microsoft

MICROSOFT LICENSING 101: Quickly determine which licensing program is best for your organization with SHI’s SCE Enrollment Comparison Table

Ultimately, a decision on the proper volume licensing program(s) for your organization requires a thorough analysis of your company’s technology strategy and initiatives, existing and future licensing requirements, product and deployment costs, and IT asset management practices. A single program offering might not be the most cost effective or efficient means to procure licenses or services. Instead, a combination of programs that provide flexibility and choice based on specific technologies and organizational requirements might be the way to go.

If you’re looking for more information about how Microsoft SCE will affect your organization’s licensing environment, check out our Fall 2013 Webinar Series. In November we’ll discuss the changes the server and cloud technologies affected by SCE and the licensing changes you need to be aware of.

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