Mention Microsoft Software Assurance to an IT manager and the first thing he or she will think of is maintenance. While Software Assurance (SA) does enable software upgrades to newer versions of the products it covers, there is a lot more to it than just that. SA provides Volume Licensing (VL) customers access to a variety of tools training, and other resources to aid in the planning, deployment, and support of Microsoft technologies. The benefits available vary based on the type of VL agreement and the specific licenses purchased, but they’re designed to maximize the value IT pros and end users can extract from an organization’s technology investment.
Many organizations often don’t realize the full potential of SA. Here are five of the most commonly overlooked features of your SA benefits.
- Software Assurance training voucher (SATV) days can be converted to Planning Services days. Training vouchers enable IT administrators to receive on-site technical training at one of Microsoft’s certified partners. Customers with Planning Services are entitled to an on-site visit by a Microsoft certified partner to guide them through implementation planning of various Microsoft technologies. Three SATV days can be exchanged for one Planning Services day.
- Customers that qualify for 24/7 problem resolution phone support also qualify for unlimited web support. This applies to all servers on the agreement that are covered with active SA, and allows you to save your phone support incidents for use on other Microsoft products in the mainstream support phase, whether or not they have active SA coverage A list of the servers supported is located on the bottom of the Benefit Details screen in the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).
- Customers approaching the termination date of their agreement can generate vouchers to extend the life of remaining SATV or Planning Services days. Vouchers are valid for 180 days from their creation date, regardless of agreement expiration, which means that organizations can receive up to an extra six months to utilize this benefit. Be sure to capture the generated voucher numbers that are emailed to the trainee and listed on the Benefit Detail screen when the vouchers are created. Once the agreement expires, you can no longer access the voucher numbers in the VLSC. Also, no changes can be made to vouchers after the agreement expires.
- Home Use Program (HUP) Usage Reporting tracks download activity, employee eligibility, and program utilization. HUP enables employees to download the latest version of Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, or Visio onto their home computers for just $9.95 each. Usage Reports show which individuals made a purchase, the software they downloaded, whether they chose to receive physical media, as well as other pertinent program information. Reports can be found in the Benefit Summary of the VLSC. Simply click the blue Benefit Report Summary hyperlink under the Activated Benefits heading.
- Some SA benefits are accessible outside the VLSC SA Benefit Administration portal. These include, but are not limited to, Extended Hotfix Support, Back-up for Disaster Recovery, Windows Virtual Desktop Access, System Center Global Services Monitor, and Enterprise Source Licensing Program. These are additional use rights that otherwise would not be included in the product’s licensing that add valuable functionality.
Contact your SHI representative to find out if you qualify for these benefits.