How the retirement of Microsoft’s Select Plus volume licensing program will affect you

Posted by at 8:41 AM

Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA)

Broader availability of MPSA is coming this fall.

Since its inception in October 2008, Select Plus has been the recommended transactional volume licensing program for medium-to-large organizations looking to procure Microsoft products and services. But with the introduction of cloud services, such as Office 365, and other new programs, licensing models continued to grow more complex and gain more complicated program terms. For that reason, Microsoft introduced its new volume licensing program vehicle, Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA).

Now, with a broader release of MPSA — including the availability of Software Assurance (SA) — scheduled for September 2014 and worldwide availability planned for July 2015, Microsoft announced it is retiring Select Plus.

The Select Plus licensing program will be phased out in two stages: Continue Reading…

The 5 values that determine your product audit risk

Posted by at 8:30 AM

In my first post in the calculating product audit risk (PAR) series, I discussed how organizations should have two different strategies for managing their overall software estate. For the set of products where the value to the business or the risk of non-compliance is high, we suggest a “manage the product” approach. For the rest of the software portfolio, we suggest a “manage the risk” approach. To help differentiate between these two segments of the overall estate, we introduced the PAR value.

As a reminder, here is the PAR formula:

SHI-Product-Audit-Risk-equation

In general, the PAR value is meant to quantify the relative financial risk a product represents within the overall software portfolio. But before you can complete the math, you need to know where to find the factors that go into the equation. Here’s how: Continue Reading…

What’s new in Backup Exec 2014

Posted by at 8:58 AM

Symantec released Backup Exec 2014 last month, building on Backup Exec 2012′s advances in backup technology. But in a nod to users, the newest version also reinstated some key, long-standing features that were absent, and sorely missed, from Backup Exec 2012. The changes come on the heels of an extensive beta test conducted earlier this year, and demonstrate that Symantec takes customer feedback to heart. As a former backup administrator, I can tell you that backup admins are creatures of habit, and the last thing they want to do when things are working well is to change something. To that end, the removal of Job Monitor from Backup Exec 2012 and the version’s move from policy-focused backups to server-focused backups left some long-time Backup Exec administrators unhappy.

Symantec Backup Exec 2014But now Job Monitor is back in Backup Exec 2014, as is the ability to create multi-server backup policies. The look and feel of Backup Exec 2014 is similar to 2012, but the inclusion of this functionality cannot be understated. Administrators can once again see the status of all backup jobs from a single, convenient dashboard and can create policies containing multiple servers, which simplifies management. Upgrading from previous versions of Backup Exec is also easier than ever, with settings and policies from versions 12.5 and above maintained in Backup Exec 2014. Continue Reading…

What one organization’s migration from Windows XP can teach you about your IT department

Posted by at 8:30 AM

LaptopsWindows XP reigned as one of the most popular Windows operating systems, making the end of support for the beloved system a bitter pill to swallow for large and small organizations. Many feared the potential headache associated with transitioning their infrastructures to Windows 7 or Windows 8, not to mention losing the familiarity of XP, leaving some waiting until the last minute to migrate. However, some companies that have moved on found that the migration process wasn’t as difficult as they expected, and more importantly, the conversion created an opportunity to improve their IT processes as a whole.

Facing the end of Windows XP

With the April 8, 2014 deadline quickly approaching, a state agency with more than 22,000 employees took steps to get ahead of its transition, developing a conversion process that it hoped would simplify Windows 7 adoption throughout the organization.

To ease implementation, the agency turned to long-time partner SHI. Knowing the complexities of the agency’s environment, we assessed the conversion process with an eye toward any potential holes as well as opportunities for general improvements to IT. Continue Reading…

5 hidden benefits of Software Assurance

Posted by at 8:21 AM

Treasure-Chest-OpensMention 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. Continue Reading…

Software license management: Calculating product audit risk

Posted by at 10:47 AM

When it comes to compliance risk, we suggest that organizations craft two very different strategies for their overall software estate. Depending on the software, companies should either manage the product or manage the risk.

Manage the product

For high-risk, high-value software products such as Microsoft SQL Server, IBM Websphere, and Oracle databases, companies should pay careful attention to what licenses are bought and allocated and how they are being used. Because these products represent a relatively large portion of software spend and compliance risk, the products should be watched and managed individually and reviewed continually to ensure license utilization is high and compliance risk is low.

Manage the risk

Lower cost or lesser risk software products generally don’t need the same level of attention. Because costs or compliance risks are relatively lower, these products represent a much smaller financial risk to your organization. Managing this group (which could include thousands of software titles) in the same way as high-value products is difficult and unnecessarily expensive. A more efficient approach is to set reasonable, firm policies to guide proper usage and compliance and then conduct occasional spot-checks to find and rectify situations in which those policies were skirted. Since this approach carries a bit more compliance risk, consider setting aside a small opportunity fund to deal with over-deploys or an adverse audit finding. Continue Reading…

Adobe takes a big step toward Creative Cloud. Here’s everything CS6 customers need to know

Posted by at 7:30 AM

Adobe Creative CloudDespite some early misperceptions about how Adobe Creative Cloud‘s subscription model would work, customers have signed up in droves. Some 1.8 million users now subscribe to Creative Cloud, enjoying instant updates and a predictable annual spend. Now a recent announcement could drive further adoption. At the end of May, Adobe will stop offering Creative Suite 6 (CS6) suites and products to commercial and government customers via the transactional licensing program (TLP) and cumulative licensing program (CLP).

If you’re still using CS6 under a TLP or CLP license, you probably have questions about this announcement. Here are some answers:

Why is Adobe phasing out CS6?

This move isn’t exactly surprising, after Adobe removed Upgrade Plan for its Creative products in December 2012, and announced in May 2013 that no new versions would be made available via perpetual licensing — Creative Cloud was the direction for the future.

CS6 is nearly two years old, and there have been more than 500 updates to the products since then. By making the Creative Suite available only through Creative Cloud, Adobe further simplifies its purchasing options and ensures it can deliver feature updates to customers as soon as they’re available. Continue Reading…