IT time wasters: Failing to prepare for a software audit

clock in trashIf you’re like most organizations, it’s been a while since your last self-audit. A survey we conducted found that out of 102 IT admins and executives, 56 percent said their company hadn’t completed a self-audit in the past year.

That doesn’t mean they’re more confident they’ll never see an audit. Almost two-thirds said they believe software audits are becoming more prevalent. And a 2013 Express Metrix survey of 178 senior IT managers in North America about audit activity found that more than half had been audited in the last two years.

The most frequent auditors cited in the Express Metrix survey were Microsoft, Adobe, Autodesk, Oracle, and SAP, in that order. Does your organization license software from any of those publishers? Most companies use software from at least one, so you should be expecting an audit request in the mail soon, if it hasn’t come already.

While some might see IT asset management and other ongoing maintenance as a time waster, the true time drain is responding to a simple audit when you’re not ready. A prepared organization could potentially respond to a request in days, while those that are unprepared could spend months gathering the necessary information. (more…)

What the changes in Microsoft’s SPLA mean for you

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For the second consecutive year, Microsoft will make price adjustments to its Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) in January. The SPLA, which enables service providers and independent software vendors (ISVs) to offer hosted Microsoft software and solutions to their end customers, covers a wide range of products, including SQL Server, SharePoint Server, and Office.

Starting Jan. 1, 2015, Microsoft will update specific products and enact some pricing and licensing changes within SPLA. Understanding these changes will help you manage current licensing agreements and better optimize your product lineup.

With the exception of the one-off January adjustments, the pricing for all SPLA services remains static month to month. Customers should report 2014 usage by Jan. 10, 2015 to use existing December pricing; orders invoiced after Jan. 15, 2015 will be subject to the new pricing benchmarks.

Some of the software upgrades rev up the power behind Windows Server 2012 options. These improvements should increase productivity, and provide additional value that matches the current price offering. (more…)

Microsoft extends Office 365 ProPlus education benefits

benefitsLast year Microsoft announced it would give students free access to Office 365 (O365) through its Student Advantage program. Now the software giant is extending these benefits to school faculty and staff, and revealing a self-enrollment model that makes it even faster and easier for all parties to take advantage of these benefits.

Effective Dec. 1, 2014, any educational institution purchasing Office for its faculty and staff can now include an O365 Professional Plus (ProPlus) subscription at no extra cost for all students, faculty, and staff. Anyone with an active school-specific email address from eligible schools can sign up and install the following versions of Microsoft Office on up to five machines and five tablets of their choice:

  • Office 2013 Professional Plus
  • Office 2011 for Mac (and the new Office for Mac when it comes out next year)
  • Outlook for Mac (next generation)
  • Office for iPad (full featured)
  • Office for iPhone (full featured)
  • Office for Android tablet (when available)

(more…)

8 factors to consider when migrating from Windows Server 2003 to Office 365

Win2k3The retirement of Windows Server 2003 is closer than many think. If you haven’t started planning for your migration yet, now’s the time. For both those yet to start and those already underway, we’ve been presenting the options for migration from Win2k3, including Windows Server 2012 and Microsoft Azure. In this final post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about licensing Office 365 (O365), Microsoft’s cloud solution.

O365 provides a number of flexible and cost-effective licensing and purchasing options for migrating Exchange and/or SharePoint to Microsoft’s SaaS offering. If you’re evaluating Office 365, ask yourself the following eight questions in order to make an informed decision on your strategy moving forward. (more…)

How Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite licensing affects you

cloud networkMicrosoft will launch its new Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) offering on Dec. 1, 2014, the latest step in its broader shift in licensing models to a “mobile first, cloud first” strategy. ECS will be a bundled subscription SKU offering containing Office 365 (O365) Plan E3, Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS), and Windows Client OS Per User. This new offering will be available to organizations looking to transition to the cloud mid-term, at renewal, or as part of a new agreement.

ECS provides organizations with a true user-based licensing model, removing the per-device licensing requirements on the Windows Client OS. However, with any new licensing change come requirements on how organizations can procure and manage the new offering in their environment going forward. Provided below is an overview of the ECS offering and important considerations when moving forward.

Understanding the changes to ECS

The traditional on-premises Desktop Platform licensing options — e.g., Office Pro Plus and Windows Client OS — have primarily been device based. The Client Access License (CAL) offered per-user or device licensing depending on how an organization’s users/devices were accessing its server technology. With the introduction of O365, Microsoft initiated user-based licensing for Office Pro Plus, available in the form of a standalone Office Pro Plus for O365 subscription or as an O365 Subscription Plan E3/E4.

In April 2014, Microsoft introduced EMS, which provided even more flexibility to procure cloud services in a user-centric approach. The final transformation comes with the release of Windows Pro Per User subscription license, which shifts from device- to user-based licensing. This change is best illustrated in the chart below. (more…)

How to prepare for the expiration of your EAP and ECI enrollments

Prepare for EAP and ECI ExpirationA year after Microsoft launched its Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) volume licensing program, many organizations are preparing to make the switch as their Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP) and Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI) agreements expire. Customers with expiring contracts are facing critical decisions regarding the renewal of their software assurance (SA) into the SCE, which marks a major step in the simplification of Microsoft licensing programs.

The SCE allows organizations to consolidate ECI and EAP licenses into a single enrollment featuring standardized terms and discounts. Its broad product offerings include the Core Infrastructure Suite, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, SharePoint Server, Visual Studio with MSDN, and Azure.

EAP and ECI customers should closely evaluate the SCE option before enrolling in order to fully understand the changes and how their current licensing will shift under the new structure. Here’s what EAP and ECI customers must know and do to prepare for the SCE. (more…)

3 licensing options for migrating to Microsoft Azure from Windows Server 2003

Win2k3Where will your organization go when Microsoft ends support for Windows Server 2003? Many organizations are formulating an answer to that question right now, preparing to meet the July 14, 2015 deadline. The myriad licensing models, program options, and cost scenarios for a Win2k3 migration make it a daunting task involving multiple decision points.

The top three options for migration are Windows Server 2012, Office 365, and Microsoft Azure, which will be the focus of this post.

Microsoft Azure is an option that can be implemented as an alternative to or in conjunction with an on-premises migration to Windows Server 2012. Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provides organizations with a flexible cloud computing platform to build, deploy, and manage applications in a predictable operational expense model based on consumption. Microsoft Azure enables organizations to make an initial monetary commitment based on anticipated usage and future growth.

The most cost effective means to procure and manage Azure is through the Enterprise Agreement (EA) program. Here are three options for organizations looking to procure Azure under an EA model. (more…)

Migrating to Windows Server 2012 after the retirement of Win2k3? Read this first.

Win2k3Organizations should be starting to plan their move off of Windows Server 2003 in anticipation of its end of support on July 14, 2015. As they evaluate their options, a key decision will be identifying the migration destination for applications and workloads.

Microsoft has three target migration destinations: Windows Server 2012, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365. Each target destination will have various licensing implications and costs that need to be examined as part of the overall migration process.

We’ll cover all of these options in a three-part series on licensing considerations for Windows Server 2003 migrations, starting now with Windows Server 2012 — a logical choice if you’re looking to simply upgrade your systems. Read on to learn more about the Windows Server 2012 migration option, including its virtual environment rights and other key licensing considerations. (more…)

4 key insights into an organization’s IT asset management

ITAMSHI hosted a two-day IT Asset Management (ITAM) Summit in New Jersey last week, attracting 102 IT and procurement executives from 77 companies, ranging in size from less than $500 million in revenue to more than $50 billion. Having joined SHI just six months ago after holding CFO roles at both public and private companies, it has been interesting to learn so much about the challenges organizations have keeping track of their hardware and software assets and what we can do to help them.

These challenges are a concern not only to IT and procurement heads, but to those who manage internal controls and seek to optimize return on investment as well, such as CFOs, risk managers, and internal audit heads. When you consider how difficult it can be to control cloud and SaaS-based app usage and company data, the situation gets even worse. It’s no wonder that most of these leaders are losing sleep over ITAM issues.

To get a sense of the attending organizations’ approach to ITAM, we asked our audience to respond to a series of statements about asset management, risk, software audits, the cloud, and control over IT. Here are just a few of the things we learned: (more…)

5 mobile content management solutions to keep your data safe

locked mobile phonePhones and tablets have become ubiquitous workplace tools. As such, employees demand access to all the content they need to do their job wherever they might be. And while that’s good for productivity, it can be trouble for security.

If your organization is like most, you have an on-premises solution for content management, but might not have a system in place for when the data is accessed from a mobile device. And if your organization fails to offer adequate access, workers turn to consumer sync and share services — one in five use these services to store and share corporate documents in the cloud, according to a recent Forrester survey. While these solutions are convenient, they lie outside of IT control and expose companies to a number of data security threats.

Five years ago conversations revolved around mobile device management (MDM) as organizations equipped their employees with smartphones and tablets. Now it’s time to talk about mobile content management (MCM) and how to secure corporate data accessed from those devices.

Some organizations might have MCM as part of their MDM solution but aren’t using it. Others have no MCM, and their IT departments are forced to play catch up on data security threats. If you haven’t yet implemented an MCM solution, it’s time to assess your needs and see how they match up to some of the top enterprise-grade options available. (more…)