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

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…

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Microsoft’s volume licensing transformation: Here’s everything you need to know about MPSA

Late last year, Richard Smith, GM at Microsoft Worldwide Licensing & Pricing, revealed it would be introducing a “next-generation approach to commercial licensing” to provide customers a more flexible and simplified purchasing experience across all solutions. Dubbed by Microsoft as Next Generation of Volume Licensing (NGVL) or transformation of volume licensing, the initiative takes a multi-phased approach, which began and will continue to be driven by feedback from the different licensing communities–partners, customers, and Microsoft field.

NGVL then entered the pilot phase, for which SHI was proud to be one of the handful of participating partners across the globe. On Dec. 1, 2013 the initiative reached its current phase, a controlled, but broader, launch. This current phase is not the final product. We will likely see the transformation continue for some time to come.

Today’s offering, the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), is simple but clearly displays the three primary tenets of the transformation. Continue Reading…

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Office for iPad: Answers to your most common licensing questions

Since Microsoft’s unveiling of Office for iPad two weeks ago, SHI has been inundated with phone calls and emails from customers asking about how they can get the new offering. This question would seem to have a simple answer given the nature of how easy it is to obtain apps on an iPad — just download it!

However, as organizations assess their current and future mobile device strategy, it stands to reason that the more robust capabilities available for Office for iPad require a more complete and thorough understanding of the licensing and cost models involved. For that reason, we’ve taken the time to address the five most common licensing questions organizations have asked about Office for iPad.

1. Is Office for iPad included in my existing Office 365 (O365) service plan?

In order to edit and create documents with Office for iPad, organizations must have an O365 ProPlus subscription. The following volume licensing (VL) O365 subscriptions include O365 ProPlus:

Microsoft-Office-365--Volume-Licensing-Plans

2. Is Office for iPad included in my existing Enterprise Agreement (EA)? Continue Reading…

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Microsoft updates licensing for Windows desktop operating system

Microsoft announced a change to licensing options for Windows Enterprise edition on March 1. Below I provide an overview of the changes and how they might impact organizations looking to take advantage of the features and functionalities.

Historically, Windows Enterprise edition has been only available through the acquisition of Windows Professional with Software Assurance (SA). Organizations that wanted these capabilities needed to purchase them through one of the following means:

  • A new upgrade License with SA
  • The renewal of existing SA
  • The acquisition of SA only within 90 days of OEM or a Full Packaged Product (FPP) purchase

These procurement options were accompanied by certain restrictions on the type of qualifying volume licensing programs. For example, organizations couldn’t acquire SA within 90 days of OEM or FPP purchase under the Enterprise Agreement program, only via Select or Open. In addition, the ability to renew existing SA depended on keeping maintenance current to ensure continuity of coverage. SA renewal rules are defined in the Microsoft Product List.

Microsoft will now provide Windows Enterprise edition as an upgrade License only offering moving forward, making the features of Enterprise edition available to organizations not invested in Windows annuity licensing or programs. In addition, SA will come standard with the Windows Enterprise edition only, eliminating the Windows Professional Upgrade with SA option. Organizations with active SA on Windows Professional will have the option to renew using the Windows Enterprise SA SKU. Continue Reading…

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4 questions customers are asking about licensing Office 365

Microsoft has attempted to simplify the licensing of Office 365, but the rules can still be confusing, especially when migrating from a perpetual-based licensing model to a subscription. To clear the air, we’ve compiled and answered four of the most common licensing questions organizations ask when looking to transition to Office 365.

What is a CAL Bridge?

Microsoft introduced the Client Access License (CAL) Bridge to help organizations transition their on-premises workloads to the cloud while maintaining their enterprise-wide commitment and licensing rights. Each CAL Bridge consists of CAL Suite workloads that aren’t included in the corresponding Office 365 service plan.

Consider this example. The Core CAL Suite grants all of an organization’s users and devices access to on-premises servers that run any of the following workloads:

  • SharePoint Server
  • Windows Server operating system (OS)
  • Lync Server
  • Exchange Server
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection

When an organization transitions to Office 365 Plan E1, its users gain cloud access to some of those same workloads. However organizations must still remain licensed for the workloads not included in Office 365 plan E1. The Core CAL Bridge accommodates the change in access rights for those users. Instead of licensing users for Core CAL Suite, an organization can license its users for Office 365 plan E1 and Core CAL Bridge for Office 365.

The new licensing configuration divides users’ licensing workloads as follows:

Office 365 Plan E1 gives users licenses to SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, and Lync Server while Core CAL Bridge for Office 365 provides licenses to Windows Server OS, System Center Configuration Manager, and System Center Endpoint Protection. Continue Reading…

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Putting the value in value added reseller: Why both manufacturers and customers rely on VARs

Many organizations struggle to keep tabs on their IT assets. The number of products, manufacturers, and licensing agreements is enough to make any person’s head spin. That’s why most companies use some sort of IT asset management (ITAM) to keep track of the various renewal dates and understand what licenses they have on hand. But even then they have little strategic direction for their licensing.

Software manufacturers too have their work cut out for them. They can’t afford to spend the time and money to find every potential customer for their software. In order to earn a reasonable profit on their products, they need a base of customers and a dedicated sales force.

To make the landscape more manageable for both the manufacturers and their ultimate customers, value-added resellers (VARs) serve as a liaison, helping manufacturers get their software in users’ hands while offering customers a range of manufacturer and software options that best fit their business objectives.

It’s too difficult for one customer to attain knowledge about every manufacturer, product, and licensing option on the market, just as it’s nearly impossible for manufacturers to gain clear insight into customer markets and needs. Since both spheres are so vast, VARs meet in the middle to fill the gap.

Value add for customers

No organization looking to license software or hardware has the time or resources to research every potential manufacturer’s products and compare the costs and benefits. VARs, on the other hand, have staffs devoted to staying up to date on the products available, as well as the nuances of every agreement. When customers work with VARs, they receive advice on which manufacturers and products can best support their goals, as well as guidance on manufacturer pricing. Continue Reading…

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How to plan for renewal management

If your company has uncovered issues in underlicensing or overspending on software licenses — or even if you just want to be more proactive about IT needs – it’s time to rein in renewal management. Renewals can hit your company throughout the year from various vendors for everything from software maintenance to hardware leases. Even original equipment manufacturer (OEM) warranties eventually expire and create a need for a new warranty or new equipment.

The problem is that many companies fail to track these renewal or expiration dates. When the invoice for a renewal arrives without advance notice, they simply pay it based on their past agreements without stopping to think strategically about current and future needs. The issue is only exacerbated by the adoption of the cloud as perpetual licenses, which have no expiration date, get replaced by subscription and term licenses, which do expire.

By tracking expiration and renewal dates, as well as key dates internal to your company — such as when budgets are set — you can replace the reactive response to renewals with a more proactive stance that will not only potentially save your company money, but equip employees with the tools they need to do their jobs.

With advance warning of impending renewals, IT and procurement can take time to analyze and discuss any renewals, negotiate new agreements, or vet alternative vendors or solutions that better suit the state of your business. For example, your company might need to right size the number of commitments it has, reducing software maintenance to 800 desktops from 1,000.

Here are four points you should consider before renewing: Continue Reading…

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Microsoft adds flexible, cost-effective Office 365 purchase option

Effective yesterday, Aug. 1, Microsoft customers have a simpler way to add Microsoft Office 365 to their Enterprise Agreements (EAs). Known as Office 365 Add-ons, the new Office 365 purchase plan will allow new, existing, or renewal EA customers to procure Office 365 as an “add-on” to their existing on-premises Software Assurance (SA) investment.

Why Microsoft Office 365 Add-ons are a breath of fresh air

When Microsoft introduced Office 365 a couple of years ago, the goal was to move organizations to the cloud and transition their on-premises, perpetual license workloads, such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and Office ProPlus, to a hosted subscription-based licensing model. But with thousands of customers already under Enterprise Agreements for these traditional licenses with Software Assurance, the process wasn’t going to be easy.

In order to accommodate organizations that wanted to begin transitioning to Office 365 before the term of their Enterprise Agreement ended, Microsoft offered a purchase option that introduced transitional part numbers (SKUs), Client Access License (CAL) Bridges, and pricing changes that would account for the difference in what customers were paying on-premises versus what they would need to pay in the cloud.

Additionally, Microsoft had to update many of its contractual documents, including Enterprise Agreements, to accommodate terms for online services. The new language used to address minimum purchase order requirements, price level minimums, true-up due dates, and other conditions brought about a whole new set of program terms or changes.

The result: the hybrid licensing model that many customers use today. This licensing approach has its benefits. It allows organizations to transition to cloud services at their own pace, matches online services plans to meet requirements of users within the organization, and amasses no incremental costs in a year for equivalent transitioned users. These benefits make the hybrid licensing model optimal for customers looking for a long-term solution.

However, the new SKUs, licensing options, and product/program terms introduced by the transitional hybrid licensing model add a layer of complexity that can become an unforeseen administrative burden for some organizations. Continue Reading…

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Microsoft User CAL Changes: What it means for you

As the nature of the cloud evolves, so too does its licensing models. In the past, organizations were set up with licensing on a “per device” basis, but with the ongoing consumerization of IT and the proliferation of new devices (mobile phones, tablets, ultrabooks, etc.) in the workplace, many organizations are looking to cut costs by shifting focus to the user rather than the device.

To address this shift, Microsoft is raising the cost of its User Client Access License (CAL) licensing model. Effective Dec. 1, 2012, the cost of the following User CALs will increase 15 percent:

  • Bing Maps Server CAL
  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard and Enterprise CAL
  • Lync Server Standard, Enterprise, and Plus CAL
  • Project Server CAL
  • SharePoint Server Standard and Enterprise CAL
  • System Center 2012 Client Management Suite
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • Visual Studio Team Foundation Server CAL
  • Windows Multipoint Server CAL
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows Server Remote Desktop Services CAL, Terminal Services CAL
  • Windows Server Rights Management Services CAL

What does this mean for you? Continue Reading…

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VMworld 2012 wrap-up: What’s on the Horizon

When I wrote this post, my plane was soaring 34,000 feet above the eastern edge of San Francisco, rocketing me away from VMware’s ninth-annual VMworld 2012. It really seemed the place — floating above the clouds, catching a glimpse of the sun hitting the horizon — to reflect on some of the new products revealed at this year’s worldwide users conference.

The cloud played a leading role this year (as you can expect with any big tech conference nowadays) as vendors demonstrated how small business could use the cloud to create, automate, and provision their own cost-effective private clouds.

But I think the announcement that got everyone the most excited (and let’s be honest, it would only ever get a cheer in a room full of nerds) was that VMware is stepping away from its vRAM licensing model. Rather than pricing based on the amount of memory provisioned inside the environment, it will be based on the number of CPUs on the physical machines used to run the virtual environment, regardless of the power of those CPUs.

But VMware had a lot more in store for us than just licensing news. Here’s a look at my top-three takeaways from VMworld 2012. Continue Reading…

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