From Microsoft 365 to the data center: Uncovering hidden opportunities to optimize your Microsoft estate:
Discover three ways to maximize the value of your investment

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The economic impact of COVID-19 has put pressure on CIOs to forge ahead with digital transformation on a leaner budget. According to a survey from PwC Strategy&, 41% of CIOs are aiming to cut costs by 30-40%.

Finding ways to run an optimized and efficient Microsoft estate is a good place to start.

Here are three ways to maximize the value of your Microsoft investment, including the most overlooked options and specific steps you can take.

1. Understand how Microsoft 365 (M365) subscriptions are used

In April 2020, Microsoft reported an average of 258 million Office 365 active monthly users, with 75 million daily active users of Teams alone. It’s likely that M365 subscriptions will account for a substantial and increasing proportion of your Microsoft estate.

But, if you don’t know how – or whether – your employees are using the software, it’s unlikely you’re getting the most out of your investment.

Many IT leaders assume that subscription software eliminates shelfware. However, the concept of shelfware as a service is over a decade old. Research by vendors and analysts suggests that an average of 25-30% of software subscriptions go unused, despite being paid for.

Contractual commitments may limit your ability to make substantial changes, but here are four actions you can take right now to gain control of your M365 spend:

  • Identify unused subscriptions, or pinpoint situations where alternative solutions might better fulfill user needs
  • Reassign existing unused subscriptions to new users
  • Train users with un- or under-utilized functionality on how to get the most out of the solutions
  • If you’re an Enterprise Agreement or Enterprise Subscription Agreement customer, consider negotiating a license reduction during the Microsoft true-up window (30 to 60 days before the enrollment anniversary date)

2. Revisit Windows Server’s transition to a core-based model

Windows Server Standard and Datacenter processor licenses were moved to a core-based model in 2016. Many organizations lacked the time and expertise to transition their employees’ existing licenses to the new model effectively.

There are still significant benefits to revisiting server licensing, particularly when transitioning to the cloud or running a hybrid environment. You must also keep track of earlier versions, licensing models, and product terms.

Kickstart your server license optimization through the following actions:

  • Assess your current state; check which licenses are suitable for cloud use and assign licenses accordingly
  • Consider utilizing the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit instead of investing in additional licensing for cloud instances – you could save up to 40% on running virtual machines
  • Identify the best way to use active Software Assurance to right-size your Windows Server environment

3. Ensure your SQL deployments are efficiently licensed

SQL is one of Microsoft’s most expensive products, and it has complicated licensing rules.

Yet, many inventory solutions today still don’t support the automatic identification of SQL editions. This makes it difficult to determine if your SQL deployments are licensed efficiently.

Optimizing SQL licensing requires careful assessment of your SQL infrastructure. Without specialized licensing knowledge, you may struggle to know if you’re taking full advantage of things like clustering, virtualization, and license mobility options.

To properly evaluate the economics of an Azure migration, you’ll first need to understand your on-premises inventory. Here are a few recommendations to help identify savings:

  • Consider Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) or Platform as a service (PaaS) options: With Azure Hybrid Use Benefit for SQL, you can get a reduced rate by leveraging Software Assurance on perpetual licenses
  • Decommission hardware over the three-year agreement period and make SQL purchases reduction-eligible under the Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) agreement
  • Check whether licensing through Azure and/or bring your own license (BYOL) is more cost effective

There’s a better way to optimize your Microsoft investments

Microsoft licensing can be inherently complicated. But you don’t have to do it alone.

A good software partner can help you optimize your Microsoft licenses at each stage of the software lifecycle, while offering you additional expertise to augment your own team’s knowledge.

SHI has a range of in-house IT asset management (ITAM) and software asset management (SAM) services to support your license purchases, from providing visibility of your deployments to working out the best licensing for your particular requirements.

For more information on SHI’s Volume Licensing programs or ITAM services, please reach out to your dedicated SHI sales team or contact SHI.

Danielle Kraft contributed to this post.