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‘Lack of transparency and ambiguity within Microsoft licensing terms leaves even the most sophisticated clients scratching their heads’

Further to the initial findings from the CCL regarding Microsoft Licensing issues that are faced by users, upcoming US Microsoft Licensing Seminar sponsors Method 180 have shared their thoughts.

You can see the full article ‘Microsoft True-down, Software Assurance, and Citrix are key issues according to CCL research’ by clicking here.


Mike Austin, Method 180: ‘The results of the CCL research identify key concerns that I see in my work with clients. The lack of transparency and ambiguity within licensing terms leaves even the most sophisticated clients scratching their heads.


‘Lack of transparency and ambiguity within Microsoft licensing terms leaves even the most sophisticated clients scratching their heads’

I work with companies to assist them with navigating these concerns and others. This involves developing licensing strategies that align to clients’ unique technical deployment requirements while decreasing costs and minimizing compliance exposure.

For example, take the inability to true down Office365 licenses. There actually are “limited” true down options available. This issue really depends on what is being purchased and what the specific terms of the contract are. Enterprise Online Services (Office365 E Plans) can be trued down, but only to the initial quantity ordered versus Additional Products (Exchange Online), which can actually be trued down to zero.

This leaves an organization that decreases usage below what they originally committed to, stuck purchasing more than needed until the contract expires. However, under some circumstances, other clauses within a contract (such as the Mergers & Acquisitions clause) could be leveraged to potentially re-negotiate. One of the things that I look at is how to minimize the risk associated with this lack of true-down and how not to commit to an upfront purchase. Analyzing multiple scenarios and understanding the risk and financial impact to each is a key exercise that organizations need to undertake.

Another area of ambiguity is with Citrix licensing. I believe the main cause of ambiguity is the fact that Microsoft licenses on an “access” versus “use” perspective. In other words, if a user has access they need to be licensed regardless of if they use the product. This becomes particularly confusing when Citrix licenses based on concurrent usage; or IT wants to keep Active Directly design simple by not limiting access to XenApp. In my audit work with clients, we look at this as a key area of exposure and work to develop strategies to minimize risk and cost.

The CCL raised the issue of novation of Software Assurance (SA) with an example of a divested company. To my knowledge, Microsoft does not have a standard public policy on this issue. The challenge presented in this scenario seemed to be that an Account Executive was a roadblock. Unfortunately this is common. I have done a lot of work with clients undergoing M&A to assist with ensuring correct license transfers and determine the best approaches to managing the novation issue of SA.

The last area that I’d like to comment on is Windows Server not offering Server Mobility. I agree that this is an area of concern, however in larger organizations the impact is minimized. These organizations tend to use DataCenter for unlimited virtualization so server mobility issues are minimized. I believe that the bigger issue here is Cloud Mobility. As companies move to public clouds, the inability to move Windows Licenses will increase costs if not negotiated correctly. It would be interesting to see the CCL’s take on this in the future’.


Do you share the same issues with Microsoft Licensing as the ones we have identified? Help us to gather more feedback from Microsoft end users by completing our quick anonymous survey.

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About Karen McAllen

Karen McAllen is Managing Director for The ITAM Review. Connect with Karen on Twitter or LinkedIn or better still come and meet Karen at our Events!

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