License to Sell: 5 Signs You’re Working with the Best Microsoft Licensing Reseller for Your Business

Handled internally, software licensing becomes a constant headache for the IT department: contracts scattered amongst various managers’ desktops and filing cabinets, lapses in upgrades and vital security patches, increased likelihood of failing an audit…the list is endless.

Handled externally with the right Microsoft licensing reseller, all of these software licensing issues should be concerns of the past. Before signing on the dotted line — or, preferably, during the discovery phase —, be sure the Microsoft licensing reseller you’re considering offers these must-haves.

1. Microsoft-authorised software licensing reseller status. There are both practical and compliance reasons this is a top point to consider. Software licensing can involve purchasing a large volume of Microsoft licensing for servers, end-users and IT employees, along with meeting compliance and audit guidelines. Having an experienced and accredited Microsoft licensing reseller managing your software licensing investment will minimise your business risk. Having one reseller managing all of your Microsoft licencing and expirations will streamline an incredibly cumbersome manual software licensing process and ensure you remain compliant throughout the agreement term.

2. Demonstrable cost savings and value. Although resellers may share price sheets that show substantial discounts by purchasing Microsoft licensing through them rather than if you just purchased software licensing per machine, also known as an OEM license, their surcharges may render the discounts a moot point. Conduct the analysis to determine whether the reseller will produce true ROI, not just in price savings but in ongoing support. Ask for the complete quote, including any potential fees and what the costs are for value-added services you might want to use, such as desktop support and deployment.

3. A local presence. To ensure your organisation is working with a Microsoft licensing reseller that can help with in-person evaluation of software licensing needs, select a provider with an established local office. This local accessibility adds convenience and comfort that a large Microsoft licensing reseller with distant offices and faceless consultants can’t provide. Getting personalised service from Microsoft licensing expert near you will help you feel like you’re making the best software licensing decisions for your specific business needs.

4. Knowledge of where Microsoft licensing applies — and what approach maximises value. Microsoft licensing requirements vary by seat, server, processor and a host of other possibilities  and they often change with every new release. For example, Windows Server was once licensed according to the number of servers needed. But Windows Server 2012 is now licensed per physical processor, including a Client Access License CAL (Client Access License) that applies to each user or device accessing the server. Additionally, one license applies to two processors. Your reseller must be able to evaluate the best Microsoft licensing setup to allow for growth while reigning in expenses.

5. Value-added desktop services. Come April 8, 2014, Microsoft will officially shut down Windows XP and Office 2003 support. If your organisation relies on this operating system, finding a reseller that can assist in each step of your upgrade to Windows 8 (or to Windows 7, then to Windows 8) will protect business operations and ensure stable continuity. A true valued-added software licensing reseller will offer desktop deployment and support, hardware procurement and software asset management in addition to your standard Microsoft licensing needs to guide you to your next OS.

Even if software licensing is just one part of your business, it’s a big part. Choosing the right Microsoft licensing reseller can transform licensing from a daily headache into a long-term strategic investment that drives business value.

When it Comes to BYOD, Don’t Forget Software Asset Management

Software asset management, or SAM, has largely been the concern of organisations with a majority of employees still using traditional enterprise desktops. Then camethe rise of BYOD and mobile solutions. The mobility trend adds another layer to SAM that your IT department can’t afford to overlook. IT departments must ensure they are still tracking all software, even if it sits on multiple devices, to maintain software licensing compliance and maximise cost savings.

BYOD Risk 1: Over-purchasing software licensing

When it comes to software licensing, your organisation runs the same risks with a BYOD program as it does in the traditional desktop scenario. If left unchecked, employees could be chronically downloading applications onto their devices that they don’t actually use. You can imagine how this BYOD situation makes application “creep” and associated software licensing costs skyrocket.

Handling this BYOD software licensing issue might require a SAM approach with mobile device management incorporated. These tools can give application usage data and also assist with a “reclamation” process in which unused software licenses are taken back, enabling better cost efficiencies for your business. Another solution to reigning in the ropes on mobile software licensing is through establishing an enterprise app store through which your IT department can offer a select set of business productivity tools. This still enables BYOD users to select the apps they want to do their jobs, but prevents duplications of similar software and the IT department from having to manage an infinite number of apps.

BYOD Risk 2: Non-compliance due to tricky BYOD software licensing rules 

By now you’re well-steeped in the controversy surrounding Microsoft’s new licensing scheme for companion devices with the rollout of Windows 8. But the truth is that software licensing for BYOD through any provider can be complicated. BYOD is still a relatively new phenomenon in terms of how it dictates the way in which technology companies will structure their software licensing going forward. In the meantime, these companies are scrambling for a suitable approach to software licensing so that individuals don’t run their products for free. Does your organisation know if it’s required to have a license for an application that an employee accesses through the corporate network on his or her own mobile device? How many copies of each application need to be licensed for each user in a BYOD scenario?

Questions like these would be best put to software asset management and software licensing consultants, who can help determine which licenses you’ll need depending on the devices in your organisation and the applications you want to use. Going forward, these software licensing experts can help your organisations build a software asset management plan in which you look for opportunities to boost business efficiency and save on software costs.

How to Choose a Microsoft Open License

By Lauren Fritsky

Open licensing agreements are geared toward small to midsized businesses, including commercial, health, government and education organisations, with at least five desktops. Maximising the benefits of this type of license involves knowing how you want to manage costs and how flexible you need the licensing terms to be.

Decide your ideal payment model

If you want to get your license payments out of the way, the traditional Open Licence agreement lets you pay for all your licenses up front in one lump sum. You don’t have to worry about repaying until the next two-year term begins again. If this isn’t the best payment situation for your business, you could choose the Open Value agreement, which lets you make three annual payments instead of paying everything upfront. For businesses needing to tightly control their spending, a more flexible option is the Open Value Subscription. This agreement requires the least upfront payment and allows businesses to add or subtract costs depending on how many desktops they add or remove in a given year.

Consider your ties to the software

Organisations that want Software Assurance, which offers upgrades and training support, can opt for the Open Value orOpen Value Subscription agreement. If you want your entire company to use the same software, choose the Open Value Companywide agreement. This plan rewards you for standardising your desktop fleet by offering price protection and discounts. The Open Value Subscription is essentially the most non-committal of these options, as it doesn’t require the organisation to actually purchase the licenses, but offers the ability to run the software throughout the business for the duration of the agreement term.

Determine if you need scalability

If you don’t know how many desktop licenses you’re going to need in the years to come, the Open Value Subscription allows you to scale the number of licenses as the number of seats goes up or down. Your pricing is adjusted to reflect how many licenses you need once your annual payment is due. This means you can add more desktops for a short-term basis – for contract workers, for instance – if you need to without incurring extra cost, as long as the total number of users remains the same by the time your next payment is due.

Making the Most of Your IT Budget in an Uncertain Economy

By Lauren Fritsky

Whether you look at the bright side (Australia’s economy posted an annual growth rate of 4.3 per cent) or the bad side (the ASX and dollar are playing tricks on us), economic uncertainty will likely continue to hover as the new financial year dawns. Organisations are still treading lightly, and budgets now face new hurdles such as extra energy costs brought on by the carbon tax.

What’s an IT department to do? Take inventory of your technology and make the right investments to help your organisation grow and save costs in the long-term.

Check what you already have

Simple advice, but how many organisations actually take stock of software and hardware sitting idle that they could be using or that they no longer need? Conducting a software asset management programme can help organisations get a better handle on software needs. You likely have multiple versions of the same software at your organisation, which could be increasing costs and adding a support burden to the IT department. A SAM programme also helps you track software licensing investments to ensure they are cost-efficient. On the hardware front, there could be buy-back and trade-in options for hardware and special savings through your vendors over the course of the year.

Streamline your outsourcing

Outsourcing certain IT functions can save your organisation up to 30 per cent and allow greater flexibility during peak and off-peak times. Opting for a pay-as-you-go model and amenable contract ensures you can match the level of service to your budget and business needs; there’s no need to commit to a year-long agreement that you might no longer need three months in.

Choosing one provider that supplies a variety of services such as help desk support can help streamline the IT environment and offer lower costs than might be accomplished through using multiple providers. One government agency in New Zealand was able to achieve significant cost savings by reducing the amount of IT partners to one provider that could supply a pay-as-you-go model, which allowed the organisation to ramp up during times of peak demand. Cutting the IT fat also enabled the agency to gain better consistency in IT operations and avoid duplicating certain functions.

Clear up extra costs with server consolidation and cloud

Gartner found that 60 per cent of the Australian IT budget goes toward operations and infrastructure. Consolidating servers is one way to cut down this spending by as much as 20 per cent; cloud is another. Organisations can diminish infrastructure costs and increase efficiency of operations through cloud investment. Research has shown businesses can save up to 25 per cent on IT costs over the first three years by outsourcing data storage, critical business applications and email to the cloud. Businesses facing heat from the carbon tax can also decrease their footprint by 30 to 90 per cent using cloud for business applications thanks to the drop in data centre heating and cooling costs and reduced hardware use.

Opting for a cloud services provider with pay-as-you-go models, flexible contracts and colocation services allows businesses to slowly transition into the cloud while retaining the ability to scale up or down and shorten or extend their agreement depending on fluctuating business needs.

How is your IT department saving money?

3 Ways Windows 8 Can Help Australian Enterprises

By Lauren Fritsky

Windows 8 is expected to be at our Australian doorstep in just five months. While the consumer preview and media analyses have produced varied responses regarding the look and feel of the new cross-platform operating system, there are several important benefits Windows 8 could bring to Australian enterprises and IT management in particular.

1. Applications look the same and are deployed faster

Enterprises using Windows 8 can get line-of-business applications faster and via the method they choose, such as locally on a desktop or through virtualisation or streaming technologies. And regardless of deployment method or the device being used, these apps will look and operate the same way. The ability to have applications run on both the desktop and mobile devices means enterprises can cut costs, as they will no longer need to buy different types of software for different computing environments. If you have questions about how these changes could affect your software licensing, contact Datacom’s team of licensing experts, who have deep knowledge of different Microsoft volume licensing agreements.

2. More productive employees, more streamlined collaboration

Because applications will now look the same across devices with Windows 8, employees will no longer need training or a period of time to get used to new software versions on different platforms. Staff should be able to perform tasks and access documents and projects in a seamless manner whether they are on a laptop or a tablet. Users can have the experience they want on the device they want, which stands to boost productivity, even when working at home or after work hours, and encourage collaboration between mobile employees regardless of location.

3. Better app management

IT management will be able to better control which employees can access which applications. This is a crucial ability to prevent employees from haphazardly downloading random applications from the new Windows 8 app store. IT management can restrict ability to download applications and also better customise desktops by deploying apps, including line-of-business apps, directly to PCs without having to use the app store. For those using Windows on ARM, Microsoft is offering a new management client that works with a cloud-based infrastructure so IT management can deliver line-of-business apps to mobile employees on their respective devices.

Read Datacom Investments Director Mark McWilliams’ article on Windows 8, NBN and the Australian enterprise on ABC Technology.

Get the Star Treatment with a Volume License Enterprise Agreement

By Lauren Fritsky

Does your organisation have more than 250 computing devices, whether they are traditional desktop computers, thin clients or mobile devices? Are you considering transitioning to cloud in the near future? Do you need help managing other aspects of your IT environment?

If you answered “yes” to all these questions, the Microsoft volume licensing Enterprise Agreement might provide the most beneficialvolume license to your enterprise.

Organisations that choose an Enterprise Agreement for their software licensing get purchasing discounts in addition to star treatment in the form of immediate software upgrades when new versions, such as Windows 8, are released, 24-hour technical support and access to other services such as desktop support that could benefit their overall IT strategy.

Obtaining a volume license through a Microsoft volume licensing Enterprise Agreement can solve the problem of having individual desktops with different software licensing, which could lead to compliance issues. The Enterprise Agreement streamlines and simplifies IT management by offering a single company-wide agreement. Your organisation might have 300 PCs, but this volume license allows you to manage them as one.

Datacom has also found in its experience that certain organisations can save up to 40 per cent compared to other licensing arrangements through an Enterprise Agreement. Plus, these enterprises gain access to a full range of Software Assurance benefits, which include immediate software upgrades and releases, user training and technical support. If you obtain your agreement through Datacom, you can also potentially gain access to our desktop deploymentdesktop support and software asset management services. Additionally, you can transition to cloud and shift employees between onsite software and cloud under your Enterprise Agreement.

If your organisation started out with an Open Value agreement and is ready to grow past 250 desktops, Datacom’s licensing experts can help you make the transition to an Enterprise Agreement.

Microsoft Open License Agreements Explained

By Lauren Fritsky

Software licensing is complicated. The difference between Microsoft volume licenses can be dictated by anything from having a single extra seat at your organisation to having a crop of employees working remotely.

For instance, the Enterprise Agreement is for organisations with 250 seats or more and offers attractive Microsoft volume licensing pricing while the Open license agreementtypically targets enterprises with between five and 250 seats that want more flexibility in the number of PCs they must license. Both can help your enterprise control costs while standardising software across all PCs to ensure continued compliance and include flexible pricing options plus Software Assurance.

Enterprises can obtain three different types of agreements through the Open license programme. The non–company-wide option is for enterprises that need to license servers or a limited number of client machines; the company-wide Open license agreement offers a single platform option for rights to the latest Microsoft-licensed products, enabling enterprises to customise desktops with various software components.

For enterprises looking for increased flexibility in their licensing agreement, the Open Value Subscription allows the ability to scale the number of licenses they need as their number of seats goes up or down. You pay a lower fixed price for each of your organisation’s machines as long as you continue to use the software. And you can subtract or add licenses as your organisation’s business needs change. This licensing agreement also permits company-wide licensed products to be added to new client PCs at no additional cost for the year and provides extra cost savings in year one if you have current or older versions of licensed products running.

If you’re unsure of which volume license agreement is best for your enterprise, let Datacom help. We have licensing experts on staff who possess deep expertise in Microsoft volume licensing and can assist in designing a cost-effective agreement while providing value add in the form of desktop support.

Software Licensing Mistakes to Avoid

By Tracy Toth

Software licensing is a core competency for any business, but especially for enterprise organisations that rely on widespread software deployments to achieve targeted business objectives.

Poorly managed software licenses result in real, yet unnecessary, costs to the enterprise. To derive maximum value from your organisation’s licensed software assets, including Microsoft volume licensing, you will need to leverage strategic processes and avoid several common mistakes associated with licensed software assets in enterprise organisations.

  • Cost Inefficiency. Too often, a lack of planning causes organisations to purchase software licenses in a piecemeal fashion and incur cost inefficiencies, simply because they lacked the foresight to take advantage of volume licensing and other opportunities.
  • Inadequate Documentation. All software and related assets (including licenses) need to be meticulously documented, creating highly accessible audit trails for vendor requests and other purposes. In complex organisations, license documentation also plays a key role in planning for the retirement of software assets.
  • No Tracking. The best software licensing programmes feature strong tracking tools, giving the organisation granular visibility into renewal dates and license details. This information is vital in helping the organisation become more strategic in its approach to Enterprise Agreement renewals and other license-related activities.
  • Poor Monitoring. Software licensing is a fluid business area since licensing rules and product offerings routinely change to keep pace with vendor policies and the evolution of the enterprise software marketplace. This underscores the need for active monitoring programmes that enable the organisation to stay abreast of new licensing developments.
  • No SAM Plan. The worst mistake enterprises can make is to neglect the creation of a Software Asset Management (SAM) plan. When it comes to software licensing, strategy and planning are your friends — and nearly always result in greater returns on your software license investments.

Datacom consultants specialise in helping enterprises conduct comprehensive software asset management and avoid the pitfalls associated with software licensing initiatives, including the negotiation and deployment of Microsoft volume licensing.

Organisations that leverage third-party software licensing and deployment consultants tend to experience lower overall costs and more highly-optimised software environments than companies that rely exclusively on internal IT resources.

Tap Into the Power of Software Deployment Consultants

By Tracy Toth

Software deployments that exclusively leverage internal IT stakeholders are viable in small organisations. But as the organisation grows, the issues and challenges become more complicated — and the need to tap into the power of an external software deployment consultant comes into much sharper focus.

At Datacom, we specialise in helping enterprise organisations maximise the value of Microsoft volume licensing and other software asset management tasks. We’ve seen firsthand how the use of external software consultants can free up internal IT resources for value-added tasks.

But more importantly, we’ve discovered that our experience with a range of companies helps our clients avoid implementation delays and other missteps that have a real dollar cost to the enterprise.

For example, in many cases, consultants offer software deployment automation software and ancillary services (e.g. help desk support or end-user training) that streamline the process and generate efficiencies in the implementation of enterprise solutions. A server virtualisation programme can also be a smart move because it allows new systems to be deployed with reduced hardware costs.

Every organisation is different. One may be wrestling with delivering core infrastructure support services across distinct business groups. Another may have a more technical priority, such as moving key software assets to a cloud-computing platform. Still others may simply be in an exploratory mode — wondering how their software deployment and software asset management infrastructure can be improved upon. By working with a large and experienced software deployment consultant, enterprises can ensure that their needs are met.

With good software deployment consultants on the project, the work will get done and internal resources become more productive. Leveraging a combination of expertise and resources, consultants ensure that deployments stay on schedule and on budget — critical objectives for organisations that are depending on a software deployment to achieve targeted business goals or growth objectives.

Finally, enterprises purchase software to increase organisational productivity. If the deployment of the software acquisition is bungled, it has an adverse effect on ROI and can unleash a cascading set of problems on the organisation. By utilising a software and desktop deployment consultant, the organisation gains the ability to maximise both ROI and the outcomes generated by the solution across the enterprise.

If your information technology assets are spiraling out of control, or if you think there’s room for improvement, it’s a good idea to have an initial conversation with a third-party consultant to see what ideas they might have on how you can take things to a higher level.

Microsoft Software Licensing in Australia Meets the Cloud

By Tracy Toth

With IT departments embracing cloud computing and heavy virtualisation more extensively than ever, it was only a matter of time before Microsoft, analysts and enterprise organisations realised that the traditional Microsoft software licensing mechanism no longer made sense.

As a result, software licensing for Microsoft products — in Australia, New Zealand and around the globe — has changed dramatically in recent years. If you haven’t reassessed your Microsoft software licensing strategy lately, you may be surprised by all of the changes.

Why so much change in Microsoft volume licensing programmes?

Software licenses are now invoked on demand, with computing power coming from shared servers that are used dynamically based on need. Software companies are scrambling to adjust to the new era because their software licenses were written before cloud computing and virtualisation took center stage in the IT world.

Per-processor and per-server license agreements don’t align with an IT environment that activates processing power and software on demand to meet user needs.

Datacom’s consultants keep up-to-date regarding the latest changes in Microsoft software licensing as it applies to enterprise organisations in Australia and New Zealand. We can assist you if your organisation is moving to the cloud and embracing virtualisation but is not sure how to approach your Microsoft licensing requirements.

There are a number of stumbling blocks to be avoided as you make the change. On the flip side, many of our clients find that there are tremendous cost savings to be had during the migration process as a result of some of the new Microsoft volume licensing offerings that are available to Australian companies and New Zealand companies through Datacom.