Navigating the complexity of Microsoft licensingRyan Langley
If you find Microsoft licensing a challenge to navigate, you’re not alone. It has always been complicated, and that hasn’t changed in the cloud. When time and resources are stretched within your IT team, keeping on top of licensing optimisation can fall down the list, and yet this is a key area for optimisation in order to drive value and performance from your technology budget. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we’re here to help our customers to make sense of the options, and guide them towards solutions that are the right fit for their users and business.
EA vs CSP – an important change
One of the important choices to make is whether to opt for the New Commerce Experience via a Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP), or choose an Enterprise Agreement (EA). Below we’ve highlighted some of the pros and cons of each, and the types of businesses they may be suitable for.
EA is typically designed for larger organisations, with Microsoft specifying a minimum of 500 seats for businesses looking to utilise this type of agreement. For qualifying organisations there are commercial benefits to be obtained – with the general rule being that the more users you have, the less you’ll pay per license. The other significant benefit is that the EA covers all Microsoft products. What is less desirable about the EA is its lack of flexibility. The agreement is for three years – paid up front, annually or by subscription. Whilst you have the option to increase the number of licenses you have at any time during the contract, there’s no ability to scale down should you need to. The uncertainty of the last couple of years may cause many businesses to feel some trepidation about committing to a contract of this length upfront.
Microsoft themselves recommend that for any business below 2000 seats the best option is likely to be a CSP. This is where licenses are purchased through a partner, such as Atech, on behalf of the organisation. Although there are fewer discounts available through this scheme, there is far greater flexibility, which is often beneficial over the long term. Principally, businesses can scale up or down the number of licenses they have at any time, paying monthly only for what they use. The vast majority of Microsoft products are still available through the CSP program, including Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365 – making this a good option for most organisations.
The value of getting it right
Whether you choose EA or CSP, it’s important to consider the types of licenses you’ll need across your business. Does every part of your organisation require access to the same Microsoft products or could you make efficiencies by purchasing different subscriptions for users depending on their job roles and requirements? It’s worth taking the time to get it right, and to help you do this you may benefit from a CSP like Atech, who can help you weigh up your options and even audit your user community with a license compliance verification. Our insights into the types of licenses available to you can be the difference between paying too much and paying right, with even more features. Complex licensing situations with new technologies or product combinations call for input from licensing experts. We do this all the time.
For example, we recently helped a large hospitality chain to optimise their licencing costs as they were entering a recovery period after the pandemic. They knew that they were paying too much but needed our help to identify ways they could make changes, rationalise and unlock some additional efficiencies. Through a thorough assessment, working collaboratively to identify what their day-to-day usage looked like, we were able to rework their solution to achieve monthly costs in line with the price point they needed.
The difference can be hundreds, if not thousands of pounds a month, as was the case for another of our clients. A non-profit organisation, they had been paying full price for licenses when they were eligible for a different type of licensing and with that could realise significantly discounted rates. Microsoft had initially rejected this, but with persistence we were finally able to secure an upgrade for our client but a significantly reduced cost. In fact, our client saw their monthly bill plummet from £3,500 to £900 with the upgrade. A significant impact for the client’s budget.
Clearing the confusion – a guide for your road ahead
A big difference to choosing a CSP is the level of support you’ll receive. Rather than dealing with Microsoft direct, you can have access to a partner that will take much more time to understand your business and ensure whichever licensing agreements you enter into are personalised to your needs.
In the examples above, the organisations saved countless staff hours and considerable hassle by choosing Atech to help them with their licensing challenges. Whilst some CSPs take put little thought into matching businesses with the right subscription, we always strive to get the perfect fit.
Lost in licensing costs? Get in touch to find out more about how we can help.