Thursday, December 22, 2011

Microsoft Enterprise Agreements - Microsoft SQL Server Strategies

In case you haven't heard it yet, Microsoft SQL Server 2012 is going to contain some major licensing changes. Customers with existing (or new prior to the release of SQL Server 2012) Enterprise Agreements (EA) or Enrollment for Application Platforms (EAP) with SQL Server included on those agreements have some great opportunities right now but should be working out a strategy to meet their current and projected needs.

If you're unaware of the changes, check out our blog on Network World to find out more details.

If you have SQL Server Enterprise on your EA or EAP before the release of the 2012 version you can continue to purchase the same licensing model until the end of your agreement. In other words, even though the SQL Server Enterprise server and Client Access License (CAL) model will disappear with the release of 2012, if you already have that model on your EA or EAP you can continue buying under that model until your agreement ends. Additionally, if you have SQL Server Enterprise processor licenses on your EA or EAP, you can continue to purchase processor licenses (rather than core licenses) through the end of your agreement.

This presents a number of opportunities for organizations to save money moving forward but having a strategy will be key! If you don't already have these products on your EA or EAP, you might want to consider if you should add them prior to the release of Microsoft SQL Server 2012 (as opposed to waiting until your next true-up which might mean you miss an opportunity). 

As always, let us know if we can help you create a Microsoft licensing strategy that is most beneficial to your organization!

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Microsoft Windows Server Price Increase? Check Your Sources!

It has come to my attention that one of the large resellers is telling their US clients that Microsoft will be doing a 15% price increase on Microsoft Windows Server products effective January 1, 2012.

The information I've received is that this is not accurate, that it does not apply to the US (Latin America may want to check into it though). However; I'm not a reseller and I'm not Microsoft so I don't have access to price lists.

So, the point of my story? Check your sources! If one of your resellers is giving you this advice, please check it out with another reliable reseller and with your Microsoft account team.

Additionally, if this your reseller does give you this type of wrong advice...might be time to re-evaluate resellers. Yes, everyone can make mistakes - but I'll tell you frankly, this reseller has been on my list of "least desirables" for a long time due to some of their practices and this just put a nail in their coffin for me.

Happy Holidays - and here's hoping that January doesn't bring a price increase on Microsoft Server products!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Software Licensing Agreements - Enterprises Be Careful of What You're Signing!

I work with companies of all sizes so I see a lot of trends based upon size. One disturbing trend I've been seeing lately applies predominantly to my Enterprise customers who rely on their Procurement department to negotiate all contracts.

Procurement is a key player in any negotiation, but I think it's risky to rely completely on them for finalizing a software licensing agreement.

What may look benign to a Procurement expert may easily send off red alert signals to a licensing expert. Within the past month alone I have seen supposedly well negotiated language cost three of my newer clients over $5 million combined to a single publisher. While we can frequently get these agreements re-negotiated we were brought in after the publisher already had been made aware of the situation and their eye on the paycheck...hard to get much of a budge then.

Here are some examples:
1) Microsoft Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP). Sure, this offers great discounts on SQL server as well as other products but be sure to read the fine print! This enrollment commits the company to licensing all of their SQL deployments (or other product that is enrolled) through the EAP. If you own legacy licenses and are running legacy versions but you didn't enroll those licenses into the EAP with Software Assurance you are essentially giving up your right to that license for the term of the EAP. Even new licenses that you buy but don't buy through the EAP are essentially useless.

2) Audit or true-up assistance program clauses. Check these over carefully to make sure that the scope of any outside assistance is clearly identified and restricted to the appropriate products, divisions and terms. Also make sure that it doesn't provide restrictions that the underlying agreement doesn't dictate (such as the requirement to purchase maintenance, etc).

3) Downgrade rights. Not all software automatically has downgrade rights. Attachmate products for example frequently do not permit downgrade rights unless you procure maintenance. If your technical organization needs to run older versions of the software make sure your agreement provides for you to procure additional licenses but still run the version that meets the needs of your organization.

4) Definition of the Enterprise, entity, affiliates, etc. Make sure this definition fits your organizations needs. Signing an agreement that defines your Enterprise as being all "Knowledge Workers" for example, isn't necessarily a good fit if you have a large percentage of users who do not use the technology being licensed (for example, licensing all your "Knowledge Workers" for the Microsoft Core CAL when you have a significant percentage that are on Novell and Notes with no Microsoft interaction except the Windows Server CAL). By definition you would have to procure licenses that would never be used and cost far more than the license you do need.

While many of these apply to organizations of all sizes, I find that the small/mid-size organizations that rely more heavily on their IT or licensing staff to negotiate the contracts often catch these before signing (but yes, Procurement plays an important part so there may be many other costly mistakes these non-Procurement folks are making).

My recommenation - Procurement, make sure the final review process includes your internal Licensing Expert (if you have one) or your IT team (if you don't have one). Also, give some solid consideration to having an external expert review it - the price tag is very reasonable and the risks are extremely high.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Network World Contest Giveaway!

Great news to anyone who has wanted to attend our Microsoft Licensing Webinar course but was having trouble getting the budget to cover the costs...we've joined together with Network World to offer one free seat in our upcoming May training. Check out the Network World contest! Hope to see you win!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Microsoft Licensing an In-depth Webinar Course

For years I've been asked to teach a class on Microsoft licensing. Not the surface stuff you find out easily but the in-depth ins and outs that folks responsible for appropriately licensing (or architecting) their environment need to know about.

My only problem with doing so is that adult retention isn't that great...so I'd pour tons of information into their brains for hours on end and they'd walk away knowing maybe 3 key items. That doesn't solve the problem!

Now, I've finally done it in a way I can feel good about...a webinar series that is recorded and made available to attendees after they walk away! The course is broken down into 5 consecutive weekly webinars lasting 2 hours each (that's 10 hours of actual content, but served in bite sized chunks).

This will allow attendees to:
  • Learn in-depth Microsoft licensing details from an independent expert,
  • Eliminate licensing ambiguities when negotiating Microsoft agreements,
  • Save money through better leveraging licensing and knowing key negotiating tips,
  • Be able to review content "on demand" after completion of the course while saving on travel costs!

Early bird discounts are available for the first series until March 9, 2011...each early bird window closes two weeks prior to the start of training.

Check out the course here.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Software Asset Management - 2011

What is it about 2011 that makes me think...we have officially reached "the future"? Is it just that I'm now so old that when I thought forward to the future it was anything after 2010? Probably...but since old age seems to keep growing further and further away from me as I age, I refuse to accept that as the answer, LOL!

What will happen to Software Asset Management in 2011? My crystal ball is far from perfect but I'll take a stab at predicting this year anyway...

Software audits rise - sorry, I know you've been hearing that threat for years but based on what I've seen so far in 2011 I think you can count on it as a fact. As the economy (and therefore companies) see an improvement I think you'll find publishers starting to come forward to find out what you have (and haven't) been doing in the past couple of years. They know you've been spending less money with them, so they want to make sure you've been licensing appropriately. Software audits are expensive (even if you're fully compliant and don't have to buy anything), so before you respond please reach out to us to see how we can help!

Cloud Computing continues to grow and initially companies will manage these in a decentralized fashion (you buy it, you manage it). Hopefully some will remember lessons learned from the past and have these managed centrally by their Software Asset Manager. When I spoke on this topic at the IAITAM Conference two years ago there was a lot of uncertainty from Software Asset Managers as to who owned this responsibility - frankly the role that owns it is the role that steps forward to take control of it. My suggestion is that a saavy SAM Manager will realize that they add value to this function and this function adds value to their position. If you don't have your controls in place for managing Cloud contracts, please talk to us about appropriate processes and controls.

The role of the CIO will become more ambiguous. OK, so this isn't SAM but it is important to SAM. I think we are clearly seeing the assimilation of IT into the whole of the business. Regardless of industry, IT is critical to all areas of the business and business owners are going to want more control of it. While a certain amount of centralization and segregation of duty is imperative to maintain controls and manage cost, I will not be surprised to see the role of the CIO disappear. However; on the flip side, I think you will start seeing more former CIO's transition into the role of the COO (possibly a natural evolution as CIO's have long been advised to become intimately familiar of all the business units they are serving). If this transition does take place, you might well see the role of SAM Manager follow suite (especially if the SAM Manager has taken on the Cloud Computing aspect). Is my crystal ball failing me or do others see the same? Let me know!

One thing I do know for certain is that Cynthia Farren Consulting will launch an updated website in 2011 (OK, I cheated...since it already launched earlier this month). We tried to simplify matters and provide more valuable content - let us know how we did!