Microsoft Licence Management

One Partner For All Your Microsoft Licensing Challenges

Microsoft’s licensing models and metrics are vague and always changing, making it difficult for organisations to work out their optimal mix. The three-year Enterprise Agreements (EAs) and sheer scale in terms of numbers of users mean most organisations are paying much more than is necessary.

Every organisation flips from wanting to be on good terms with Microsoft, to feeling powerless and overrun in their dealings, through to not knowing what to ask for and where to push, all without upsetting the broader relationship. As an independent licence advisory firm, Invictus Partners can facilitate this for you, whilst advocating for your organisation’s unique software needs. We bring clarity and understanding to the costly and complex business imperative of Microsoft licensing.

We commonly help Microsoft customers:

  • Prepare for annual true-ups or true-downs – review Bill of Materials to come up with the most cost-effective outcome for your licence requirements.
  • Negotiate three-year contract renewals – identify any concession opportunity that can be negotiated with Microsoft.
  • Reduce Azure cloud spend.

Invictus Partners follows a proven methodology for Microsoft licensing management engagements, which we adapt to each organisation’s unique situation.

Microsoft software asset management (SAM)

The goal of software asset management (SAM) is to get your organisation to an effective licence position. That means determining exactly what you need, and ensuring you only pay for that.

Many organisations think their Microsoft Licensing Solution Provider (LSP) provides them with a SAM service, but this isn’t the case. As Microsoft partners, LSPs have a vested interest in reselling Microsoft and work on a commission basis for selling ongoing solutions, on-time renewals and true-ups.

Plus, LSPs are incentivised to drive organisations towards the cloud and online services, rather than just sell licence agreements. You can end up paying tens of thousands of dollars on top of the money you’re already spending on Microsoft, without much added benefit.

The LSP version of SAM – usually delivered via a third party tool like Snow Software – is running a monthly report that does the bare minimum to keep you compliant. True SAM requires objectivity, and you can’t get that from a Microsoft LSP.

Microsoft software licence management

Microsoft licensing rules and contracts are among the most complex of any vendors in the market, with hooks and traps that make it difficult (and financially unappealing) for customers to downgrade their licensing levels or transition to another vendor.

Whether you want to true-up, true-down or move away from Microsoft altogether, Invictus Partners provides licence advisory and management services across the four Microsoft product portfolios: infrastructure software, end-user computing, Azure and Dynamics.

Microsoft infrastructure software

Microsoft infrastructure software licensing is complex, expensive and easy to overconsume, and you only get an opportunity once a year to true-up or true-down. Invictus Partners conducts an infrastructure review to determine how actual usage compares to entitlements. This way your organisation can identify and address any over deployment and non-compliance challenges.

This process involves:

  • Review of infrastructure (System Centre, CIS, Windows OS, SQL);
  • Review of versions, licensing models and support arrangements; and
  • Construction of optimised Bill of Materials.

Microsoft end-user computing

Part of the complexity around Microsoft end-user licensing comes from the way the products are bundled together. There are multiple ways to buy end-user products. For example, Microsoft’s reporting engine, Power BI, can be bought as a standalone product, user licence, capacity licence for a restricted group, or with no licence at all. The version you buy will depend on users’ needs – will they be creating reports or just reading them?

The other part of the complexity is understanding the requirements for each persona. In an effort to avoid non-compliance risk, organisations tend to default to the most expensive bundles across the enterprise, but this results in significant overspend. Less-than bundles are cheaper but take time and require expertise to investigate. Invictus Partners can help you make sense of the 30 plus services included in the Microsoft 365 Enterprise Suites plans and bundles, and find the best-fit for your organisation.

This process involves:

  • User entitlements analysis;
  • User profiling and creation of personas;
  • Construction of optimised Bill of Materials; and
  • Gap analysis of entitled versus deployed.

Microsoft Azure

Many organisations are making the cloud journey, and uptake of the Azure cloud is high among those with Microsoft products, either as their cloud of choice or as part of a multi-cloud solution.

Reducing Azure costs

If you’ve recently received a horrifying Azure bill from Microsoft, you’re not alone. Most organisations spend far more on Azure than they budget for, as more workloads, applications and data are moved into the cloud. Before you know it, what you predicted would cost $100,000 has cost your organisation $350,000.

While we can’t change the last bill, we can prevent you from ever getting Azure bill shock again. Invictus Partners can help your organisation find its optimal Azure cost, licensing and consumption models.

This process involves:

  • Analysis of spend and usage patterns;
  • Review of Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE; for expiring Azure customers), Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA) or Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) entitlements; and
  • Enhancement of development processes.

Migrating to Azure

Invictus Partners also helps organisations transition to Azure, and navigate the complex licensing and subscription models. We explore and review your future state whilst securing the best-possible pricing and licensing models for the short term.

This process involves:

  • Comprehensive assessment of the current environment;
  • Recommendation on which servers, applications, and services to migrate; and
  • Full inventory and dependency map of the servers and services to migrate.

Microsoft Dynamics

Microsoft has a broad offering in the enterprise resource planning (ERP) space, so we do too. Invictus Partners does everything from understanding your organisation’s requirements for solving a particular business problem, to deciding which Dynamics products are suitable.

Invictus Partners also offers broader ERP advisory that may extend beyond Dynamics. We conduct a requirements-gathering exercise across the organisation to ensure all your needs are captured, and use that to recommend a solution.

This process involves:

  • Review usage and uptake of Dynamics across the term of the agreement;
  • Contractual review to identify restrictions and their implications;
  • Construction of an optimised Bill of Materials.

Microsoft software licence terms

Invictus Partners has helped clients save hundreds of thousands – even millions – of dollars over the term of their Enterprise Agreements. Getting facts, understanding entitlements and being able to dissect contracts and agreements to find leverage is key, coupled with a succinct negotiation strategy to realise the outcome. While our Microsoft licence advisory service is tailored to each organisation, there are three key components: contracts review, support arrangements review and negotiation strategy.

Microsoft contracts review and consolidation

There are many different ways of buying Microsoft software, so how can you be sure you’re buying the right product on the most optimal contract? Invictus Partners conducts commercial reviews of our clients’ Microsoft Enterprise Agreements and Enrollments (EA or EAS), Server and Cloud Enrollments (SCE), Microsoft Product and Services Agreements (MPSA), Cloud Solution Providers (CSP), Microsoft Business and Services Agreements (MBSA), and Custom Amendments (CTM). This contractual analysis is critical when approaching renewals, as it uncovers potential negotiation points and concessions for product and business amendments.

Microsoft support arrangements review

Microsoft support arrangements are rapidly changing, and your organisation is most likely overpaying for support and paying for things you don’t need.

Microsoft will retire Premier Support in July 2022, and is in the process of redirecting customers to Unified Support, which is calculated as a percentage of your organisation’s annual licence spend across product ‘pools’ in the preceding 12 months. Invictus Partners reviews these programs, outlining how Unified Support cost is calculated as well as differences in service levels, response times and anticipated percentage levels. We prepare your organisation for negotiation to achieve lower ‘transitional’ pricing (transition from Premier to Unified Support).

This involves:

  • Benchmark pricing, discounts and inclusions;
  • Check calculations by Microsoft for support costs;
  • Identify duplications or services not required; and
  • Seek additional ‘soft services’ from Microsoft to add value.

Microsoft negotiation strategy

Microsoft is notoriously difficult to negotiate with, and many organisations feel powerless against them. With renewals only coming up every three years, you need to be on your game.

Invictus Partners helps organisations prepare for Microsoft negotiations with a structured plan and set of desired outcomes. We arm our clients with likely scenarios in Microsoft negotiations and offer effective strategies and tactics. Examples of agreement negotiations include discounts and price protection, product use right concessions and clauses to protect against accidental non-compliance.

Invictus Partners can act on your behalf as the lead negotiator, work in the background by planning and facilitating meetings, or simply ensure your team is armed with the right information to achieve an optimal outcome.

Microsoft licence optimisation

Did we mention Microsoft licensing is complex? The myriad of tools and reports available to track usage, the inclusions and exclusions in bundles, the mix of licensing and metric types, the lack of transparency and the rapid changes associated with all of these factors… the list goes on.

To achieve Microsoft licence optimisation, your organisation must have the minimal quantities of the best-structured licensing model, such that your users can perform their duties uncompromised.

Microsoft 365 licence management

Microsoft 365 licences can significantly add to your organisation’s overhead if not managed properly. Invictus Partners helps you to understand user requirements before assigning employees licences, and identifies inactive users to optimise licence management.

Microsoft licensing audit

Microsoft compliance audits, officially called Licence Compliance Verifications, are an ever-present risk for organisations, and often run into the hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of unbudgeted costs.

Microsoft Licence Compliance Verification preparation

It is critical to know where your organisation stands in terms of entitlements versus usage before sharing any information with Microsoft or your LSP. This is the only way you can remain in the driver’s seat through the process rather than following your LSP’s lead. Our proven approach ensures you are compliant, have an optimised Microsoft landscape and are in a position of strength when engaging with Microsoft.

Microsoft licence compliance

Invictus Partners conducts contractual and infrastructure reviews to determine an organisation’s actual usage versus entitlements. This process, while optimising licensing costs and arrangements, also identifies if there are any over-deployment or non-compliance challenges to be addressed.

Microsoft licensing experts: Why Invictus Partners?

Invictus Partners is a specialist software licensing advisory firm that can supplement your in-house teams or completely manage your software licensing portfolio. Our certified Microsoft team has a broad skill-set across the Microsoft spectrum to cover licensing analysis in preparation for agreement renewals, optimisation, contract review, licensing health checks, contract negotiation and audit defence.

Invictus Partners advocates for the client by delivering a neutral and independent Microsoft licence advisory service, providing impartial facts, informed insights, and realities by reviewing and analysing Microsoft’s licensing terms, agreement structures, release information and ‘glossy brochure’ style marketing information.

Book a 30-minute consultation with our Microsoft licensing expert

Russell Sands – Partner

Russell is a 25+ year veteran of the IT industry holding numerous Account Director roles spanning the US software vendors including IBM, Oracle and Computer Associates, start-up ISVs, local system integrators and service providers. With much of his career spent advocating for his customers’ needs and requirements inside these gigantic software vendors, Russell now brings this knowledge client-side to best prepare, arm and position organisations for dealings with the global players.

Whether it’s extracting requirements from highly political internal environments, briefing and advising executives and stakeholders, or advocating and negotiating on behalf of customers, Russell has only his clients’ best interests at heart. By using his inside knowledge of the vendors, their licensing, bundles, promotions and modus operandi, Russell works to get the optimal pricing and value-adds in any deal.