The Top 5 Power-Plays to Optimize Your Microsoft Licensing

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Chances are, your annual expenditure with Microsoft has been on an upwards trajectory and shows no sign of levelling out anytime soon. But – as investments increase, how are you making sure that the business value derived from the likes of Azure, Microsoft 365 and Enterprise Agreements are increasing at the same rate? Does your Microsoft investment really fit your business? Or would it look a lot better with a little tailoring? 

As experts in IT Asset Management and Optimization for both on-premises investments and the cloud, Certero help businesses understand not just what they have, but also what they really need 

So, from quick-wins to strategic gains, here are our Top 5 Power-Plays you can make to reduce costs and optimize your investments in Microsoft licensing: 


Microsoft 365 licensing 

If there’s only one thing you action from this list, optimizing Microsoft 365 subscriptions will be the quickest and easiest win. Consider that on average, 30% of software purchased goes unused and with SaaS applications such as Office 365, this figure shoots up to as much as 50%. Plus, unlike traditional on-premises volume agreements covering Office, you’re now managing licensing assets with a higher total cost of ownership (TCO), that require management on a more granular level of individual named users. Add to that a fluctuating workforce and a more agile, faster rate of change within the business and it’s easy to see how control over these essential but slippery subscription costs can be rapidly lost. 

You can defend against these costs – with a solution like Certero for SaaS it could not be easier to identify where over-spending and wastage is occurring and what subscriptions you can safely eliminate or amend to reduce costs. You can become fully informed within hours and can even test the solution to gain an idea of how much you could save. 


Windows Server Datacenter cores

The move to the core model on Windows Datacenter servers has caused a lot of confusion among Microsoft customers. With the best intentions, organizations find themselves over-licensed in the datacenter. Working with a Lifecycle Asset Management Specialist at Certero can really help you understand the new licensing requirements and can lead to significant cost-savings on Server licensing.  

Note: even after the end-of-life for Microsoft datacenter products, we are still seeing a lot of it out there. This can present a major security risk to your organization, so for that reason alone, it is worth making sure your software is up to date!  


Bring Your Own Licensing (BYOL)

Ninety-nine percent of organizations using Microsoft products in the cloud will have previously used at least some Microsoft products on-premises. And, depending on the type of licensing agreement that the organization has in place, some of these legacy on-premises licenses can be used to cover cloud consumption using Azure Hybrid Benefit (AHB) whilst conversely, some cannot.    

Whilst BYOL can reduce Azure licensing costs by as much as 80%, it requires mature financial management of licensing across both on-premises and cloud environments.  

A Certero Microsoft licensing expert can help you optimize your spending by bringing clarity as to when and how you can take advantage of any legacy on-premises licenses in a hybrid cloud environment. Likewise, we’ll help you avoid potential compliance risks by making it clear when you can’t assign licenses to your Azure cloud. Microsoft Exchange is a common example were understanding your usage rights as you transition from on-premises licensing to cloud can offer significant cost savings.  

We also see customers regularly failing to take advantage of their licensing rights by continuing to use older software versions when they are fully entitled to use newer/current versions. Again – Certero can help to provide clarity across hybrid and multi-cloud environments and support your best licensing strategy to reduce cloud costs. 



In a similar vein, we also see organizations struggling with SQL licensing. There are several reasons for this, not least internal teams struggling with sub-standard inventory solutions that can’t distinguish between different versions and editions of SQL databases. This inability to see the actual types of SQL deployed means that organizations can both find themselves over-licensed for Standard Editions and dangerously under-licensed on their Professional Editions. Neither is a good outcome. Clustering is also another common cause of confusion and potential non-compliance.  

Thankfully, Certero technology provides advanced discovery and inventory capabilities to accurately identify the different flavors of SQL that are deployed and can help customers not only license them accurately, but also ensure that the right type of SQL is being deployed according to the use case (spoiler alert: it often isn’t!).  


Over-Estimating your Enterprise Agreement 

This is a classic, but one we still see all the time: customers with Enterprise Agreements treating them like ‘all you can eat buffets’ and giving staff access to the wrong types of products. A classic example is when an Enterprise Agreement covers the use of Microsoft Visio, but the IT team fulfils software requests with a Pro version of Visio which is not covered under the EA. The moment you do that, you’re in a position of non-compliance that could lead to a very expensive true-up! 

Having an EA does not mean that you won’t get audited by Microsoft and it does not mean that licensing can go unmanaged. Mis-management of software assets, will always catch-up with you. Thankfully – you can access expert advice whenever you need it, be it in the form of an emergency Software Audit Defense service (you should action this as soon as you receive warning of an intent to audit as it will guide you through the entire process) or you could pro-actively prepare for success with a strategic SAM Managed Service that will keep you informed an on an active approach to greater cost-optimization.  

Your Options for Software License Optimization 

Assuming that your organization is concerned about not wasting money on enterprise software and not living under the shadow of the proverbial rumbling volcano that are unpredictable software vendor audits, then broadly speaking, most organizations fall into one of two categories: those who want to optimize their software costs but don’t have the time / skills / resources, and those who want to optimize their software and build an internal team to do it. For either case, Certero have designed technology solutions and services to plug the gaps, super-charge how powerful your SAM program can be, and to connect the dots between the business need, processes and the optimal capability of the world’s leading Software Asset Management solutions. The end-game is tangible business value, how you want to get there, is up to you: 

In-House SAM Teams: 

Software Asset Management and license optimization requires three core components: knowledgeable People, mature Processes and automated Technology solutions. Certero provides all three for in-house teams, solutions like Certero for Enterprise SAM provide all the technology you’d need to see, manage and optimize your on-premises Microsoft licensing on an enterprise scale: 

  • Complete discovery & inventory – visibility of devices and software everywhere, even remote users. 
  • Automated Software Recognitionautomatically identify what all your discovered software actually is. 
  • Software license reconciliation – ‘pre-canned’ intelligence on Microsoft licensing rules and rights, automates the reconciliation process and actively maintains a real-time view of your Effective License Position (ELP). 
  • Software Usage Metering – automatically measure the usage of all software at all times, so you always have visibility of unused software and evidence to support safe decision making to re-harvest licenses into a virtual pool. 
  • Limitless Reporting and BI – Certero’s unifying single platform solution brings IT asset data into a single, centralized source. The solution UI is what transforms that raw data into meaningful, actionable intelligence. The Certero philosophy is that all your data has value, and so you should be able to readily access information, visualize and communicate intelligence and be able to ask the questions you want to ask and get the answers you need to know. 
  • Multi-Cloud Asset Management – Extending your team’s visibility of IT infrastructure and costs to the cloud is simple with Vitado by Certero – a multi-cloud management solution that provides clarity over IaaS and PaaS. Vitado supports stakeholder accountability for costs and governance at scale, demystifying the cloud, supporting clear communication and data-driven insights, forecasting and planning. 

In addition to the delivering the most accurate and automated technology, in-house teams often benefit from bringing in additional resources and expertise as a service – typically for more specialist knowledge and expertise for high-cost / high-risk vendors like Oracle, IBM and SAP, or to help to manage the other end – Tier 2/3 vendor software that though doesn’t carry the same commercial risk, still requires understanding, securing and supporting. 

Certero have tailored services offerings to supplement that time, skills and appetite of internal SAM teams to take-on these additional challenges. 

No / Limited Internal SAM Capability: 

For business that would strategically prefer to leverage the easy availability, flexibility and high skill-set of external consultancy expertise, then SAM Managed Services are the preferred option, but this has always come with a major drawback – you never really own the information you’re paying to leverage and if you lack the capability to act upon it, and as a result nothing actually improves. As Digital Transformation and data-driven decision making enables businesses to accelerate operations and be agile, Certero are pioneering a new way of delivering SAM Managed Services that gives you ownership of your own IT asset intelligence, and changes the focus of a SAM services from simply informing your business on static licensing position to actively working as an extension of your team to drive the changes that will actually make a difference – mitigating risk, reducing cost and driving informed, strategic decision making.  

Certero’s Technology-Led Services model provides both the technology and services expertise, delivered in a unified way by a single trusted partner, to manage and software vendor challenge, on any scale, anywhere. 

For more information, contact Certero today. 

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