Friday, June 13, 2014

Microsoft License Compliance....

If you are like many small business customers you probably have wondered - am I in license compliance with Microsoft?  Do I legally own all the software I am using?  If you are NOT wondering these things - you should.  One of my clients got an audit notice the other day from Microsoft requesting that they update them on Microsoft licensing status.  Fortunately this client was good to go - they'd been aggressively being sure that all their machines were compliant, and all we had to do was document some OEM licenses and send a report on to Microsoft for the rest.  But not everyone is in that boat.  One company came to me after they'd received that audit notice in the mail - they had 6 licenses for Microsoft office - and 26 installs.  Not good. Turned out 5 of them were OEM, so that was ok - but the other 16 licenses were illegal.  Bringing them into compliance represented a one time purchase of 16 licenses for Office Professional.  Not an inexpensive day for them at nearly $8000.  The problem with post-install compliance is that you have to retroactively buy the licenses for the most current version of the software (Because you typically can't buy say office 2010 once office 2013 has been released) and you must buy the downgradeable Software Assurance licenses - the most expensive way of upgrading Microsoft has.  There are lots of options but it's almost always better to assess and upgrade or become compliant BEFORE Microsoft Audits you.

So how do you assess your risk?  Fortunately Microsoft has a standalone tool (That's right it does NOT phone home and tattle on you about your licenses) that will assess your Windows Active Directory network and tell you exactly what licenses you have, and which machines or operating systems can be upgraded. It also helps you plan out several scenarios for virtualizing or moving to a private or public cloud install for your existing infrastructure.  The product is called MAPS - Microsoft Assessment and Planning Toolkit and you can download it here.

We use MAPS when planning out office365 migrations to assess the number of office licenses a client might need, versions we're migrating from, etc. 

MAPS is self installing and self contained - you can run it on any server or workstation in your network.  If you need help planning a migration, assistance with becoming compliant, or help in assessing your systems for upgrades or licensing, please give us a call.