Top Learnings from Gartner IT Financial and Procurement Summit 2015

MetrixData360 recently had the privilege of attending the Gartner IT Financial and Procurement Summit in Grapevine Texas.   These events bring together one of the largest groups of IT professionals who are involved in software license procurement in North America.  The level of knowledgeable people in the field of IT Procurement who attend is definitely unparalleled.   MetrixData360 had the opportunity to speak with many of the participants as well as speak in the Vendor Showcase.  Over the course of the Gartner Summit, I kept hearing the same messages again and again from organizations and I thought it would be valuable to share some of these overriding observations.

  1. Software audits are increasing in frequency, aggression and pretty much any metric you want to use to measure them.   Almost every single attendee we spoke to had either been audited by a software vendor recently, was in the midst of an audit or expected to be audited in the very near future.  This is confirmed by what we are seeing in our own business as MetrixData360’s Assert Audit Assistance service has been our fastest growing offering by far.  In fact, Audit Assistance now makes up around 50% of our consulting engagements.   Software vendors have very aggressive sales quotas and in our opinion the lazy way to close that gap is to launch audits.
  1. There are a large number of software asset management tools available to help organizations get a better understanding of their software assets and manage potential compliance risks. These tools range from standalone hardware appliances, agent and/or agentless solutions to cloud based software asset/contract management solutions.  These tools generally provide great value in terms of assessing software deployments, assignment of license entitlements and software title normalization. While these important components are critical in establishing a SAM baseline, they remain clearly insufficient in terms of license optimization and cost reduction.   One of the key challenges most organizations are facing is that no single solution is currently capable of bridging the gap between “raw SAM outputs” and an “optimized software-licensing model”.  By this I mean these raw outputs need to be humanized and a certain level of licensing logic must be applied.  Therefore, organizations are constantly faced with incomplete results and are required to purchase expensive add-on tools, provide additional training to IT procurement staff.  In many cases, organizations will still need to engage 3rd party expertise to provide validation and supplement existing findings in order to deliver a concise dataset that is reflective of an organization’s optimized software license footprint.  SAM solutions in market are simply offering components of the SAM process but unfortunately, none offers a complete end-to-end solution.  Without any expert licensing knowledge being injected into the process, the outputs from most tools are definitely not optimized which usually plays into software vendors advantage.  I state this as MetrixData360 works with raw outputs from any tool our clients use and we have yet to see data outputs which can stand alone without significant human intervention in the face of an audit.
  1. It is also evident that organizations are more concerned with proper software asset management than ever before. Many people I spoke to had recently taken major steps in this regard or were in the process of kicking off projects.   Everyone was concerned about software licensing compliance and were taking steps to become more and more sophisticated about how they managed their assets.   It certainly appears that organizations are taking software compliance more seriously and are making significant SAM investments.
  1. Not surprisingly, people were frustrated. They were frustrated with audit crazed software vendors.  They were frustrated with the limitations of existing tools and, they were frustrated with constantly changing software licensing rules.   I was left with the distinct impression that these people were doing their level best to do the right thing.   By this I mean they advocated software licensing compliance and they would be among the first to rail against software piracy.  Yet over and over again they were the ones facing a software audit.  Many of these people felt victimized by the various revenue generating tactics employed by software vendors.
  1. Compared to last year’s Gartner Summit organizations are actively seeking out third party experts to augment their knowledge and comprehension regarding software asset management and related processes. Quite simply the expertise and tools required to successfully mitigate a software audit is beyond most organization’s capabilities.  On several occasions, I spoke to people who said things like, “I wish I had known about MetrixData360 during my last software audit”

MetrixData360 specializes in helping organizations who are facing a Microsoft audit with assistance through every stage of the audit process.  Our goal is to reduce any compliance gaps you may have and ensure that you are only paying for the software and services you really need.   Contact us today to book a free consultation to see if we can help you!

Links to further resources:

Click to Learn More About MetrixData360 Assert Audit Assistance Services

What’s the Difference Between a SAM Engagement and an Audit

Gartner Encore Presentation

The Many Levels Of Negotiations With The Mega Vendors: Microsoft and Oracle

Just some of what you will learn:
Audits/SAM engagements are on the rise, why?

What do these engagements do for Microsoft and Oracle?

This isn’t about compliance, it’s all about… ?

What’s the Difference When Purchasing Office Through Microsoft Office 365 vs Traditional Licensing Models?

A lot of people think that when they are purchasing Microsoft Office Pro through Office 365 they’re buying it and accessing it in the Cloud.

That’s not necessarily the case.

Yes, you can get access to the Office web apps that are in the Cloud, but there’s a fundamental difference in Office. It is the same product, Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, but the Office 365 edition is what they call Click-to-Run versus your traditional EA which is just Office Pro Plus.

Click-to-Run vs On-Prem

The difference between Click-to-Run and on-premise is that in Click-to-Run it has to be current. In other words, where most organizations today are not running Office 2016. Most organizations that we see aren’t even running Office 2013. They’re running Office 2010.

With Click-to-Run you have to be current. I believe it’s one year they give you where you can run the older version. If I’m on Click-to-Run 2013 or 2016 in a year it’s only 2016. So, if you think about the challenges organizations have upgrading their desktops around application testing and things like that, they’re going to have to run those more frequently and Microsoft’s just automatically pushing down patches and updates and making changes to it that they have no control over anymore or limited controls.

That’s one thing organizations need to step back and say, “Okay, Click-to-Run may have some complications that don’t make sense for me to use.”

Enterprise Agreements vs Click-to-Run

The other thing is if they buy Office through a traditional EA versus Click-to-Run, it’s user-based versus device-based. That may have some advantages for some customers and it may have some disadvantages for some customers.

Office, although you can now install it on iPads and smartphones and things like that using an Office 365 subscription, in the Enterprise environment we’re not seeing a lot of use of Office on those types of platforms.

It’s really still a traditional desktop or laptop where end-users consume Office. There’s been some playing with it, but we’re not seeing broad adoption in the Enterprise based environment for that.

What’s the difference in an organization that’s a call center where they have three shifts that run through the call center and you have 1,000 devices, or desktops, and 3,000 users?

In a device-based licensing model I pay for 1,000 and for a user-based model I pay for 3,000. There’s something upside down on that equation. You really want to take a look at the environment and figure out does user-based licensing make more sense for you or does device-based licensing for Office make more sense?

Do I want to be forced to go to Run-to-Click where Microsoft is going to push stock or that it has to have an active Office 365 subscription in order to use? Or do I want to stay with the traditional on-premise copy Office and use that one?

If I wanted to stay with the device-based Office but wanted to go to Office 365, add-ons are the perfect way to do that. If we go back to the call center, 3,000 Office 365 USLs, so to speak, 1,000 Office licenses, 3,000 add-ons. Add-ons are a lot cheaper than USLs.

Add-on vs. User Subscription License

Office 365 Addon Or Subscription? What’s the Difference?

When most people hear Office 365, they think of what you call user subscription license or USL.

Everybody thinks it’s a subscription so they don’t own a perpetual license anymore. It’s just a monthly subscription that you pay for annually, upfront typically, but it’s a monthly subscription.

Moving from an Enterprise Agreement

If you’re moving from your EA that’s renewing, where you own a license and have active software assurance, you would move to these USLs or these subscriptions, and give up your perpetual licenses or the rights to them in the future.

In that case, the EA renews, or if it renewed today they would be entitled to say Office 2016, Exchange 2013 and SharePoint 2013. They would move to the subscription licenses and they wouldn’t own anything.

So three years from now, and they didn’t go to the Cloud or decide they want to come back on-premise, they don’t own licenses for what’s current. They only own the licenses for what was frozen at their renewal. So the user subscription license is a pure subscription. It’s also user-based. So, with Office, for instance, you would count Office based on devices, the number of laptops, desktops on which it’s deployed. Whereas, USLs are all to the users.

Add-ons for CALs

The add-on is basically a concept where I have active software assurance on my CALs, whether that be the Core CAL or the ECAL, and Office and I add an Office 365 subscription on top of that. It may seem like it’s a simple difference, but there’s a number of actual subtle differences that may make a lot of sense for organizations.

For instance, If I renew and then I renew my software assurance on Office and my CALs and then do the Office 365 add-ons, I can migrate my users to the Cloud, nothing changes there, I still have access to Exchange, SharePoint, and Skype in the Cloud; but, I’m keeping my perpetual licenses. Three years go by at the end of that contract I didn’t move to the Cloud or I decided it’s not working and I want to come back on-premise. Guess what? I own all my licenses. I own the most current versions and I could walk away at that point in time. Whereas under the USL I own nothing so I’d have to re-buy licenses if I wanted to come back on-premise.

Getting the Most From Your Office 365 Licensing

So, it’s a way to hedge your bets if Office 365 doesn’t deliver on the promise or something changes, it’s a way to get out of it. The other thing is it could be a way to hedge your bet three years down the road. If I had a USL and Microsoft gives me a great deal what happens if three years from now I don’t have any licenses, I’m on these subscriptions, Microsoft says I’m not giving you any discount anymore and we’ve upped the price 10%? Now all of a sudden, I’m sitting in a position where my price has gone up 30% or 40% and I have no leverage. So, it’s a way to continue to maintain leverage as well.

Related: Save Money on Microsoft 365