What Your SAM Tool Vendor Isn’t Telling you

Beyond the Hype: Unveiling the Reality of SAM Tools and the Essential Components of Effective Asset Management Solutions

SAM Tool (Software Asset Management tool) vendors would lead you to believe that their solution is the silver bullet.  In our experience the SAM Tool is only one of the many components in a robust asset management solution.  We will dig into the issues around software deployment data and the gaps in the data these tools provide. We have even created our own tools in response to these gaps.

Join Mike Austin as he shares his insights and cuts through the confusing jargon with straight talk!   Mike Austin has been involved in countless Microsoft negotiations and audits and has negotiated over $1B in software cost reductions.

There are certain things that auditors will keep from you. It may be the weaknesses in the tools they use to collect your data, it could be the many changes to the terms of service that vendors implement without warning; regardless of what the information they withhold is, it is almost guaranteed that it will play against you during an audit. The solution, then, is to have more and better information than they have.

The best way to ensure that you have the most accurate data to combat an audit is to hire an expert. A SAM expert will know what data to find, and where to find it. They will also know how to apply licensing metrics to that data, allowing for a cleaner, more accurate estimated licensing position. The more accurate your data, the less your organization will be subject to the seemingly arbitrary fees and compliance gaps auditors often find.

If you are concerned about an impending software audit from a vendor, or would just like to be prepared, contact MetrixData360 today to book a free consultation.

What Triggers a Microsoft Audit?

Crucial Insights: Understanding Microsoft Audit Triggers and Strategies for Minimizing Your Risk

Has it happened to you yet? You know, that terribly uncomfortable experience known as the Microsoft Audit or Software Asset Management (SAM). If you have been through an Audit before, you know they’re no fun. The entire process monopolizes a great deal of time and valuable resources. On top of that, they can be down-right expensive. Have you ever asked yourself “what triggers an audit”? The truth is that organizations are almost never told the reason(s) they are selected for and Audit/SAM. Make no mistake, there are things you can do to help you reduce your chances of appearing on Microsoft’s Audit radar. Let me break down a few key triggers for you;

1) Your Account Team Audits often start and end with your account teams, despite what they may tell you. It’s important to understand what motivates them and why they would approve an engagement.   The account team can trigger an audit for a variety of reasons ranging from ignorance of your environment to self-interest.  You need to bear in mind that all software account teams have an aggressive growth number to which they are accountable to drive in terms of sales to their accounts.  At a most basic level your account team may just be lazy and in my experience the less your account team knows about your organization the more likely you are to be audited/SAMed.

2) The Vendor’s internal Audit/SAM team has flagged you based on Analytics Often the software vendor’s audit/SAM team will approach the account team to ask if they can audit a specific account.   The SAM team will present a case for why the account should be audited and it will be up to the account team to make the final decision.   Often this can all come down to how well your account team understands their client.   If the account team understands how their client uses their technology they may see obvious gaps in the SAM team’s logic and deny the request.   An example of this is a SAM team that wants to audit a company based on lower than expected purchases of Windows Servers.   However, if the account team knows that the client is an industrial manufacturer who has an environment which is largely UNIX based (which accounts for the low Windows footprint) they may deny the audit.  They may also see a situation in your license statements in which they see a relationship between server and Client Access License(CAL) purchases which may make it appear that you are out of compliance.

3) Merger and Acquisition Behavior Beyond your account team, merger and acquisition behavior is one of the biggest audit triggers we see.  If you have recently been involved in this sort of activity, it will often cause you to pop to the top of the audit/SAM list for many software vendors.  The rational is in the aftermath of a merger/acquisition there is a period of confusion as systems are rationalized and some institutional knowledge may be lost.   In addition, inevitably both organizations will frequently have different levels of Asset Management maturity and there is the possibility that they have very different levels of software standards.  Publicly traded companies should know that their account teams are likely reading through their annual reports carefully.   They will be looking for signs of rapid growth in terms of revenue and head counts.  They will then be looking to see if these organization growth numbers correspond to the sales numbers they are seeing from the company.

4) They Truly Do Suspect that Your Organization is out of Compliance Sometimes your organization is flagged for an Audit/SAM engagement because the software vendor truly believes that you are non-compliant.  These are often the result of conversations between the vendor and your staff from various departments.   Usually it’s an innocent conversation but something was said (usually inadvertently) which made the vendor suspicious.  It can also be the result of possible festering ill will from something that happened in the past.

5) Zero Sum True Ups If you have a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) you are required to go through a True Up exercise on an annual basis.  The purpose of this is to account for growth that occurred during the previous twelve months.   If you have no growth, then you submit a form to Microsoft called a Zero Sum True Up form which indicates that no purchases need to be made.   The issue is that it appears that the submission of a Zero Sum True Up will quickly cause your organization to be examined and there is a high likelihood that you will receive a letter or a call requesting an audit/SAM engagement.

6) Audits are a huge revenue generating tool for Microsoft It’s all comes down to dollars and cents. You may have done all your due diligence and still get hit with an Audit letter. Audits drive huge revenue for software vendors, and they know it. It has become common place to see a company get audited at least once during their Enterprise Agreement.  In fact, you can count on it. As you can see, there are some common triggers for an Audit. You may also be selected for Audit for reasons outside your control. When the time does come for you to be Audited (the time IS coming), make sure you have a team of Licensing Experts on your side to help navigate the difficult process, reduce any potential gaps and ultimately drive down your licensing spend. If you’re being Audited, let MetrixData360 be your ace in the hole.

Find out more at www.metrixdata360.com. CLICK HERE TO BOOK A FREE CONSULTATION

Office Pro Plus Support Change

Microsoft announces support policy change to Office Pro Plus and the versions that can connect to Office365 Services.

You can read up on this announcement here:


Wow is all I can say.  Microsoft is really deciding to alienate any customer who decides that they do not want to follow their Office365 train.

The gist of this announcement is that if you are running on premise perpetual licenses of Office Pro Plus and using them to access Office 365 services (such as Exchange Online), Microsoft is going to be blocking you in the future.

The only on premise editions of Office that they will allow to access these services must be within Main Stream support (first 5 years after the launch of the product).  The policy is set to take place in 3 years, but ironically it is set to take place the day Office 2016 goes out of Main Stream support.

The message from Microsoft – stay current or be left behind.  The unfortunate thing is that many Enterprises just can’t stay current.  They have dependencies on 3rd party applications that often mean they cannot just upgrade.  This is not to even say if they have a valid Business reason for doing this (often the only one for Office upgrades are support ending).

When are Enterprises going to stand up to Microsoft and tell them they aren’t going to take this anymore?  Come on Google, time for you to make that viable Office killer… Microsoft is making all the right moves for you to steal this market from them.

Beware Smaller Predatory Software Vendors

Beyond the Giants: Navigating Software Audits with Smaller Vendors and Predatory Tactics

When our clients are concerned about software audits they are usually worried about the same big software vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle. This is very logical and there is good reason for them to be concerned about these big vendors. What we are starting to see is a shift in the software industry as the smaller vendors have decided that they want a piece of the big audit dollars. What’s disturbing to us is that some of these smaller vendors are using what amounts to predatory tactics to drive big licensing shortfalls.

It’s no secret that the software industry has an audit addiction. It’s an easy way to drive large growth numbers without having to put the effort into providing a true solution selling experience for the client. It’s even easier for them when they don’t need to concern themselves with worrying about your customer satisfaction. A vendor like Microsoft is generally concerned about your customer satisfaction before an audit starts and will continue to be concerned about it post audit. In fact, your Microsoft account team is evaluated very rigorously on your customer satisfaction and they are very concerned about the risks that audits/SAM engagement have on it.

Smaller vendors such as AttachMate and OpenText have been watching and see how relatively easy it is to drive a gap in an audit situation. The problem is that the shared risk that exists for the larger software vendors doesn’t necessarily exist in these situations. The risk for you is that these vendors often represent only a small amount of your annual software spend. As a result, there is less risk for them to audit you as they can view any findings as pure upside.

A common tactic we are seeing is that they approach you and request that you conduct an internal assessment which seems benign on the surface. Usually one of the questions in their site survey document asks if you use virtualization technologies in your environment. Once you confirm that you have virtual environments they will frequently shift the engagement into a more formal audit.

What they are hoping to find is that you have virtualized one of their applications such as OpenText Exceed and have accidently provided possible access to it to a large number of your users. On the surface this seems pretty par for the course in software licensing. Where It becomes predatory is when you realize that there is a subtle change in how OpenText and AttachMate license several of their products. Most major vendors license their applications on a per user OR per device basis. OpenText and AttachMate often license on a per user AND per device basis. The number of licenses required in these cases is the result of the number of users multiplied by the number of devices. Just think about that for a moment and let it sink in:

Number of Users X Number of Devices (this includes mobile devices)

We have seen situations where a client’s annual spend with one of these vendors has historically been in the $150,000 range suddenly being presented with a one-time bill in the hundreds of millions of dollars because a server setting was wrong. Of course, you will fight this and negotiate it down but it won’t be easy, it will be time consuming and it will still be expensive and unbudgeted. It also won’t feel fair and this is why I consider this tactic predatory. It’s also been successful and I expect that more smaller vendors will be looking closely at your virtual environments.

So what can you do about these sorts of vendors and tactics? Here’s my short list of top recommendations: Re-check your virtualization settings. Make sure that you have your user community set up so that users only have access to the applications they require. I can’t stress this enough!

I also recommend engaging MetrixData360 to do an internal self-assessment of your licensing. We will review both your software entitlements and your deployments. The result will be a report that identifies any licensing shortfalls, opportunities for licensing optimization and provides recommendations to deal with any licensing gaps.