Software Audit Checklist

A software audit is typically considered to be an overwhelming and confusing experience, complete with a mountain of work you need to do in an unreasonably short amount of time. It provides you with stress and a sense of overwhelming helplessness that you’d just rather not deal with. Having an internal software audit checklist will make sure that you will have everything in order when the inevitable happens.

At MetrixData 360, we’ve been through so many software audits and have been able to help our clients succeed in seemingly hopeless situations. How? Kept a cool head, remained calm, and had a clear list of things to do at every stage of the software audit. Even if you aren’t in an audit yet, it is always better to be prepared because there’s a good chance you’ll be in one soon.

So we’ve taken a look at each stage and have compiled a software audit checklist of the most important things you’ll need to do.

Phase One: Notification

Upon receiving a notification that you have been selected for a software audit, you will need to do these first steps immediately.

  1. Determine If You Must Respond

While you are legally obligated to participate in a software audit, not everything that is dressed up to look like a software audit is one. Reviews are similar to software audits in that they go through the same process.

However, reviews (or whatever flowery, less aggressive name your particular software vendor gives them) are not audits. They are voluntary, they often result in lighter fines, and they can be conducted internally.

Therefore, determine if you have to respond and plan accordingly.

At MetrixData 360, we advise that you respond to reviews and treat them with the same severity of a software audit since refusing a review often results in the same vendor sending you an audit, which you can’t refuse. It will set the process off to a rocky start, with your software vendor knowing you were dragged to the software audit kicking and screaming.

Related: For a Deeper look into the difference between a Software Review and a Software Audit, you can check out our article: Software Asset Management (SAM) Review vs Audit: What’s the Difference?
  1. Get an NDA

Before any data is handed over to the auditors, you need to set up a three-way non-disclosure agreement between the third-party auditor, the software vendor, and your company. This will keep the third-party auditors from disclosing any data with the software vendor without your approval. While many companies have their own NDAs, you should be wary if the software vendor provides you with an NDA to sign, since it will usually have language that will offer you minimal protection. For just one example, a contract may have language that allows scripts to be run in your software environment but does not hold the software vendor legally responsible for any impacts that might have on your production environment.

  1. Ensure that the Scope is Clearly Defined

In order to avoid scope creep, make sure that the scope of the audit is clear regarding the regions that will be included and if the vendor has several products, which products will be examined.

  1. Begin Creating Your Own ELP

Immediately start to create your Estimated Licensing Position (ELP) by gathering data on the relevant products; this will give you a strong case to oppose the auditor’s findings, which will most likely have an over-inflated compliance gap. Your Estimated License Position should effectively compare your deployment data with your purchased licenses regarding the scope of the audit.

  1. Designate a Single Point of Contact (SPC)

It is important to immediately establish who is responsible for corresponding with the auditors throughout the process. Having a single point of contact controlling the flow of information to the auditors will give you a clear picture on what the auditors know and where you stand with them. The SPC should be someone who has a strong understanding of negotiations, software licensing, deployment data and software contracts.

Phase Two: Kick Off Meeting

Scheduled to mark the beginning of the software audit, the kick-off meeting will be composed of (either in-person or online) the software vendor, their auditors, and any other stakeholders who will be involved in the process. The Statement of Work or its equivalent will be presented and topics including timeline and scope will be discussed.

  1. Pay Close Attention to the Timeline

The auditors will want the process done as quickly as possible to ensure return on investment, but you need to push back against unreasonable turnaround times and fight for a timeline that works for you.

Unless you negotiate for more time, you could easily be left with having only fifteen days to slosh through thousands of rows of data.

Negotiate a timeline that works with your schedule because you shouldn’t have to sacrifice your time off, your busy season and your sleep just to meet an unrealistic and arbitrary deadline. Not to mention a rushed-out response will likely not provide you the solid defense you need.

  1. Prepare a Defense for the Accuracy of Your SAM Tools

The auditors will most likely say that your SAM tools fail to collect all the data that they need in order to complete the audit. They will then demand to exclusively use their own. This will be the case even if you have an inventory tool that the auditing software vendor has approved.

However, it is in your best interest that your own tools are used. You should push for a position that allows the auditors to either supplement any missing data from your inventory tools with their own or extract data samples from your SAM tool to test its accuracy.

  1. Clarify the Data Requirements

The auditors may be intentionally vague about a few things, including the metrics that will be used to count your deployment data; your licenses, your user counts, or your authorized users, etc.

You’ll need to make a point of clarifying what the auditors have left unclear to make sure you understand what exactly they will be asking for and why they need to see that data. Not everything they ask for will be relevant to the audit.

Phase Three: Data Collection

After the kick-off meeting has concluded, the data collection phase will begin. Often seen as the most time-consuming and costly part of an audit, the data collection phase will involve the auditors asking you and your staff to run scripts and pull data.

They will most likely not come on-site (think of the travel expenses they’d rack up if you had international locations!), but the auditors may visit to verify certain data points. They may interview staff, or they may observe your staff running specific scenarios.

  1. Verify that Any Employees Who will be Interviewed are Prepared

Make sure everyone who will be interviewed by the auditors is aligned on what will and won’t be said. While you should never strive to hide things from the auditor, you should have a clear understanding of what your stance is with the vendor. You will also need to ensure that employees give answers that are complete and accurate.

  1. Review all Data Requests

Your Single Contact Point (SCP) needs to be reviewing all data requests sent from the auditor to make sure the requests are reasonable and within the scope of the audit. Keep asking questions and make sure you always understand why the auditors are asking for something and understand the impact each piece of data will have on your overall stance with the vendor.

The SCP should also review each piece of data that is sent to the vendor so that you fully understand your stance with the vendor.

  1. Your SCP Should Be Your Only Contact with the Vendor

All communication with the vendor must be done exclusively through your SCP. Again, this is not done to keep things from the vendor, this will simply make it easier to keep effective tabs on your position with the vendor during the process. You need to know what the vendor knows to effectively frame your argument during the negotiations.

  1. Review Data Quality

Make sure that all the data you give to the auditors are of good quality and do not conflict with each other. You also need to check that the data released is not providing any unnecessary data that can be used to make assumptions against you.

Phase Four: ELP Creation

After the data has been gathered, the auditors will present you with their Estimated License Position (ELP) of your software environment, which will consist of your deployment data, compared against your licenses to create a compliance gap. They will ask you to review their findings before they send it over to the software vendor to correct them on any errors.

The ELP will be composed of thousands of rows of data and will be tremendously difficult to read through in the amount of time the auditors will give you.

  1. Compare the Auditor’s ELP with Your Own

Being able to cross compare the auditor’s findings with your own will allow you to effectively challenge auditor’s conclusions. Common tactics for challenging the auditor’s findings include:

  • Investigate any area of the auditor’s case that you know, suspect, or even feel to be inaccurate.
  • Look into which team provided the data that the auditors used in their inaccurate assumptions and ask for validation.
  • Seek clarification on unclear items and have the auditors explain what they’re planning on telling your vendor.
  • Highlight any disagreements that you have on the auditor’s findings, submit explanations for any grey areas or propose plans to fix any shortcomings.
  1. Negotiate the Timeframe

After the data has been sent off and the fact-finding portion of the audit is closed, the vendor will begin setting up a timeframe for purchasing any license shortfalls. It is important to realize this is not a settlement but a negotiation at this point, so push for a timeframe that works for your company’s goals and interests, not the vendor’s fiscal goals.

Phase Five: Negotiation and Settlement

Going off of the compliance gaps the software auditors have found, the vendor will sit down with you to hash out a negotiation for how you will make up for any shortfalls.

This is often where companies feel disheartened, tired, and cornered. They just want the issue to go away and feel as if the compliance gaps the auditors have found is set in stone.

It’s important to remember the data is up for interpretation and you have more wiggle room than you might think. It’s important to stay positive during this stage, with the help of MetrixData 360, our clients were able to greatly reduce their compliance gaps and the amount they had to pay out.

  1. Consider the Multiple Stakeholders

There are many people involved in the audit from the vendor’s side that are reporting to managers with different agendas from one another. Stakeholders involved in the audit include:

  • The License Compliance Team
  • The Technical Resource Team
  • The licensing or contract group, who may not be licensing experts, but are certainly responsible for selling licenses
  • The Sales Team, which will include your account manager
  • The vendor’s legal team, including the lawyers

All of these different teams might be compensated in different ways: one team might be paid based on the revenue they manage to obtain, while another on whether this audit is conducted according to legal standards or on how satisfied you are with their work.

When the vendor’s representative says they need to obtain internal approval, these are the people they are consulting. You need to word your requests in a manner that appeals to all stakeholders involved.

  1. Stay Calm

Take comfort in the fact that you have done everything you possibly can to prepare for this software audit. Do not be pressured into timelines. Do not be forced into a settlement that is not accurate because you were not given enough time.

  1. Be Prepared

Be ready to research the licensing terms and other claims the vendor makes.

  1. Leverage

Be willing to leverage senior executives within your company and the vendor’s. A well-timed call to the right person can be very effective to unblock a stalemate in the process.

  1. Stay Focused

Your goal is to purchase only what you need. Often software audits are used as a sales tactic.

Just when you feel cornered in the software negotiations, you can expect to be pushed towards purchasing new products. You must stay focused and strategic with your software purchases regardless of the pressure the software audit puts you under.

Coming to the Meeting with the Right Persona can Make all the Difference! Learn the type of personality it takes to Win Contract Negotiations in our article: 5 Key Traits to Winning Contract Negotiations.

  1. The Four Factors

During the negotiation process it is important to remember that it is a balancing act between four key factors.

four factors software audit

Future Revenue vs. Immediate Revenue
The software vendor will try to lean more towards immediate revenue while you should try to put most of your argument towards future revenue.
Time of Payment vs. the Relationship Between the Vendor and You as a Client
The vendor will try to push for getting their payment quickly and it would be helpful if you pushed from the angle of keeping the health of your relationship with that vendor intact.
  1. The Closing Statement

Make sure you get a closing statement after final figures have been decided at the end of the negotiation. Some vendors may indemnify you from future audits by looking back past the date the audit closed. A closing statement will give you the freedom of not having to worry about another audit from that vendor for a minimum timeframe or else they will be at liberty to audit you using findings that date back prior to the close of the audit.

Have a Strong Defensive Strategy for your Next Software Audit!

Software audits can be exhausting and probably far outside the scope of what you were thinking your job would look like. However, it is possible to get through just fine by following the software audit checklist, remaining calm, staying focused, and having the right people on your side. Question everything the software vendor asks for, and don’t be afraid to push back when you don’t agree with certain findings. Let’s not dance around the issue, the vendors are here for your money whether it is owed to them or not and you need to know how to defend yourself.

MetrixData 360 not only takes care of all the heavy lifting during a software audit, but we’ll teach you what we’re doing so that you’ll be prepared the next time around. If you’d like to learn more about our software audit services, you can contact us and one of our sale’s reps will get back to you in under 24 hours.

The Pros and Cons of Microsoft’s CSP: Is it Right for You?

Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider Program has begun to build momentum in the software industry, and it may have caught your attention as an appealing option for Cloud deployment. If you are considering purchasing from Microsoft’s CSP program, it’s important that you weigh the pros and cons in order to carefully consider what is right for your business.

At MetrixData 360, we like to keep a finger on the pulse of the software industry, and, as such, we’ve noticed many of our customers are coming to us with questions about the CSP program and if it’s right for them.

In this article, we’ll go into the details of the CSP program and its benefits and drawbacks for potential customers.

What is Microsoft’s CSP Program?

The Cloud Solution Provider Program is a new way Microsoft intends to sell licenses and manage client’s accounts.

Instead of Microsoft selling licenses directly to their customers, they will be selling their licenses to Direct CSP Distributors, who in turn will either sell to Indirect CSP Resellers or to you, the customer. Indirect CSP Resellers will also sell directly to customers.

As a customer, you don’t have to interact with Microsoft and instead will merely have to manage the relationship with your Reseller and/or Distributor. Your Reseller or Distributor will handle relations with Microsoft and will represent you to Microsoft over any outstanding issues.

Your Reseller or Distributor will provide you with anything related to your customer experience, including negotiating exclusive discounts, customized bundles, support, maintenance etc.

Pros of the CSP Program

Monthly Payment Models

One of the main appeals that draws customers to the CSP is the month-to-month payment models that CSP offers.

This allows you to adjust for seasonal influxes of workers and customers alike. Not only is it easy to scale up, it is easy to scale down, which is not a feature found in Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement (EA).

With the EA, while it was simple and almost expected for customers to add licenses to their final count at every true-up, it would be painful and almost impossible to remove any licenses, which often left customers feeling forced to buy more than they needed simply to maintain their EA level status and to keep Microsoft happy.

With the CSP, while there are other long term payment models available, there are no such restrictions that limit you to locking yourself in, and you are free to add and drop licenses from month-to-month as your needs dictate.

The billing that you receive is also supposed to be more detailed than that of the EA, allowing you to easily track your spending.

No Minimum Commitment

Microsoft’s EA required its customers to meet many rather tedious requirements in order to maintain their pricing level and the discounts that go along with it. These pricing levels are primarily dictated by the number of seats you need, and as of 2016, the minimum seats you need to qualify for the EA at all was raised from 250 to 500 seats.

This leaves a lot of mid-sized businesses in that 250-500 employee range in the lurch and looking for alternatives that will not force them to pay for licenses they don’t need.

This is where the CSP program comes in; with the CSP program, there are no minimum commitments you need to adhere to. This makes CSP ideal for mid-sized businesses and many former EA customers are expected to switch to the CSP for that very reason.

There is also no minimum length of time you need to stay in the CSP program. With the EA, you typically needed to sign up for a three-year agreement, and during that time you could easily add licenses but you couldn’t easily dip below your original agreement count.

With the CSP however, there is no minimum seat requirement and no length of time you have to commit to, giving you complete freedom in how long you stay and how much you use.

You Get to Work with Your CSP Partner

As an individual consumer, you might know the pain of trying to get Microsoft’s attention. As excellent as they are at selling products, they often have difficulty providing meaningful customer service to every one of their customers simply by the sheer size of their business.

You can often feel like you’re little more than a number to them, which is why the CSP partner program offers a more engaging and personalized experience. Since your CSP partner will be handling the relationship with Microsoft, you will only have to handle your relationship with your CSP partner, whose role in this chain is to provide you with an ideal customer experience.

This means that they will be offering you around the clock support, assistance in migrating to the Cloud, and customizable solutions hand-tailored to your organization’s requirements.

In order to stand out in the market, CSP partners will be eager to provide you with deals and enticing offers and will often be more willing to negotiate pricing and bundles compared to dealing directly with Microsoft.

It’s Where Microsoft is Clearly Pushing Their Clients Anyway

It’s clear that Microsoft has a vision and that’s one where their platform, products, and business exist exclusively on the Cloud. They’ve been quite aggressive in growing their Azure platform, which is now sitting second to only AWS in size and selection.

They also have begun steadily making their Enterprise Agreement less appealing to mid-size businesses and pushing their clients into other revenues, including Microsoft’s CSP. In 2016, they announced that the number of minimum seats required for companies to possess an EA would jump from 250 seats to 500.

In 2018, Microsoft also removed programmatic discounts offered to Level A customers with a seat count between 250-2,399 seats, significantly deteriorating the previously superior pricing of the EA compared to other volume license programs. At MetrixData 360, we think this deterioration of the EA will continue eventually even to the Level B customers. The reason for this is a bit multi-layered but essentially, what the EA provided for customers was direct access to Microsoft, they could negotiate custom-made deals and required a large quantity of Microsoft’s time and money supporting customer-service infrastructures. What the CSP does is it allows the CSP partners to present to their customer’s a more fixed, non-negotiable pricing while also giving the CSP partners the task of handling customer relations.

While you should always make your business decisions in accordance with the goals and priorities of your organization, it is important to note that Microsoft is visibly pushing away from the EA and into other avenues, including the CSP program.

Cons of CSP

It’s in the Cloud

It might be a little bit of a no brainer but the CSP program is a Cloud-only program, meaning it won’t offer products that are only available on-premises. This may be a roadblock to some organizations who require that their software and their data to remain on-prem.

For other products that are on-prem, such as servers, you will need a different license for them. With an exclusive Cloud platform comes Cloud-related problems,, including but not limited to:

  • Security Issues
  • Data Ownership
  • Lost connection leading to downtime
  • Difficult to track software assets in the Cloud, often leading to rampant spending

Some of the Partners are Newer than Others to the Cloud Business

It can be a rigorous process becoming a Direct CSP distributor, and you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • You need to prove that you are capable of providing around the clock technical support.
  • You need to pass a credit check in order to purchase Microsoft’s support plan.
  • You need to have a customer billing structure already in place.
  • You need to already have at least one managed service, IP service, or customer solution application.
  • You need to have at least one Microsoft Gold Productivity Competency.

However, to become an Indirect CSP Reseller doesn’t require nearly the same level of prerequisites, since they’ll get most of their infrastructure, such as their billing and their technical support, from their Direct Distributor. As such, you may find that smaller and newer resellers are not as well equipped to deal with your unique business demands as they arise.

Ready for the CSP Program?

With an uncertain future ahead of us, it can be understandable to be hesitant when picking a long-term IT solution for your business. Getting saddled with a platform that will prove to only be a weight around your neck to drag you down is hardly an ideal situation.

It is always best to examine the pros and cons to figure out if CSP is best suited to your company’s software environment.

At MetrixData 360, we are offering a unique solution to help you see if your software environment is ready to make the transition to CSP. Our SAM Compass Services offers you the ability to monitor your software environment to make sure you are only using what you need in order to keep your software spending as low as it can go.

Our solution offers our customers the ability to take control of their IT budget by providing them visibility into their usage and offering more streamlined licensing solutions, with the help of our team of experts on your side.

If you’d like more information on our SAM Compass Solution, you can check out our SAM Compass Service Page.

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Hiring a Licensing Negotiator: The Whys and Hows

There are many things to not like about negotiations: the tension, the frustration, and the feelings of being overwhelmed or outmatched. Negotiations are an unavoidable element of doing business. Hiring a license negotiator can help ease the discomfort around the whole process.

Software contract negotiations can be quite overwhelming, due to software contracts usually being hyper-complex. There is also an added strain if the software vendor you are negotiating with has mission-critical software that you will need to run your business.

This is why it’s always a good idea when confronted with a software contract negotiation to consider hiring a negotiator who specializes in software contracts. But how do you start looking and what are the qualities of a good licensing negotiator?

At MetrixData360, we specialize in helping organizations negotiate more effectively with software vendors like Microsoft, Oracle, and IBM. Having engaged in this business for many years, we know the professional standards that software licensing negotiators should be held to, which is what we want to share with you today.

Why People Hire Software Licensing Negotiators

Organizations often have talented and experienced people who are sent to sit down and hash things out with the software vendors, however, it is important to consider the following factors when you decide to use internal resources to approach the software vendors:

  • Negotiations are very time-consuming. Microsoft’s EA renewals, for instance, will require a minimum of a month to prepare, but MetrixData 360 suggests that you start preparing at least five months in advance.
  • It’s critical to have a strong understanding of the particular contract that you are negotiating. Not only are these software contracts difficult to understand, they are also subject to change hundreds of times a year when you consider how many times your vendor might update their product line, their policies, etc. For one person to be an expert on even a single vendor would be considered an accomplishment.
  • It will be difficult to successfully negotiate a software contract without a strong understanding of your company’s software assets. It won’t serve your company in the long run if your only negotiation strategy is to fight for a discount. For instance, if you are overspending on software licenses that you aren’t using and your software vendor decides to throw you a bone by giving you a 10% discount, you’re still wasting money on those licenses. Hiring a licensing negotiator will help avoid overspending on licenses you don’t need, even if they are discounted.  
  • If there is a way for you to cut back on spending on your software contracts and you go about removing licenses without the required care, often the vendors will respond by sending you a software audit shortly after the negotiation has concluded in order to make up for the lost revenue of your reduced license count.

What to Look for in a Good Licensing Contract Negotiator

If you’ve decided you need help in this endeavor, the last thing you want is someone who can’t deliver. An attorney might be a good idea when you’re shopping for someone who will have your back during this engagement but is not exactly necessary; instead, you should look for someone who meets the following criteria:

Experience with and Knowledge of Your Specific Vendor

Your negotiator should be able to come to the table having experience negotiating with this vendor before. This will ensure that they will have a strong understanding of your vendor’s current product line, their current contracts, and they can anticipate the typical escalation strategies of that vendor.

Strong Conflict Resolution Skills Paired with Excellent Escalation Strategies

There are times to keep the peace and times to throw down the gauntlets, and your negotiator should be able to tell the difference between the two and how to go about either of these approaches.

An Understanding of the Stakeholders Involved

How do you speak to a group of people when one wants to take your money, another wants to make sure you’re having a great experience as a customer, another who is here to make sure the contracts are legally sound, and someone who just stepped in to bring his boss coffee? It’s difficult, isn’t it?
Sadly though, on the other side of the negotiation table, there are people who are brought in with different goals and different levels of authority (you wouldn’t frame your argument to just please the coffee guy), and a software negotiator must be able to speak to all of them.

A Strong Personality

It takes a certain type of personality to get the right outcomes from a contract negotiation. It takes a tenacious individual who cannot be intimidated while also being able to exhibit patience and humility.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can work on becoming a strong negotiator yourself, you can check out our article: 5 Key Traits to Winning Contract Negotiations.

Your Options for Hiring a Licensing Negotiator

Hire an In-House Software Asset Manger

Many SAM experts come with contract negotiation expertise due to their in-depth knowledge of a company’s software assets. While this will allow you to have someone who shares your company’s goals and values, it will be unlikely that you’ll find a single person who will be able to master every single vendor that you have in your infrastructure. It’s more likely that you’ll need to hire a team of people, which will be significantly more costly.

Hire a Consultant

Outsourcing to a third-party is an excellent way to get experienced professionals the second they walk in the door. They are also handy because you don’t have to keep them on staff for longer than the engagement lasts, often making them a much cheaper alternative.

There is also the possibility of picking the members who will be a part of your team; you only need to pay for the people who will be directly useful to the project.

Why Picking MetrixData 360 as Your Software Contract Negotiator Is a Great Choice

At MetrixData 360, we are experts on the subject of negotiating software contracts on our clients’ behalf and have successfully negotiated over 1.5 billion dollars in software contracts.

Our clients find that bringing a MetrixData360 licensing expert onto their team changes the process dramatically and puts them in control of the software contract negotiation. We like to build multiple licensing models and provide a risk analysis of each. Not only do we have the skills, we also like to teach you what to say and allow you the opportunity to present it as your own findings to preserve the relationship with the vendor.

The MetrixData 360 Edge

When most people are faced with a difficult contract negotiation, they will often need data to prove their stance and to avoid any future audits that might be incurred from the negotiations. At MetrixData 360, we provide you with the solid information you need to present a strong offense and an impeccable defense in the event of a software audit.

The Kind of Support We Offer During the Negotiation Process:

  • We are there and have a plan for every stage of the negotiations phases.
  • Software vendors try to control the negotiation. We change the game and put you in the driver’s seat.
  • Divide and Conquer: We talk to all members of the vendor negotiation team to understand their biases and motivations​.
  • We help you establish a proposal that will meet your goals, if not exceed them.
  • We work as excellent translators for technical jargon and present it to you in a way that is easy to understand.
  • You set the approach, tone, and pace of the meetings​ and we’ll follow your lead.

If you’d like to see some of the end results of our services, you can check out our success stories here!

Hiring the Right Licensing Negotiator For You

Contract negotiations, when it comes to software, can be confusing and seemingly hopeless, especially when your software vendors hike up the pricing every year. It can feel like you have nothing you can say in response other than asking who the cheque should be written out to.

However, it doesn’t have to be like this if you have the right person backing you; someone who understands your software licenses better than the vendors do, and someone who is willing to defend your interests and your goals tenaciously.

At MetrixData 360, we like to hold ourselves to a high standard of excellence when it comes to defending our clients during a software contract negotiation and we want to make sure you find someone who also meets those standards. If you’d like to learn more about how MetrixData 360 can help you realize savings during your next contract negotiation, you can check out our contract negotiation page.

What is CSP? A Deeper Look into Microsoft’s Cloud Service Provider Program

If you’re in the market for purchasing licenses or subscriptions from Microsoft, you may have stumbled across Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. But what is CSP?

Released in 2015, it’s been steadily growing in popularity, especially with the recent push for businesses to reside on the cloud, mainly in hybrid solutions. But what exactly is the CSP program and how does it affect you and your organization, as a consumer of Microsoft products?

At MetrixData 360, we’ve been going up against Microsoft for decades now, defending their customers against outrageous software audit claims, heated contract negotiations, and unnecessary software spending. We like to stay on top of Microsoft’s most recent developments, so in this blog post, we’ll go into detail about Microsoft’s CSP: what it is, why it exists, and what advantages it poses to its buyers.

What is the Microsoft CSP Program?

Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Program is a reseller program that is broken up into Direct CSP Distributors and Indirect CSP Resellers. These CSP partners will sell and support Cloud-based licenses for Office 365, Microsoft 365, and Azure, all on behalf of Microsoft with a margin of profit available to both Distributors and Resellers.

Distributors support (typically smaller) Resellers with the resources and service infrastructure they will need in order to provide support services to Cloud customers. In this way, Resellers and Distributors will be able to build and maintain a strong relationship with customers while in return customers will receive a full managed cloud solution.

The opportunity to be a part of the program as a Distributor or Reseller is open to all Microsoft’s partners regardless of their size or location with the two types of members (Direct and Indirect) bearing different responsibilities.

Want to know the difference between Indirect and Direct CSP partners and what Microsoft expects of them? We have an article discussing just that!

Why Does the CSP Program Exist?

The workplace is on its way to becoming Cloud-based with hybrid solutions, and nowhere is this more apparent in than in the three budding as-a-Service industries: Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS), Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS).

Of all these new industries, SaaS is becoming the most popular and for good reason; it offers a completely hands-off experience with the customers. The SaaS provider supports their customers by providing maintenance, hosting, and security.

Microsoft’s CSP program is their answer to the growing popularity of SaaS. However, the problem is that Microsoft doesn’t have the service infrastructure in place to support the dream of becoming a SaaS provider giant.

Instead, they’re outsourcing this task to partners, who will be able to provide better value to the Microsoft customer experience.

Buying from CSP Partners

There are a few ways Microsoft’s CSP program has altered the customer experience, so if you are thinking of buying from a CSP partner, consider the following:

It’s Only for Cloud Products

As the name would suggest, the CSP program only sells and deals with Cloud products. Of course, if you have on-prem licenses, your CSP partner will help you to transition into the Cloud.


One of the main appeals to customers when it comes to Microsoft’s CSP program is the ability to only pay for what you use and you will be billed on a month to month basis, no upfront payments or long-term commitments.

Unlike with the EA, which requires you to make bulk orders annually (meaning if you don’t use everything you’re paying for during the entire year before your next True-up, that’s wasted money), with CSP you can change quantity and types of licenses whenever you need to. This set up makes things immensely scalable and is great for customers with seasonal businesses.

Local Support

If you’ve ever tried to get Microsoft’s attention, especially if you’re a smaller company, you will understand the pains of feeling like Microsoft isn’t listening.

With the CSP program, your CSP partner’s job is to provide you with easily accessible service. They will act as your point of contact in the case of a problem.

Your CSP partner will also be able to bundle their offerings and offer discounts with more consideration into your business’s individual goals.

Licensing Support

Everyone who has ever had to deal with a Microsoft license before understands how complex they can be. In the past, understanding Microsoft licenses was a full-time profession.

However, moving to the Cloud has made Microsoft reconsider their hyper complex licensing a little, and now the CSP program offers the potential of your CSP partner to assist you in your Microsoft licensing to maximize the benefits of your investment.

Migrating from Existing Services to CSP

If purchasing the CSP platform has caught your attention, you might be wondering how you’ll be able to migrate from your existing service. The main factor to consider is what your current agreements entail and where they reside:

From an EA

If you are moving from your EA to the CSP model, you will need to fulfill the terms of your original arrangement, but if you want to move you will first need to get a CSP Direct bill partner to request your transfer to Azure subscriptions (you’ll need to purchase an Azure plan in order to transfer successfully). You’ll also only be allowed to move to the CSP model if you accept a Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA).


When transferring to CSP from any other location than the EA, you will have to adhere to a few guidelines in order to get the results you want:

  • You need to work with a CSP partner to create your Azure CSP subscriptions. No solo acts allowed.
  • Ensure that your Azure resources can move from their host subscriptions to its destination and that all subscription services use the Azure Resource Manager model. Make sure you check this before you begin the process.
  • You will need RBAC owner access on the user account that will be used to do the transfer, ensuring access to both subscriptions.
  • Make sure that the source and the target CSP subscriptions are housed in the same Azure Active Directory tenant. You can’t switch your Azure AD tenant for an Azure CSP subscription, you can only add or associate the subscriptions to your CSP Azure AD tenant.

Getting Started with Microsoft’s CSP Program

The world of technology is constantly evolving. With this new transition to the Cloud, it’s important that businesses everywhere learn to adapt to these changes for fear of being left behind.

Microsoft’s CSP program is an excellent source of purchasing these new cloud-based services but it’s important that you understand exactly what you are signing up for so that you can make informed decisions for your organization.

At MetrixData 360, we are happily helping our customers through this process of moving to the cloud platform. For information, you can check our cloud services page.

Becoming Non-Compliant in the Cloud

The Cloud has made computing that much easier for companies; they are able to work from home, share files in a single location, and they can sleep easy at night knowing that all their licensing problems are a thing of the past…or are they? Unfortunately, there are some common ways companies become non-compliant in the cloud.

With pay-as-you-go pricing models and easy scalability, it would seem as though there’d be no chance to run up against any trouble in the Cloud. Still, there are a few scenarios that present compliance risks that you should be wary about as you make the transition into the Cloud.

At MetrixData 360, we have helped many of our customers transition into the Cloud smoothly and with as little impact as possible when it comes to their expenses, so let’s look at how compliance is still something to be wary of, even in the Cloud.

Compliance Issue #1: Expecting Vendors to Keep You Compliant

If you are hosting all your products on a vendor’s platform, you’d think that vendor would let you know if you were overspending or if you were using services you are not entitled to.

It’s not for their lack of knowledge – they know exactly what you’re using and how much because your servers are their servers. However, there are services on the Cloud that exist without a cap of any kind.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a great example of this. The product tracks social media mentions and it does not stop once you reach the limit of your mentions, it just keeps going while simply tripling your cost for its tracking efforts —meanwhile, your 20K monthly expense could jump up to 250K if left unattended.

Your software vendor will also not stop you from using services you aren’t entitled to.

For instance, if an administrator were to enable Azure Threat Protection at the domain level, they could do so, and the protection would cover every user in the domain including users that don’t have the proper license to entitle them to this protection.

This type of expectation that organizations govern themselves could leave companies having to pay up tremendous amounts of unforeseen software spend, along with non-compliance fees at their next true-up.

Compliance Issue #2: Using Expired Plans

In the case of some vendors, despite the fact that a license may have expired, its curdled remains are still accessible to their user. The only way a technical barrier is activated to a company is when every license within that organization has expired for that service.

As long as there is still a single active license, then anyone who has an expired license can still access that service, which can leave a company exposed to unexpected fees.

Compliance Issue #3: Mixing Plans

When you purchase a Microsoft 365 Subscription plan, you are signing up for the access to applications and services such as Office, Exchange, and SharePoint. These Subscription plans range from basic (F1) to top of the line and most expensive (E5).

Hidden costs can easily crop up when you mix plans. Features may be accessible to members of your organization who do not have the license to use them, which puts you into dangerous compliance risk territory.

To make matters worse, it is not exactly clear which licenses are needed to use some features. Manual configuration is advised to avoid this compliance risk.

You’ll be asked to buy extra “standalone licenses” for lower-level plans in order to compensate for users accessing high-level suites.

Compliance Issue #4: Underestimating Total Expense

The sheer nature of the pricing metric of Cloud products makes it so that it can be difficult to estimate true cost. It may seem as though two extra dollars a month won’t have that big of an impact, but once it is scaled up to your whole organization, it can leave you having to pay out a large chunk of your software budget.

One client of ours had this exact problem with an unexpected $8,000 spike in their software spend. We tracked the unexpected spending to a desktop belonging to a junior IT team member who had accidentally turned on Blob Storage for his entire company.

In the defense of the junior IT member, there had only been barely a few dollars of difference between the storage applications he had been asked to pick between, but it had cost his company a tremendous amount of unneeded spend.

How to Avoid Becoming Non-Compliant in the Cloud

While the Cloud might not be the balmy risk-free getaway promised, it can still provide your organization with the flexibility it needs to succeed, and it doesn’t have to be a budgeting nightmare if you follow these simple steps:

  • Know your contracts, what you are entitled to and what you are not, make sure administrators understand their role and responsibilities
  • Start a SaaS Management program to accompany your SAM strategy
  • Find a tool that can accommodate for your company’s Cloud migration
  • Pay close attention to users, storage and your company’s limits

Get a Handle on your Cloud Solution

The Cloud can be liberation for many companies.

However, as great as it may be, it is important that you are aware of the stumbling blocks that befall companies who head straight to the Cloud thinking it will be the end of their compliance issues, because oftentimes it is not.

Compliance gaps and audits are a massive form of revenue for Microsoft, so despite the apparent transition away from restrictive arrangements that allow for compliance gaps in the first place, you may find yourself butting heads with its Cloud equivalent.

At MetrixData 360, we are more than prepared and capable in helping you achieve your goals in the Cloud. We know how to monitor your usage with our Azure Usage Reporting tool, which can help you solve any of your Azure compliance or spending issues.

For more information, you can check out our Azure Usage Reporting Tool page here.

Cloud Agnostic vs. Cloud Enabled vs. Cloud Native: The Terms Explained 

On your way to the Cloud, you may be confronted with a lot of confusing terms while deciding on how to build your Cloud architecture. Terms like Cloud Native, Cloud Agnostic, and Cloud Enabled are often used seemingly at random.

At MetrixData 360, we have helped many of our clients successfully migrate to the cloud and we want to ensure your migration to the Cloud is successful as well.

We’re going to break down the difference between the three terms and what advantages and disadvantages each of these solutions can bring to your Cloud platform.

But, before you dive head first into the complex definitions of cloud infrastructure, we suggest you watch this video to get warmed up:

Cloud Native

Definition: What is Cloud Native?

Cloud Native is a bit of a loose term that can generally be described as the action of building and running applications that exploit the advantages of the cloud delivery model. Kind of vague, isn’t it? When you sign up for Cloud Native architecture, it’s typically only a matter of selecting a Cloud Provider and building your architecture to stick with that provider exclusively. Cloud Native architecture relies heavily on services tied to the Cloud Provider themselves, such as Azure Monitoring services in Azure or CloudWatch in AWS.

Companies go about establishing Cloud Native platforms by utilizing vendor-specific offerings like AWS’ function-as-a-service and Azure’s globally-distributed database Cosmos DB.

The Pros of Cloud Native

  • Going Cloud Native will make it much easier to create resilient cloud architecture
  • Cloud Native solutions often come with better performance, and better efficiency
  • Easily scalable and some Cloud providers offer features for load balancing like Amazon and Google.
  • Often the cheapest option, since you will be licensed based on use and storage needs and there are no software/hardware installations needed.
  • Easily maintained
  • While it is typical for architecture to be built to be platform-specific, applications can still be moved between infrastructures if necessary.

The Cons of Cloud Native

  • Services like AWS’s function-as-a-service and Azure’s Cosmos DB make you locked in with that specific vendor and makes it quite difficult to move to a different provider.
  • You will have to use native APIs, which will involve a lot of code rewriting if you ever move to a different Cloud provider

Download Our Cloud Infrastructure Guide Today

the three types of cloud infrastructure

See how enterprises across the globe configure cloud-native, enabled, and agnostic workload infrastructures to keep up with today’s volatile market.

Cloud Native vs. Cloud Enabled Applications

As if the Cloud couldn’t be more confusing, ‘Cloud Native’ is actually a two-fold term which also may be used when referring to applications.

Not to be mistaken with Cloud Enabled applications, Cloud Native applications are ones that are built exclusively for the Cloud; they were born in the Cloud and are deployed and work best in the Cloud.  It is expected that Cloud Native applications will become the norm as time progresses, with 90% of all new apps using Cloud Native structures and an estimated 35% of all production apps being Cloud Native by 2022.  

Cloud Native Solutions are often viewed as the more attractive option since they better harness the full advantages of life in the clouds, they are designed to host multi-tenant instances and they are usually significantly cheaper than Cloud Enabled applications.

While Cloud Native and Cloud Enabled might be used interchangeably at times, they are not always discussing the exact same thing.

Cloud Enabled applications are applications which have been originally made for and in a static environment on-prem and are meant to reside on an in-house server or data center. This piece of legacy enterprise software is then simply tweaked and restructured to be enabled in the Cloud in order to offer its customer’s remotely available and easy management. While they may be similar to their Cloud native counterparts, using a Cloud Enabled application will leave you with limitations on how that application can interact with the full cloud environment, creating issues such as:

  • Slower implementation as a result of server configuration, customization, and software/hardware set up.
  • Not easily scalable and requires manual upgrades
  • Tends to be the more expensive of the three options

Vendors who offer Cloud Enabled applications might try to pass them off as Cloud Native, since Cloud Native solutions are the far more popular option on the market and are considered to be a short-hand for ‘modern applications and infrastructure practices.’

Cloud Agnostic

Definition: What Is Cloud Agnostic?

Being Cloud Agnostic means building your architecture to utilize everything open source technologies and portable components have to offer, this architecture is built to be able to switch providers easily, or even allow for the use of multiple cloud providers simultaneously. Unlike Cloud Native solutions, where you will typically be at the mercy of your Cloud solution provider, Cloud Agnostic gives you the freedom to forge your own path into the clouds.

The Pros of Cloud Agnostic

The Cons of Cloud Agnostic

  • Often more expensive than Cloud Native architecture (but not always, sources vary)
  • More difficult to build highly available architecture without using a Cloud Native solution
  • If you are hopping between vendors, you may not have the ability to take full advantage of the capabilities of a single vendor.
  • You will be responsible for monitoring multiple platforms at once

Getting Help for Your Migration to the Cloud

The Cloud can be a turbulent place, with so many options and muddled terms that it might be easier to stay rooted to your on-prem solution.

Software infrastructures are unique for every company, there’s no one way to do it and the same is true when it comes to building your company’s platform in the Cloud. When deciding what your Cloud platform will look like, it’s important that you know what your options are so you aren’t limited to a solution that might not be best suited your company’s objectives, goals, and budget.

At Metrixdata 360, we understand this complexity and companies desires to pick their own customizable solution, something that we prioritize when helping our clients in their transition. You stay in the driver’s seat and we ensure that your solution is as cost-effective as possible. Together, we’ll get you to where you want to be!

If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you smoothly transition into the cloud, then you can check out our Cloud Page.

Information About IBM Licensing

IBM licensing can easily overwhelm you, with so many different definitions and rules, it’s like learning a more complicated and even nerdier version of Klingon.

Where do you even begin?

At MetrixData 360 , we pride ourselves in diving deep into complicated licensing issues and understanding even the most complex scenarios. We often help our clients successfully navigate these complex terms. So, in this blog post we will go through a quick overview of IBM licensing for beginners because despite how it looks, software contracts don’t have to be a confusing affair.

Types of IBM Users

There are many different types of users in IBM’s books:

Authorized User

An Authorized User is someone who is given access to the Program. The Program in question may be installed on multiple computers or servers and the Authorized User can access multiple instances of the Program at once.
As an Authorized User, you are not limited to a single device or a single instance of the program. If I wanted to open a piece of IBM software that I was an Authorized User to on every desktop in my workspace at the same time, I could.

Each Authorized User must have their own separate entitlements in order to access the Program in any manner directly or indirectly, such as through a multiplexing program, device, or application server. Authorized User entitlements cannot be shared with other people unless permanently transferred.

However, some IBM programs license devices so that they are considered users. In which case, any device that “requests the execution of or receives for execution a set of commands, procedures, or applications from the Program or that is otherwise managed by the Program” must be licensed as if that device were a person.

Takeaway Points:

  • Authorized Users can access the Program from multiple computers and can access multiple instances of the Program at the same time.
  • Authorized Users cannot share their entitlements with another person.
  • In certain programs, devices that interact with the program must be licensed as if they were a person.

Concurrent Users

A Concurrent User is defined as any person who is accessing the Program at any given time. A Concurrent User may access the Program multiple times, they still only count as one Concurrent User.

While the program may be installed on multiple servers, what‘s important is that you license your program based on the maximum number of Concurrent Users that have accessed the program.

So, if you have 1,000 employees — 500 working days and 500 working nights — as long as there’s no way they could overlap, then you only need to license for 500 Concurrent Users.

Just like with Authorized Users, there are programs that are licensed so that devices are considered users. Any device that “requests the execution of or receives for execution a set of commands, procedures, or applications from the Program or that is otherwise managed by the Program” needs to be licensed as if it was a person.

Takeaway Points

  • Concurrent User metric is based on the number of users at any given time
  • A Concurrent User can access the program multiple times and still be considered only one Concurrent User.
  • For some programs, devices that interact with the Program will need to be licensed like a person.

Floating Licences

A floating license is connected to either a hostname/ID or a machine’s address.

A Floating License is for a single software product, which can then be shared between team members, with the number of concurrent users not allowed to exceed the number of floating licenses you have.

To use the floating license, you need to have a floating license key, which then any user of the organization can use to access the product at any given time. The server will then respond to the request of the key and then grants access based on the number of licenses the organization has.

A Floating User is a unique person who can access the program in question from a variety of different points, however, to simultaneously access the program from multiple points will require separate entitlements.

Takeaway Points

  • Floating licenses can be shared between users.
  • If the number of users matches the number of licenses the organization owns, anyone else wishing to use a floating license must wait until one of its current users has logged off.

Resource Value Unit (RVU) and Processor Value Unit (PVU)

Resource Value Unit (RVU) is a unit of measurement with which IBM licenses its Programs. RVU Proofs of Entitlement revolves around the number of units of a specific resource that is used or managed by the program in question. Each program has specific RVU entitlements and in no way can you exchange, interchange, or aggregate RVU entitlements with that of another program.

Processor Value Unit (PVU) on the other hand is a unit of measurement used to determine the cost of licensing IBM middleware products, based on the type of processor that is on the server where the software is held.

The number of PVUs required is unique to the specific server and is based on the processor’s technology and the number of processor cores on a chip in the server. It is used for licensing at Sub-capacity, which brings us into our next topic.

Capacity and Sub-Capacity: ILMT and Me

IBM’s Sub-capacity licensing is an excellent way for businesses to save money. Essentially, using a PVU count will allow you to only partially license a server with an IBM product installed on the server. You will only need to license the individual processors that the product will use, based on the number of chips that each processor carries.

However, in order to make sure that the product doesn’t cross that invisible line and is installed across the whole server, IBM makes it mandatory for those using sub-capacity licensing to have ILMT installed.

ILMT is a tool designed to help companies conduct inventory and maintenance of PVU-based software that is licensed at sub-capacity. ILMT is a delicate dance and failing to play by all the rules when it comes to ILMT will leave you being licensed at full capacity during your next IBM software audit:

  • You need to have ILMT installed within 90 days of the first use of products eligible for sub-capacity licensing.
  • ILMT must be maintained and up to date in order to determine consumption. If ILMT is not maintained, not fully or incorrectly deployed across your products, then you could lose your sub-capacity status.
  • You need to generate and keep quarterly reports from ILMT.
  • ILMT also has its limits on the accuracy of its reporting capabilities.

More information about ILMT and IBM Software Audits.

Common IBM Licensing Mistakes

As confusing as IBM licenses its products, it no wonder that there are a few common slips ups people always fall into, such as:

Messing up Sub-Capacity Licensing

Sub-Capacity Licensing proves to be one of the easiest mistakes for IBM customers to fall into. Sometimes customers do not realize they need to have ILMT installed in order to use sub-capacity licensing or if they have ILMT installed it is easily not accurately deployed or not deployed in all the areas it needs to in order to keep your company safe during an IBM audit.

Underestimating the Complexity

This article only covers the tip of the IBM licensing iceberg, with so many licensing types and metrics, it can easily get overwhelming, which is why it is important that you don’t give the management to these licenses to just a single person, or worse yet, a single person who is already has a full-time role.

To effectively get the job done, you’ll need someone who can fully own the project (or a team depending on the size of your company).

Related: Hire a Software Asset Management Expert or Do it Yourself? The Pros and Cons of Each.

Get Your IBM Licensing Under Control

IBM licensing can be a tricky business but as confusing as it can be, it is important to understand these licensing requirements in order to adhere to them to the best of your company’s ability. Of course, there is no shame in feeling overwhelmed because this isn’t a one-person job.

Software asset management, especially for companies of larger sizes, can easily become the full-time job of a team of people.

At MetrixData 360, we’ve helped our clients out of the toughest software related issues, IBM being only one of our major successes. To learn more and find out how we saved one of our clients nearly 20% of their IBM budget, you can check out our IBM page.

Book a Meeting with Our IBM Licensing Specialist

Best Software Asset Management Solution: Picking the Right SAM Expert

How to Tell if Your Third-Party SAM Provider is Giving You Quality Results

When you consider purchasing a third-party Software Asset Management provider or hiring a SAM Expert, you want to be able to tell you’ve made a good selection, but the industry is quite new and the results are barely more tangible than numbers on a bottom line or an upwards arrow on a graph, which anyone with a basic level of Excel can create. So, what sort of metric can you apply to see if these software fast-talkers and SAM tool makers are up to the task of handling your intricate software environment? At MetrixData 360, we hold ourselves to certain standards that we have noticed not everyone in the industry adheres to. So, today we’ll discuss what good third-party SAM providers look like.

Their Focus is to Get You to the End Result

There are plenty of SAM tool sellers in the market today whose tool will provide you with plenty of fancy charts and very shallow, surface-level answers. Usually, third-party SAM experts will only give you insight into the compliance of a single product, which can easily prove to be a single piece in a very large puzzle. Their main goal is to get you to sign another contract; to get you on as a regular customer, regardless of whether you have the answer that you were looking for or not. A good SAM provider needs to provide you with real, tangible results. At MetrixData 360, our entire SAM process is arranged around how to quickly and effectively get you the results you need by taking a holistic approach to software asset management. We walk you through the entire process, from gathering your data to using that data to find the most cost-effective way to buy the products you need. We provide you with a full look into your software environment, over multiple products to provide you with the answers you’re looking for.

SAM Experts that Understand the Vendors

Your relationship with your software vendor is delicate and it is mission critical that it is maintained. Many companies depend solely on their software vendor for assistance in making spending decisions and changing vendors can be difficult (think pulling-your-own-spine-out-of-your-mouth levels of difficult), if not completely impossible. If your vendor is providing you with software that is critical to your business or so thoroughly deployed throughout your software environment that you simply cannot change vendors, then contract renewals will feel like a shakedown. When you’re caught in a software audit there’s the urge to simply and passively nod your way through it.

However, this type of relationship is hardly beneficial to you, especially since the vendor’s goals are to sell, sell, sell. They have quotas to meet and they do not have the interests of your company and your business needs in mind, not when it runs up against their bottom line. It is important that your SAM experts understand the nature of this relationship and knows how to navigate it regardless of whether you are stuck in the middle of a software audit or you need to maneuver through a contract negotiation. There are many SAM experts in the market whose goal is to just keep the vendor happy, even if that means sacrificing your own interests. At MetrixData 360, we have plenty of experience handling the software vendors. Our CEO, Mike Austin, actually spent 20 years working for Microsoft, until he left and started working to help Microsoft’s customers navigate the tech giant’s impossible-to-understand licensing rules. We know the vendor, but our goals are your objectives. We act as your secret weapon since many software vendors get defensive when they learn you’ve hired a third party. They don’t even know we’re there; we just tell you what to say, give you all the data you need to effectively say it, and then it just looks like your company did it all yourself.


They Have the Technology and Skills to Back Up Their Claims

There are plenty of SAM tool vendors who, like the software vendors, just want to sell regardless of whether what they’re selling will get you the results you need. The problem is that many people do not understand what software asset management is or how it works. So, when a sweet-talking salesman offers them 60% savings every year for as long as you have their discovery tool installed, it may sound like a tempting offer. However, it’s important to take such a bold claim with a skeptical eye.

The truth is that installing a discovery tool does not create a complete software asset management solution. It is part of the solution, but it won’t take you the whole way. Discovery tools are what they sound like, they show you what is in your software environment in a very high-level sense. Imagine you are standing on top of the Empire State Building, looking over New York City and a man is standing next to you and he says, ‘there are 91,000 people in New York City who are homeless right now,’ and then he walks away. If you want to go and help those homeless people, the man has actually given you very little to work with. You don’t know where they are or why they are homeless, and you now have the entirety of New York to search through in order to find them all.

That’s what a SAM tool does, it gives you an outline of the problems in your software environment. What it doesn’t provide you with is a strategy in going about fixing any of those problems. We have seen many organizations who attempted software asset management simply using a discovery tool and found that they were completely overwhelmed by the data their discovery tool had found for them. They didn’t know what to do with the data and they eventually got too tired and quit. That is why you need someone to manage your SAM solution; someone who can take the data that the man standing on the Empire State Building gives you and say, ‘OK, first we’ll check all the parks for homeless people. Then this bridge in Queens that I know of. There are some homeless shelter workers that we can talk to who will know something. We should also consult the food banks.’

At MetrixData 360, our tools were designed not to sell you more tools, but to make sure you save money at every available opportunity. We also offer our skills in managing your tools, so that we can guide your SAM solution.


A SAM Experts’ Goal is to Empower you

In the old days, software asset management experts were only called upon during an emergency: a software audit, or an EA renewal, and their work was centered around a specific event. They would do their magic, dress up your software environment for the occasion, and then head out when the event was over, leaving your software environment to fall prey to the poor management processes and the bad inventory habits that caused you to call them in the first place. Then at the next audit, what else can you do except call them again? This type of relationship does not allow you to get a handle on your software environment; what it does mean is that SAM expert has a gig every year. You want a SAM expert that can teach you long-term good habits that can ensure the implementations of strong software asset management. Which is why at MetrixData 360, we pride ourselves in not just being SAM experts but also SAM educators. We have blogs, YouTube channels, and webinars designed to teach you about strong SAM practices and how you can get your software environments under control. During our engagement with our clients we like to explain what we are doing and to make sure there is no mystery with our magic.

Want to Build your SAM Dream Team?

It’s important that you know what you’re signing up for when it comes to hiring your SAM expert, especially if this is your first time looking into hiring a professional. The last thing you want when you are stuck between a rock and a software audit is hiring a lack luster SAM expert with half answers and empty promises. At MetrixData 360, our goal is to be different, to give you the SAM solution you need in order to get your software environment under control. If you’re ready to see real results in your software asset management solution, contact us today!

Hard Savings vs. Soft Savings

Soft Savings vs. Hard Savings in Software Asset Management


Savings are what makes the software asset management world go ‘round; it’s what all the SAM tool vendors preach and it’s one of the main reasons people get into software asset management in the first place. Knowing the difference between hard savings vs. soft savings is an important component to getting the most value for your software dollar.

However, what exactly are you signing up for when you sign a deal with a SAM tool vendor, who is promising ‘savings’ in a high theory sense? What does ‘30% annual savings’ (or whatever your SAM tool vendor promises you) actually look like?

What are the types of savings that you actually see when you successfully implement software asset management?

At MetrixData 360, we are all about transparency and working with our customers to achieve strong tangible results. Here, we’ll look at what type of results you can expect from signing a deal with a SAM tool vendor and exactly what you can expect to save after a SAM implementation by diving into both hard and soft savings.


Hard and Soft Savings Defined

Hard Savings are easily tangible benefits to your bottom line; increased revenue streams and reduced costs. Soft Savings are indirect savings where the company reduces risk and exposure to compliance and legal costs. Watch our video below to see the best hard and soft savings areas we’ve discovered in our client’s IT environments.

Hard and Soft Savings Defined

See the 12 Best Hards and Soft Savings Areas You Can Target to Save Money In Your Organization.

Download our Hard and Soft Savings PDF for Free:

Hard Savings in Software Asset Management


Hard Savings are an inflow of cash that has a direct relationship to the bottom-line profits or losses. These are things like revenue enhancement (increasing the price of your product) or cost reduction (finding cheaper materials for your product or finding a way to manufacture your product faster).

Some examples of hard savings in SAM include:

Streamlining the Efforts of the IT Department

There are elements of software asset management that can help every area of the IT department, including:

  • Asset tracking
  • Effective asset disposal and replacement
  • Risk mitigation
  • Software security

Having an organized software environment means that there is less to manage, less to go searching for, fewer blind spots and less shadow IT that your IT department will constantly be compensating for.

No one is left scrambling to do a year’s job in a matter of months in the event of an audit or true-up. Best of all, IT is given the data they need to advocate for new software or for the replacement of old software.

Related: Want to know how Software Asset Management can create value for the rest of your company? Check out these articles: Partnering CFO and CIO: How to Use Tech to Save Money and How SAM Can Improve Your Cyber Security,

The Real Source of Hard Savings in Software Asset Management

The one area where software asset management can yield real results is in the fact that SAM equips you with the data you need to hand tailor your software contracts to match the specific needs of your software environment.

Without SAM, companies will be forced to guess how many licenses they need to purchase — guessing too high is a waste of money and guessing too low will leave you exposed to the heavy fines of an audit, both scenarios amounting to lost money.

Knowing exactly what you need takes the power out of the software vendor’s hands and levels the playing field, since not having SAM leaves you buying simply what your sales rep has told you to buy. As charming as a sales rep might be, they sit in a position that is adversarial to yours.

They want you to simply buy more while your goals are to buy only what you need to. You need to have your own knowledge to back up your purchases.

Soft Savings in Software Asset Management

Soft Savings are savings found through adding to the bottom-line profits or losses, these are usually intangible and difficult to measure. These are things like improving safety in your workplace to avoid accidents and to conform to new laws as they are passed, since failing to adhere to both can lead to heavy lawsuits.

Increasing employee satisfaction is another type of soft savings since this will lead to fewer people quitting and less time spent hiring and training a constant stream of replacements.

Software Asset Management is rich in soft savings, which is often why it is overlooked by many organizations since soft savings are more difficult to measure. That doesn’t take away from its value, especially when considering the following areas:

Track Arrivals, Movers, and Leavers for Soft Savings

Large organizations are composed of thousands of employees, new hires coming in, long-term employees retiring, or employees getting shuffled around from one department to another.

This constant state of motion must beg the question: what happens to the software of those employees? How can a company hope to keep track and make use of the software licenses that these shuffling employees need without SAM?

It is important to have a process for the purchasing of new software and its retirement, to avoid the repurchasing of licenses and the accumulation of ‘shelfware’ – software that you aren’t using but still paying for.

Software asset management is an excellent way of keeping track of…well, software assets. Although it is important to understand that many Software Asset Management companies with discovery tools to sell will often promise high percentages of saving continuously over several years. They promise this using their discovery tool to find unused licenses and putting them back into your software environment. This can be a way to cut costs if you were already planning on buying more licenses or your contract renewal is approaching, and you plan on cutting those unused licenses out of your contract.

But discovery tools alone will not provide you these types of results, not without software licensing metering (which must already exist in your software environment) to be paired with the discovery tool. You will also need the knowledge to understand the data that the discovery tool will provide you.

However, without the other two elements to this recipe — and paired with the right circumstances — it is unlikely you’ll see such tangible results through the implementation of a single software tool.

A single SAM tool typically only increases visibility into your software environment by 10%, which makes sense when you consider the fact that most SAM tools only give you visibility into a single product or vendor, of which your organization may very easily have dozens.

This is why MetrixData 360 takes the unique approach of creating a holistic view of your data, examining every product throughout your software environment and providing you with our expert’s insights in how to read the data you have been given.

Soft Savings by Avoiding Auditing Penalties

Our clients have come to us in the midst of disaster-level software audits. We’re talking millions of dollars in audit penalties being paid out that they didn’t actually owe. This is because they didn’t have a proper SAM process in place. They didn’t know how to respond to the auditor’s claims because they didn’t have visibility into their software environment.

While having software asset management during an audit in and of itself will not make you money, it could certainly keep you from losing money unnecessarily. Imagine if you could find problems before they incite an audit and you get to avoid the unpleasant process altogether. Going through a software audit successfully is also a great way to demonstrate organization and control to the software vendor, making them less likely to audit you again in the near future (it’s not a magic bullet for software audits but it does help).

Software Asset Management will also cut down on a silent expense of software audits that many companies are not actually aware of until they are in the middle of a software audit: wasted time and resources. Software audits can cut away thousands of working hours from your company so that your employees spend their days chasing down sometimes pointless data requests from the auditor, instead of doing their jobs.

This can prove to be a massive expense that can easily be avoided with the right software asset management strategy on your side.

Get Finding Hard and Soft Savings with SAM

Software Asset Management can help identify hard savings vs. soft savings. That statement might be true, but it can also prove a bit simplistic. Before you get on board the SAM bandwagon, you’ll want to know where it’s going. After all, there is no point signing up for something that will be just another software expense to keep track of.

At MetrixData 360, our whole process is built around saving you money, from the tools we design, to the consulting services we offer, our goal remains aligned with your interests.

If you would like to know how you can get started with software asset management today, you can contact us using the button below and we can get started!

How to Move From an EA to CSP

Preparing to Migrate to CSP

You’ve come to the conclusion that Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program is something that you’re on board with, and now it’s time to get your data packed and ready for the big move from the popular and traditional Enterprise Agreement (EA) to your CSP.Before you get excited about this transition, you’ll need to ensure this next step is a smooth one, or else you might find your software budget blown in unforeseen spending spikes.At MetrixData 360, we have helped many of our clients move effectively to new cloud platforms, and we’ve seen several elements all successful migrations have in common. Don’t forget to check out our CSP Switching course to if you’re looking to take a deeper dive into the nuances of moving your licensing into the CSP.


Preparation is always key, especially when it comes to something like moving to your new CSP platform. You wouldn’t start building a house without a blueprint and a plan, and the same premise applies here.

Make sure you have a business plan; something that outlines the resources you’ll need. If you are signing up for Direct CSP, consider the following:

  • How much are you planning to sell and the marketing strategy you’ll be using to sell?
  • Consider if you can meet the requirements to first obtain and maintain your status as a Direct CSP partner. You will need to sell a minimum of 5,000 Microsoft 365 seats per year and will have at least one Microsoft Gold Productivity Competency.
  • Will you be able to provide top quality customer support and maintenance?
  • What sort of automatic billing system will you sign up for? It may be tempting to go with manual billing but you can easily lose control of this billing method as your business grows.

Signs It’s Time

One key element of switching from EA to CSP is timing, and there are some telling signs that you can rely on to indicate when it is a good time to move:

  • Your Size:

    The best time to move is when your organization is still smaller than 500 users, since the EA requires a minimum 500 seats, so even if you have less than 500 employees, you’ll still be stuck paying for those extra seats. Moving to the CSP will ensure you only pay for what you’re going to use.

  • Your Support Calls to Microsoft Are Lacking:

    Support is an important element in ensuring the health of your environment but if Microsoft’s 1-800 tech support number is providing you with little assistance besides the occasional ‘your call is important to us, please hold’, then leaving might be best for your company. In the CSP program, if you decide to become an Indirect CSP Reseller, your CSP Distributor will directly deal with your needs so you won’t be struggling to get Microsoft’s attention.

  • Your Business Sees Fluctuations:

    Does your business have a trackable busy season? Do you hire seasonal workers and is the number of staff shifting up and down to meet the demand of the workload? Then it might be time to consider moving to CSP since the EA doesn’t provide nearly the same level of flexibility to accommodate these changes to your business. With the EA, you would simply be stuck paying for the maximum number of seats all year.

Indirect CSP or Direct CSP

There are two models of CSP that you can pick from: Direct and Indirect. It’s important you pick between the two models carefully, so that it can best serve your business’s needs.

  • Direct CSP:

    A Direct CSP Partner means that you’ll purchase from Microsoft and sell to your customers. Becoming a Direct CSP Partner means meeting certain requirements. The whole onboarding process will take about 4 months.

  • Indirect CSP:

    Overall a much faster way to purchase CSP, since you aren’t working directly with Microsoft. Instead, you’ll be purchasing your tools and platforms from your provider. This arrangement has many appealing benefits, including giving you access to the support of your Distributor and minimal expectations with major reward potential.

Picking Your Partner

If you’ve decided to work with a Direct CSP partner, your next step will be picking which Direct CSP provider is right for you. While each CSP partner will bring their own personal touch to their platform, here are some general topics of consideration when picking your CSP partner:

  • What is the size of the organization you’re considering?

    Larger companies will often provide you with more options when it comes to the types of products and can prove more stable. They will also be better at getting Microsoft’s attention. However, smaller companies may be able to respond to your requests faster and may be more eager to keep your business.

  • How Future Proof is Your Provider?

    Is the provider equipped to handle the latest and greatest technology or are they able to deal with older versions of certain products that your company and customers may still be running?

  • Is the Partner Willing to Hash Out Pre-sales Details like Design and Pricing?

    Knowing that you can work with your partner to provide the service you or your customers need is a key component to a successful CSP.

  • What Support does the Provider Offer?

    Good support is crucial to maintaining a positive relationship with your distributor and customers. Knowing that there is a working support system in place helps to provide confidence in your product and peace of mind during unforeseen issues and requests.

Your New Home on the Cloud Awaits!

It’s an exciting time, moving to the Cloud where you can shake off the restriction of the EA, but it’s important that you don’t make the move too hastily -- you don’t want to be stuck in a bad business arrangement that will only make you long for the days of your EA.

At MetrixData 360, we know how confusing this time can be. We have helped many of our clients transition to a Cloud Platform safely and at a low and reasonable cost.

Now that you’re prepared for the move, the next step is to find out if an Indirect or Direct CSP partnership with Microsoft is right for you, you can learn more by checking out our article: Direct vs. Indirect CSP: Which Plan is Right for You?