The value of understanding your Microsoft cloud licences – Part One

I have recently been working on several projects looking at Microsoft cloud licencing which brought home to me the importance of fully understanding the licences you need; you have and how you are using them.

I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of those findings in two blog posts. In part two we’ll examine why it’s important to fully understand what your licences contain. But first I wanted to show how gaining full insight into your licences can help an organisation optimise its usage and potentially gain some significant cost savings.

The background

Licencing has two problems, firstly it’s complicated and secondly, it’s not very interesting. Hopefully what we cover here will at least make it less dull, but to the first point, why is it complicated?

Microsoft licencing has always been complex, user licences, device licences, core licences, subscriptions, bundles and agreements are just a handful of things that make them complicated. How about our move to the cloud, doesn’t that make licencing easier? Isn’t it just count up all the users you want and buy your M365 licences? If only, even if you know your O365 from M365, Business Premium from an E3 or even what an AADP2 licence is, that’s only half the battle. The other half is based on two tricky questions we must answer.

  • Am I investing in the right licence?
  • Am I making the most of my licences?

We’ll talk more about getting the most from them in part two, but let’s start with knowing if we are investing in the right licences.

The Problem

Knowing how you are using your licences and whether you have the right ones is tricky because there is a lot to understand. For example, if we have bought a Business Premium licence do we know that all our users are using all it includes, services such as Office? How much are they using SharePoint, OneDrive, and Teams? Are the licences we purchased been used at all? Without that insight how do we know if we have made the right choice in our licences?

The impact of not knowing this is, in many cases, organisations are simply paying too much for their licences and in a climate where we must fully optimise all of our business spending, none of us want to be doing that, do we?

The Answer

How then do we go about answering those questions? Well, there’s good news, bad news and good news again.

  • Good News 1: Microsoft 365 holds all the information you need to optimise your licence use.
  • Bad News: It’s not at all easy to find and bring together.
  • Good News 2: There is a wide range of tools that can do the job for you.

Good News 2 is the reason behind this post so that I could share how, by using a good tool, you can quickly answer those questions and find whether you are optimising your licence use or whether there is room for improvement.

This post is not app specific, but to illustrate my point, I am showing examples from Surveil’s Cloud Optimisation toolkit (Surveil | Smart Cloud Optimisation from Surveil. To gain insight into your environment you run a tool like this for a couple of weeks, once that’s done we can find information that can make a significant difference. The info below is from a demo environment, so mileage may vary – but it should give you an idea of how, even basic information, can provide real value.

As you can see from the first image, even at a very high level, there are several potential areas of optimisation. To calculate these savings the tool looks at metrics like inactive users or licences bought and not used. During one project I was talking with a CTO who shared that they use this unallocated licence insight all of the time, to ensure that when new licence requests are made they first allocate existing licences before purchasing new ones.

Once we know users are using licences, how do we build an understanding of if they are using them well? As you can see from the second graphic, we can examine a specific licence in detail to see whether it is being effectively used. For example one of the reasons we buy an E3 licence is to give users access to Apps for Enterprise (Shown as Officesubscription in the table). In this, admittedly, extreme example, you can see no users are using their assigned Office licence. So if that’s the case – why are we paying extra for them, could we choose a different option?

With just these two simple examples you can see how, without this insight, poor licence governance can cost an organization a lot of money. Money that could be saved, or reinvested in other projects. Who wouldn’t like to stretch their IT budget further?

Simple low-cost tools like Surveil can be hugely valuable when it comes to better managing and optimising our licencing spend. So if you don’t think you have your licencing as well managed as you’d like, or even if you just want to confirm what a good job you are doing, then tools like this are worth a look.

In part two of this series, we’ll look at how understanding what a licence contains can not only reduce cost but can improve security and productivity. In the meantime, if you have any thoughts post a comment below or drop me a line on the socials.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.