By Kirk Clausen
Microsoft licensing is a major component of the software budget for most enterprises, and a key contributor to over-spending with Microsoft is an un-optimized process around the management of Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) subscriptions. I usually see two scenarios where an enterprise is mismanaging their MSDN licenses:
- How they procure MSDN subscriptions
- How they perform true-ups against their Microsoft Volume Purchase Agreements
Procurement of MSDN Licenses
I commonly see that in many organizations, Microsoft volume licenses are acquired through the Purchasing department, but MSDN licenses are purchased directly by IT. This frequently leads to the purchase of duplicate licenses. For example, a new employee is on-boarded and Purchasing buys a volume license for Microsoft Office (under e.g. an Open or Select Plus agreement) and then the IT Manager buys an MSDN subscription for the new hire. The net result can be over-spending on licenses since the MSDN subscription may provide an entitlement to Office, depending on the Visual Studio/MSDN package purchased.
Another very common practice that I see is to procure a new MSDN subscription when on-boarding a new developer within IT, without first checking on availability of licenses. This can result in over-spending on licensing because the new hire may be able to use an existing MSDN subscription that is already paid for:
- If the new hire is a replacement for a prior employee, the existing subscription can be reassigned to the new employee instead of buying another MSDN license.
- The decision to buy should not be performed without knowledge of the current license position. If an organization knows how many MSDN subscriptions they own and compares that to the number of active subscriptions registered to Microsoft, an unused license can be allocated to the new hire - again without needing to buy a new license.
Microsoft True-Ups and MSDN Licenses
I frequently see customers that are not optimizing their license position when performing a true-up against their Microsoft volume purchase agreements because they are not taking into account the entitlements granted by their active MSDN subscriptions.
For example, the inventory reported by Microsoft SCCM may find many installs of SQL Server within the environment and when manually matching this up to the number of SQL Server volume licenses that have been purchased, a shortfall is seen and additional volume licenses are purchased. However, many of the SQL Server instances that were discovered are potentially entitled by an MSDN subscription and do not need a true-up license under the volume agreement.
Since Visual Studio and MSDN are actually a bundle that entitles a large number of software products and Microsoft frequently changes which products are included in the bundle over time, it is very difficult and time-consuming to make sure your MSDN entitlements are included during a true-up. This is especially true if you are using manual, spreadsheet based processes to manage your license entitlements.
What Can You Do?
Organizations should optimize their Microsoft license position to ensure license compliance and avoid over-spend. To effectively manage MDSN subscriptions requires a combination of Software Asset Management (SAM) processes and tools:
- The process improvements should focus on how MDSN licenses are procured
- Your need a Software License Optimization tool that has built-in knowledge of license entitlements to know what products are bundled into your active MSDN subscriptions. Your tool should also be able to create an optimized, reconciled license position by matching installed software against MSDN entitlements and prevent unnecessary license spending under your volume purchase agreements.
Software License Optimization
An effective Software License Optimization program mitigates your compliance risk by providing an accurate license position. It also optimizes software spend by ensuring that all of the product use rights that you are entitled to under the terms of your license agreement are being utilized when reconciling software inventory against purchased licenses.
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