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Microsoft's Software Licensing: Why I've Had Enough
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RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 9:35:53 AM
My experience
I'm not involved in our company's licensing of Microsoft software, but a couple of years ago I spent about an hour in Redmond with the Microsoft executive who heads up its licensing. I just wanted to get a broad understanding, but I came out of that meeting more confused than when I went in.
DanC131
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DanC131,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 12:25:42 PM
Re: My experience
Perhaps you should consider IBM's Sametime. It is available as both a cloud or onsite implementaion, is open, extensiable and reliable. The latest Video capabilities are top notch and enterprise integration is excellent.  
J_Brandt
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J_Brandt,
User Rank: Ninja
11/29/2013 | 3:06:58 PM
Re: My experience
Microsoft is the only company whose licensing discussions literally give me headaches.  Sadly Rob, I'm not surprised that came out more confused.  I've found there are some third parties that understand the licensing program better than some of the people at MS.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 9:36:55 AM
MS Licensing: Sounds Like Wireless Carriers
This is an indictment of whoever created the incentive structure for your Microsoft rep. Becuase not only will you not bite with regard to the CRM switch, but you will not spend a cent to send your people to licensing class, is my guess. This reminds me of how the wireless carriers operate: Make contracts so heard to decipher that the average person can't find the best deal. Enterprise is a whole other level of complexity.

When I started reporting about enterprise smartphones, I learned there were consulting companies whose sole purpose was to help enterprise customers revamp their wireless contracts to eliminate wasteful spending. You shouldn't need this type of service to buy from Microsoft.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/25/2013 | 9:38:08 AM
Question ...
Not being snarky, but why didn't you shut down the CRM presentation in its tracks? Politely, but say, look, this is not what we're here for?
John McGreavy
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John McGreavy,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 9:00:02 PM
Re: Question ...
Lorna, you ask a good question about the runaway Microsoft presentation.   I could have stepped in, but how would that have looked?  I'm the CIO of the company and I arranged for the session.  If I can't control a simple vendor session, what message does that send?  Definitely a judgement call, but effectiveness is a careful balance of executation and perception.  I let the CRM thing run its course, but I was steamed!
Adam Swidler
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Adam Swidler,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 12:25:28 PM
Shameless Plug for Google
Disclosure - I work for Google

Very entertaining and insightful article. We hear this a lot from Microsoft customers. I encourage you to take a look at Google Apps. We offer a compelling collaboration platform that includes real-time video for $50 per user per year. Straight up and simple. If you are interested, have a look at our services at www.google.com/apps
John McGreavy
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John McGreavy,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/26/2013 | 2:27:31 PM
Re: Shameless Plug for Google
We are taking a serious look at Google.  As another reader points out, Google appears to indeed be syphoning off some of the MS business.  I think we can run much of our end user business on Google enterprise apps, but dragging end users through change is not without its cost.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
11/25/2013 | 1:09:55 PM
It is pretty nuts
I made the mistake a little while back of asking "How much will it cost to add another database server?" Long story short, several very sharp folks and myself, half a day later, still could not answer that simple question. Best we came up with was a price range. a rather broad one.
dpadgitt600
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dpadgitt600,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 2:10:43 PM
Re: It is pretty nuts
We had the same issue but needed to add a large number of databases. We found PostGres performs as well as Microsoft SQL server and is free. Table partitioning and "Enterprise only" feature - is built in to Post Gres for example... 
KevinRCasey
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KevinRCasey,
User Rank: Moderator
11/25/2013 | 10:38:16 PM
Re: It is pretty nuts
A while back I interviewed the SVP of ops at Jordache about their IT overhaul in concert with the brand's modernization. Much of that makeover was tied to moving everything online, and Google was the major piece. The exec contacted Microsoft first, but found pricing problematic: "it was a high level of negotiation."

http://www.informationweek.com/mobile/jordache-redesigns-it-around-cloud-google/d/d-id/1105742

McGreavy rightfully notes that Google's not for every organization and comes with its own considerations and pitfalls. But it sure seems like Google has siphoned off some corporate productivity and collaboration business from Microsoft simply by offering more straightfoward pricing.
SaneIT
IW Pick
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
11/26/2013 | 8:01:55 AM
Re: It is pretty nuts
This is far more common place than it should be.  As soon as you start talking about licensing the door is open for analyzing every single product you use and trying to negotiate ways to leverage the various plans.  The thing that bothers me most is that Microsoft has taken to quarterly meetings with me to "keep me up to date".  When I need to spend three hours with them every few months to make sure we are using our licensing plan to it's potential and that we aren't missing something there is a problem. 
hgolden913
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hgolden913,
User Rank: Strategist
11/25/2013 | 2:21:03 PM
Dealing with a Monopolist
Microsoft has you over a barrel until you decide to walk away. Google is certainly one option. For servers and various applications using open source is also a better way to go.

If you've really had enough, walk away!
BillS20101
IW Pick
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BillS20101,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/25/2013 | 6:07:59 PM
Strategy for handling vendors
A good way to keep vendors on track and to break thru the deliberate obfuscation is to schedule 2 or 3 vendors on the same day.  Make it clear that you are talking to all three.  Makeit clear to the rep and his boss that you only have money to spend on voice and video this year.  Tell the rep they have two hours to address your needs, remind them every half hour how much time they have, and usher them out right on the dot.  If they choose to talk about CRM when you want to hear about integrated voice and video conclude the meeting with "That was very interesting and we're looking forward to hearing what Google has to say about our problems".  

 

Follow that up with a note to the district manager cc'ing the Head of Sales that your rep wasted two hours of your time.   

 

Oh - and keep posting items like this! :)

 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
11/26/2013 | 8:50:10 AM
Re: Strategy for handling vendors
Exactly - time is our most valuable commodity. If I am on a call or in-person meeting with someone and they veer off track, I don't have a problem saying so, and I appreciate when people do the same for me.  Better than walking away thinking "there's an hour I'll never get back."
FormerMTman
IW Pick
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FormerMTman,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/26/2013 | 8:38:16 AM
Microsoft is Bad, Oracle is worse
Microsoft has basically taken a page from Oracle regarding licensing.  Take Oracle's DB for instance, there are different levels of the db product and their is tiered licenses to support those levels.  Solaris, once free, but charged you for certain updates, is now free for something like 60 days, but you get no access to any updates.  With Oracle's DB products, not even the CPUs are free.  With any Oracle products, access to updates is extremely pricy and based on an annual support contract FOR EACH PRODUCT!  And then you see Larry's $100M World Cup boat and you know where your money went, because it sure wasn't on better support.  At least with Microsoft, Windows and SQL Server updates don't require you to read through literally pages and pages of documents regarding how to install the patch that you so desperately need.  I would bet though that Microsoft is headed directly in Oracle's direction.  It really is no wonder that so many IT pros are looking at Google and open source solutions instead.
Utsalady
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Utsalady,
User Rank: Apprentice
11/26/2013 | 10:45:08 AM
Why you should NOT attend my Microsoft Licensing Course
I teach three-day courses in Microsoft licensing and negotiations, and one of the first things I tell my classes is "you shouldn't be here." There's no way anyone should need to spend three (it's threatening to go to four) days in a classroom just to figure out how to buy a vendor's products. 

Customers should never confuse their MS rep with an expert in MS licensing. They're trained to sell and they get virtually no training in licensing. I am an expert, but then this is all I do and it is a full-time job to keep up with the rules. For any other company, that's sheer overhead.

I'm also disturbed by Microsoft's complete disinterest (and I'm sure they're not alone) in helping customers out by building some kind of internal license enforcement or even notification into their software. With very few exceptions the software does not stop enterprise users from doing something they aren't licensed to do. That works in MS's favor, of course, keeping customers fearful that somewhere along the lines they overstepped the rules, so they had better toss another million onto the pile to keep the licensing police away. I'd rather see people spend their money in more useful ways, but the truth is that it is trivially easy for a system administrator to do some normal and common IT task that exposes their company to thousands of dollars in compliance penalties.

The idea that customers are supposed to know the rules is absurd, since Microsoft never announces or describes in detail some very significant changes. But understand their culture: this is probably the largest company in the world that does not license any Microsoft software. They do not feel your pain nor do they curse their staff with any requirement to know anything at all about licensing.

Paul DeGroot / Pica Communications
lkeyes70
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lkeyes70,
User Rank: Strategist
12/1/2013 | 2:19:41 PM
Whew... glad someone else is saying this.
I've thought Microsoft licensing has been out of control for years. I'm a small business person. Just trying to figure out which copy of *Windows* or *Office* to buy, in their multiple guises is a nightmare.  

For my money, the extra $500-$1000 spent on a Macintosh desktop and attendant OSX, and applications not only simplifies one's life, but gives one BMW-type quality in both the hardware and software. Add the FileMaker database for end-user database connections to back-end databases of all kinds including mySQL, and you have a versatile suite of productivity software which is stable, reliable and oh yes, legally licensed without having to attend three-day courses. 


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