Microsoft terms and acronyms you should know when dealing with MS licensing

Microsoft is a big company with many products and different names for services and contracts. Microsoft, like many other companies, has a set of terms, conditions, acronyms that users must know, understand and agree to when using their products and services. These terms outline the rules, rights, and responsibilities associated with using Microsoft’s software, applications, and online services. Acronyms are abbreviated terms that have meanings to them.   

If you are new to Microsoft, then you will come across many words or terms you have never heard before. You should know these Microsoft terms.   

Here you will find the most common terms when dealing with Microsoft licensing.   

MS – Means Microsoft. A multinational technology company from Redmond, USA. Microsoft specializes in developing and licensing computer software, consumer electronics, and personal computers.    

EA – Stands for Enterprise Agreement, a contract for large companies from 500 users. It is a volume licensing contract that allows large businesses to leverage Microsoft’s software portfolio at a discounted rate. The main purpose of this type of agreement is to simplify the procurement process for organizations with a large IT department since it consolidates software purchases under a single agreement.    

EAS – Stands for Enterprise Agreement Subscription. This is a rental agreement in which the software is rented for 3 years. This is an agreement that works for customers who want to be able to reduce the numbers of users and be able to subscribe for a service as and when needed.    

SA – Means Software Assurance. Software Assurance is contained in a Volume Licensing Agreement as a maintenance program. Software Assurance is purchased at the same time as the corresponding software license, and after Software Assurance payments have been maintained throughout an agreement, the SA may be renewed without the need to purchase a license again.  It also gives you the right to deploy, manage, and use Microsoft products efficiently and stay updated with changes and opportunity with your software.   

CAL – Client Access License. Microsoft Client Access License (CAL) is a license that gives an individual or device the right to access services offered by a Microsoft server product.    

It authorizes users and devices to use all features of the server software, including client access protocols, management features, and integration with other products in the server’s family.    

OVS – Open Value Subscription. It is a form of licensing that offers workplace standardization and is based on a subscription (rent) basis but also gives the right to purchase. Open Value Subscription offers the possibility to put together a platform yourself or to opt for the full Desktop Professional Platform or Small Business Platform.   

NCE - This is a New Customer Experience (NCE) introduced to change the way and terms licensing is sold, bringing flexibility to reduce the complexity and costs to support a range of client purchases. The NCE comes with a “per seat” model.    

CSP – Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is a program that allows customers to purchase cloud services, software, and hardware from Microsoft’s trusted partners.    

SQL – Standard Query Language.  Microsoft SQL Server, often called SQL Server, is a Relational Database Management System (RDBMS) developed by Microsoft. It is a software product whose primary function is to store and retrieve data as requested by other software applications, which may run either on the same computer or be used on another computer from one network to the other (including the internet).   

LSP – Licensing Solution Provider. Plays an administrative role between you and Microsoft during your EA negotiations. They are authorized and recognized partners of Microsoft to play the role of selling services and products after which they receive commissions accordingly.    

M365 – Microsoft 365 is a trusted, secure, and productive application that brings work together i.e. Office 365, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. Microsoft 365 offers the latest and current advanced inventions in enterprise security, management, collaboration, and business analytics, hinged on enterprise cloud services.   

O365 – Office 365. A cloud-based suite of productivity tools designed to help individuals and organizations connect and collaborate more efficiently. It includes a range of software applications for creating, editing, sharing documents, spreadsheets and presentations.   

True-UP This is when an organization is required to align their Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) with the total number of licenses that they have added in the previous 12 months. The annual True-Up order must be received by Microsoft in the period between 60 days and 30 days prior to the anniversary of your EA contract.    

L&SA – Stands for License and Software Assurance. L&SA is used to acquire both a license and Software Assurance coverage for the license.   

Downgrade rights – This refers to the ability of a customer to use an earlier version of a software product than the one they have purchased. This downgrade right is included in certain Microsoft product licenses, such as Windows Pro and Enterprise, and allows customers to deploy earlier versions of the software if needed.   

AD – Stands for Active Directory. This is a location that stores information about things of use on the network of an organization and makes this information easily available for administrators and users to find and use. Information storage and use is structured in the Active Directory forming the basis for storage and logical retrieval for use.  

AAD – Azure Active Directory. Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is Microsoft’s multi-tenant, enterprise cloud-based Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution.  

For an organization, Azure AD helps employees sign up to multiple services and access them over the cloud anywhere with a single set of login credentials.  

AE – Account Executive. This is an individual involved in managing relationships between clients and Microsoft to drive sales and achieve business objectives as set by Microsoft. 

BYOL – Bring Your Own License. This is a licensing model permitting the transfer and use of your existing software license to a new environment, for example as a cloud provider without purchasing new licenses. You continue to enjoy your existing investments from the license you brought, taking advantage of flexibility and scalability offerings in the cloud.  

FinOps – Finance and Operations. A framework for managing and operating the financial aspects of cloud services. For example, with Microsoft Azure, FinOps will involve strategies to effectively manage cost and optimize spending on Azure services in the cloud.  

IaaS – Infrastructure-as-a-Service. On a pay-as-you-go basis, you get access to cloud computing services with offerings on computers, storage and networking resources on demand. A cloud service provider like Azure takes care of managing infrastructure while your organization focuses on purchasing what you need, usage and managing your own software.  

MPSA – Microsoft Product and Services Agreement. This is a transactional licensing agreement for organizations with 250 users or devices. It consolidates purchasing of cloud, on-premises software or both as needed under a single, non-expiring agreement.  

PaaS – Platform-as-a-Service. Gives you, on a pay-as-you-go basis, a complete development and deployment environment in the cloud. It allows you to manage the applications you have developed in the cloud while you worry less about managing everything else like infrastructure, development tools and resources.   

SaaS – Software-as-a-Service. On a pay-as-you-go basis, you can use cloud-based apps like email, calendaring and Office tools over the internet. The cloud service provider manages the hardware and software that facilitates your usage.   

SPLA – Service Provider Licensing Agreement. Microsoft products through this agreement model can be licensed to customers on a monthly or three-year agreement term by service providers and independent software vendors who serve as software or application host.       

VLSC – Volume Licensing Service Center. This is a page that enables organizations to manage volume licenses purchased and are in use.  

What the Q-Advise team brings to Microsoft licensing    

We have worked in the field over the years and understand how the license space operates. Most of the terms you read in your Microsoft contract have twists to them and there will be a need to know what you are signing up for.   

Our team of experts are available to answer and clarify doubts you may encounter. Reach out to the team today.  

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