What you need to know about Microsoft Software Assurance before purchasing

Software Assurance (SA) is Microsoft’s maintenance program available only through Microsoft Volume Licensing Agreements. It is a set of benefits and maintenance programs that includes technologies, services and rights which typically give customers flexibility in how they deploy Microsoft software.

Purchasing SA in addition to your license enables you to fully optimize the benefits and rights your license presents you. Before you make your purchasing move, we will share with you some benefits and rights SA brings to your license and its use. Virtualization Rights for Windows and Windows Embedded Licensed Desktops. This entitlement allows customers to run the software on up to four local virtual machines. Windows and Windows Embedded. Customers with active SA coverage for Windows Desktop OS or Windows Embedded OS are eligible for this benefit. Devices with active SA coverage may run current or previous versions of the Windows Desktop OS or Windows Embedded OS.

What Enhanced Edition Benefits are contained in SA?

Windows and Windows Embedded. Customers with active SA coverage for Windows Desktop OS or Windows Embedded OS are eligible for this benefit. Devices with active SA coverage may run current or previous versions of the Windows Desktop OS or Windows Embedded OS.

Windows Thin PC benefits

This gives outdated hardware a new lease of life by turning fat clients into thin clients. This means that hardware investments can be postponed. In Virtual Desktop Infrastructure environments, this is often an indispensable benefit.

Software Assurance on Windows may not be transferred to a ‘real’ thin client. For this, the aforementioned VDA Subscription must be purchased. However, if the SA on Windows is still ongoing, both SA and VDA will be paid for simultaneously. With Windows Thin PC, this disinvestment can be prevented by converting the PC or laptop into a thin client, at least until the end of the term of the SA.

The Roaming Use Rights for Office available to employees

The right to give your employees access to Microsoft Office, Project & Visio outside the work environment. SA is therefore almost indispensable on these products when it gives employees the opportunity to log in to your network from outside, for example, and to use these applications remotely from there.

What other benefits SA added to Office Online provides? 

Users of a device with a license and SA for Office Standard or Office Professional Plus may use Office Online to view and edit documents on the licensed device. The Primary User of the Licensed Device may even use Office Online on an unlimited number of devices. Users must also have a license for a SharePoint Online plan to access the Office Online service.

What License Mobility rights are within server farms under SA

License Mobility gives the right to reassign server licenses to other hardware within 90 days. This makes it possible to license the movement of virtual servers across multiple hosts.

Are there eligibility requirements for License Mobility under Software Assurance?

License Mobility through Software Assurance allows you to transfer your licensed software from your servers to a shared third-party server. All products currently eligible for “License Mobility within Server Farms” and covered by Software Assurance on Server and CAL are eligible for License Mobility through Software Assurance.

In addition, System Center is also eligible for License Mobility through Software Assurance, but because this is a hardware-based license, a conversion model applies. For example, System Center Standard with SA entitles you to two (2) managed Operating System Environment’s(OSE) per license and the DataCenter edition to eight (8) managed OSEs per license.

The SQL Server Enterprise – Unlimited Virtualization possible?

For each server for which you have provided all cores in the physical CPU with sufficient licenses with active Software Assurance, you may run an unlimited number of instances of the server software in an unlimited number of physical and/or virtual OSEs on the licensed server.

SQL Server – Failover Servers and what can be done 

For each OSE in which you use Executed Instances of the server software, you may run up to the same number of passive active failover instances in a separate OSE on each Server to prepare for a failover event.

Scheduling / Planning services advantages as part of SA benefits  

Software deployment is an intensive period of time during which Software Assurance provides support through various packaged services, that help you simplify your deployment and thereby reduce deployment costs.

From the Microsoft contract forms, Enterprise Agreement and Enterprise Subscription Agreement, Microsoft makes vouchers available that customers can use. These vouchers are intended to be actually used by customers to purchase licenses as much as possible.

With these vouchers, Microsoft gives the opportunity to receive free, on-site support from a Microsoft-qualified party. This support can be, for example: doing a product demo, doing a virtual lab session, making customer-specific deployment plans based on your own IT environment, conducting in-depth technology discussions or on-site provide expertise at the time of deployments.

The Support Training packages offered in the SA 

    • Home Use Program    

The Home Use Program increases productivity and maximizes the value of Microsoft Office. Employees may – for the products for which the employer has purchased licenses – use Office family applications at home, including Microsoft Office, FrontPage, InfoPath, OneNote, Project Standard Edition, Publisher and Visio. There are no license fees for home use. You only pay a contribution for the download and any backup media. Ideal for getting employees used to a new version in the run-up to a migration.

    •   eLearning 

The contemporary interactive variant of written and classroom education helps you prepare your company for migrations and increase the productivity of your employees. Online training enables you to maintain the knowledge level of all your employees in a fast, simple and cost-effective way.

    •   System Center Global Service Monitor 

System Center GSM is a cloud service that gives customers full insight into the status of the web applications. Customers using System Center Operation Management 2012 (SCOM) can link it to the System Center GSM. This makes it possible to see from the current location through the GSM dashboard views, how the application responds to requests from different locations worldwide. GSM sends commands from the Microsoft Azure locations to the application to measure performance. This way, among other things, ensures that Service Level Agreements are achieved and problems are addressed in a timely manner.

    • Extended Hot Fix Support 

Microsoft provides 5 years of Mainstream Support as standard, followed by 5 years of Extended Support. Extended Hotfix Support is a feature for older software versions that have moved from Mainstream to Extended Support.

Customers eligible for this Software Assurance Benefit will not be billed the annual rate normally payable for an Extended Support contract during the term of Software Assurance coverage. Customers eligible for this feature do not need to enroll within a 90-day period of a product’s transition to Extended Support.

Customers are still responsible for the cost of individual Hotfixes. A Premier or Essential Support agreement is required to qualify for this scheme.

How are the New Version Rights in SA an advantage?

Licenses concluded with Software Assurance entitle you to the latest versions of the purchased software during the term of the agreement. This offers the freedom and flexibility to deploy the latest technology and solutions as they become available.

Without Software Assurance, a completely new license will always have to be purchased when a newer version is rolled out. This is because upgrades are generally not available. Depending on the product, Software Assurance costs 25% to 29% of the license price per year, so the breakpoint is at a product lifecycle of 4 years or less.

SA offering Step Up Rights from lower to higher editions

Based on Software Assurance, a lower edition of a product can be converted to a higher edition and only the additional price is paid. Consider, for example, the transformation of a SQL Server Standard license to a SQL Server Enterprise license or Windows Server Standard to DataCenter. Without SA, a completely new license must also be purchased if the higher edition is desired or required.

What Windows Enterprise Edition benefits does SA provide?

The Enterprise edition of the Windows desktop operating system is only available to Software Assurance customers. Windows Enterprise includes the full functionality of Windows Pro, plus the best mobile productivity, security, manageability, and virtualization features businesses need today. Some important features that are only available to Windows Enterprise users are:

    • Direct Access: Users can seamlessly connect to resources on a corporate network without having to launch a separate VPN.

    • BranchCache: Employees at remote sites no longer need to download content multiple times over their WAN (Wide Area Network) because BranchCache places files, websites, and other content from central servers locally on hosted cache servers or personal computers.

    • AppLocker: IT admins can create a more secure environment by restricting the files and apps that users or groups can use on a PC.

    • Windows To Go: IT administrators can create a fully manageable Windows 10 desktop for their business on a bootable external USB drive.

    • Start Screen Control: IT departments can now control the home screen layout on company-owned devices, ensuring that important apps are easily accessible.

    • Windows Enterprise Side loading: Internal Windows apps can be loaded on PCs and tablets that have Windows 10 Enterprise installed and are members of the corporate domain.

Special Benefits with Microsoft Software Assurance 

    • Spread Payments

By paying for the software in staggered instalments during the term of the agreement, the budget is predictable, manageable and constant. When licenses are only purchased for additional installations and the rollout of new versions, there is a peak in the investment once every few years.

    • Enterprise Source License Program

Customers with a Software Assurance Membership and 1,500 or more licensed desktops in the Systems product group may be eligible to participate in the Enterprise Source Licensing Program (ESLP) during the term of their Software Assurance coverage.

The ESLP provides access to Microsoft Windows source code for internal development and support purposes. The ESLP is not available in all countries and is granted on an agreement/enrollment basis. The application form can be downloaded from Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). Eligible persons and locations where the program is available are subject to Microsoft terms.

    • “Cold” Backups for Disaster Recovery 

Customers with Software Assurance for qualifying server products and associated CALs are eligible for no-cost server licenses for these products for disaster recovery purposes.

For each qualifying server license for which Customer has acquired SA for all associated CALs (if applicable), customer may have a second server license to deploy the same product on a “cold” backup server, solely for disaster recovery purposes during the term of its Software Assurance coverage. Customers’ implementation and use of the software under the disaster recovery license are governed by the terms of their license agreement.

Wondering if you need Microsoft Software Assurance? 

Well, if you do have a choice, it is important to see whether your organization benefits from adding Software Assurance to your contract and products. Perhaps even more importantly, whether you will use or not use most of the “extras” that Software Assurance offers, then the only reason for adding SA is the maintenance program.

Q-Advise can help to map the situation and determine whether your organization will benefit from the functionality that Software Assurance offers. This way you avoid unnecessary costs. If the analysis shows that your organization is not going to use most of the “extras” that Software Assurance offers, then the only reason why you should buy Software Assurance is because of the right to the latest version when it comes to on-premises software.

How do I activate my Software Assurance? 

To activate your Software Assurance, log into your Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) account. After, you will be able to view the agreements associated with your organization and the associated software. Click on the Software Assurance link for that agreement which will allow you to access the activation page. On this page, you will be required to enter your Product Key. Any additional information required by Microsoft may be asked.

Once all details have been entered accurately, you can then click on the Activate button to complete the process. After the successful activation of your Software Assurance, you will be able to use its features and benefits for the duration of the agreement.

What are the common pitfalls of Software Assurance? 

The common pitfalls of Software Assurance are the likely difficulty in measuring the effectiveness of Software Assurance activities. Without being able to accurately evaluate the efficacy of individual assurance activities, it can be hard to determine whether they are providing value or not.

Software Assurance can also suffer from a lack of expertise and knowledge among those responsible for assessing software quality. Issues of sufficient understanding of security, safety and compliance requirements are inadequately assessed for the level of assurance provided by their software.

How can I cancel my Software Assurance?  

You can cancel your Software Assurance by contacting the Microsoft Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC). The necessary information and steps to complete the cancellation process will be provided.

At Q-Advise, we have the team that can help you to get more value from the available Microsoft Software Assurance benefits. Get in touch today!

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