Before you negotiate a new three year deal with Microsoft (by the end of June) you need to know what you are likely to purchase in terms of new licences both now and during the agreement.

Of course good software asset management also has an eye on the future and that is important when signing up for a three year term.  So you need to define what technology upgrades your organisation is likely to implement over the course of the agreement.

Below we show you how straightforward such planning should be.

Setting the scene
From both a technology and an economic perspective we live in interesting times.

With virtualisation and cloud computing hogging the IT headlines over the last year or more you would be forgiven for thinking that we are in the midst of a major revolution as far as client machine computing is concerned with promises of major cost savings, competitive advantage etc etc...

That might possibly be the case for some types of business such as online/web application vendors, but what is definitely the case for most organisations is that many of these enabling technologies are not yet mature enough for mainstream adoption.

Add to that the current state of the economy and it is definitely a time to at least pause for thought in terms of any major technology upgrades over the next year or so, if not longer...

But at some point in the next 3 years there will be machines and applications that will need upgrading at the most basic of levels, for example in order to keep ahead of expiring support dates.

So the easiest approach is to keep things as simple as possible, err on the side of caution and only look to bring your oldest machines and software up to the most recent versions that you already have installed and running stably, rather than planning any major upgrades.

Microsoft of course are continuing to develop all their software and here are their planned release dates for the key products.

High level view

If your current product set includes the following versions then you should seriously consider upgrades over the next 3 years, not least because standard support on these products has already or will come to an end soon (mainstream support expiry dates in brackets):

  • Office 2000 (July 2004), XP (July 2006)
  • Windows 2000 (long ago), XP (April 2009 following several extensions)
  • Windows Server 2000 (long ago)

If your current product set includes the following then you might consider upgrades over the next three years but that is a more tentative might than usual for the economic and technical reasons discussed above.
  • Office 2003 (April 2009)
  • Windows Vista (because it should be upgraded anyway)
  • Windows Server 2003 (July 2010)

Caution - If you are upgrading to Windows Server 2008, then you need to fully understand the change in CAL structure that Microsoft introduced with this release.  In the name of customer choice and flexibility they introduced yet more complexity to their licensing model. For more detail see MS client access licences...

If your current product set includes the following versions then you may well consider staying put for the next couple of years:
  • Office 2007
  • Windows Server 2008

We would advise upgrading from Vista to Windows 7 as it is a major improvement in usability.

Final thoughts
So now you have a framework technology plan for the next three years....

But to determine precisely what licences you have to purchase during that period you will also need to take into account what licences you have already.

It could well be that you have the right to install the latest versions today.

  1. How many licences have you purchased recently that have been downgraded?
  2. Do you have Software Assurance on your licences?
  3. Has SA expired recently (2008/9)?

The easiest way to understand your organisation's current licence entitlement is to request a MLS report, see what you have and work out the difference to what you will need.

And finally, wherever possible you should also factor in projected growth (or downsizing).

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