Yesterday’s initial episode of this two part series raised some questions regarding Microsoft announcement that licensing and SAM competencies are being retired, today we delve into some potential impacts
Licensing Sales, Advice and Guidance
Will absence of volume licensing competency increase risk of sales without appropriate advice to address complexity? Whilst some cloud licensing models have been marketed as removing complexity, many legacy issues remain, with increased complexity in some cloud usage rights, particularly hybrid approaches – even more so where legacy editions continue to be used and rights attached to perpetual maintenance (SA) remain. Does that sentence prove it’s own point?
Is Microsoft stepping away from licensing as the primary vehicle to monetize it’s IP? Given the degree of revenue at stake that’s hard to imagine, furthermore licensing contracts have a more critical role to play for clients adopting cloud services. More likely Microsoft is continue to redirect focus and efforts to the core of it’s future success, the need to identify and examine details, nuances, changes and options remains however
Where does this leave Microsoft and SAM?
From an asset management perspective, introducing cloud solutions increases the challenge of monitoring and measuring effectively multiple environments, including understanding to what extent the shiny new model is being used and ongoing subscription payments justified. To that end metering functions become more critical, and yet more difficult to enable.
So does this combination of changes embody creating a labyrinth of new challenges, then stepping away from discipline and clients desires for good governance? To a degree perhaps but not necessarily. Tools and technology which enable SAM have mostly been the domain of third party software vendors focused on creating their own domain of knowledge in this territory. License optimization technologies integrate data from a range of inputs in order to deliver an overall outcome, including filling the gaps of data gathering where discovery technologies don’t deliver as standard. This complexity provides an opportunity for others to develop IP – but does ultimately increase expense for the end user client who must invest more to acquire that independent IP.
Does this reduce confusion regarding positioning SAM engagements? The concept of Microsoft funded SAM engagements had already started to shift to workload oriented and cloud ready assessments, somewhat aligned to product sales. Given Microsoft has given itself more than 18 months until the current competencies retire there is ample chance of an alternative model in it’s place, however the absence of what comes next is unlikely to dilute uncertainty.
Whilst Asset Management itself may become less of a priority for Microsoft, the Microsoft partner channel themselves remain a core business asset for Microsoft. Thus it follows with some logic that Microsoft is influencing channel behavior in alignment with Microsoft’s own priority business objectives of cloud conversion.
Changing the dynamics of selection and acquisition
For clients, the process of identifying capable partners and individual specialists will become more reliant on references and recommendations from trusted connections.
Third parties will remain key to clients looking to advance SAM competency and maturity levels, SAM services being delivered may evolve away from an orientation to SAM baseline and other Microsoft defined deliverables to managed services and license optimization consultancy.
Reducing Microsoft’s client touch and licensing relationships for SMEs in a similar timeframe to these changes (having increased minimum order requirements for EAs in favour of MPSA) further demonstrates the trend of Microsoft focus at the expense of attention to contractual and commercial particulars. For small and large organizations alike, Microsoft’s Licensing Solution Partner (LSP) channel will have a part to play. Whilst LSPs remain in place as Microsoft’s ‘elite’ licensing partner mechanism, selecting the specialists holding licensing IP, rather than the partners themselves, will remain key in mitigating risk of erroneous licensing sales and purchases.
Microsoft competencies as a Microsoft designed and governed mechanism have delivered a degree of consistency but in alignment with the publishers desired outcomes. Removal of these competencies may deliver market benefit, through increasing emphasis on innovation and differentiation in SAM and Licensing services. To that end, in the coming months we’ll be finalizing new research on software resellers to aid the selection process.