Microsoft Licenses vs SAM Tools

16 July 2015
6 minute read
Best practice

Microsoft Licenses vs SAM Tools

16 July 2015
6 minute read

Microsoft licenses are massively complex, and there are a number of different Microsoft license metrics that an organisation needs to manage and keep on top of. SAM tools can help with the effective management and utilisation of Microsoft licenses, as they are continuing to improve and evolve to ensure that organisations have all of the data and transparency required to manage their Microsoft software assets.

Key SAM Tools capabilities that are required

There are a number of key capabilities that any organisation that has a large investment in Microsoft needs to consider when picking and implementing a SAM tool for the management of Microsoft licenses.

Inventory transparency Having complete visibility of installed Microsoft software, including versions, editions, downgrade and upgrade rights etc.
Ability to manage Cloud licenses A key element to modern-day Microsoft license management. Any SAM solution needs to have the ability to discover, identify and manage cloud-based applications such as Microsoft Office 365.
Usage stats Visibility to see how frequently users use Microsoft products, or how frequently certain systems have access to Microsoft software.
DataCentre visibility Complete and accurate visibility and inventory of the datacentre environment, and the use of Microsoft applications in said environment.
Virtual environment visibility Complete and accurate visibility and inventory of the virtual environment and related Microsoft applications.
Financial Management Having visibility and control over the financial elements and costing’s relating to an organisations Microsoft assets.
Scenario modelling The ability to run ‘what if’ scenario’s to identify any cost savings or compliancy changes if certain actions were followed.

We have Cloud based Licenses, I do not need to worry about Microsoft License Management

WRONG! Organisations still need to manage Microsoft licenses, even if they are subscription and cloud-based. It may be harder to be non-compliant with cloud-based licenses, but the license should still be considered an asset to the organisation. Instead of managing the license, it is more about managing the user accounts, and ensuring that users only have access to the software that they have a license for.

It is also important for the SAM team to manage the contracts related to cloud based licenses, and also the updates that are regularly sent from Microsoft to the user through cloud technology. However, large organisations will need to package Microsoft applications at every major release, or at an interval that is pre-defined within the organisation.

Organisations need to ensure that the updates provided from Microsoft remain within the scope of their software license agreement. A good SAM tool highlights key license metrics, and upgrade/downgrade paths. Whether or not a SAM solution can show the updates provided through the cloud remains to be seen, but they do provide great datasets to see when applications have been updated and new packages deployed within an organisations environment.

SAM Tools can help utilise Microsoft Software Assets

A good SAM solution can prove a valuable asset in managing and utilising Microsoft licenses, from the desktop to the datacentre, from cloud to virtual environments. All licenses can be used effectively if managed and deployed correctly.

Start in the Datacentre

A good place to start looking at utilising your Microsoft licenses would be the datacentre. Licenses such as SQL and CAL’s are very expensive compared to the likes of Visio Standard or the monthly cost of Office 365. Whilst ‘quick wins’ and ‘low hanging fruit’ may be seen to be in the desktop environment, actually the datacentre usually provides the biggest and quickest wins. Reducing, optimising or changing the license types within the datacentre environment can prove hugely beneficial financially, and also addresses the biggest risks from a compliancy perspective.

Experience dictates that auditors find the most amounts of non-compliance within the datacentre environment, so it is where the biggest risks are. Through the use of a sophisticated SAM solution that provides the ability to manage software licenses, and complete visibility of datacentre licenses, organisations can dramatically reduce the spend of datacentre software, and also address any major non-compliancy risks.

Desktop and Cloud

The desktop and cloud environments pose an easier task for making sure organisations are making the most out of their software assets. Furthermore, as the licensing metrics are less complex, it makes it seem like the ‘easy choice’ and the best place to start for optimising Microsoft software licenses. However, as we have already stated, we would suggest that organisations address issues within the datacentre, as this environment poses bigger wins.

SAM tools can help organisations ensure that their desktop Microsoft licenses are being used effectively, and by the correct people. Having complete transparency and trusting the data provided by the SAM tool can result in organisations identifying a number of inactive users, or a number of users who are using the wrong license type.

They can also help organisations ensure that they are proactively monitoring and managing software compliancy. Organisations need to ensure that they input software contracts and licenses into the solutions before they can be sure that they have an accurate license position. Once this has been verified, the organisation can start to address the risks and compliancy issues.

Virtual Environments

SAM tools can also help organisations manage and utilise Microsoft licenses that are installed and active within the virtual environment. Like with the datacentre, virtual environments pose a great risk for non-compliancy and miss-usage. Having a SAM solution that can provide complete visibility of software within the virtual environment will help organisation manage and ensure that all software licenses are being utilised to there full extent.


You simply cannot manage Microsoft software assets without a SAM tool. Microsoft does provide a tool of some sort, called MAP. However, we would suggest that there is other SAM solutions that can provide a more comprehensive set of data and features that will help organisations manage their Microsoft licenses to the best of their ability.

In 2014, we released the results of our Microsoft Group Test. Here you can see which SAM tool vendors faired the best at managing Microsoft assets.


Want to know more about SAM Tools? Come and join our Tools Day in London on 20th November 2015. It’s free!


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