Phoenix Software has helped Family Mosaic to reduce its Microsoft licensing costs by 20 per cent, despite significant changes to Microsoft’s licensing arrangements for housing providers.
Like most housing providers, Family Mosaic is a heavy user of Microsoft software for the day-to-day running of its business, partly because housing providers used to qualify for discounts of up to 80 per cent on their software through Microsoft’s Select Academic licensing. As a result Family Mosaic runs 27 different lines of Microsoft software, from Exchange and SQL Server to the complete suite of Office products. However, when Microsoft announced in 2012 that housing providers would no longer qualify for Select Academic licences, Family Mosaic faced significant increases to its software costs when its three-year agreement expired earlier this year.
Nick Crane, head of IT operations, Family Mosaic, said, “With over two years to go until our agreement was due for renewal, we had time to put together a strategy. We knew that our software bill was going to go up a lot so we needed to minimise the cost increases wherever possible.
“This meant aligning our software purchases to our requirements more closely while using the most efficient licensing agreements. But with over 2,500 users, more than 200 sites and 27 different product lines, we knew this was easier said than done.”
When Microsoft announced its licensing changes, Family Mosaic had already virtualised 95 per cent of its IT estate, including all 1,500 desktops running as Citrix thin clients. While virtualisation had resulted in significant operational and capital cost savings, it had also resulted in a much more complicated licensing scenario.
Crane said, “Microsoft SQL Server, Visio and Project are particularly difficult to license under virtualised environments due to the licences being device-centric rather than user-centric. We found that the compliance goalposts for these applications tended to move on a regular basis, particularly when they are deployed on virtualised estates.”
As a long-standing IT supplier to Family Mosaic, Phoenix Software was invited to tender for a licensing renewal and software optimisation project along with two other companies. Once all three tender responses had been reviewed, Family Mosaic selected Phoenix for the renewal of its Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. For software optimisation, it also signed up to Focus, Phoenix’s licence-management-as-a-service (LMaaS) solution for the ongoing maintenance of its compliance position. Family Mosaic also deployed AppSense for application management to deal with the subtleties of Microsoft Visio and Project licensing.
The first step in the Focus service was to conduct a thorough baseline of Family Mosaic’s software requirements in order to find out where any software savings could be made. At the end of the process, Phoenix presented Family Mosaic with an up-to-date effective licensing position (ELP) which highlighted any mismatches between the organisation’s licensing entitlements and its usage. This enabled the housing provider to retire any excess licences (i.e. overspend) while any shortfalls could be paid for from the savings. The end result was a fully-optimised licensing position which minimised Family Mosaic’s exposure to the pending Microsoft price rises.
As a managed service, Phoenix’s Focus service also provides Family Mosaic with ongoing maintenance and management of its software compliance during the full term of the Enterprise Agreement. This includes on-demand access to its compliance position and all necessary documentation, plus a complete company-wide ELP conducted by Phoenix’s experts twice a year.
This ensures that Family Mosaic will never pay for more software than it needs to and also has the added peace of mind that it is fully compliant. In the event that Microsoft ever asks Family Mosaic to prove its compliance with a software audit, Family Mosaic can now respond within just a few days with minimal disruption to its day-to-day operations.
Following the initial analysis of Family Mosaic’s software requirements, Phoenix and Family Mosaic worked with Microsoft to renew the company’s three-year Enterprise Agreement. Family Mosaic was particularly keen to have more flexibility in its software usage during the course of the new three-year agreement so a flexible subscription model was negotiated whereby certain entitlements can be scaled up or down according to usage. Paying by subscription has also helped Family Mosaic to shift more of its software spending into operational costs.
With additional analysis of the licensing cost implications of the housing provider’s predominantly virtualised infrastructure, Phoenix worked out that that de-virtualising Family Mosaic’s SQL Servers would yield additional cost savings. And in the end, when it came to renewing its Enterprise Agreement and facing a like-for-like substantial increase in software costs through the loss of its discount, Phoenix was able to reduce Family Mosaic’s forecasted software bill by 20 per cent.