As Microsoft makes more changes to the way products and services are licensed, you can almost hear the collective groans of customers already bamboozled by complex software terms. The company’s agreements are fast running out of letters – EA, CSP, MCA, MPSA – in programs that create more confusion that clarity.

The Enterprise Agreement (EA) has been Microsoft’s long-standing volume licensing program for organisations with 500 or more users, or devices that want to standardise on certain products. With its three-year terms, it has provided some certainty around spend and the ability to access new technologies, but changes were inevitable as more organisations migrate to the cloud and subscription services.

When cloud first entered the IT lexicon over a decade ago, it was synonymous with a new kind of simplicity that never really materialised. Just as software-as-a-service models evolved that proved more complicated than their on-site predecessors, so too did the licensing agreements wrapped around them.

While the migration to Microsoft platforms like Office 365, Dynamics 365 and Azure inevitably affect licensing positions, it’s not as simple as accommodating one-way traffic to the cloud. Most customers have one foot in the traditional on-premise world and the other in new cloud services, resulting in a hybrid combination of public, private and on-premise solutions.

Licences for a hybrid world

Consuming hybrid IT services makes the idea of a one-subscription per Office 365 user problematic. First, the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) was introduced, followed by the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program to address the challenges of running software on and off premise, but the devil’s in the detail.

There is a rabbit warren of complexity around Office 365 alone. For example, a tenant-level service is one that can be purchased as a standalone or as part of Office 365, or Microsoft 365 plans, and is activated in part or in full for all users in the tenant. A common example would be Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP). Purchase just a single standalone ATP plan and it will be activated for all users. The risks that Office 365 tenant-level services pose from a licensing and compliance point of view are obvious.

Similarly, when Microsoft releases new products and services within an Office 365 plan, they tend to be turned on for users by default. This causes headaches for IT and procurement as services that may not have been fully vetted are automatically available to all users. The loss of control is a real concern for businesses already struggling to maintain governance in a post-GDPR world.

The EA is still the best route for many organisations to take but be sure and check the small print. Deployment Planning Services benefits are being retired from volume licensing Software Assurance Benefits (SAB) agreements, and new, modern skilling programs introduced. Microsoft is also adjusting the eligibility criteria of 24×7 support and aligning to a new Unified Support offering. You need to understand your exact entitlements and their relevance to your environment.

Sometimes it’s about picking through the terms and conditions to identify the value. With Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, customers can run Windows virtual machines on Azure at a lower rate, but they must have Software Assurance for Windows Server to realise the cost savings. Further reductions can be made by prepaying compute capacity on a one or three-year term with reservation pricing. There is a lot to understand and think about.  

Third-party expertise

There are so many ramifications and pitfalls that it’s impossible for organisations to stay on top of licencing changes. Adding further complexity is Microsoft End of Support (EOS) implications, which force organisations to identify application replacements as security updates and product enhancements are discontinued. The challenge of auditing internal requirements and keeping track of application lifecycles is compounded by the task of aligning investments to Microsoft’s constantly evolving agreements.

As a Microsoft licensing partner with over 30 years’ experience in matching client needs to vendor agreements, Micromail can identify the correct agreement type, whether it happens to be an EA, CSP, or both. As well as giving independent advice, we can also provide context. partnering with our parent company Ergo, we provide one step in an end-to-end service that spans licensing, migration, deployment and the option of managed services.

Software licensing has become strategic in the age of hybrid IT. Take a big picture view and you will have more chance of making the right choices and optimising your investments.

Find out more about our Microsoft services here

Adobe Acrobat version 11, aka version XI, was released back in 2012 and with it came some substantial improvements such as touch friendly capabilities for mobile devices, exporting PDFs to PowerPoint and the start of integrated cloud services. Acrobat 11 was a big seller and many customer are still happily using it across their enterprise. But do you know that Acrobat 11 has been End of Support (EOS) for more than 18 months now?

What does End of Support mean?

End of support means that Adobe no longer provides technical support, including product and/or security updates, for all derivatives of a product or product version (e.g., localised versions, minor upgrades, operating systems, dot and double-dot releases, and connector products).

What to do next?

Move to Adobe Acrobat DC and avoid any potential security and compatibility issues that may occur with the continued use of an EOS version. Plus, take advantage of the enhanced features and tools within Acrobat DC to empower your staff to do more faster.

Increased efficiencies and cost savings with Acrobat DC:

Acrobat DC enables IT efficiencies with easier PDF software administration, including license management, deployments, updates, and upgrades. Employees also save time by making document-intensive processes quicker and more seamless using tools to organize PDFs and improve end-to-end document workflows. Forrester Research completed a third-party benchmark study measuring the effectiveness and total economic impact of Acrobat DC. Read the study here.

What’s new in Acrobat DC?

Want to know more?

Micromail is Ireland’s only Adobe Worldwide Platinum Partner with over 15 years of a direct relationship. Talk to us about how the Adobe Value Incentive Program (VIP) is the best fit for your organisation to subscribe to Adobe products.

Email our dedicated Adobe Team at or your regular Micromail contact.

In May, Microsoft announced a vulnerability in legacy operating systems that has high potential of being exploited. The vulnerability is in the Remote Desktop Services (formerly known as Terminal Services) and could be exploited remotely with no authentication required. This affects Windows 7, Server 2008, and 2008 R2.

The vulnerability is severe enough that Microsoft took a pretty unusual step in releasing updates for Windows XP and Server 2003 in addition to currently supported versions of Windows that are affected. If you remember back to the WannaCry attack, Microsoft had issued a patch months before, but some companies hadn’t installed the fix. This led to a global impact. In order to avoid a potential repeat, companies are urged to update all affected systems as quickly as possible.

To help, Ivanti are giving a free 60-day license to Ivanti Security Controls, which includes solutions such as patch management, privilege management and whitelisting in one place. Ivanti’s IT software is used by 79 of the Fortune 100, helping businesses succeed through unifying IT systems and technology stacks.

Download the 60-day trial license here. With this license you will be able to quickly update up to 50 systems including Windows XP and Server 2003.

To learn more, get in touch with us and we will organise a call for you with Ivanti representatives based locally here in Ireland. 

What else can Ivanti help your business achieve? Talk to us and find out

After six successful years of ISO 9001:2008 certification Micromail recently upgraded to and were accredited with ISO 9001:2015 certification for its provision of software licensing solutions and Software Asset Management (SAM) services.  The awarding body was the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI).  ISO 9001:2015 is the latest version of ISO 9001 and is the internationally recognized standard for a Quality Management System which focuses on an organization’s actions to meet and continually improve customer satisfaction and quality requirements.

Micromail is over 30 years in business and continues to be Ireland’s leading Microsoft LSP and Adobe Platinum Partner. The investment in ISO 9001:2015 demonstrates our ongoing commitment to offer our customers the highest levels of service possible.