Friday, November 9, 2012

Tips for Negotiating a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

♦ Tip #6: The more confused you are about “Enterprise CAL”, the easier it is to hornswoggle you ♦ (Ongoing Series)

Before we start this rant, a quick word about Client Access Licenses (CALs) for the newbie:

A CAL is nothing more than the right on the part of a user or device to access a server. There’s no software installed with a CAL. Microsoft has a bunch of these little non-software rights. They include Client Access Licenses, Subscriber Access Licenses, Client Management Licenses or CML (the right to manage a client), Server Management Licenses or SML (the right to manage a server); none of which come with software. But, if you don’t have enough license coverage of CALs for the Servers you’re running, you have some nasty exposure if Microsoft approaches you for a SAM Engagement (audit) or the BSA comes-a-knockin’.

The (pricey) Difference Between the ECAL and an ECAL.

We can’t tell you how many times people have confused the Enterprise Client Access License (eCAL) SUITE with a given product’s (like Lync, Sharepoint, or Exchange) Enterprise CAL, and it’s a hugely important, though very confusing, distinction. Let’s start with the most common way Microsoft Account Teams and Resellers either don’t understand it themselves, or convey it in a way that is meant to “simplify” it for you (i.e. just buy it all! Then, you’re covered whether you understand it or not!).

For example, a client is interested in Sharepoint Enterprise features. They have Sharepoint Standard CALs now (maybe as part of a CoreCAL License Suite.) They ask their Reseller rep, who exurberently cuts them off mid-sentence, “Oh, you need to step up to an eCAL!” Well, technically, that’s right, depending on how you interpret what the heck they just said. What you need is a “Sharepoint Enterprise CAL”, but way too often, when it comes time for the Microsoft team or Reseller to quote you, it’s not just the Sharepoint Enterprise CAL or Sharepoint eCAL, it’s the whole Enterprise CAL Suite or eCAL Suite of products.  It looks something like this in a quote or on an Enterprise Agreement Customer Price Sheet (CPS) “EntCAL ALNG SA MVL Pltfrm DvcCAL wSrvcs”. So, is that a Sharepoint eCAL…? Nope. It’s ALL the eCALs…watchout for this little word confusion. You say eCAL, and they say The ECAL. Let’s be clear here…

In this case, EntCAL ALNG SA MVL Pltfrm DvcCAL wSrvcs translates to:

  • EntCAL (the whole Enterprise CAL Suite)

  • ALNG (for All Languages)

  • SA (Software Assurance)

  • MVL (Multi-Volume License)

  • Pltfrm (with a Platform Discount in this case)

  • DvcCAL (for devices, not users)

  • wSrvcs (with Subscription Services)

And, if you only want Sharepoint Enterprise features or only for some of your workers, this is definitely NOT what you need. THIS is what you need:

So, Let’s take the Client Access Licenses for Sharepoint, for example. Here is a nice little table of the various features in each version of Sharepoint: Windows Sharepoint Services (WSS, now called Foundation), Sharepoint Standard CAL, and Sharepoint Enterprise CAL. We’ve had numerous clients mention a feature in the Sharepoint Enterprise capability list, and ask us if they then need an Enterprise CAL. Yes, they do…but when they are quoted the price, they see “Enterprise CAL Suite Step-Up”. This is deceptive. It’s like saying you want industrial ”Ford Tough” upgraded rubber floor mats in your your new F250 Truck purchase, and they tack on a $3,500 luxury package including the high-end speaker system. I just wanted the floor mats!

This is the Enterprise CAL SUITE. (again, props to Tony Mackelworth of SoftwareONE. Good factual info! By the way, by comparison, this is Microsoft’s chart. What’s in the CoreCAL? What’s the ECAL Suite…not helpful, Microsoft — even more confusing!!) So, Tony’s chart shows us a couple things.

1) the Enterprise CAL Suite is an additive suite on top of the CoreCAL Suite. In other words, when you buy the Enterprise CAL (eCAL) Suite, you’re buying everything in light blue in the chart PLUS everything in dark blue added on.

2) You’ll notice that products like Exchange, Sharepoint, and Lync have Enterprise CALs as part of that eCAL Suite, along with subscription services and Client Management Licenses (System Center), and Forefront (A/V – protection suite). These can ALL be bought separately. Of course, once you buy enough of them and want them for everybody, it gets cheapter to buy them as the Enterprise CAL Suite.

On the Enterprise Agreement, the eCAL Suite is an Enterprise product, meaning you must buy it for everyone or no one…all or nothin’. But here’s the juicy part that sales teams leave out: You can buy just a single product’s enterprise CAL by itself, get just that product’s functionality, and for a small subset of your enterprise. Yes! That means if you want Sharepoint Enterprise capabilities for just a handful of folks in the finance department to do Excel Services, you can buy that in the additional products section of your Enterprise Agreement for 5 people, or 500 (any quantity). Unless you are considering a number of other CALs in that eCAL Suite AND everyone in your company needs these features (more about those break-even points in a later post), then you don’t need the whole eCAL Suite (or if you already have the CoreCAL, it’s called the “eCAL Suite Step-Up from CoreCAL”, which we saw above in cryptic Microsoft SKU code. When your initial Enterprise Agreement containing the License and Software Assurance components comes up for a renewal, the License portion falls off of the Enterprise Agreement, causing a large drop in cost. So, account teams see this as a perfect opportunity to tack-on the Enterprise CAL Suite Step-Up to your CoreCAL Suite (CoreCAL is also a component of your Professional Desktop if you have the whole enchilada desktop EA). Yes…after the eCAL Suite Step-Up is added, your next three years of EA payments will cost less than the initial three years of the EA, but chances are good, you don’t need most of this stuff. (It could be a lot cheaper — so understand what you’re getting).

Microsoft Account Teams are pushed hard to upgrade customers to the entire ECAL Suite at renewal time. They do this by getting you interested in the more expensive Enterprise CAL components. If they can interest you in enough of them, then they can show you the individual cost versus the Suite Step-Up or upgrade price and it’s easier to sell you on it. We’re not saying the ECAL Suite is a bad thing. It’s great if you need enough major components or whole thing for the whole company. Account Teams get excited if you’re open to adding it, so don’t just give it to them. You don’t hand the Ford Dealer a blank check for that F250 and tell them to write in any amount they choose, right? So likewise, If you are interested in the ECAL Suite Step-Up, and have done your research, have run a successful Pilot or Proved out the technology, then…you being a d smart buyer, and knowing that this will be a nice little win for your account team, ASK FOR A DISCOUNT.

How much of a discount? Call us.

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Do you think we shared ALL of our advice with you? (Gotta keep some in our bag of tricks.) So, give Software Licensing Advisors a call at 1-866-825-3787 to help you negotiate your ECAL Suite Step Up or work out who needs which Enterprise CALs. We have an all-star team of ex-Microsoft, ex-Reseller, and ex-Microsoft Analysts from top research firms that collectively knows more than even the most tenured Microsoft Account Teams.

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