Software-Updates - Dec 16, 2020

Navigate the Microsoft Minefield

Which licensing platform is best for you?

by Rachel Claxton

It’s no secret that Microsoft licensing is not the easiest of topics to get your head around, that’s why we’ve put some information together to help you understand the different licensing platforms and what they mean to you.

Written by

Rachel Claxton
Software Business Development Manager


Microsoft agreements offer a range of options from a flexible procurement of online services to outright purchases of traditional on-premise licencing with attached benefits to support you such as, managing legacy environments or maintaining your own status quo.

This guide will provide you with an overview of the four most typical agreement types, Cloud Service Provider (CSP), Open Value and Subscription, Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA) and Enterprise Agreements (EA). Using the example scenarios, you will be able to determine which model best suits your business needs for both now and in the future. 


What agreement is right for me?
"I want to utilise Microsoft’s cloud portfolio and manage my services with flexibility, guided through the support of a partner"
Microsoft CSP may be for you..

Microsoft CSP is designed to offer customers a level of flexibility unlike any other Microsoft Agreement. CSP allows you to take advantage of a wide product portfolio, with no minimum license requirements and the ability to scale up or down at any time.  These licenses are billed on a monthly basis, charging you retrospectively for your monthly usage.

The key products available include Microsoft 365, Windows 10, Enterprise Mobility and Security and Azure – the best part being you only pay for what you use. If you have not yet taken advantage of Microsoft Azure services, you can also purchase on-premises subscriptions to cover your Infrastructure requirements. 

You’ll also gain access to Bechtle’s own online marketplace where you can manage your license purchases and explore the portfolio available to you through our self-service programme. All of this is complimented by the support of the Bechtle solutions team who are available to guide you through your cloud journey and offer insight to optimisation opportunities and effective licence/cost/service management whilst also offering dedicated technical support where needed.

It's worth noting however that Microsoft are yet to publish all available Microsoft products through CSP so you may need to consider a secondary agreement (see Open Value options).


Key benefits of CSP:

Monthly billing

Flexibility only pay for what you want or use

No upfront costs

Bechtle offer some great discounts and strong SLA’s

"I have existing Software Assurance benefits that I wish to retain and I’m not ready to move fully to Cloud delivered services yet. I’m also looking to standardise and licence 100% of my estate"


More than 500 users and/or devices


Enterprise Agreement may be for you…

The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) is designed for organisations with more than 500 users/devices, where organisations are looking to licence 100% of their estate for a 3-year fixed term arrangement. There are options to commit to either a perpetual agreement or subscription program, both offering annual payment terms and access to both traditional and cloud platforms. 


Why choose an EA?

  • You want to use the value of Software Assurance across your licence estate
  • You want to be able to transition to cloud services at a pace that suits your business needs. Retaining local deployments is important to you without hindering opportunities with migrating to some cloud-based services.
  • You want to accurately predict your spend and manage your financial commitment at a fixed date
  • You want to take advantage of Enterprise wide commitments and the discounts that this offers


Key Benefits of EA:

Enterprise standardisation

Volume Discounts

Fixed Pricing for 3+ years

Inclusive SA

Less than 500 users and/or devices


Microsoft Open Value may be for you…

Microsoft offer two options for SMB with Open Value. Both models offer fixed term agreements for organisations with a minimum of 5 PCs that provide investment to Software assurance across the business and marginal discounts for investment in key platform products (Office, Windows & Core CAL suite).
Open Value - 

This is a three-year perpetual licensing agreement (OVP) that provides access to both traditional product licences and online services (for Business only)


Benefits of OVP:
  • Pay a single price per PC, making licensing costs more predictable as upfront payment is required. 
  • Simplify licence management, manage and predict software costs and get better control over your investment by committing to standardisation of services across your business.
  • Increase your commitment annually based on your business growth.
  • Commit to Software Assurance for the licenses that you purchase. This can be seen as a bit of an insurance policy, providing you with access to valuable benefits such as Azure Hybrid benefits for Server investment, High Availability rights for SQL server, software upgrades, and product support to help you boost the productivity of your entire organisation
  • OVP is available as a Non-Company wide agreement. Ideal for organisations that want the above-mentioned benefits but additionally, require flexibility to deploy software on a ‘needs’ basis rather than committing across the enterprise. 
  • Licences bought under OVP are owned at the end of the term so a renewal may be at a lower commitment it you wish to cease Software Assurance benefits on certain products.


Open Value Subscription

This is a three-year subscription licensing agreement (OVS) that provides access to both traditional product licences and online services (for Business only)


Benefits of OVS: 
  • This option offers the same benefits as Open Value, but with lower up-front costs and the ability to purchase subscriptions as opposed to perpetual licenses. 
  • You have the ability to increase or decrease your license count on an annual basis – perfect for organisations that require regular licence changes.
  • Prices are protected for all products throughout your subscription. 
  • You have the right to run the software for the term of the agreement and are offered the option to ‘buy out’ licence rights at the end of term, renew the agreement or uninstall software and move to an alternative licence model.


"I have a varied estate and multiple business entities but want to be able to manage licence investment centrally benefitting from organisational wide discounts and delivering entity level procurement control"


MPSA may be for you…

The Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) offers a flexible purchase option that provides both Online services and traditional on-premises licencing (excludes Azure), suited for organisations over 250 users.
You can buy in a way that suits your organisations structure, easily providing services across regions whilst centralising control.


Benefits of MPSA…

  • Create a purchasing structure that meets your needs by setting up Purchasing accounts for affiliates, divisions, departments or any other group that you define in your organisation. This allows for segregated licence management and invoicing whilst pooling all purchase commitments (Points accrued at different values dependent on product) which in turn drive the organisational wide price level and associated discounts.
  • Pay upfront or manage cashflow by making annual payments
  • Choose whether to invest in Software assurance or not
  • Own the perpetual rights to software purchased
We often find that more than one contract type suites an organisation, certainly with the gaps in CSP products. Our Licencing consultants are here to help you decide which model is best suited to your requirements and review pro’s and con’s to be considered.


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This post was published on Dec 16, 2020.