I was having a discussion on Microsoft licensing today, which will probably be a frequent topic for me. Think about what would be needed to manage Windows for a large enterprise, assuming a Microsoft solution set. Windows Enterprise is becoming a must-have license. ConfigMgr, MDOP for virtualization, and the newly announced client management license suite would also provide needed deployment and management components.
To get that, the customer would need to acquire the Windows platform, MDOP, the Core CAL, the Enterprise CAL for client management, and ConfigMgr licenses for the servers. To manage the server environment, the server management suite or the new Core Infrastructure enrollment would also be needed. That would entail two pillars of the Microsoft platform in Windows and the Core CAL, plus four additional products.
The challenge for Microsoft is to stack these components into groups that make sense. Grouping the products into suites that provide value together makes the business case simpler. In the example above, licenses would be purchased in two completely separate stacks: Windows and CAL. When the Client Management License suite and MDOP are in completely different groups, it becomes more difficult to create a business case.
I would use the recent change to the Terminal Services CAL as an example of the right approach. APP-V for Terminal Services was rolled into the new CAL. That's a fantastic change. It simplified the model and provides great value to companies who want to publish apps with RDS.
Bundles like the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure also make a ton of sense. The enrollment provides the server OS and everything needed to manage it. Great! It's simple and easy to build a case for, assuming that the price is right. The same could happen on the client-side. Take Windows, MDOP, ConfigMgr, DPM, OM, ServiceMgr, and Forefront for Windows and roll it together. That creates a complete management and feature set with the System Center suite and the rights to Windows Enterprise.
A communication and collaboration suite would also make sense. If Exchange, Office Communication Server, SharePoint and Forefront for Exchange and SharePoint were licensed as a CAL bundle, the intrinsic benefits to that combination would be apparent. It also breaks the acquisition into manageable pieces.
This type of approach would also let companies opt into new technologies as initiatives, rather than acquiring a large number of products that creates a nearly insurmountable implementation burden. If I signed a full-platform Enterprise Agreement today, it would take at least a year for my company to realize a significant benefit from it. I would almost be into renewal before I had all of the products implemented. That kind of ROI story isn't compelling.
I know that Microsoft recognizes this problem on some level, as is evidenced by the improvements I listed above. There seems to be an effort to fix the issue and for that, I applaud them. A system that complex will not be fixed in a day. I can only hope that a solution is implemented that creates a more customer-friendly environment in the short-term.