Effective License Management for Office 365

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Office 365 license management

Effective License Management for Office 365

Office 365 License Management

After all these years, Microsoft has finally made software licensing a flexible endeavor with their cloud-based Office 365 service offering.  However, with that added flexibility comes some serious management overhead and complexity. In fact, IT organizations now find themselves supporting a mix of licensing plans for Cloud Services, including version bundles that offer different add-ons to be enabled or disabled as needed. As a result, challenges with the proper distribution of licenses, proper option settings, accurate internal billing procedures, and bulk license updates arise continuously. To make matters worse, some users may be “over-licensed” and not using the features they are given. Identifying these under-used licenses and assigning ownership for the appropriate distribution of licenses to disparate business units is a daunting task for IT management groups everywhere.
Without the ability to effectively assign license ownership to siloed business units, and accurately analyze usage, the associated costs for over-licensing in Office 365 can become significant. 4ward365 provides the capabilities that enterprise organizations need to assign license pools with hard limit quotas and push the responsibility for license distribution to the business unit administrators, while also providing full visibility into inactive accounts allowing the business units to recycle those associated licenses for new users. Add to this the ability to accurately enable chargeback billing features for license consumption, and you’ll realize that 4ward365 provides the most full-featured solution to do effective license management for Office 365.
This blog series will cover the following main topics on effective license management for Office 365. The first blog information will be included below, followed by the additional entries in the weeks to come.
  1. Effective License Management for Office 365
  2. Business Scenarios for Optimized License Management in Office 365

Proactive License Monitoring Usage

If you want to monitor user accounts that are active and actually using the services within Office 365 there is no easy way to perform this based on what functions the users are performing (i.e. Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, Skype for Business, etc.) The admin center portal has no easy way to track active licenses assigned to users, and there is absolutely no way to associate the assigned licenses with the services they consume.  So that leaves you with spreadsheets and Powershell export scripts to setup your own Office 365 license monitoring system.  It can be done, but this will take a load of admin time off the books.

Riding to the rescue is 4ward365 and the integrated user activity and license monitoring features it provides. Within 4ward365 you can easily track exactly what licenses are assigned and utilized, plus you can create license pools delegated to different business units so they can be responsible for managing their own license distribution. These license pools also allow you to set hard limits on the number of licenses that a business unit is allowed to assign. When they reach their full allotment of licenses they won’t be able to take licenses from the general, corporate account any longer. Instead they must request additional licenses, or recycle inactive licenses from old user accounts under their license pool. This puts the central IT group in complete control over what licenses are distributed and who is paying for them.
Screenshot of Active and Inactive Accounts by Office 365 Services
License management for Office 365
These license pool control mechanisms are extremely useful for large, distributed organizations, or government entities that have many different agencies. Once you have configured the license pools it is easy to promote the ownership to the different business units, or agencies, so they can maintain their independent subscription models.
For reporting purposes that require the distribution of licenses amongst diverse business units that are separated in different geographic locations it is necessary to maintain accurate monitoring for the license assignments. 4ward365 has that capability built into different standard reports within the admin interface. As seen below, it is easy to monitor how licenses are distributed geographically and identify the costs associated with active vs. inactive accounts.
Screenshot of Licensing Report by Geographic Location
Screenshot of Licensing Report by Geographic Location

Summary of License Management Capabilities

The Microsoft admin center portal was never designed for proactive license management purposes. It would take an enormous development effort to create an effective license management system for Office 365 through the use of Powershell scripts and custom spreadsheets, not to mention the countless hours to perform the processing cycles each month. To help customers easily maintain proactive control over their Office 365 licenses, the 4ward365 solution has all the built-in functions necessary.

Today 4ward365 is the only unified management solution for Office 365 that can help organizations perform proactive license management. And a bonus for multi-national organizations, the 4ward365 interface is easily configurable in multiple languages to accommodate different admin teams from around the world.
If you are interested in finding out more about our 4ward365 solution and how it can help you optimize license management for your Office 365 deployment, please visit our overview page online, or sign-up for a free trial at  http://www.4ward365.com/free-trial
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Carl Baumann

With more than 19 years of experience assisting business’ transition to Microsoft solutions, Carl has become a trusted advisor to Microsoft’s worldwide customers and partner ecosystem. He has assisted numerous Fortune 500 companies implement highly successful Office 365 business transformation projects.