Optimized License Management in Office 365

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Optimized License Management in Office 365

Optimized License Management in Office 365

Business Scenarios for Optimized License Management in Office 365

This blog entry is a continuation of our series on effective license management for Office 365.  This topic covers some examples of business scenarios where proactive license management can help organizations save money and reduce administration headaches.  Before we get started though, I do need to mention that Microsoft provides a method to perform license management by using specialized Groups inside of Azure AD.  That model, however, is fraught with complexity and limitations that you definitely need to consider.  You can read all about them inside this posting provided by Microsoft:  Known Issues and Limitations of using Group-Based Licensing with Azure AD.
For organizations that want to be more proactive in managing their licenses, and control the distribution and ownership of those licenses, then they need a more full-featured management solution.  The following subsections will help explain some specific business scenarios for Office 365 license management that are addresses by capabilities within our 4ward365 solution.

Assigning Ownership of License Bundles (with hard limits)

A common challenge that we’ve heard from customers around the world is the functional requirement to delegate a specific number of licenses to business units, or within government agencies, so they can control the ownership and distribution of those licenses. In many cases, those business units are the ones being charged for the licenses in the first place, so it only seems appropriate. To enable this functionality, the 4ward365 solution provides license pools that can be configured for each different type of license combination. These license pools enable IT administrators to assign specific quotas, or bundles of licenses, to different business units and empower them to manage the distribution of those licenses.  The key benefit behind this model is that those license pools have hard upper-limits which control how many licenses can be assigned.  Once a business unit hits their limit they must request, or purchase, additional licenses from central IT.

Within 4ward365 there are multiple license reports available so IT administrators, and business unit managers, can easily monitor their license consumption and available inventory.  These help with budget forecasting on a quarterly and yearly basis.
Example License Pool Report by Geographic Location (shows ownership of licenses for each category)
Office 365 License Pool Report by Geographic Location (shows ownership of licenses for each

Monitoring License Component Subscriptions

Another common question we field from customers is related to the different workload components associated with a specific license plan on Office 365.  This is especially viable for the E3 and E5 plans which include numerous application workloads under their umbrella.  For instance, the E3 plan includes special workloads such as Sway, Yammer, etc.  To help customers understand how those are distributed within the user community and assist with the monitoring for which users are provisioned and activated for those features, we have created special reports in 4ward365 to help showcase the associated costs.

By continually tracking license assignments and mapping what components within the licenses are provisioned and activated, an optimized IT management team can retrofit their licensing subscriptions based on real metrics.  With this detailed information, the appropriate license types can be assigned to the users that have the business need for the corresponding workload functionality provided in Office 365.
An example report from 4ward365 is shown below.  It lists all E3 licenses assigned and identifies which workload features have been provisioned and activated.
Example Report Showing License Activation and Provisioning Status
Example Report Showing License Activation and Provisioning Status 

Reclaim Inactive and Unassigned Licenses

There are different reasons why accounts become inactive, but the most common is when interns, employees or consultants leave the company.  If HR processes are not tightly linked to the corporate directory and Office 365, then those user accounts will remain intact, and so will the assigned licenses, even though the accounts are disabled.  By accurately tracking accounts and identifying inactive users, those registered Office 365 licenses can be reclaimed and assigned to new employees as needed, or refunded to save costs.

In addition, most organizations are oversubscribed for the number of Office 365 licenses they require. That is just the nature of a broad estimation process during the initial rollout and migration to Office 365. However, a few months after the transition there should be a regular monthly cleanup performed by administrators to repurpose or return unnecessary licenses.  By accurately tracking unassigned licenses an organization can effectively reduce their associated license costs by engaging a viable inventory management model which requires minimal overhead of excess licenses since new ones can be acquired instantly.
An example report from 4ward365 is shown below.  It lists both unassigned licenses and inactive licenses that can be processed for refunds.
Example Report Showing Unused Licenses and Inactive Exchange Users
Example Report Showing Unused Licenses and Inactive Exchange Users

Summary of Optimized License Management Scenarios

The admin center portal, and Azure AD, were never designed for license management purposes.  It would take an enormous development effort to create a full-featured license management system for Office 365 through the use of Powershell scripts and custom database tables, not to mention the countless hours to perform the administration activities each month.  To help customers perform more proactive license management and delegate the ownership of licenses appropriately within their organization, the 4ward365 solution has all the built-in functions necessary, and they are completely flexible and configurable to meet your license management requirements as this blog has shown.  You can even configure automated monitoring and alerts for inactive accounts to prompt the business units in charge of those accounts to recycle the associated licenses.

Today 4ward365 is the only unified management solution for Office 365 that can help you 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  https://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.