Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

Understanding Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

  • Microsoft: Sets licensing terms and provides software.
  • Licensing Solution Partners (LSPs): Offer consulting and management services.
  • Distributors: Supply licenses to resellers.
  • Resellers and VARs: Sell licenses to end customers.
  • Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs): Provide cloud services and support.
  • Legal and Compliance Experts: Ensure compliance and handle audits.
Table Of Contents
  1. Introduction to Key Players in Microsoft Licensing
  2. Microsoft Itself
  3. Microsoft Licensing Service Providers
  4. Microsoft Distributors
  5. Microsoft Resellers and VARs (Value Added Resellers)
  6. Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs)
  7. Enterprise Software Advisors and Consultants
  8. Legal and Compliance Experts
  9. Internal IT and Procurement Teams
  10. Industry Organizations and User Groups
  11. Top 10 Real-Life Examples of the Use of Key Players in Microsoft Licensing
  12. FAQ: Key Players in Microsoft Licensing
Introduction to Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

Introduction to Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

Overview of the Article

Understanding the key players in Microsoft Licensing is essential for anyone involved in managing software assets within an organization.

This article provides a comprehensive guide to the various entities and roles that shape the landscape of Microsoft Licensing.

By familiarizing yourself with these players, you can make more informed decisions, optimize costs, and ensure compliance with licensing agreements.

Explanation of the Importance of Understanding Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

The world of Microsoft Licensing can be complex and multifaceted.

Different players, including Microsoft itself, licensing solution partners, resellers, and compliance experts, each play a crucial role in the licensing process.

Knowing who these players are and understanding their roles can help you:

  • Navigate Licensing Options: Identify the best licensing solutions for your organization.
  • Ensure Compliance: Stay compliant with licensing terms and avoid legal issues.
  • Optimize Costs: Take advantage of discounts and tailored licensing programs to reduce expenses.
  • Access Support and Services: Benefit from specialized support and advisory services.

How Knowing These Players Helps in Making Informed Licensing Decisions

Understanding the roles and responsibilities of key players in Microsoft Licensing helps you make informed decisions by:

  • Identifying Reliable Partners: Choosing the right licensing solution partners and resellers who offer the best value and support.
  • Leveraging Expertise: Utilizing the knowledge and expertise of advisors and consultants to navigate complex licensing agreements.
  • Ensuring Legal Compliance: Working with legal and compliance experts to manage audits and disputes effectively.
  • Maximizing Resources: Using tools and resources provided by Microsoft and its partners to manage licenses efficiently.

Purpose of the Article

The purpose of this article is to provide a detailed guide on the key players involved in Microsoft Licensing. It aims to:

  • Clarify Roles: Explain the roles and responsibilities of each player in the licensing ecosystem.
  • Provide Insights: Offer practical insights into how these players can assist you in managing your software licenses.
  • Guide Decision-Making: Help you make informed decisions regarding licensing options, partners, and compliance strategies.

Target Audience

This guide is intended for:

  • IT Managers: Responsible for managing software assets and ensuring compliance within their organizations.
  • Procurement Professionals: Involved in acquiring software licenses and managing vendor relationships.
  • Business Owners: Who need to understand the financial implications of software licensing.
  • Individuals: Anyone involved in software management or new to Microsoft licensing.
Microsoft Itself

Microsoft Itself

Microsoft’s Role

As the Primary Provider of Software Licenses

Microsoft is the primary entity responsible for creating, distributing, and managing software licenses for its products.

The company sets the licensing terms and conditions, ensuring that users understand the scope of usage and compliance requirements.

Setting Licensing Terms and Conditions

Microsoft establishes the legal framework under which its software can be used.

This includes defining the types of licenses available, usage rights, restrictions, and compliance requirements.

By setting these terms, Microsoft ensures that its intellectual property is protected and that users are aware of their obligations.

Microsoft Licensing Programs

Overview of Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA)

The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) is designed for large organizations with 500 or more users or devices. It offers:

  • Volume Discounts: Significant cost savings through bulk purchasing.
  • Comprehensive Coverage: Access to a wide range of Microsoft products.
  • Flexibility: Ability to adjust licenses annually based on usage.
  • Software Assurance: Includes benefits such as new version rights, training, and support.

Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA)

The Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) provides a flexible, transactional approach to licensing for organizations of varying sizes. Key features include:

  • No Minimum Purchase Requirements: Buy what you need when you need it.
  • Consolidated Agreement: Simplifies management with a single agreement for all products and services.
  • Volume Discounts: Accumulated discounts based on the volume of purchases over time.

Microsoft Open License and Open Value

  • Microsoft Open License:
    • Flexible Purchasing: Allows organizations to purchase licenses as needed over a two-year period.
    • No Minimum Commitment: Suitable for smaller organizations with straightforward IT needs.
    • Simplified Management: Easy to manage and understand.
  • Microsoft Open Value:
    • Three-Year Agreement: Offers additional benefits and payment flexibility.
    • Software Assurance: Included with Open Value agreements, providing access to the latest updates and support.
    • Budget-Friendly: Spread payments over multiple years to ease budget constraints.

Microsoft CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) Program

The Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program allows businesses to purchase Microsoft cloud services through a Cloud Solution Provider. Key features include:

  • Custom Solutions: Tailored services to meet specific business needs.
  • Ongoing Support: Access to dedicated support from the CSP.
  • Flexible Billing: Monthly or annual billing options based on actual usage.
  • Integrated Services: CSPs often provide additional managed services and support, enhancing the overall value of the cloud services.
Microsoft Licensing Service Providers

Microsoft Licensing Service Providers

Microsoft Licensing Solution Partners (LSPs)

Definition and Role in the Licensing Ecosystem

Microsoft Licensing Solution Partners (LSPs) are certified partners that specialize in managing Microsoft licensing for organizations.

They act as intermediaries between Microsoft and the end customers, providing expertise and support to ensure that organizations choose the right licensing solutions to meet their needs.

Key Services Provided by LSPs

  • Consultation: Offering expert advice on the best licensing options and strategies.
  • License Management: Assisting with the management and optimization of software licenses.
  • Compliance Support: Ensuring organizations remain compliant with Microsoft licensing terms.
  • Software Assurance: Managing benefits associated with Software Assurance, including upgrades and support.
  • Cost Optimization: Identifying opportunities to reduce costs and maximize value.

Top LSPs Globally

Insight Enterprises

Services and Benefits

  • Comprehensive Licensing Solutions: Offers a wide range of licensing options tailored to business needs.
  • Global Presence: Extensive global reach, providing support in multiple regions.
  • Value-Added Services: Includes IT asset management, procurement, and consulting services.

SHI International

Services and Benefits

  • Customized Licensing Strategies: Provides tailored licensing solutions to fit specific business requirements.
  • Dedicated Support: Offers personalized customer service and support.
  • Broad Portfolio: Extensive range of software and hardware products, along with licensing services.


Services and Benefits

  • Extensive Product Offering: Provides a wide array of Microsoft products and licensing options.
  • Expert Guidance: Access to licensing experts who help optimize software investments.
  • Additional IT Services: Includes managed services, cloud solutions, and IT consulting.

Comparison of Services and Benefits

  • Insight Enterprises: Known for its global presence and comprehensive licensing solutions.
  • SHI International: Offers customized strategies and dedicated support.
  • CDW: Provides extensive product offerings and additional IT services, making it a one-stop-shop for many businesses.

Microsoft Distributors

Microsoft Distributors

Role of Distributors

Intermediaries Between Microsoft and Resellers

Distributors play a crucial role in the Microsoft licensing ecosystem by acting as intermediaries between Microsoft and resellers.

They purchase large quantities of licenses from Microsoft and distribute them to resellers, who then sell them to end customers.

Importance in the Supply Chain

  • Efficient Distribution: Ensure that Microsoft products are widely available to resellers and customers.
  • Inventory Management: Handle large volumes of inventory, reducing the burden on resellers.
  • Support and Training: Provide resellers with the necessary training and support to sell Microsoft products effectively.

Major Distributors

Ingram Micro

Overview of Impact on Microsoft Licensing

  • Global Reach: Operates in numerous countries, providing a vast distribution network.
  • Comprehensive Services: Offers a range of services including training, support, and logistics.
  • Partner Support: Provides extensive resources to help resellers succeed.

Tech Data

Overview of Impact on Microsoft Licensing

  • Extensive Product Range: Distributes a wide array of Microsoft products.
  • Innovative Solutions: Focuses on providing innovative IT solutions and services.
  • Supportive Network: Offers strong support and resources for resellers.


Overview of Impact on Microsoft Licensing

  • Robust Distribution Network: Extensive reach in multiple markets.
  • Value-Added Services: Includes technical support, training, and marketing assistance.
  • Strong Vendor Relationships: Maintains solid partnerships with major vendors including Microsoft.

Microsoft Resellers and VARs (Value Added Resellers)

Microsoft Resellers and VARs (Value Added Resellers)

Role of Resellers and VARs

Selling Microsoft Licenses to End Customers

Resellers and VARs purchase licenses from distributors or directly from Microsoft and sell them to end customers. They play a crucial role in making Microsoft products accessible to a broad audience.

Adding Value Through Additional Services

  • Consulting: Providing expert advice on choosing the right licenses.
  • Implementation: Assisting with the deployment and integration of Microsoft products.
  • Support: Offering ongoing technical support and maintenance services.

Examples of Key Resellers


Benefits and Services Offered

  • Customized Solutions: Tailored licensing solutions to meet specific business needs.
  • Comprehensive Support: Provides extensive customer support and training.
  • IT Services: Includes consulting, implementation, and managed services.


Benefits and Services Offered

  • Wide Product Range: Offers a broad selection of Microsoft products and services.
  • Expert Advice: Access to licensing experts for optimized solutions.
  • Technical Support: Provides ongoing technical support and maintenance.


Benefits and Services Offered

  • Integrated Solutions: Combines hardware, software, and services for complete IT solutions.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Focuses on providing exceptional customer service.
  • Managed Services: Offers a variety of managed IT services to support business operations.

Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs)

Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs)

Role of CSPs

Providing Cloud-Based Microsoft Services

Cloud Solution Providers (CSPs) play a critical role in the Microsoft ecosystem by offering cloud-based Microsoft services such as Office 365, Azure, and Dynamics 365.

They enable businesses to leverage cloud technologies for improved scalability, flexibility, and productivity.

Flexibility in Billing and Support

CSPs offer flexible billing options, allowing businesses to pay for cloud services on a monthly or annual basis. This pay-as-you-go model helps organizations manage costs effectively.

CSPs also provide ongoing support, ensuring that customers receive the assistance they need to optimize their use of Microsoft cloud services.

Top CSPs


Services and Offerings

  • Managed Cloud Services: Comprehensive management of Microsoft Azure and Office 365 environments.
  • Migration Services: Assistance with migrating workloads to the cloud.
  • 24/7 Support: Round-the-clock technical support to address any issues.
  • Security and Compliance: Enhanced security features and compliance support to meet regulatory requirements.


Services and Offerings

  • Cloud Advisory Services: Strategic advice on cloud adoption and optimization.
  • Software Asset Management (SAM): Tools and services to manage software assets effectively.
  • Cost Optimization: Strategies to reduce cloud costs and maximize ROI.
  • Training and Workshops: Educational programs to help organizations make the most of their cloud investments.

Comparison of Services and Offerings

  • Rackspace: Focuses on managed services and migration support with strong security and compliance features.
  • Crayon: Emphasizes strategic advisory services, cost optimization, and software asset management, along with educational support.

Enterprise Software Advisors and Consultants

Enterprise Software Advisors and Consultants

Role of Advisors and Consultants

Helping Businesses Navigate Complex Licensing Agreements

Enterprise software advisors and consultants assist businesses in understanding and navigating complex Microsoft licensing agreements.

They provide expertise in selecting the most appropriate licensing options and ensuring compliance with licensing terms.

Providing Strategic Advice on Optimizing Licensing Costs

Advisors and consultants offer strategic advice on optimizing licensing costs.

They help organizations identify cost-saving opportunities, streamline their licensing strategy, and make informed decisions about software investments.

Leading Advisory Firms


Examples of Services Provided

  • License Management: Comprehensive management of software licenses to ensure compliance and cost-effectiveness.
  • Cloud Transformation: Support for migrating to and optimizing cloud environments.
  • Software Procurement: Assistance with purchasing the right software licenses at the best prices.
  • Case Study: A multinational corporation reduced its licensing costs by 20% through SoftwareONE’s optimization services and achieved better compliance with licensing terms.


Examples of Services Provided

  • IT Strategy Consulting: Development of IT strategies that align with business goals.
  • Vendor Management: Assistance with managing vendor relationships and negotiating licensing agreements.
  • Audit and Compliance: Ensuring compliance with licensing agreements and preparing for audits.
  • Case Study: A large financial institution improved its software compliance and reduced audit risks through Deloitte’s comprehensive audit and compliance services.

EY (Ernst & Young)

Examples of Services Provided

  • Digital Transformation: Support for digital transformation initiatives, including cloud adoption and software modernization.
  • Cost Optimization: Strategies to optimize IT and software spending.
  • Risk Management: Identification and mitigation of risks related to software licensing and usage.
  • Case Study: A healthcare provider enhanced its digital capabilities and reduced IT costs by implementing EY’s digital transformation and cost optimization strategies.
Legal and Compliance Experts

Legal and Compliance Experts

Role in Licensing

Ensuring Legal Compliance with Licensing Agreements

Legal and compliance experts play a crucial role in ensuring that organizations adhere to the terms and conditions outlined in their Microsoft licensing agreements.

They help interpret complex legal language and provide guidance on maintaining compliance to avoid legal and financial penalties.

Handling Licensing Audits and Disputes

These experts are also instrumental in managing licensing audits conducted by Microsoft or third-party auditors.

They ensure that all software usage is accurately reported and compliant with the licensing terms. In case of disputes, they provide the necessary legal support and representation to resolve issues effectively.

Top Legal and Compliance Firms


Overview of Their Impact on Microsoft Licensing

  • Compliance Services: PwC offers comprehensive compliance services to help organizations adhere to software licensing terms.
  • Audit Support: Provides support during licensing audits, ensuring accurate reporting and compliance.
  • Risk Management: Identifies potential risks and offers strategies to mitigate them.
  • Case Study: PwC assisted a global manufacturing company in successfully navigating a complex Microsoft licensing audit, ensuring compliance and avoiding significant penalties.


Overview of Their Impact on Microsoft Licensing

  • Advisory Services: KPMG offers advisory services to help organizations optimize their licensing strategies.
  • Legal Representation: Provides legal representation in case of disputes with Microsoft.
  • Compliance Reviews: Conducts regular compliance reviews to ensure ongoing adherence to licensing agreements.
  • Case Study: KPMG helped a large financial institution identify licensing gaps and implement corrective measures, resulting in improved compliance and reduced risk of audit penalties.
Internal IT and Procurement Teams

Internal IT and Procurement Teams

Internal Teams’ Role

Managing Software Assets and Ensuring Compliance

Internal IT and procurement teams are responsible for managing the organization’s software assets, ensuring that all software usage complies with licensing agreements.

They track software deployments, manage renewals, and ensure that the organization does not exceed its licensed entitlements.

Working with External Providers to Optimize Licensing

These teams also collaborate with external providers, such as licensing solution partners and legal experts, to optimize licensing strategies.

They seek advice on best practices, cost-saving opportunities, and compliance measures.

Best Practices

Regular Audits

Conducting regular internal audits helps identify any discrepancies in software usage and ensures compliance with licensing terms.

Regular audits also prepare the organization for potential external audits by Microsoft.

Training and Awareness Programs

Implementing training and awareness programs ensures that all employees understand the importance of software licensing compliance.

Educating staff on proper software usage and the consequences of non-compliance helps maintain adherence to licensing terms.

Case Studies of Successful Internal Management

  • Case Study 1: A mid-sized tech company conducted quarterly internal audits, resulting in improved compliance and a clear understanding of their software asset inventory.
  • Case Study 2: A financial services firm implemented a training program for its IT staff, significantly reducing instances of non-compliance and optimizing licensing costs through better management practices.

Industry Organizations and User Groups

Industry Organizations and User Groups

Role of Industry Organizations

Providing Education and Advocacy on Licensing Issues

Industry organizations play a vital role in educating businesses about software licensing.

They offer resources, training, and advocacy to help organizations navigate the complexities of licensing agreements and stay compliant.

Facilitating Networking and Knowledge Sharing

These organizations also facilitate networking opportunities and knowledge sharing among members.

By participating in user groups and industry events, members can learn from each other’s experiences and stay updated on best practices and industry trends.

Key Organizations

International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM)

Benefits of Membership and Participation

  • Educational Resources: Access to a wealth of educational materials, including webinars, courses, and certifications on IT asset management.
  • Networking Opportunities: Connect with other IT asset managers and industry experts to share knowledge and best practices.
  • Advocacy: IAITAM advocates for the interests of IT asset managers, providing a collective voice on important issues.

Microsoft Licensing User Group (MLUG)

Benefits of Membership and Participation

  • Exclusive Access: Gain access to exclusive resources and events focused on Microsoft licensing.
  • Expert Insights: Learn from industry experts and Microsoft representatives about the latest licensing changes and strategies.
  • Community Support: Engage with a community of professionals facing similar challenges and opportunities in software licensing.
Top 10 Real-Life Examples of the Use of Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

Top 10 Real-Life Examples of the Use of Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

Global Corporation Utilizing Microsoft Licensing Solution Partners (LSPs)

Use Case

A global corporation partnered with Insight Enterprises, a top LSP, to manage their complex licensing needs across multiple regions.


  • Streamlined Licensing: Consolidated licensing management across all locations.
  • Cost Savings: Optimized licensing costs through volume discounts.
  • Compliance: Ensured compliance with local and international licensing laws.

Mid-Sized Company Leveraging CSP Services from Rackspace

Use Case

A mid-sized company adopted Rackspace’s managed cloud services for their Office 365 and Azure environments.


  • Managed Services: Comprehensive management of cloud services.
  • Cost Control: Flexible billing options tailored to their usage.
  • Enhanced Security: Improved security and compliance features.

Financial Institution Engaging PwC for Licensing Compliance

Use Case

A large financial institution hired PwC to ensure compliance during a Microsoft licensing audit.


  • Audit Support: Accurate reporting and preparation for the audit.
  • Risk Mitigation: Identification and mitigation of compliance risks.
  • Avoided Penalties: Successful audit without penalties.

Educational Institution Using Microsoft Open Value through SHI International

Use Case

A university utilized Microsoft Open Value licensing through SHI International to manage their software licenses.


  • Flexible Payments: Annual payment plans fit the institution’s budget cycle.
  • Software Assurance: Access to the latest software updates and support.
  • Cost-Effective: Significant savings through educational discounts.

Tech Startup Partnering with Crayon for Cloud Advisory Services

Use Case

A tech startup worked with Crayon to optimize their Azure cloud spending and strategy.


  • Strategic Advice: Tailored recommendations for cloud adoption.
  • Cost Optimization: Reduced cloud costs while maintaining performance.
  • Training: Workshops to help the team maximize cloud resources.

Healthcare Provider Consulting with SoftwareONE

Use Case

A healthcare provider engaged SoftwareONE to manage their software licenses and optimize their IT infrastructure.


  • License Management: Improved tracking and compliance with licensing agreements.
  • Cost Savings: Identified redundant licenses, leading to cost reductions.
  • IT Optimization: Streamlined IT infrastructure for better performance.

Retail Chain Utilizing Tech Data for Distribution

Use Case

A retail chain partnered with Tech Data for the distribution of Microsoft licenses to their numerous locations.


  • Efficient Distribution: Reliable supply chain management.
  • Support Services: Access to training and technical support.
  • Inventory Management: Simplified management of software inventory.

Nonprofit Organization Leveraging Office 365 Nonprofit Plans via Zones

Use Case

A nonprofit organization adopted Office 365 Nonprofit E1 plans through Zones to support their operations.


  • Low Cost: Access to essential tools at reduced rates.
  • Enhanced Collaboration: Improved communication among staff and volunteers.
  • Cloud Storage: Secure storage for documents and data.

Large Enterprise Working with KPMG for Licensing Strategy

Use Case

A large enterprise consulted with KPMG to develop a comprehensive licensing strategy for their global operations.


  • Strategic Planning: Customized licensing strategy aligned with business goals.
  • Compliance: Ensured compliance across multiple jurisdictions.
  • Cost Efficiency: Optimized licensing costs through strategic planning.

Small Business Using Internal IT Team and VLSC

Use Case

A small business utilized their internal IT team to manage Microsoft licenses through the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).


  • Cost Management: Efficient management of software licenses and renewals.
  • Compliance: Regular audits ensured compliance with licensing terms.
  • Employee Training: Ongoing training programs to maintain compliance and optimize usage.

FAQ: Key Players in Microsoft Licensing

What is Microsoft Licensing?

Microsoft Licensing refers to the legal framework that governs the use and distribution of Microsoft software. It includes various types of licenses, agreements, and compliance requirements.

What are the different types of Microsoft licenses?

Microsoft offers several types of licenses including perpetual licenses, subscription-based licenses, volume licenses, and OEM licenses. Each type has specific terms and conditions.

What is a perpetual license?

A perpetual license allows you to use the software indefinitely after a one-time purchase. It does not require ongoing payments or renewals.

What is a subscription license?

A subscription license requires regular payments, either monthly or annually, to use the software. This model provides continuous access to updates and new features.

What is an OEM license?

An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) license is pre-installed on new hardware and is typically tied to that specific device. It is usually less expensive but non-transferable.

What is volume licensing?

Volume licensing is designed for organizations that need multiple licenses. It offers discounts based on the number of licenses purchased and simplifies management under a single agreement.

What is the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA)?

The Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) is a volume licensing program for large enterprises with 500 or more users or devices. It provides significant discounts and comprehensive coverage.

What is the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA)?

The Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA) provides a flexible, transactional approach to licensing for organizations of varying sizes, consolidating all product and service purchases under a single agreement.

What is the difference between Microsoft Open License and Open Value?

Microsoft Open License allows organizations to purchase licenses as needed over a two-year period. Open Value offers additional benefits like Software Assurance and flexible payment terms over three years.

What is the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program?

The CSP program allows businesses to purchase Microsoft cloud services through a Cloud Solution Provider, offering tailored solutions, ongoing support, and flexible billing options.

What are the benefits of Software Assurance?

Software Assurance provides benefits such as access to new software versions, technical support, deployment planning services, training resources, and unique licensing rights like License Mobility.

How does Azure licensing work?

Azure offers pay-as-you-go pricing, where costs are based on actual usage of resources, and reserved instances, which provide significant cost savings for long-term commitments.

What is a Client Access License (CAL)?

A Client Access License (CAL) allows users or devices to access services provided by server software. There are User CALs and Device CALs, depending on the licensing needs.

What is License Mobility?

License Mobility allows certain server application licenses to be transferred to third-party shared servers, facilitating cloud adoption and hybrid deployments.

How can organizations ensure compliance with Microsoft licensing?

Organizations can ensure compliance by conducting regular internal audits, using license management tools, implementing training programs, and working with legal and compliance experts.