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The Evolution of the Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

Software licensing used to be pretty cut and dry. You had a specific number of seats, so you bought a specific number of licenses. Well, it’s pretty clear those days are long gone. Your “seats” are no longer parked in front of a single computer. They’re on the move—constantly surrounded by the multitude of devices today’s users rely on to work productively wherever business takes them. From company-owned notebooks, smartphones, and tablets to BYOD-supported devices, employees need access to their must-have productivity applications at all times.

So how do you ensure your users have the tools they need (on the devices they need them on) without multiplying your licensing costs? Fortunately, Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement (EA) program has evolved to keep pace with today’s busy world.

Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) makes it easy to streamline your licensing in this cloud-first, mobile-first world. With a pure per-user licensing model, ECS combines Office 365 E3, Enterprise Mobility Suite, and Windows Software Assurance into one manageable package. For those of you that already have an EA, you can purchase the ECS Add-On as a supplement to your existing license. It’s just a SKU on top of what you already have. If you’re a new customer and you qualify for the 250-seat minimum, I would recommend going with the full ECS User Subscription License—as it’s a single SKU, which keeps licensing and management simple. On a related note—if you’re completely new to Microsoft licensing, check out our EA 101 blog post, it’s a great resource that explains the basics of an Enterprise Agreement—who qualifies, how the contract works, and what the process means for you year after year.

There are some great tools included in the ECS package. Your users get all the applications they need to be productive, including: Office 365 Pro Plus, Exchange Online, Lync Online, SharePoint Online, and Yammer. With a total of 15 installs for your Office suite, you can put those applications on multiple computers, tablets, and phones—regardless of whether they’re company- or employee-owned. And because you’ve got all of those devices using your network, applications, and data, Enterprise Mobility Suite is a real life saver. It gives you identity management with Azure Active Directory, so you can do password resetting and multi-factor authentication. You’ve also got access to Intune for mobile device management and Azure Rights Management Services for encryption and policy enforcement. Those capabilities are essential in a multi-device environment.

That’s a lot of information to chew on, but the bottom line is that Microsoft EA is evolving right alongside today’s workforce. So you don’t need to worry about struggling to get the right software onto the right devices—Microsoft has already done the legwork for you. To find the right Microsoft EA for your unique needs, check out our free assessment tool. I also highly recommend our in-house Microsoft guru Lane Shelton’s blog post The Truth About Microsoft Enterprise Agreements. It’s a must-read for anyone who has, or is considering, an EA—and wants to avoid overpaying. And of course, if you have any questions, feel free to pick up the phone and talk to one of our experts. Even if an EA isn’t the right fit for you, we can always help you optimize your licensing.

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