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6 Microsoft Audit Triggers

Did you know your Microsoft Reseller can tell Microsoft to audit you?

For the last several years, Microsoft and other software vendors have been pressuring their customers with audits. The reasons were many and include stagnant revenue, recovery from the economic turmoil of the preceding decade, changes in corporate direction, and more.

Microsoft turned to software audits to compel organizations to transition to products and services that fit their “Mobile First, Cloud First” strategy.  So what triggers these audits? What puts an organization “on the list?”

  1. Your Reseller Told Microsoft to Audit You

    Many Microsoft Resellers now have SAM Divisions, meaning Software Asset Management. While they may be distinct legal entities from your Reseller, they operate as a single company. These new SAM divisions can refer you to Microsoft as a potential audit target, based on the information they gathered while acting as your reseller. Microsoft uses these recommendations to prioritize audit targets based on how serious the potential violation is.

  2. Purchasing History

    Did you fail to renew your Enterprise Agreement during the economic downturn, as a cost reduction measure? Have few Microsoft purchases have been made since? If this occurred, with annual true-ups no longer necessary, Microsoft will wonder how business is still being supported with hardware and software that is very old.

  3. Technology & Licensing Changes

    BYOD, desktop virtualization, hosted services, license mobility, cloud environments, transitional licensing, bridge licenses, metric changes and evolving Software Assurance benefits all make adherence to licensing rules challenging, at best. Microsoft knows this and will use it to position your environment as non-compliant.

  4. Mergers & Acquisitions

    The Microsoft Account team will view any M&A activity as a potential opportunity. For example, when an organization with an active Enterprise Agreement acquires another company, Microsoft will assume an increase in the number of qualified devices or users. Beyond any contractual obligations that may exist, the Microsoft Account team will see a revenue windfall.

  5. Transition to the Cloud

    Cloud subscriptions are presented as the easiest path to achieving and maintaining license compliance. Office 365 has reached critical mass in the commercial space, which reflects Microsoft’s success in engineering the transition. And it will continue with this process and even repeat it as it tries to upsell existing subscribers.

  6. Disgruntled Employees or Former Employees

    Organizations such as the Business Software Alliance, of which Microsoft is a member, actively ask individuals to come forward to report non-compliance issues. This isn’t unusual as employees – former or existing – may want to create difficulties and instigate an audit.

The best advice for an organizations is to complete its own, proactive License Position Assessment as soon as possible via an independent expert. This assessment will provide the snapshot needed to determine any exposure and allow the organization to prepare and protect their budget from unexpected costs from Microsoft.

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