Posted by: Heather Shy on January 25, 2017 at 5:51 pm
Certain phrases can almost make people’s minds shut down: tax audit, insurance review, court subpoena. Anything involving a lot of detail-oriented work outside of a person’s expertise can strike fear into the heart, especially of a small business owner with their life’s work potentially at stake.
When you get a notification that Microsoft wants a software license verification, exactly how much should you panic?
If you’re a TAZ Networks client, don’t panic at all! Fortunately for you, we’ve successfully handled software license reviews for several of our clients over the past few months. Here are three things you need to know:
- It’s not as scary as it sounds. As Grant says, “Rather than being like an audit, the process is similar to filing your tax return with the help of an accountant, with TAZ Networks playing the role as accountant. The License Verification states your position as you currently understand it, with opportunity for amendment later.”
- It’s possible to extend the deadline for a limited time, if there is a legitimate business need. One example might be if your company is in the middle of a server migration or other complex networking project.
- Ignorance is NOT bliss. Do not ignore or delay submitting the Deployment Summary (Microsoft’s official licensing verification document) without staying in touch with the Microsoft contact for your case. If you refuse to comply, you could find yourself in the middle of a software licensing audit, which is far more involved and far less pleasant.
How Does TAZ Networks Help You Manage the Process?
Without getting into all of the details, here’s a quick rundown on six steps we take to help you with your license verification.
- Run a software review report through our monitoring agent. This is part of the reason we currently only extend this service to our managed service clients: they already have the agents installed, simplifying this critical step. (If you are not a current client but are facing this process, please contact Matt about the possibility of setting up a project.)
- Comb through this report, looking for information relevant to the verification, and weeding out what is not important. We have a set process that guides us through a number of potential pitfalls, including lapsed subscriptions, incorrect estimations, and more.
- Gather all proofs of purchase such as product license keys, authorization numbers, OEM supplied software, etc.
- Review our findings with you, explain any issues or discrepancies found, and recommend corrections.
- Pre-fill the Deployment Summary as much as possible, using the information we’ve gathered.
- Review the Deployment Summary with you, and sit down with your company’s representative as they fill out the online form, explaining each step.
Please note that we can only document what we know about! Licenses purchased through TAZ Networks and OEM licenses provided with workstations purchased through TAZ Networks are relatively easy for us to track. We also track any software information that you have provided to us. Any other licensing information has to come from you. Remember that this process largely benefits Microsoft, as any licensing shortfalls must be remedied to be in compliance. (Translation: Microsoft will make you pay for any software licenses that you are using but can’t prove you have legitimately purchased.) So it pays – literally – to be as thorough and accurate as possible.
Microsoft’s Turn: Let the Negotiations Begin
After the Deployment Summary has been submitted, Microsoft will review it and reply with an Estimated License Ownership Position (ELOP). It’s important to note that the ELOP is not the final word on the matter. Rather, this is where Microsoft shows their cards. It will help you to identify Microsoft’s position, and investigate areas that may have been genuinely overlooked. If Microsoft wants proof of a SQL Server license we were previously unaware of, for example, we can help you locate that evidence.
At this point, it’s possible for us to negotiate with Microsoft regarding some of the terms and items. For example, if all of your workstations were purchased with OEM-supplied Windows installed, a simple statement of that fact can prevent Microsoft from demanding that you pay again for these licenses.
We will do what we can to keep you from incurring “shortfall” fees, while we also give Microsoft an accurate report. Being honest and accurate prevents problems down the road (and, of course, is the right thing to do).
What’s In It For You?
We feel your pain: the license verification process can be tedious, time-consuming, and stressful. But there are a few benefits:
- It unveils licenses that may have been “lost” or forgotten about. If these licenses are for up-to-date products, it’s like finding money in your coat pocket on the first cold day of the year.
- License verification keeps everyone paying their fair share by flushing out software piracy and counterfeiting.
- Your documentation will be up-to-date and organized, making it easier to find the information if needed in the future.
We hope this article has removed some of the fear and mystery of the license verification process. Do you have other questions about license verification? Contact us, and we’ll be happy to help.