Is Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS) Right for You?
In the past, if you licensed the Microsoft stack of software directly from Microsoft, you were licensing under an Enterprise Agreement (EA). Most of you with EAs understand the “true up” requirement around any increases in “devices” or “users.” Qualified Devices were typically workstations or laptops and Qualified Users are employees using qualified devices. Any increase in devices or users (adding new employees aka users or adding workstations at a new office) requires a true up and increase in your EA licensing cost.
What is Enterprise Cloud Suite (ECS)?
ECS is subscription-based licensing for Windows. Like anything, the devil is in the details and you should take a close look at your organization’s particular needs. ECS is not a one size fits all suite. And some things about it are not so sweet. Let’s look at the advantages of Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Suite.
The Benefits of Microsoft’s ECS
Windows – User Based
Are you adding devices at your organization faster than users? For example, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) campaigns utilizing iPads or tablet of choice are very popular in today’s workplace, but how do you handle Windows licensing for all these additional devices? With ECS, you get unlimited number of devices to install Windows on. This is very different than the Office 365 limitation. You also get full Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) rights.
VDA – User Based
Company Subscription Licensing (CSL) is no longer needed with ECS. If licensed with VDA per user, there is no device needed.
Per User for Everything
Just about everyone is licensed per user for their Client Access Licenses (CAL), and Office 365 is also licensed per user. ECS brings Windows into a per user licensing model so this should simplify things going forward. You just need to know the number of employees.
This is no longer needed under ECS, thank goodness. Windows Server CAL and System Center Client Management License (CML) are included. Simple is good.
The Limitations of Microsoft’s ECS
We’ve taken a look at some of the benefits of Microsoft’s Enterprise Cloud Suite. For businesses with a mobile workforce, ECS may be a match made in heaven, but for others, not so much. Let’s look at some of its limitations and make sure you can make an informed decision around the suite.
ECS is a subscription service. You can buy it on its own as User Subscription License (USL) or as an Add-On to an Enterprise Agreement (EA). Either way, your rights to use the software will expire at the end of the term. So you will either renew at the offered price and terms or you will stop using the software.
EA on the other hand, is a perpetual license. A perpetual license remains valid if you choose to move away from the EA license model or choose to discontinue Software Assurance (SA).
Microsoft likes the subscription model for many reasons. It helps with piracy; it moves software from a CapEx to an OpEx model; it smooths out cash flow and, best of all, it gives Microsoft considerable leverage when negotiating at renewal.
If you don’t renew under the subscription model and agree to the new Microsoft terms, your Microsoft software stops working and so does your workforce using it. You probably won’t be prepared to forklift the Microsoft Enterprise Cloud Suite and replace with Google Apps and retrain your company. And Microsoft knows that. Be prepared to pay for your dependency or practice your poker face.
ECS is an Office 365 E3 offering. At its core it is Software as a Service (SaaS). The service will be unavailable occasionally. People make mistakes, machines break, Internet connections get saturated and DNS is attacked. SaaS is very popular but it does have inherent risk. Many large organizations have held off of Office 365 and/or other core SaaS offerings because they are unwilling to give up control, security and customization they require. And again, if you go ECS, you are increasing your dependency on Microsoft and giving them more leverage at renewal.
To conclude, ECS is an excellent option for those with highly mobile teams. It creates simplicity for Windows by offering a per user model similar to Office 365 and CALs. However, like anything, ECS has pros and cons.
Make sure you understand all the implications of committing to the Enterprise Cloud Suite. And if you do commit, you may want to have an exit strategy (plan B) before signing on the dotted line. What functionality is ECS providing your teams? You should have those identified before taking the plunge. Otherwise, Microsoft will clearly have the advantage when it is time to renew.