Just when you thought Microsoft licensing was confusing enough, it’ll get worse: 2020 Predictions (7 of 7)

Imagine your users having the ability to purchase licenses all by themselves for Office 365 products without your knowledge. Oh, you don’t have to imaging it, it’s already been announced for Power Platform products, so that means your 2020 will be spent tracking even more licenses (and you thought native O365 license management was hard).

In my 7th and final 2020 prediction (see all 7 predictions here), let’s discuss WHY Microsoft is allowing this free for all license purchasing as well as what you can do to help control the chaos.

The democratization of Microsoft Office 365 licenses

As stated earlier, Microsoft is making it easier for end users, the consumers of services like PowerBI, PowerApps, and Flow products, to purchase their own licenses. And did you know – this feature is turned on by default, which means users will be buying unbudgeted and uncontrolled licenses.

This is all part of Microsoft empowering the end user and streamlining the process and stickiness for getting these tools in their hands. They already allow anyone in the organization to set up Microsoft or download any Teams app into their environment (all on by default). Microsoft has lots of competitors in each of these spaces (low/no-code automation and analytics and collaboration and chat) that already offer self-service purchasing to line-of-business owners, so they have to keep pace.

However, we know the reaction from the administrator community has been swift and loud. One collective head bang on the wall for even more Shadow IT they have to contend with.

What you can do manage Office 365 licenses

While Microsoft sprung the Power Platform self-service announcement on the IT community, it has responded with some controls to help you.

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The Experts Conference speaker, Brien Posey, and 18-time Microsoft MVP (and Commercial Astronaut Candidate) outlines how to block self-service purchasing in Microsoft’s Power Platform in this Redmond Mag article. Microsoft makes you jump through MANY hoops to turn this off, including the external PowerShell module called MSCommerce.

Once you have followed those instructions, let’s talk about the other licensing issues keeping you up at night: Managing all your Office 365 and Azure AD licenses. According to my talks with customers in our customer advisory board, accurately predicting software license usage is difficult, leading them (and likely you too) to buy more licenses than are really needed. You struggle with knowing who has access to what licenses and if those with access are even using the licenses assigned to them. And if you are an organization with high turnover, seasonal employees or lots of interns, it can be hard to re-coop those licenses. Manual reports are created, and even then, they have to be rebuilt each time you want to see a snapshot of your available licenses.

This is where you need to look to a third-party solution, like On Demand License Management, to help. On-Demand License Management provides complete visibility into O365 licenses and the reporting capabilities needed to more easily achieve optimal license utilization.

  • Determine how many Office 365 licenses are available and who are they assigned to.
  • Determine if your end users are using the Office 365 services that have been provisioned.
  • Understand what the cost of unutilized or under-utilized licenses are. And if you should consider a new licensing plan.

Try a free 30-day trial of this solution – heck it’s 30 days of free license management.

About the Author

Jennifer LuPiba

Jennifer LuPiba is the Chair of the Quest Software Customer Advisory Board, engaging with and capturing the voice of the customer in such areas as cybersecurity, disaster recovery, management and the impact of mergers and acquisitions on Microsoft 365, Azure Active Directory and on-premises Active Directory. She also writes thought leadership articles and blogs aimed at the c-suite to evangelize the importance of these areas to their overall business. She chairs The Experts Conference, a yearly event focused on pure Active Directory and Office 365 training at the 300 and 400 level for the boots-on-the-ground Microsoft admins and managers.

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