Unite recoups £1 million in Microsoft licensing costs

The largest trade union in the UK has reclaimed an estimated £1 million in costs while migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, after their not-for-profit licensing privileges were revoked by Microsoft.

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The largest trade union in the UK has reclaimed an estimated £1 million in costs while migrating from Windows XP to Windows 7, after their not-for-profit licensing privileges were revoked by Microsoft.

In April last year UK trade unions were hit with the news that their Microsoft licensing agreements would change within three months. For Unite, this meant that it was forced to change its 2,000 Microsoft licences to 'commercial' versions - at ten times the price of their previous ‘academic’ licenses.

However, the union was able to offset some of this increased costs and achieve a £1 million saving after implementing a software asset management (SAM) system from Snow, which required a £20,000 outlay.

The introduction of the SAM system, which coincided with a move to Office 2010 and Windows 7, allowed Unite to better manage its licensing agreements and reduce wasted software costs by monitoring employee's software usage across its organisation. 

Previoulsy, Unite had significant difficulties calculating how many licenses were installed across its disparte IT operations, spread across a number of countries, the IT team told ComputerworldUK.

“Information was not being fed back in a reliable manner so we could not centrally control the IT purchasing process, two problems that we needed to resolve to successfully understand the Microsoft software assets we had installed and upgrade all the PCs in our estate,” said Geoff Davidson, national systems co-ordinator at Unite.

“It was quite a difficult time to find out what exactly was on our network.”  

Unite used Snow’s SAM to create a script that sat on one of their centralised servers. “When one of our 14,00 users powered on their PCs the first thing it did was authenticate itself with the server, install the script and gather the information then report back to the database repository.”

“It took 48 hours to deploy Snow across our organisation.”

The SAM also meters how the software is being used and for how long on each PC, so the IT team can uninstall underutilised software and deploy it elsewhere.

Following the migration, the union has a number of future projects including removing Blackberry handsets and implementing iPhone for all users. Unite have struck a deal that will meant the migration is “of no cost to trade union with about a 30 to 40 percent discount on our monthly line rental.” 

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