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Microsoft License Management training, one year later

In 2021, we conducted an almost unprecedented thing in our industry – an 8-part free-of-charge live training on Microsoft Licensing and Microsoft License Management. 

Why "almost"? Redress Compliance did one on Oracle Licensing before us, and LicenseQ, our most direct competitors and great friends, did that somewhat in parallel with us. Since then, there have been some copycat attempts with minimal success. 

This year, we decided to conduct another free-for-all online training. You can find all about it on our Training and Certification page. This article is a behind-the-scenes sneak peek of the planning phase.

The challenges

Training's length. Last year, we streamed eight parts of the training, separated by two weeks each. This time, however, we decided to limit it to one reasonably long session. Why? 

  • Firstly, the attendance at the first training session – "Microsoft Licensing Basics, Models, Fundamentals" – was drastically higher compared to parts 2-8. 

  • Secondly, spreading the eight linked sessions across a few months turned out to be a massive burden on our audience and us. Once the schedule is set, you have to commit to following it. Whether you have to go on leave or fall ill, it does not matter. A promise is a promise. Now, apply that to over a thousand attendees of the first session, and you'll get the idea.

Changes to Microsoft LicensingWe knew Microsoft would change the licensing terms this year, but we didn't know when. So we took the gamble and scheduled the training for September 14. We'll have to deal somehow with the upcoming changes, which have been recently (finally) announced for October 1, 2022, only two weeks after our live event. 

Exam preparation. Our exam will be updated after October 1, 2022. However, we aren't going to make it easier. So those who want to take our exam and get a certificate from SAMexpert will still have to learn much more than just the basics. We need to address that as well.

Squeezing it into one live session

For this challenge, we came up with the following plan:

  • Compare views on YouTube between training recordings from 2021 and select the ones with the highest interest.

  • Analyse engagement in all eight streams and see which modules and timestamps were the most viewed/replayed. We use timestamped chapters in most long videos, so that should not be an issue.

  • Make this training session long enough, but remember that most live viewers will drop off after two hours. 

Here's what we found from our YouTube channel statistics.

Session

Views

Licensing Basics

19,406

Licensing Agreements

4,008

Microsoft 365 and Azure

3,280

Server Licensing

2,680

Desktop Licensing

1,844

Developer Tools

1,482

Microsoft Audits

1,263

Negotiations with Microsoft

1,056

It's crystal clear that most of the interest of the YouTube audience is related to the very basics of Microsoft Licensing. 

Amongst the other subjects, the viewer interest leaders are: 

  1. Licensing Agreements (Enterprise Agreement, CSP),

  2. Microsoft Cloud – Microsoft 365 and Azure,

  3. Server Licensing.

Desktop licensing, understandably, is losing its attractiveness with the transition of corporate customers to Cloud subscriptions. And topics like MSDN, audits, and negotiations are, perhaps, too "niche".

Then we looked at the engagement, i.e. the chapters and timestamps.

To our surprise, the most popular subject in the basics session is Client Access Licenses. It is followed by:

  • Comparison of perpetual and subscription licenses,

  • "Virtualisation dive-in", where we explained the basics of virtualisation,

  • Assigning licences to users and devices,

  • Downgrade rights,

  • Quick overviews of Windows Server and SQL Server licensing models (no deep dive).

The clear winner in the session dedicated to Microsoft Licensing Agreements is the chapter in which we compared agreements and gave a basic overview of the Microsoft Licensing Agreement portfolio. It is followed by:

  • Microsoft Enterprise Agreement highlights,

  • Microsoft Enterprise Agreement document stack,

  • Microsoft Enterprise Agreement pricelist levels ("programmatic discounts"),

  • Server and Cloud Enrollment – highlights and how it works.

As for the rest of the agreements, the audience interest chart surprised us:

  1. MPSA,

  2. Open Value,

  3. And only then – Microsoft CSP.

We are increasingly convinced that Microsoft did a great job obscuring CSP mechanics from the end clients and SAM managers to the point where they cannot be bothered.

Between Azure and Microsoft 365, Azure wins. The interest rate is 2:1 Azure vs M365. The most watched topics are:

  • Differences in procuring Azure via different channels and each channel's commercial features,

  • Managing Azure VM costs, reserved instances and Azure Hybrid Benefit,

  • Microsoft 365 overview – watched almost entirely without a drop in the audience interest,

  • M365 plan comparison from the licensing point of view.

And the last session we analysed closely was Microsoft Server Licensing. Here are the leading topics by interest:

  • Windows Server virtual machines, containers, clusters,

  • Windows Server Essentials (massive surprise!),

  • System Center and Core Infrastructure Suite,

  • And another massive surprise – SQL Server has less interest than System Center, contradicting overall YouTube statistics among many competing channels.

The SQL Server section, however, is almost flat, meaning that almost everyone watched it fully without skipping around.

What else to note? Interest in Exchange Server licensing is still very much alive, it seems.

What did we decide to cover in the upcoming 3-4 hour live stream? That is yet to be determined. Work is being done every day, and we may introduce last-minute changes. Let's keep the intrigue.

Addressing licensing changes

The upcoming changes on October 1, 2022, will be massive. There is no way to avoid addressing them in the live training session. In addition, there's no reliable information about what those changes will be, so we cannot with confidence tell what will happen exactly.

Here's what we plan to do:

  • We will caveat every bit in our training stream that we think will be affected by the changes,

  • At the very beginning of the live session, we will remind every viewer, live or on-demand, to watch out for updates on our channel,

  • We will publish our explanatory videos on the channel as soon as there are official updates,

  • We may – that is being decided as I am writing this – hold a live session with experts from competing companies and our partners to discuss the economic and compliance impact of the changes.

Helping with exam preparation

Successfully passing our exam requires more substantial knowledge than we can squeeze into a 3-4 hour live stream. In addition, Microsoft licensing updates in October 2022 will be pretty significant.

It means that we cannot leave these issues unaddressed.

Of course, in the meanwhile, you may watch the sessions we recorded in 2021 with the recent changes in mind. However, we would like to simplify this puzzle for you. 

Here's what we'll probably do (subject to changes and further announcements). We would like to update parts 2-8 and publish them as pre-recorded videos. When that's done, we shall schedule online events where we'll play the new videos and answer your questions live. 

Further updates

Please subscribe to our channel, follow us on LinkedIn and watch for the announcements. You may also subscribe to our mailing list(s), as it's probably the most reliable channel for our updates.

Those subscribed to our dedicated mailing list for the free-of-charge exam will receive updates by email. 

If you have any questions left, please read this page first. Only after that, if you have any remaining queries, send them using the form below. Please note that we have limited resources to support individual emails about our free-of-charge activities so please bear with us.

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