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End of Life is coming to Microsoft Open Licensing—soon. We are now officially just four months away from the shift that will leave commercial customers without the option of purchasing or renewing software licenses or online services through the Microsoft Open License program. This blog covers everything you need to know about the move from Microsoft and how you can quickly identify a robust alternative to support your organization for the foreseeable future.

About Microsoft Open Licensing and the Reason Behind the Shift

Microsoft Open programs enabled SMBs to leverage Microsoft licensing with a simple, flexible, and cost-effective approach—providing access to the latest Microsoft technology. The Open Licensing program was promoted to small to mid-sized organizations for its ease of application and autonomy.
With Open License, IT leaders have been able to purchase software licenses and online services on an as-needed basis to avoid overspending on license sprawl (Microsoft licensing that goes unused and surpasses business necessities). The Open License program includes an optional purchase of Microsoft Software Assurance. Generally, it waives the five-license minimum initial purchase across a broad swathe of Microsoft online service and license offerings.
The Microsoft Open License program was a refreshing departure from paying an SMB tax for organizations that often come up against challenges meeting volume purchasing requirements to enjoy competitive pricing.  Essentially, the program evened the playing field, so organizations of all sizes have more opportunities to harness Microsoft services and licensing on their terms as they scale.
With a customizable platform and price advantages for volume purchasing, the Open programs—Open Value, Open Value Subscription, and Open License—provide a simple, cost-effective way to acquire the latest Microsoft technology.
Microsoft Open programs offer the ability to add online services subscriptions to your agreement, so that you can transition to the cloud at your own pace through your existing agreement.

Last fall, Microsoft announced its plans to discontinue the open licensing program. “The Microsoft Open License program was created over 20 years ago for small and midsized customers to buy multiple perpetual software licenses at a volume price. Microsoft is taking a significant step to simplify licensing by introducing perpetual software license purchases through the new commerce experience, as part of our Cloud Solution Provider program for partners, with a target availability date of January 2021. Small and midsize customers will benefit from a simplified approach and greater flexibility in how you purchase software licenses in a way that’s easy to understand, that directly improves licensing asset management, and with predictable costs.”

Beginning January 1, 2022, commercial customers cannot purchase new or renew software licenses or online services via the Microsoft Open License program. Microsoft recommends transacting new license-only purchases through partners in the Cloud Solution Provider program.

Unleash a Secure, Compliant Cloud Services Roadmap with an MSP

There’s good news. Navigating Microsoft Licensing and planning around your IT budget doesn’t have to be challenging or require heavy lifting from your IT team. Having a managed services provider that is proficient in cloud services and Microsoft licensing is a gamechanger. In fact, in the same spirit behind the launch of the open license program over two decades ago—providing more flexibility and customization for SMBs as they scale—the right MSP will do precisely that.

MicroAge Cloud Business Director Rick Trujillo explains:

“Self-educating is one of the more significant time killers for IT pros in the SMB space when it comes to Microsoft licensing and the differences between products. There are currently 16 Microsoft plans in the M365 space, all with similar-sounding names, and all priced differently to serve different use cases.”

Trying to understand Microsoft licensing and the plan best positioned to serve your business can be a time-consuming and confusing burden on your IT team. Enlisting a managed services provider or cloud services provider to help you navigate licensing and understand package benefits, optimize, and reassess quarterly, and plan for the future is mission-critical, according to Trujillo.

Why an MSP for M365?

Leveraging an MSP that’s a vetted Microsoft partner simplifies and streamlines the license purchasing, optimization, and renewal process with dedicated experts to lean on in building out a compliant, cloud-services roadmap into the future. Because you don’t want to think ahead just a few months from now, competitive IT leaders are thinking 3-5 years ahead to build contingency plans, expect the unexpected, and bolster business resilience.

Don't wait, act now

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At MicroAge, our Microsoft Gold-Certified cloud experts are ready to help you build a smart, flexible licensing approach that grows with your business. Innovate faster with our M365 experience and insights supporting you every step of the way.

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