In TechRepublic’s Technical Q&A, our members frequently ask about Microsoft licensing issues. A recent Q&A exchange centered on questions about Microsoft’s Select Agreement versus the Enterprise Agreement. TechRepublic member Holger sought advice about upgrading to an Enterprise Agreement. The answers he received may help you decide between the two software licensing methods.

Holger wrote that he was “…looking at the pros and cons of upgrading to an Enterprise Agreement. I know I can either do a full EA (OS, BackOffice Client Access Licenses and Office) or a partial EA (for Office or BackOffice CAL or OS).
My analysis thus far is in favor of keeping a Select agreement. I was told by the MS rep that I should not look at this from a purely economic standpoint (i.e., an EA will never save money over a Select!?!)
[The rep said] that the benefits are in the soft costs—less licensing administration, full compliance, less transactions cost, and so on. I’d love to hear everybody’s thoughts on this topic. FYI—We have 1800 seats running NT, Office 97, and some CALs. We are looking at upgrading to Office 2000 and Win 2K.
Regards, Holger”
For a perspective from TechRepublic columnist Tim Landgrave, read his recent article, “Enterprise agreements: The answer to your licensing headaches?” For information from Microsoft, check out their viewpoint on Enterprise Agreements.
The pros and cons
Several TechRepublic members offered Holger advice. One member explained the benefits of an EA while another disagreed with the decision to upgrade.

An argument in favor of an EA
Olaf W. Dietzler works as an IT Operations Manager for J. W. Cappelens Forlag, a major media house in Oslo, Norway. He leads a team of three IT consultants who service about 270 users at four locations.

Dietzler agreed with the Microsoft representative that the enterprise deal offers benefits that outweigh the additional costs. His IT department is responsible for 300 PCs and his entire company has about 10,000 employees. He wrote:

“With the Select deal we had to report in every single license change. Every time we installed a new PC we actually had to purchase additional licenses for every product from MS we wanted to use on this machine. To keep control of all types of licenses and the number of products is actually quite a bit of work and not very cost effective.
When it comes to the OS—it does not come free with a new PC—the cost for it is just hidden somewhere. We don’t buy the OS anymore with the PC; that saves anywhere between $50 to $80 per machine.
We can choose now whether we want to upgrade from NT to Win2000 during the Enterprise agreement period. With the Select deal or retail we would actually have to buy upgrade licenses. The same goes for any other software like Office 97 and Office 2000.
We have “bought” the freedom to do as we like, when we like, without the administrative hassle.”

An argument against an EA
Other TechRepublic members advised against an EA as a way to shave budget costs. Marie.Denika wrote:

“We have over 6,000 seats and we’re on a Select agreement. I believe what Microsoft is trying to tell you is that when you go with an Enterprise Agreement, you don’t need to worry about keeping track of where your licenses are. With a Select Agreement, you still need to track license compliance.
If you have your compliance procedures down, and your purchasing people don’t mind buying the licenses, then I don’t see a need for you to change.”
Does it make sense for Holger to upgrade to an EA with just 1800 seats? Post a comment to this article and join the discussion.