Microsoft Server and Cloud Enrollment: Is Microsoft SCE Right for Me?

March 31, 2023
IT Microsoft

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At first glance, Microsoft’s Server and Cloud Enrollment is simply another contractual licensing agreement from Microsoft with a three-year term, just like the Enterprise Agreement and Enterprise Subscription Agreement. Indeed, it is often established as a “companion” agreement with the EA and EAS. But a closer look shows that it is a much more versatile licensing vehicle.

“Is Microsoft SCE right for me?” is a question we’re quite familiar with here at NPI as we help hundreds of large enterprises optimize their Microsoft purchases and renewals. It helps to understand what Microsoft Server and Cloud Enrollment is, how it came to be, and its advantages and disadvantages.

How did Microsoft Server and Cloud Enrollment come to be?

The Server and Cloud Enrollment evolved from three now defunct agreements – the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI), the Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP) and the Enrollment for Microsoft Azure. The ECI was exclusively for Core Infrastructure as the name suggests, and the license offerings were the Core Infrastructure Suite Datacenter, Enterprise and Standard. The Core Infrastructure Suite is a bundle of the Windows Server Operating System and the System Center Suite (Configuration Manager, Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, Service Manager and Opalis, later to be renamed Orchestrator).

The Enrollment for Application Platform had a more varied product offering with SQL, BizTalk Server, Visual Studio and SharePoint Server as establishing products.  The Enrollment for Microsoft Azure was self-explanatory and a “uni-tasker” – its short lifespan was no surprise.

Microsoft launched Microsoft SCE (Server and Cloud Enrollment) to provide its enterprise customers with a streamlined and flexible way to purchase and manage Microsoft’s server and cloud technologies. The primary goal of Microsoft SCE is to simplify the licensing and management of Microsoft’s server and cloud products for large organizations.

What is Microsoft SCE?

Offered as an Enrollment under the Master Enterprise Agreement, Microsoft Server and Cloud Enrollment allows customers to purchase a single enrollment that covers a range of Microsoft products, including Windows Server, System Center, and Azure, among others. Microsoft SCE also offers customers the flexibility to customize their purchasing and deployment options to better meet their specific needs. For example, customers can choose to deploy their software on-premises, in the cloud, or through a hybrid approach.

Microsoft SCE does require a commitment to covering specific products with active Software Assurance and/or subscriptions, along with minimum purchase requirements. Here are a few to consider:

  • SQL: Customers must cover their full SQL footprint in production with Software Assurance or subscription, with a minimum licensing requirement of 50 Cores (Standard or Enterprise) or 5 SQL Server editions with 250 SQL CALs.
  • Core Infrastructure Suite: Customers must license all their Windows Servers (production or dev/test) with the Core Infrastructure Suite license bundle, with a minimum licensing requirement of 400 Cores (Standard or Datacenter).
  • SharePoint: Customers must cover their full SharePoint footprint in production with Software Assurance or subscription, with a minimum licensing requirement of 5 servers.
  • BizTalk: Customers must cover their full BizTalk footprint in production with Software Assurance or subscription, with a minimum licensing requirement of 24 Cores (Enterprise, Standard or Branch).
  • Visual Studio: Customers must license each user of any software licensed through MSDN subscription, with a minimum licensing requirement of 20 subscriptions. The Visual Studio offerings under the SCE are Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN, Visual Studio Test Professional with MSDN, Azure DevOps Server CAL and MSDN Platforms.

Are there any additional commitments for Microsoft Server and Cloud Enrollment?

Aside from the minimum licensing requirements for the Server and Cloud products above, there is no commitment required to license end users or devices like the Enterprise Agreement and Enterprise Subscription Agreement do. In fact, any license with the “Additional Product” designation can be licensed via the Server and Cloud Enrollment at the same price as on the Enterprise Agreement and Enterprise Subscription Agreement.

Is Microsoft SCE right for me?

Microsoft Server and Cloud Enrollment is best suited for large organizations that require a significant amount of Microsoft server and cloud technologies.

Microsoft SCE is especially suitable for organizations that have complex IT environments, with multiple servers and cloud technologies deployed across different locations. It enables customers to manage and optimize their Microsoft software assets, providing a more streamlined and efficient way to purchase and deploy Microsoft products. Additionally, Microsoft SCE is designed to provide enterprise customers with flexibility and customization options that meet their specific business needs.

Are there any downsides to Microsoft Server and Cloud Enrollment?

While Microsoft SCE (Server and Cloud Enrollment) offers many benefits to enterprise customers, there are a few potential drawbacks to consider:

  • Minimum Commitment Requirements: As noted earlier, customers are required to make a minimum commitment to purchase Microsoft products and services for a period of at least three years. This may not be suitable for some enterprises.
  • Complex Licensing Models: Microsoft SCE has complex licensing models that can be difficult to understand and manage. Customers may require additional resources and expertise to ensure that they are purchasing and deploying the correct licenses for their organization.
  • Limited Scope of Products: While Microsoft SCE covers a wide range of Microsoft products and services, it does not include all of Microsoft’s products. Some customers may need to purchase additional products or services outside of Microsoft SCE, which can create additional complexity and administrative overhead.
  • Limited Deployment Options: While Microsoft SCE provides customers with flexibility in how they deploy their software (on-premises, cloud, or hybrid), it does not provide complete freedom in this regard. Customers may still need to purchase additional licenses or services to fully deploy their software in the manner they require.

Overall, while Microsoft SCE can offer significant benefits to enterprise customers, it is important to carefully consider the potential drawbacks and ensure that the program is the right fit for your organization’s needs. It’s also important to perform contract and licensing optimization on your Microsoft SCE agreement to ensure you are purchasing only what you need, identify areas where you may be potentially overspending, and negotiate best-in-class pricing and discounts.

To learn more about NPI’s Microsoft Licensing and Cost Optimization services, contact us today.