You’ve Just Received an Effective License Position Document from Microsoft. Now What?

By Dan Brewster

Director of Client Services – Microsoft, NPI

August 31, 2017

What happens when Microsoft “finishes” an audit and gives you an ELP? First, let’s be clear that this  “conclusion” of an audit is just the beginning. Whether it’s a “soft” audit like a SAM engagement or a formal one, Microsoft will present you with an Effective License Position (ELP) report and ask that you confirm that it accurately represents your environment. You cannot (and should not) confirm these findings until you thoroughly analyze them.

Most companies immediately zero in on the shortfall areas identified in the ELP report, and this is certainly where Microsoft applies its focus. Industry estimates are that the vendor generated over a billion dollars globally last year from license audits – most of which clients volunteered to complete (SAM assessments are not mandatory!).  Often, customers suspect they have a compliance problem and believe that working with Microsoft to identify shortfalls will help them to implement procedures that will reduce their exposure. The reality, however, is that Microsoft will require payment for the shortfall while remaining pretty silent on ways that you can minimize any exposure.

So, what steps can you take to validate the findings? There are three key areas you should consider before agreeing with the findings represented on the ELP Report:

  1. Have the findings been optimized to best match your use of the products? There are a variety of ways to license many Microsoft products – per user, per device, per server, per core, and even some older licenses that you may have licensed on a per processor basis. It’s important to ensure that the most cost effective basis available to you was used when calculating your license reconciliation.
  2. Are there mathematical errors on the Effective License Position Report? The Effective License Position report is, at heart, a simple reconciliation of products by version. Yet it can be complex, confusing and riddled with mathematical errors when applying license downgrades. The ELP for large customers comprises thousands of line items.
  3. Have you validated the license entitlements on the Microsoft License Statement? The MLS is a complex document and care should be taken to ensure that you are receiving credit for all of your purchases. If you’re curious about the Microsoft License Statement, check out this blog post and accompanying presentation.

Remember – our advice to enterprises is to never undergo a license audit without bringing in experts to help you optimize the outcome. Microsoft’s findings are rarely – if ever – developed with the objective of interpreting everything in the customer’s favor!