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Optimizing License Management for Overlapping License Types


As organizations mature in the Microsoft Cloud, optimization of workloads and controlling license subscriptions become an obvious focus.  We are starting to see it in Azure – shutting down machines when not in use, Azure Scale Sets, etc.  And it’s here now for Office 365:  Office 365 lists for $96/year for E1; $240/year for the most popular E3 plan; and $420 for the E5 premium plan.

When I talk with customers about license optimization with CoreView, we often see quick returns in the following 3 challenge areas:

  1. License Overlap – Legacy licenses that were purchased and applied, but never optimized. For example, E4 licenses were retired in 2016, and customers had to choose between a number of options.  Do those choices still apply?
  2. License Utilization – You have a pool of inactive licenses, because you can’t onboard a user without a license (unlike on-premises). You paid for E3 for everyone, because you didn’t want to have to manage different license SKUs individually across the organization.  But Joe just uses email on his phone – he doesn’t use Skype, OneDrive, or SharePoint.
  3. License Assignment Accuracy – An E3 license applied to a shared mailbox, for example.

License Overlap

Beyond the primary Office 365 SKUs, there were a number of additional SKUs that could be added to a “plan”, like E1 and E3.  For example, government plan G3 didn’t come with Yammer, but you could get it as an add-on license SKU.  Also, E4 was retired in 2016 and replaced with various SKUs.  The primary difference between E3 and E4 was on-premises unified messaging integration with phone system platforms; for example, Cisco Unity integration with O365 mailboxes for voicemail.  Customers were given multiple options:  E5, E3, E3 + Phone (have you heard of this one?!) and E3 + SFB.  What to do?!?

First, get a copy of your MS licensing bill from your LAR (Large Account Reseller).  Find out for which SKUs are you being billed.  Determine which SKUs on your bill have overlapping features.  Then, run a CoreView Report by user and filter for those SKUs.  The results from a real customer are amazing:

Office 365 License Utilization

Office 365 License Overlap

This user had 3 SKUs applied – E3, Office 365 ProPlus (which is included in E3), and E4.  Office Pro Plus is $108/year; E4 is $228, for a total of $336/year overage in costs.  Can you imagine 100 users in a 10,000-seat organization with this problem?  There were over 1,300 for this customer I’m mentioning.  That’s >$400,000 in license overlap costs at one organization.

After your boss’ boss celebrates your findings, we will follow up with additional savings from CoreView’s License Utilization and License Assignment Accuracy report findings in a later post.

Summary of License Management Capabilities

The Microsoft admin center portal was never designed for proactive license management purposes.  It would take an enormous development effort to create an effective license management system for Office 365 through the use of Powershell scripts and custom spreadsheets, not to mention the countless hours to perform the processing cycles each month.  To help customers easily maintain proactive control over their Office 365 licenses, the CoreView solution has all the built-in functions necessary.

Today CoreView is the only unified management solution for Office 365 that can help organizations perform proactive license management.  And a bonus for multi-national organizations, the CoreView interface is easily configurable in multiple languages to accommodate different admin teams from around the world.

If you are interested in finding out more about our CoreView solution and how it can help you manage the licenses for your Office 365 deployment, please visit our overview page online, or sign-up for a demo at

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