I am a strong advocate of only paying for what you need when it comes to software licensing (and maintenance). However; when considering whether to drop Software Assurance (SA) from your Microsoft licensing (or not buy it in the first place) it is important to make sure you have fully considered the implications.
This is also the benefit that allows a hosting company to leverage your licenses should you choose to outsource your workload.
Note, Microsoft Windows Server and Microsoft System Center Server do not come with License Mobility.
2. Office Roaming Use Rights – particularly important for organizations licensing Microsoft Office per device (any licensing other than Microsoft Office 365 ProPlus) that also allow users to access Microsoft Office applications remotely (via Citrix or other).
Office Roaming Use Rights allows the primary user of a device licensed for Microsoft Office with active Software Assurance to remotely (off company site) access Microsoft Office from a device not licensed for Microsoft Office. Without this right companies need to account for every device accessing Microsoft Office remotely and ensure that it has a company provided license.
Note, while this is called “Office” Roaming Use Rights, the same applies to Microsoft Visio or Microsoft Project with active Software Assurance.
3. Office Multi-Language Pack – for all of the geographically diverse organizations this can be key.
This allows a company to deploy a single image of Microsoft Office with support for 40 user interface languages.
4. Windows Roaming Use Rights – this allows the primary user of a device licensed with Microsoft Windows with Software Assurance to access a company desktop remotely through VDI for a non-company device such as a home computer.
5. Windows Software Assurance Per-User Add-On – allows organizations with active Software Assurance on their Microsoft Windows OS (or Virtual Desktop Access – VDA subscription) licenses to add-on per user licensing rights.
While there are many potential benefits to this one of the key benefits in my perspective is in organizations with full platform Microsoft Enterprise agreements where the total number of devices exceed the total number of users. The cost of this add-on per user could be less than the cost of having to license all of the devices for the OS.
This also has the benefit for those organizations under a full platform Microsoft Enterprise agreement with per user licensing through Microsoft Office 365 and user CAL’s to be able to transition the OS also to per user licensing avoiding the requirement of calculating both “Qualified Users” and “Qualified Devices” streamlining the license compliance and True-Up processes.
While Software Assurance benefits change and some are based on product (such as the Microsoft SQL Enterprise server virtualization rights) the above are some of the current key benefits in my opinion but I would recommend fully reviewing all current Software Assurance benefits prior to making a determination as to whether or not to buy (or allow to lapse) Software Assurance.