Hi there!

I’m excited to be a guest writer for this week’s blog post! I’ve been consulting for Giga-Green Technologies, but my resume also includes time spent as an Education Licensing Specialist for Microsoft. I know Microsoft licensing can be a bit overwhelming, so I want to go over some of the basics today. I spend every day talking with schools about their goals and helping them find the right solutions to real problems in IT. Talking with 50+ schools every month has taught me two things:

  1. You don’t know what a tight budget is until you’ve managed a public school’s finances.
  2. Most schools don’t really know what they already have when it comes to Microsoft licenses.

So why not tackle both problems at the same time? I’d like to talk through some ways that schools can save money without losing any functionality.

Many schools are already licensed for an antivirus/anti-malware solution (System Center Endpoint Protection) through their Campus Agreement. If you’re paying for a third-party antivirus, I highly recommend checking with your Microsoft Account Manager to see if you’re possibly paying for something you already have. The only objection I ever hear to System Center Endpoint Protection is that it requires System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and SCCM takes too much time to set up. Giga-Green Technologies can do the time-consuming part for you. Giga-Green already has the expertise, so the implementation doesn’t actually take much time. So you could pay a service provider a one-time fee to set up SCCM, or you could continue to get locked into long-term contracts with antivirus companies.

Advanced Threat Analytics is another security solution that gets overlooked. This software tracks and learns users’ normal behavior, and alerts admin if/when those users start stepping outside of their baseline. Read out blog post here to find out more about how ATA can help protect your organization here – ATA – Security Deep Dive

Microsoft offers a lot of student deals with their Campus Agreements. Many products, if you buy for your faculty, have a $0 student offer. These include Office, Windows 10 and Intune. When you add Office to your Campus Agreement, everyone at the school (students and faculty) will receive the ability to download up to 15 copies of Office on personal devices. Windows 10 can be offered to each student at no additional cost. This can be used on student-owned devices, or as part of a 1:1 device program.  With Windows on your Campus Agreement, you’ll receive access to a Kivuto storefront where students can download the operating system. This minimizes the amount of time IT Admins need to spend doling out these operating systems. Windows Intune has a similar benefit. If all staff and faculty have Intune (or Enterprise Mobility + Security) licenses, each student will receive an Intune license at no additional cost.imgo

imgoIf your school has a Campus Agreement, there are likely benefits, even beyond the student benefits listed above, that you’re not taking advantage of. The Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) is now included with Windows. If you’re not familiar with MDOP, you can check it out in detail here – MDOP . I do want to touch on the more notable features.  It is an entire suite of products, and we could probably talk about MDOP for an hour, but I’ll keep it brief. It will provide you with the ability to remotely wipe a lost or stolen device. While it can’t replace that expensive piece of equipment, at least you’ll know that the sensitive data is unreachable. MDOP also provides several application virtualization solutions. So, for example, if your lunch program was written by some guy in the 90’s, and only runs on Windows 95, you can use MDOP to virtualize that app and get rid of that crazy-old computer.  Microsoft Imagine (formerly known as DreamSpark) is included with every Campus agreement. This provides unlimited licenses of just about every Microsoft product for the purpose of education. For continuing adult education, E-Learning is an end-user training program available for your staff and faculty. This is a great online, self-paced tool to help prepare your end-users for a big upgrade. The new Hybrid Use Benefit allows you to use Azure at a reduced cost.

As if you weren’t aware already, there are a number of benefits that most people haven’t even heard of. This is why it is a good idea to connect with your Microsoft Account manager a few times every year. If you don’t know your Microsoft Account Manager, Giga-Green can help track that person down for you. Knowing what you actually have at your disposal is only a small portion of the battle. Giga-Green can help you with the rest. Stop by and see us at Brainstorm in Wisconsin next week; we’d love to get to know you!

-Bailey Stickney

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