November 9, 2021

Does Your Security Licensing Match Your Security Posture?

Post by: Lane Shelton

The last thing you want to think about when dealing with IT security is licensing, but it can make a big difference. Properly licensing your ecosystem for security ensures that all the right switches are lit on your dashboard when you need them, and that you don’t encounter surprise licensing costs along the way.

If you don’t know where to start aligning your licensing with your security posture, here are three questions to ask that will get you started:

1. Is Your Security Licensing Aligned Across All Your Users?

Most organizations have different types of users with different compute needs: knowledge workers, task workers, frontline shared-device users, etc. With Microsoft, this typically centers around the applications and experiences a particular user group needs: Office, Teams, Exchange, and SharePoint (for example). Different licensing plans allow for different combinations of applications, but security features are the same. At Core, we like to start by thinking of the “applications” of security within the Microsoft ecosystem like:

  • User Access
  • Device Access
  • Access Governance
  • Information Security: DLP, Encryption, Classification, Retention, eDiscovery
  • Operational Security: Collaboration Security, Threat Protection, Shadow IT, Privileged access controls

You can break security licensing down into logical groups. Start by asking what security experience each user-group needs in each area in the same way you ask about Office needs. All of Microsoft’s licensing bundles have various levels of security available in each area – much like there are various levels of Office available.

2. Does Your Licensing Follow Your Maturity Ladder?

This is where planning ahead really helps. As you think about the security needs of your users in each functional area, think about what they need right now as well as what they’re likely to need in the future.

Let’s say that today you need everyone to be able to apply sensitivity labels to their content, but in the future you plan to roll out a more robust and automated classification engine covering multiple types of content. Take note of that. Microsoft licensing bundles can be tricky; sometimes the need for X means you have to acquire license Y, and license Y just so happens to come with advanced classification features you plan on needing further down the road. Because of X, you will own Y, so maybe you decide to accelerate your classification plans because you’ve acquired the features sooner than you expected.

3. Where Are You Double-Paying, and Why?

Seventy-five percent of Microsoft’s modern workplace products are security-related, and the list of features is constantly growing. In addition, the interconnectedness of all these security features constantly evolves. Most organizations do not have all their security eggs in the Microsoft basket. But many organizations haven’t looked at what’s in that basket in a long time. What you find in there might surprise you. If it doesn’t, just wait six months and look again.

If you’re licensing O365 at any level today, there’s a good chance you’re also paying for an overlapping 3rd party solution. That may be fine because the 3rd party solution is better today. But Microsoft is pouring time and money into hardening their ecosystem security, so it pays to re-evaluate 3rd party solutions vs. Microsoft capabilities on a regular basis.

Licensing Doesn’t Have to Be the Enemy

With a little bit of planning and some help from licensing experts (like Core BTS) who know how all these pieces fit together, licensing doesn’t have to be the enemy. Sometimes it can be a benefit – unlocking new security technologies sooner than expected because you cost-justified the expense because of X and got Y as well, or by eliminating 3rd party expenses because the Microsoft stack has reached or exceeded parity with something else you’re paying for.

As a leading Microsoft Gold Partner, and Azure Expert MSP, we understand the intricacies of licensing and cloud optimization. That’s why we developed COMPASS, a program designed to help you map out your investment strategy so you can get control over your Microsoft portfolio.

Through deliverables like technical user profiles and detailed cost models, COMPASS gives you insights, direction, and buying power. At the conclusion of the program, you will be armed with the licensing bill of materials you need to maximize your Microsoft investment.

To learn more about COMPASS, click the image below or contact us. Our licensing experts can help you make sense of what you have and maximize your investment.

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