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When (If Ever) Is SA Right?

Call for Comments: Redmond wants to know what value you place on Software Assurance.

In 2001, Microsoft announced Licensing 5.0, which included Software Assurance, a three-year upgrade program that the ongoing customer howls indicates is controversial to this day.

Many felt pressured to move to SA, despite Redmond remonstrations to the contrary. In fact, a substantial number of customers report that Microsoft threatened overtly or implied that failure to sign up for SA could result in an audit, one of IT’s deepest fears.

Here’s how SA works: Every year customers pay 25 percent of the full retail cost of the software for servers, and 29 percent for desktops. So you buy the software, then pay a hefty sum every year for the right to upgrade. Research firm Forrester says the average maintenance fee is 21 percent, quite a bit less than Microsoft.

But what if there is no compelling upgrade—or, even more likely—no compelling reason to upgrade? Then you’ve paid all that money just for the extras, not for the upgrade.

But whether you like it or not, Software Assurance is here to say and you need to decide whether to sign up. A lot has been written about SA—Redmond Magazine is here to cut through the fluff and help you decide when or if SA is right.

What do you think? Please contact Redmond Editor in Chief Doug Barney at doug.barney@redmondmag.com with thoughts on when SA does, and does not make sense; your comments may appear in an upcoming issue of Redmond.

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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