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Gaming the MPN for Maximum Free Licenses

We ran a feature in Redmond Channel Partner magazine this month about where partners can find caches of Microsoft software and cloud licenses within the Microsoft Partner Network (see "Partners: 6 Ways To Get Free Microsoft Product Licenses").

All these caches of licenses, known as Internal Use Rights (or IURs), are free in the sense that the costs of the relevant programs are quickly covered by the use of one or two licenses when hundreds of licenses are available to each partner organization.

We focused mostly on benefits for smaller partners. For space considerations, we had to cut a section from the print version about how larger partners can game the system -- with Microsoft's blessing. Online, there are no space constraints, so here's the deal.

Microsoft structured its IUR handouts with the idea that a large Microsoft partner practice would have about 100 employees needing licenses, and geared the IURs for gold competency partners to get 100 client IURs. But, of course, there are massive partners with more than 100 employees in their Microsoft practices.

Understandably, Microsoft doesn't want to shoot itself in the foot by providing alliance partner companies, each with thousands of employees, with free licenses that would be an important source of revenue for Redmond.

In an interesting Q&A with partners earlier this year, Julie Bennani, the general manager of the Microsoft Partner Network, explained Microsoft's thinking and how Microsoft intends for large partners to get around the 100-IUR limitation.

"This isn't a licensing program for the entire organization. There are large companies that are a combination of partners of ours, but they are also customers. We are trying to enable the Microsoft practice in your organization," Bennani explained.

"One of the things that we do recommend for those larger organizations is that the way that you qualify and structure yourself within the Network is open to how you want to do it. We actually recommend for multinational companies that they qualify their organization at least at a country level. But it's open to you if you want to qualify each individual office," Bennani said.

"Let's say within the U.S. you have a number of offices. If you want to qualify regionally within the U.S., that's fantastic, and [there's a cap of 500 licenses that] applies to the qualifying organization, to be clear. But that also means you need to meet the requirements in each of those locations, including the fee. That's the principle, and I want to re-emphasize that it's about the practice of Microsoft, which may or may not represent your entire organization," she said.

Whether partners are outfitting a staff of 10 with Action Pack licenses or a staff of 500 with IURs, however, the problem is usually not that partners are taking too much. Bennani argued that the bigger problem from Microsoft's standpoint is that partners are taking too few of their available IURs.


Posted by Scott Bekker on August 24, 2011