On the list of items that IT pros would rather never have to think about, software licensing takes a close second behind backups. Holding frequent license compliance checks and ensuring that licensing is purchased as it's needed is frequently a challenging, time-consuming process. All too often, these tasks are neglected, leaving many enterprises open to substantial legal liability.
As I've noted before, the licensing landscape is no better when you move into the cloud. In fact, it grows substantially more confusing, both for users and for the cloud providers seeking their business.
Most enterprises purchase their Microsoft software through one of Microsoft's volume licensing mechanisms, such as the Open Business, Open Value, Select, and Enterprise agreements. These licensing plans all differ in various respects -- primarily in terms of what kind of discount is granted (usually based on volume), how payment for the software is spread out, and whether the software is licensed as a subscription or as a permanent license. Regardless of which licensing channel you buy through, you're essentially buying the same usage rights, and you're always responsible for complying with the agreement's terms.