4-page Case Study
Posted: 10/10/2013
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Hans Merensky Hans Merensky Holdings Solves Software Licensing Challenges with Microsoft

Customer Profile

Established over six decades ago by geologist and renowned philanthropist, Dr. Hans Merensky, Hans Merensky Holdings is one of South Africa’s most prominent bio-renewable resource groups.

Privately held, yet controlled by several notable shareholders such Hans Merensky Foundation, the South African state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and Vuka Forestry Holdings (Pty) Limited, Hans Merensky Holdings is one of the globe’s most significant providers of forestry, wood processing and fresh sub-tropical fruit.

Located in Parktown, Johannesburg, and yet incorporating numerous satellite offices and plantations, Hans Merensky Holding’s IT requirements are as unique as they are complex.

Business Situation
As a longstanding client of Microsoft Partner and recognised IT specialist, PWC Exordia, Hans Merensky Holdings has a rich history of Microsoft software and hardware usage.

In early 2012, Hans Merensky Holdings expressed an interest in migrating all employees to a common software platform better suited to meeting individual requirements.

Over time, Hans Merensky Holdings had identified the high cost associated with volume software licensing as an unnecessary expense. Although all staff required access to critical platforms such as Microsoft Outlook, the fluid nature of corporate projects often meant that employees needed only periodic access to less commonly used software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Excel.

“We sought to move every user to a common operating platform to ensure the same experience across the board. Furthermore, volume licensing had proved to be a costly solution to our software needs due to the changing requirements of our employees.

Although we had purchased a full license, some employees would only use a particular platform once or twice a year” comments Mike Slade, Hans Merensky Holdings IT Manager.

The organisation had also begun to experience file referral errors and document incompatibility within its newly implemented Microsoft SharePoint portal. Inconsistent Operating System platforms and software versions were identified as the root cause.

“Although our recently implemented SharePoint portal had proven an extremely worthwhile investment in terms of facilitating internal collaboration and document management, we had begun to intermittently experience incompatibility errors. By moving all staff onto a common platform, we hoped to resolve the issue” adds Slade.


In partnership with PWC Exordia, Hans Merensky Holdings elected to upgrade all users to Microsoft Windows 7.

This solution allowed the organisation to marry its hosted Microsoft SharePoint collaboration and Microsoft Exchange communication architecture with a contemporary Operating System which offered comprehensive support – thereby solving document compatibility difficulties staff had been experiencing.

“In upgrading all Hans Merensky Holdings users to a Microsoft Windows 7 platform, we ensured that all employees – regardless of their job description or location, would enjoy the same experience” says Andre Oosthuisen, Director at PWC Exordia.

“Adopting Microsoft Windows 7 throughout the organisation was an elegant solution to the challenge of securing a common employee experience while bringing our software up to speed with our hosted Microsoft environment” comments Slade.

Following PWC Exordia’s strategic guidance, Hans Merensky Holdings also elected to implement Microsoft’s Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) as a remedy to its shifting software requirements.

Microsoft SPLA affords organisations the ability to license software according to immediate needs via a hosted environment. Hans Merensky Holding’s existing Microsoft SharePoint and Exchange infrastructure ensured a smooth introduction to this model. PWC Exordia’s experience in managing Microsoft SPLA clients also facilitated a hassle free migration.

“The application of Microsoft SPLA to the Hans Merensky Holdings IT environment solved several challenges. Significantly, it allows the organisation to allocate software resources according to individual need – if a project manager requires the use of Microsoft Excel for three months, we can provision this and only pay for the time used” comments Slade.

“Furthermore, SPLA has reduced our software licensing costs by a considerable margin. Instead of acquiring licenses that we may need in the future, we are able to purchase short term licenses according to current requirements” .


By upgrading all users to Microsoft Windows 7 and electing to transfer its licensing structure to Microsoft SPLA – hosted by PWC Exordia, Hans Merensky Holdings has enjoyed several benefits.

Document Compatibility

Hans Meresnky Holding’s application of Microsoft Windows 7 throughout the organisation has ensured that collaboration and document compatibly challenges within Microsoft SharePoint are no longer an issue.

“By giving each user the same experience, we have eliminated the compatibility and file referral issues that our users had been experiencing within Microsoft SharePoint. Furthermore, access to a more current Operating System has simplified day to day IT management activities” comments Slade.

Software According to Current Need

In moving to a fully hosted, Software as a Serve platform such as Microsoft SPLA, Hans Merensky Holdings has successfully eradicated licensing management inefficiencies while significantly reducing cost.

“Microsoft SPLA has afforded Hans Merensky Holdings the ability to provision software according to demand. The nature of this business is not conducive to bulk licensing. SPLA has made it far easier to track employee software usage and provide necessary resources when they are required. In our experience, Hans Merensky Holdings is certainly one of the first South African organisations to adopt a 100% hosted software model – and the results speak for themselves” adds Oosthuisen.

Asset Management

The adoption of Microsoft Windows 7 and Microsoft SPLA throughout the Hans Merensky Holdings has also allowed the company to better monitor employee usage and manage assets.

“Microsoft SPLA has enabled PWC Exordia to consistently monitor employee software usage. We now have a far better idea of employee requirements and are also able to detect any anomalies as they occur” adds Slade.

“With such a user base of 500 spread across 19 different locations, managing software licenses has always been a considerable challenge. SPLA has made the monitoring process far more simple and effective”.