Civil engineering firm, Aas-Jakobsen in Oslo, Norway, wanted to provide its staff with the tools to maintain a high level of productivity. The firm standardized on Microsoft® software, and as its staff grew to 90 people, wanted to reduce its software licensing costs. Working with OfficeTeam, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, the firm acquired a Microsoft Open Value Subscription with the single-platform option. Through this subscription Aas-Jakobsen pays a fixed cost per desktop for the operating system, Microsoft Office Professional, and client access licenses for core server products. The firm can add or subtract PCs or upgrade products covered under the subscription without changing the cost per desktop. As result, Aas-Jakobsen reduced desktop administration time by 25 percent, lowered licensing costs by 27 percent, and gained more value and predictable licensing costs.
Aas-Jakobsen, a civil engineering consulting firm based in Oslo, Norway, specializes in structural engineering for building, bridge, road, and railway projects of all sizes. The company was started in 1937 by Andréas Aas-Jakobsen to design shell structures for buildings and industry; it branched out into building bridges during World War II. The company also designs, engineers, and verifies offshore structures for oil and gas exploration, and has contributed to large railway and tunnel projects in Norway. Most of these projects involve multidisciplinary design teams that consist of the most qualified professionals in each field, from within Aas-Jakobsen and from cooperating companies.
The firm uses technology wherever possible to maintain a very high level of productivity and efficiency. Designers and engineers use Autodesk AutoCAD computer-aided design (CAD) tools, Autodesk Revit Architecture software, and Tekla Structures building information modeling software on HP workstations in tandem with desktop productivity and communications applications to create designs, proposals, and specifications for their projects. With one IT manager and 90 employees—80 of whom work with resource-intensive CAD applications—high performance, reliability, and ease of management are important to the firm’s success.
To reinforce its in-house IT resources, Aas-Jakobsen engaged Microsoft® Gold Certified Partner OfficeTeam, also based in Oslo. An OfficeTeam technical manager works closely with the Aas-Jakobsen IT Manager to provide technical support and training; help plan, develop, and deploy new solutions; and troubleshoot existing systems.
||A big advantage of the Open Value Subscription model is that we are paying for use, so it comes out of the operating expense budget rather than the capital expense budget.
IT Manager, Aas-Jakobsen
The company runs its network on the Windows Server® 2003 and Windows Server 2008 operating systems and its desktops on the Windows® XP operating system. At the end of 2007, it was using Microsoft Office Professional 2003 for general office tasks, Lotus Notes for e-mail and scheduling, and AutoCAD 2008, Revit, and Tekla Structures for project design.
“Our business is based on billable hours, so keeping the servers up and running is critical, to make sure that everyone is able to do their work,” says André Torgersen, IT Manager at Aas-Jakobsen.
The firm has projects across Norway, in other European countries, and in Thailand, Korea, and Australia, so workers need remote access from job sites in those areas. To meet often tight deadlines, the firm’s employees in Oslo also frequently work on projects at home in the evening and access network resources through a virtual private network. They were able to use the CAD tools through the network but they often also needed to use Microsoft Office programs, which required another Microsoft Office license for each home user.
As the Aas-Jakobsen firm grew, so did its information stores. All project files and data were stored on the servers, but there was no centralized way to search for information unless they already had a good idea of where it was. The firm wanted to set up an intranet where employees could access important company information and also quickly and easily search for information on a specific project or client.
Aas-Jakobsen refreshed its workstations every three to four years and typically upgraded to the latest version of Microsoft software with each new PC. This effort was not only costly, but meant that the firm typically had a mix of Windows operating systems and versions of Microsoft Office applications. Each PC had a separate set of media and a separate product key, which meant that Torgersen had to track and manage 90 product keys and manually apply updates to 90 workstations one at a time. This situation made more work for the administrator to ensure that all the workers could communicate and share files efficiently. And it made it more difficult to ensure licensing compliance.
“Because we had multiple workstation configurations involving current and older versions of Microsoft software, it created challenges for workers who needed to collaborate on projects and it definitely required a lot more administration,” says Torgersen. “Productivity is the most important issue for us because we bid projects based on the time it takes to complete them. If our staff can’t do their work efficiently it definitely affects our competitiveness and our revenue streams.”
Aas-Jakobsen wanted a more efficient way to acquire Microsoft software, keep it up-to-date, and track its licenses. It also wanted to be better able to predict licensing costs so that it could plan for new technologies as needed.
To take advantage of easier server administration, streamlined configuration, and enhanced performance and security features, Aas-Jakobsen started upgrading its network to Windows Server 2008 Standard in December 2008. “The improved security, support for Windows 7 and Windows Vista®, and easier administration capabilities in Windows Server 2008 help to increase our IT productivity,” says Torgersen. By November 2009 most of the firm’s servers were running on Windows Server 2008, and the company expects to complete the migration by the second calendar quarter of 2010.
After streamlining its network, Aas-Jakobsen turned its attention to simplifying its desktop management. The company wanted to upgrade its desktops to Microsoft Office Professional 2007 but wanted to accomplish that without having to acquire 90 separate packages, activate 90 separate product keys, and track 90 individual licenses. So in January 2008 the firm enrolled in the Microsoft Open Value Subscription Volume Licensing program.
||Because we have Software Assurance as part of our Open Value Subscription, we don’t have to set aside new budget for Windows 7 because it’s already figured into our agreement cost.
IT Manager, Aas-Jakobsen
Under the Open Value Subscription program, Aas-Jakobsen pays a single price per workstation to run Microsoft software on desktop computers across the company. The firm chose the Open Value Subscription program because it allows tracking of all licenses on a single agreement and provides low initial costs. This program also allows the firm to pay annually for only the number of licenses it is using, so total licensing costs can decline in years when its PC count declines.
Aas-Jakobsen chose the single platform option, which includes licenses for Windows desktop operating systems, Microsoft Office suites, and the Core client access license (CAL). The Core CAL includes CALs for Windows Server 2008, Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 Standard, Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server 2007 Standard; and a Configuration Management License for System Center Configuration Manager 2007. With the subscription agreement, Aas-Jakobsen received a 15-percent discount on its first-year payment for the full packaged product licenses they already had for Microsoft desktop products.
The Open Value Subscription program gives the firm the flexibility to upgrade all desktops at once or to upgrade gradually. This flexibility is especially useful because some employees are using templates created with Microsoft Office Professional 2003 that need to be updated before they can use them with Office Professional 2007. “With the Open Value Subscription, those who want to upgrade can, but those who are in the middle of a project and have templates created with a previous version of Microsoft Office can stay on that until they have time to update the templates,” says Torgersen.
Aas-Jakobsen also takes advantage of several Software Assurance benefits that are included with the Open Value Subscription agreement, including:
- New version rights to upgrade to the latest version of Microsoft software at no extra charge within the agreement term.
- Home Use Program to give employees the right to install a copy of Microsoft Office 2007 on their home computer during the term of the agreement.
- Spread payments that allow the firm to spread payments for Microsoft licenses over three years.
To further streamline and simplify management and license tracking, Aas-Jakobsen implemented Microsoft System Center Essentials 2007 in 2008. System Center Essentials 2007 provides a single console solution for managing servers, clients, hardware, software, and IT services. It is built on the foundation technologies for System Center Operations Manager 2007, Windows Server Update Services 3.0, Microsoft SQL Server® 2005 database management software, and Microsoft Update, and provides proactive monitoring, troubleshooting, automated management, and asset tracking to help keep the IT environment secure and up to date. System Center Essentials 2007 also provides integrated reporting for components like inventory, and update status to help the firm track software assets, thus simplifying annual reporting for the Open Value Subscription program.
In October 2009, Aas-Jakobsen started implementing an intranet on Office SharePoint Server 2007 Standard, from which employees can access company information and news, and search for project files and other data. “We are using Office SharePoint Server 2007 Enterprise Search to index all the files on the file server so employees can search across the organization for what they need,” says Torgersen.
The enterprise search solution combines desktop search with fast intranet searching capabilities to access multiple data sources with a single query. Eventually the company will use this capability to search for people with specialized knowledge and expertise to aid in building multidisciplinary project teams. The company also plans to migrate some Lotus Notes applications, such as team collaboration modules and information sheets to Office SharePoint Server to improve collaboration and gain a better overview of information.
The next big project on Torgersen’s list is upgrading to the Windows 7 operating system later in 2010. “We’re looking forward to the easier deployment and administration, and enhanced security features in Windows 7 to help further increase productivity and provide a better user experience for our engineers and designers,” says Torgersen. “And because we have Software Assurance as part of our Open Value Subscription, we don’t have to set aside new budget for Windows 7 because it’s already figured into our agreement cost.”
By licensing its Microsoft software through the Open Value Subscription program, Aas-Jakobsen saves administration time, lowers licensing costs by 27 percent, gains more value for its licensing expenditures, and is better able to predict its Microsoft software licensing costs.
25 Percent Less Desktop Administration Time
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits Aas-Jakobsen has gained with the Open Value Subscription is reduced Microsoft license management and product activation time. “Before, we had to install the software on each of 90 computers and activate each one separately,” says Torgersen. “Now we can centrally roll out the latest versions of Microsoft software to our current PCs or to new PCs and report the total number installed at the end of the year. That probably cuts desktop administration time by at least 25 percent.”
Torgersen also uses System Center Essentials 2007 to get an accurate view of all software and hardware assets, which makes it easier to stay in compliance. “Now I know how many licenses I have and how many more I need, so I can maintain compliance,” says Torgersen. “Before, I was never quite sure if I had too many or too few licenses.”
27 Percent Lower Licensing Costs
Acquiring Microsoft software through the Open Value Subscription reduced the firm’s Microsoft licensing cost per desktop by approximately 27 percent. And because the firm spreads the cost over three years, it reduces its annual software costs further. “A big advantage of the Open Value Subscription model is that we are paying for use, so it comes out of the operating expense budget rather than the capital expense budget,” says Torgersen. “That gives us a little more room to introduce new technologies that can help us further improve productivity.”
More Value for Licensing Expenditures
With Software Assurance benefits such as new version rights and the Home Use Program, Aas-Jakobsen is gaining much more value for its Microsoft software expenditures. “We’re able to add and upgrade to software covered under the subscription, at a time that works best for us, because the cost is already figured into our subscription,” says Torgersen. “For instance, we can start testing Windows 7 with a small group of employees and then deploy it to the whole business without having to wait for new budget allocation.”
In addition, all employees take advantage of the Home Use Program, which helps them be more productive when they work from home and also gives them the opportunity to improve their software skills when they’re away from the office.
Predictable Licensing Costs
Rather than having to pay for new Microsoft software licenses every time it adds a new computer during the year, Aas-Jakobsen pays a fixed cost per desktop each year for the three years of the agreement. If the company needs to add new desktops during the year, it just reports that increase at the end of the year and it is amortized over the remaining period of the agreement. “With the Open Value Subscription, I know how much licenses will cost for Microsoft software, so I can better plan for other technology projects. It’s much more efficient,” says Torgersen.
Microsoft Volume Licensing
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