Family Mosaic is one of the largest housing associations in the South of England, providing people in London, Essex and the Southeast with good quality, affordable homes to rent and buy. The organisation operates over 26,000 homes serving more than 45,000 people.
Like most housing associations, Family Mosaic is heavily invested in Microsoft software for the day-to-day running of its business. A good reason for this is that housing associations used to qualify for discounts of up to 80% on their software through Microsoft’s Select Academic licensing. As a result Family Mosaic runs 27 different lines of Microsoft software, from Exchange to SQL Server to the complete suite of Office products. However, in 2012 Microsoft announced that housing associations would no longer qualify for Select Academic licences so would lose their significant discounts at their next renewal. This meant that Family Mosaic was facing significant increases in its software costs when its three-year agreement expired early 2015.
Fortunately for Family Mosaic, it had time on its side. “With over two years to go until our agreement was due for renewal, we had time to engage with the business to put a strategy together,” commented Nick Crane, Head of IT Operations at Family Mosaic. “We knew that our software bill was going to increase significantly, so we needed to minimise the cost increases wherever possible. This meant aligning our software purchases to our requirements more closely than ever before while employing the most efficient licensing agreements for this software. But with over 2,500 users, 200+ sites and 27 different product lines, we knew this was easier said than done.”
As with most medium-to-large businesses today, Family Mosaic runs a predominantly virtualised IT infrastructure. By the time Microsoft had announced its licensing changes, Family Mosaic had already virtualised 95% of its IT estate which included all 1,500+ desktops running as Citrix thin clients. While virtualisation had resulted in significant operational and capital cost savings for Family Mosaic, it had also resulted in a much more complicated licensing scenario.
“Microsoft SQL Server, Visio and Project are particularly difficult to license under virtualised environments due to the licences being device-centric rather than user-centric,” stated Crane. “We have found that the compliance goalposts for these applications tend to move on a regular basis, particularly when they are deployed on virtualised estates. We needed to make a decision on how best to manage our compliance position with this in mind. We therefore sought out a licensing specialist that could answer all of our questions and put us on the best possible footing ahead of our next licensing renewal.”