Memo for fiscal year 2018, updated 2017-04-21

[Archived] Question #75: Can you provide me with some more details of the proposed Microsoft license decrease? Why was that suggested, and why was it ultimately not recommended?


Budget Question #48 included $390,000 of possible decreases within IT due to Microsoft License purchases. Can you provide me with some more details of that proposed decrease? Why was that suggested, and why was it ultimately not recommended?


In the FY 2018 budget preparation discussion, ITS was asked to provide reductions totaling 5.0 percent from the current FY 2017 operating budget.  The reduction to the Microsoft Licensing schema was proposed because most costs in ITS support specific applications that would impact the supporting programs if the technology infrastructure was reduced.

This reduction would require a downgrade for all City staff to the most limited, “light usage” license offered by Microsoft. The proposed reduction was not taken because of the City-wide impact that such a budget cut would have on workplace productivity and the resulting negative impact this would have on City programs. Departments with staff who have “light usage” workers already use limited licensing, which costs less. There are approximately 800 “light usage” licenses currently in use by City staff and they generally share a workstation with others.  

Widespread adoption of “light usage” MS licensing in the City will result in the loss of functionality including the loss of collaboration tools like SharePoint and Skype, at a time when the City is moving forward with open office space initiatives that encourage a more collaborative and mobile workforce. Additionally, users will only have access to basic webmail and online-only versions of the Microsoft Office products. These products provide limited functionality such as allowing editing and the creation of bullets, but not the creation of shading or a table of contents. Today’s “knowledge workers” are staff that have the full-feature rich Office Suite software installed on a dedicated machine for his or her business use. 

It is important to note that the current licensing model is based on current program needs and ensures proper cost optimization by having 2,300 staff with enterprise license versus 800 staff with the “light usage” licenses. Taking this reduction would drastically reduce City staff’s capabilities and user experience. Today’s workers require adequate technology tools to perform quality work. Moving to this license structure could impact the City’s ability to attract and retain qualified staff.

Downgrading the City’s licenses would limit the City’s ability to introduce enterprise-wide initiatives that require technology, including security for mobile applications. The lesser license eliminates the current provision of licenses to cover more than one device for a user (desktops, laptops, tablets, and phones), so product usage across multiple devices for a user will be eliminated.  

Wider impacts to this reduction include limiting the City’s ability to effectively collaborate with citizens, vendors or other jurisdictions.  Software incompatibility problems will be introduced if a citizen, vendor or other jurisdiction uses document formatted in ways the City cannot access.

The current agreement entitles the City to keep the software versions current with the product lifecycle. Dated software eventually become unsupported and unsecure which resulting in operational risks that will directly impact overall data protection as well as the enterprise technology environment. 

Taking this reduction would drastically reduce City staff’s capabilities and user experience, as shown in the table below:

Current MS License Structure Reduced MS License Structure
Access to full MS Office Suite Access to online MS Office Suite only
Access to latest version of MS Office Suite Desktop access to MS 2010 only, no software upgrades
Access to full email client Access to web-based email only
Operating System license included (Windows 10) Move to shared workstations (fewer Operating System licenses)
Collaboration tools included (SharePoint, Skype) Teleworkers and staff no longer have access to tools
Availability of discovery tools that support FOIA requests Limited capability to support FOIA requests


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