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Self-Service for licensed feature in Microsoft 365

Can we benefit from self-service to licensed features in Microsoft 365?

It might sound like trouble or a recipe for chaos. But I got the idea due to all these new Premium licenses to uncover AI-features and the cool new innovative features we read about these days.

Most of us don’t need them all, but we don’t always know before we try them. We often guess what the organization need, or we don’t have the budget to give everyone the expensive bundle/suited licenses. So maybe we could be allowed trying features individually with self-service?

This could Teams AI features or perhaps a Windows 365 Cloud PC?

How can it work?

We lose a lot of efficiency, because the majority doesn’t follow roadmaps and ain’t eager to test new toys, as we are. So we need a catalogue to showcase the features, and I appreciate that we have social channels in Sopra Steria, where we share tips and tricks.

Then when colleagues have found a useful feature, they should be able to request a license to try it out. Perhaps one month, then it goes away, unless you actively want to continue using it. So when our colleague don’t want it anymore, we can free up the license for someone else.

This will increase adoption, and it can also showcase features they are already licensed for in general, but our colleagues might not know about the feature unless we promote it through our channels.

How will it technically work?

Technically we would use Entitlement Management in Microsoft Entra. By using the request and approval process for Access Packages, we can add users to groups. Members of these groups will be dynamically assigned the license required by the feature you requested access to. This could work for any IAM or ITSM tool like ServiceNow, which can manage group memberships in Azure AD or synced from AD to AAD.

Wouldn’t everyone request everything? Some might, but using Access Packages we can make them review their accesses from time to time. And also forward the cost related to a users licensed features to the budget they care about. Most customer have stopped draining the IT departments budget and leave everyone else careless to the license cost. It is how we deal with Azure Credit, tag the resources and have the economy department distribute the cost across business units.

Requirements

We all have a certain amount of licenses to spare in our tenant, but even having an unassigned license have a cost. All though it can have a bigger cost when new employees has to wait for a new available license.

This concept would not decrease the need for spare licenses, which you also pay for, on contrary we would probably need additional unassigned licenses to meet temporary requests to try out features.

Additionally you need Azure AD Premium P2 license to use Entitlement Management (catalog, packages, access reviews, etc) which will be crucial to release or unassign unnecessary licenses after a user have tested a feature or service. The P2 license is found in Microsoft 365 E5, EMS E5 and Security E5.

But, we have an adoption issue with certain services

This could work for features, but not necessary for all services in Microsoft 365. Most services requires a strategy before we attack it. Look at Teams, if you open it up freely, the adoption will skyrocket. But it has a cost, you are building quite a mess to clean up at some point down the road.

We also need to control where we store data, and what data we store in Microsoft 365, so certain services should be adopted with more rules in a company-wide adoption.

Honorable mention

Before doing my regular security tip I would like to mention Aaron Dinnage and his excellent service Home | M365 Maps where I frequently use the Feature Matrix when I need to understand which licenses include a certain feature.

#SecurityTip

This weeks security tip is looking for unused features in your already licensed users. There are so many customers out here with M365 Suites or E5 Security, but haven’t adopted even half of the features available to protect your organization. So, before your go out and buy a shiny new tool, look inside and I guarantee you have unused security features in your licenses.


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Ehlo!

I am Roy Apalnes, a Microsoft Cloud Evangelist working av Sopra Steria. Main focus in Microsoft Security and Endpoint Management, with a bigger picture in mind.

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