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New M365 licensing strategy avoids costs of more than €700K

A train is parked on a train track.

SoftwareOne’s Microsoft Advisory Services helped Lineas to optimize its M365 licensing that offers more functionality while reducing costs

Lineas, a private rail freight operator, wanted to implement Microsoft 365 to streamline its operations and logistics. However, the company faced some challenges, such as a lack of knowledge of Microsoft’s solutions and a difficult transition to remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After assessing the challenges, Lineas contacted SoftwareOne to seek its expertise in Microsoft services and to help the company analyze its current Microsoft software assets in use. SoftwareOne’s Microsoft Advisory Services (MAS) supported the company with actionable advice to guide the direction of its Microsoft 365 deployment as well as its ongoing digital transformation initiative. Once SoftwareOne was able to get to know more about Lineas and its top challenges, the Microsoft Advisory Services team worked alongside the Lineas team to help them select their optimal licensing strategy.

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SoftwareOne Microsoft Advisory Services
The trust in our deals with Microsoft was enhanced by SoftwareOne’s efforts. The CIO and I have a good feeling about our deals for the next 3 years. That's a trust level that is very important to me. I prefer not to work with vendors. Instead, I prefer to work with partners and I consider SoftwareOne to be a partner.

Maurice Peterse
Head of IT Infrastructure & Service Management, Lineas

About the client

Lineas is the largest private rail freight operator in Europe, offering first-rate rail products and complete end-to-end transport solutions for its customers. While the company is headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, it also has offices based in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, and Spain, allowing it to coordinate operations throughout Europe. By helping its customers shift the transport of their goods away from the road and over to rail, Lineas offers an opportunity for businesses to create an efficient supply chain that is not reliant on automobiles, decreasing concerns around mobility and improving environmental sustainability.

The challenge

Prior to 2011, Lineas was a national railway company owned by the Belgian government. However, the company restructured and became privatized – and from that moment, the race was on to create a dynamic, customer-oriented rail service that stretched throughout Europe.

Initially, digitizing and standardizing were largely put on hold due to the initial challenges of standing independently from the state. Today, the company has set IT as a top priority and envisions becoming a leading digital company in the European Union. Almost immediately, Lineas found challenges within the implementation of new technologies and projects to keep up with its new business demands.

Due to its previous association with the Belgian government, Lineas and Microsoft had negotiated a special enterprise agreement (EA) for state-owned businesses, but this contract was set to expire at the end of April 2020. However, Lineas was by that point already ninety percent privately owned by May 2020 – and the expiring EA could not be extended under any circumstances. Lineas wanted to keep the benefits of its existing enterprise agreement without needing to sign a new, potentially more costly contract. Primarily, it needed more functionality associated with cloud-based licenses, such as the ability to facilitate remote work, but Microsoft-specific knowledge was missing to successfully negotiate the most cost-effective licenses for different user types. The company also had concerns about its current level of compliance as well as how to maintain compliance within a new licensing contract moving forward.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, these challenges were compounded by the transition from working in a traditional office environment to working remotely. With its existing software environment, the company found it difficult to properly connect its team members and increase user productivity and efficiency from their home offices. As such, the company wanted to improve connectivity between user groups in terms of communication and collaboration within one central platform.

A train on a train track.

The solution

SoftwareOne was contacted by Lineas to help it overcome these challenges. SoftwareOne realized there was no uniform idea on what a new EA should encompass. It also appeared it did not have an agreed strategy on how to use and optimize its Microsoft licenses.

SoftwareOne recommended that Lineas consults the Microsoft Advisory Services (MAS), which could help the company gets its Microsoft 365 deployment working as effectively and efficiently as possible.

SoftwareOne provided the opportunity to have much better agreements with Microsoft about the future. Eventually, SoftwareOne took us through the whole process, and we are now at the point where we have the licenses completely sorted out for the next 3 years.

– Maurice Peterse, Head of IT Infrastructure & Service Management, Lineas

SoftwareOne resolved its compliance concerns by scanning all Microsoft software of 1,900 users and 400 servers with different scan tools and reconciled all of its Microsoft licenses. In doing so, the company minimized compliance risks and protected against costly audits through thorough compliance checks.

Up until last year, Lineas had to determine its licenses in-house, which worked for a while, but it was very labor-intensive and the company wasn’t sure it was getting the best deals. First, SoftwareOne provided analysis to optimize and consolidate licenses so that the company can determine its licenses with ease. Then, SoftwareOne developed three future-facing business scenarios to help Lineas select the optimal licensing strategy with a new EA. As such, the company was able to acquire licenses that offered more functionality while reducing costs. Ultimately, the heavy work of dealing with licenses is in the past and Lineas is now able to optimize its spend. In doing so, the company can focus more time and resources on new technology initiatives and its core business needs for the future.

Additionally, Lineas faced a big challenge in terms of satisfying new business requirements surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work. The company plans to use the outcome of the MAS to have one central platform that will be able to contain their O365 workloads with access to Exchange Online, Teams, and OneDrive. With unified communication and collaboration solutions, Lineas is confident that it will connect staff and increase productivity and efficiency within its teams across Europe.

The result

  • Manageability: With the help of SoftwareOne’s Microsoft Advisory Services, labor-intensive work was taken off of the customer’s plate. Now, Lineas has more time to focus on other initiatives and core tasks.
  • Expense reduction: Due to SoftwareOne’s long-standing relationship with Microsoft, the company was able to negotiate better deals totalling to a value cost avoidance of 708,848 EUR over 3 years.
  • Flexibility: After the company moved from on-premises to cloud-based licenses, its team had more flexibility in terms of working anywhere and at any time.
  • User profiling: All 2,100-plus users received the functionalities needed without overspending the company’s budget.
  • Discounts: SoftwareOne provided opportunities for Lineas to receive additional discounts through benchmarking and negotiations with Microsoft.
  • Efficiency: The company plans to implement O365 with Teams, Exchange Online, and OneDrive which will provide seamless, reliable, and efficient communication and collaboration with members.
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