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Microsoft Campus Agreement


A centrally-manged, centrally-funded Microsoft Campus Agreement will provide cost savings and efficiencies to the University, as well as help ensure compliance with licensed products. Gartner Group's analysis of our situation leads them to surmise that a Campus Agreement would be beneficial to the University. According to Gartner, institutions in North America are trending towards implementing Microsoft Campus Agreements.

This site provides a summary of the key factors driving the Microsoft Campus Agreement initiative.

For details of the products made available through this initiative, please visit the AICT Product Sales site.

Issues Identified Today

  • There is no way to verify how many Windows client licenses are owned by the University. There is no accurate count of Windows Server Client Access Licenses ("CALs", which permit a user or device to connect to a Windows server). This is also true of Exchange, SharePoint and other server CALs.
  • The current licensing model is completely decentralized. While a legitimate way to buy licenses, it does not provide the efficiency that an institution-wide Campus Agreement would and does not utilize the University's purchasing power to reduce the cost of licenses.
  • Microsoft licensing is very confusing and takes time to learn; busy IT professionals may not understand their licensing obligations. Many work hours have been lost over the past few years while IT professionals tried to understand Microsoft licensing.
  • Of the faculties and departments that already use Campus Agreements, a brief review determined that some are non-compliant.
  • We do not know how much is spent annually on Microsoft Windows and Windows Server CALs, we don't know if we are paying too much or not buying enough licenses. In the event of an audit instigated by Microsoft, the University would find it extremely difficult to prove licensing obligations have been met.
  • Access to software tools and applications varies between departments and research groups.

Influencing Factors

Longer-Life Hardware

As financial constraints and slower hardware improvements cause computer purchases to slow from a typical 3-year cycle to a 4- or 5-year cycle it becomes more likely that at least one operating system upgrade will be required in the lifetime of the hardware. This has a huge impact on the overall savings realized when subscribing to a Campus Agreement as the machines are covered for all new versions of Windows, not just the version available at the time of purchase.


While Symantec's managed anti-virus product is quickly falling from grace, it is still expected that $45,000 will be spent to provide anti-virus software to many Windows users on campus.

The Enterprise CAL bundle will include Microsoft ForeFront anti-virus for all faculty and staff on University or home machines, including virtual machines and laptops. Without the Enterprise CAL bundle, ForeFront can be licensed for all faculty and staff for $38,000 annually.

Machine Count vs. FTE

The number of machines, physical or virtual, assigned to each FTE is above one. This is due to a combination of:

  • Due to the full-time/part-time faculty/staff calculation formula, one FTE equals more than one member of staff
  • Staff assigned a laptop in addition to a desktop computer
  • Departments having laptop pools
  • Departments providing computer labs
  • Staff creating virtual machines

This ratio means the number of Windows licenses required is significantly greater than the FTE count. In this respect, a Campus Agreement provides a significant cost savings over the standard one-license-per-machine.

Our conservative estimate of the machine-to-FTE ratio is 1.5 machines for every FTE. We believe that in reality this is closer to 1.75 or 2 machines for every FTE.

If the ratio changed to less than one machine per FTE in the future, the Campus Agreement may no longer be viable. However, at that point it would be more cost effective to buy-out of the agreement.

SharePoint Adoption

Microsoft SharePoint is one of the fastest-growing services on campus. There are several versions of SharePoint. SharePoint Services (basic version) is included with Windows Server, which requires only a Windows Server CAL to use. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (full version) requires a CAL based on the features enabled: either a Standard license, included with the CoreCAL bundle, or an Enterprise license, included with the eCAL bundle.


Some systems at the University are old enough to no longer be supported by the vendor and do not always receive security updates. Certainly it is fair to say an operating system created a decade ago was not designed with today's security landscape in mind.

Software Assurance, built into the Campus Agreement, allows ongoing upgrade rights to the latest version of the Windows operating system. This ensures the latest security features and patches can be installed and active.

Other Institutions

There is a trend among institutions to use a Campus Agreement for faculty and staff (the same trend does not apply to students). In a survey of fellow institutions via a mailing list for licensing specialists, all 27 institutions that responded currently have a Microsoft Campus Agreement in place. The difference is in how they are funded and what products are included. In summary:

  • All 27 respondents have a Microsoft Campus Agreement.
  • 15 pay from central funds with no cost to departments, 10 take the money from departments according to their FTE count, and two use a blended approach.
  • 7 respondents included information about what products are included in their agreement. They all included Windows and Office, 4 included CoreCALs, 1 used eCALs.
  • About half of the respondents included information about student licensing. Of those, 8 indicate they have some sort of agreement for students but all of them charge back the cost to the students in some way.
It should be acknowledged that a survey of licensing specialists may be skewed in favor of licensing agreements so this may not be representative of institutions generally. However, it is representative of institutions that have staff dedicated to understanding licensing methods and identifying the most appropriate way to license products.

Cost of Audits

Following an AICT VMware audit in 2009, it has been identified that audits can be very resource intensive due to the staff involvement required and the disruption of work caused by inventorying devices. A Microsoft Campus Agreement makes an audit for included software easy and also provides Client Access Licenses for management software that allows for automatic software inventorying.

Campus Initiatives Impacted

Summary of Initiatives


The AICT Labs group are pursuing a licensing agreement that will cover all lab computers at the institution for virtualization technologies, including Citrix. A prerequisite of a Citrix agreement is a Microsoft Campus Agreement.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Licensing for basic Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) components will be needed for any campus-wide or department-specific VDI initiatives that include Windows virtual desktops or applications.

A central Campus Agreement will include all necessary licenses for devices that have a Windows OEM, simplifying licensing for these projects. Note that devices that are not purchased with a Windows OEM, such as SunRays, must be licensed separately using a VDA license.

Desktop Security

A standard University of Alberta Windows 7 disc image can be created for departments that do not wish to create their own. This standard setup can be configured with security best practices in mind, including core requirements of NAC technologies being considered for campus deployment such as anti-virus, automatic updates and firewall settings.

Central Active Directory

When a central Active Directory is introduced to campus, all faculty and staff will be fully licensed for the environment.

Various management and monitoring tools will be required. A central Campus Agreement that includes the eCAL suite will include System Center management, monitoring and reporting tools for all computers that are part of the Active Directory environment.

Green Computing

A standard Windows image will be created with power saving features enabled by default, reducing the power consumption for thousands of computers.

Data Encryption

Only Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 7 Ultimate provide Bitlocker drive encryption. These tools will be available to departments in order to adhere to industry best practices and meet new requirements for mobile device encryption at the University.

Benefits of a Campus Agreement

  • A predictable annual cost based on the number of staff employed.
  • Everyone on campus is compliant for the products purchased on the campus agreement.
  • All desktops, laptops and virtual machines will be covered (assuming they have Windows OEM or other "upgradable" operating systems preinstalled at purchase, such as Windows 7 Home Basic.)
  • All computer labs are included for products in the Campus Agreement.
  • An RFP is out now for the Campus Virtualization Initiative. The pricing difference for the virtualization initiative licenses is significantly better (~80%) when there is a Microsoft Campus Agreement in place.
  • Online training for all products licensed by the agreement.
  • Work At Home licenses for products included in the agreement (e.g. Windows) for a small media fee (e.g. Windows 7 Ultimate for $10 for home use).
  • The latest version of Windows OS can be legally installed on any equipment that has a Windows OEM license. (Like the Select Agreement.)
  • AntiVirus for servers and PCs at work and at home (if ForeFront is included).
  • CALs for management servers such as System Centre Essentials. (If eCALs are included.)
  • CALs for Microsoft Office SharePoint Server. (If eCALs are included.)
  • Less tracking for LAN Admins
  • Less administrative processing of indents / payments.