Unite deploys Windows 7 and tracks Microsoft licensing with Snow Software

Trade union Unite has migrated from XP to Windows 7 and Office 2010, using Snow Software’s asset management platform

Trade union Unite has upgraded from Windows XP to Windows 7 and Microsoft Office 2010, using Snow Software’s software asset management (SAM) platform.

The UK’s largest trade union, formed from the merger of the Transport and General Workers (TGWU) union and Amicus, had three months to switch to commercial licensing after receiving a letter from Microsoft.

With the end of support deadline for Windows XP looming, it also needed to migrate to a newer operating system (OS).

Geoff Davidson, national systems co-ordinator at Unite, said: “Even though we are a trade union, and not for profit, we did not fall into the charity bracket. Microsoft tried to make more money.”

Paul Mease, head of IT at Unite, said: “In September last year, we got noticed and Microsoft gave us three months to update, plus we had the added issue with XP support being removed so we needed a strategy to migrate to Windows 7 or 8.

The challenge for the IT team was that the TGWU and Amicus unions had different approaches to IT management. “Amicus was quite centralised, while TGWU was decentralised. This created IT tracking asset issues for the IT department," said Mease.

With 100 offices from the tip of Scotland to Gibraltar, and more than 2,000 assets, Unite needed an automated tool. Given it was now paying Microsoft’s commercial licence rates rather than the £15 per user it previously paid, Unite also needed to ensure that it only licensed what it used.

This was particularly important for Unite. As a not-for-profit membership organisation, it needed to demonstrate that membership fees were not being wasted on buying Microsoft licences it did not need.

“Doing a headcount and making sure users brought their laptop into the office was not feasible,” said Davidson "We needed something that could be deployed very quickly."

Unite was recommended Snow Software's License Manager to provide a single picture of its entire software estate. A pilot programme commenced and it quickly became apparent that Snow was a powerful SAM platform, which would allow the organisation to expedite its Windows XP migration project. 

Once the roll-out commenced, Snow agents were deployed on all PCs very quickly, and within days Unite was able to obtain accurate inventory data of all software and hardware.

Snow Software’s License Manager tool allowed Unite to count the number of licences it needed to purchase. The tool also highlighted the hardware specification of PCs. 

Some of Unite's machines were 10 years old and needed to be replaced, said Davidson, but some had the correct specification for Windows 7, which meant there was no need to upgrade them.

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