In Snow License Manager 8.1.0, we added the Microsoft Office 365 user activity view to the Snow License Manager interface. Given the feedback we have received, how to use the information provided by this view to optimize and harvest Office 365 subscriptions is unclear. This post is a detailed guide aimed to show you how to do this with Snow License Manager. I suggest you read the primer on Understanding the Office 365 user activity view, before you dig into the product.
Cloud, Microsoft Office 365
The user activity view is available on Microsoft Office 365 page under the Cloud tab (Figure 1), and on detailed subscription plan pages underneath.
Figure 1: Microsoft Office 365 user activity view
At the top of the panel there are three tabs – Active users, Assigned subscriptions, and Total cost for the current month. The graph shows historical data relative to the selected tab.
- Active users – users are categorized as active if they are assigned with an Office 365 subscription and have used it within the previous 30 days. The total number of active users is shown, as is the percentage of active users of all users that have been assigned with a license. When this tab is selected, the graph shows the total number of active users on the last day of the month. Or to be more specific, totals from the import closest to the end of the month.
- Assigned subscriptions – shows the number of Office 365 subscriptions that are assigned to users and the percentage of subscriptions assigned out of those purchased – for all plans. This percentage provides an indication of licensing coverage versus current need. When this tab is selected, the graph shows the trend of available to assigned subscriptions over time – providing an overview of coverage as need fluctuates.
- The total cost for the current month – shows the cost per subscription × total number of subscriptions available (for all plans), and the accumulated cost from the start of the current cost period (a configuration parameter that can be set directly in the SLM user interface). The graph shows the trend of total cost over time.
On the Microsoft Office 365 page, the user activity view shows totals for all available subscription plans, with more detailed information, depending on the currently selected tab. The Active user tab shows a breakdown of the available plans by subscription, displaying the number of users assigned to the subscription with:
- No activity – users who have never opened any of the applications included in the plan
- No recent activity – users who haven’t opened an application included in the plan within the previous 30 days
- No recent application activity – users who haven’t opened the installed version of an application within the previous 30 days
- Active users – users who have opened an application included in the plan within the 30 days
- All users – total number of users assigned to the subscription plan
The Assigned subscriptions tab shows a breakdown of the available plans by subscription, displaying:
- Account – domain/organization the subscription is assigned to
- Available – the number of available subscriptions for the domain
- Assigned – the number of assigned subscriptions for the domain
- Total – Available + Assigned
- Expiring – the number of subscriptions about to expire (typically 30 days)
The Total cost for the current month tab shows a breakdown of the available subscription plan, displaying:
- Account – domain/organization the subscription is assigned to
- Monthly cost per user
- Total cost of available subscription licenses
- Total cost of assigned subscriptions licenses
- Total cost (available + assigned) for the current month
- Total cost accumulated across subscriptions
How activity is calculated
For the moment, the information available in SLM depends on the data provided by the Office 365 portal. Currently, the usage data available is:
- The last time a user opened Exchange
- The last time a user opened Skype for Business
- The last time a user opened Office 365 Pro Plus on a desktop or laptop (this requires user linking – see: What is user linking for Office-365 and how to manually link users in SLM)
- The last time a user opened Project Pro for Office 365 (this requires user linking – see: What is user linking for Office-365 and how to manually link users in SLM)
- The last time a user opened Visio Pro for Office 365 (this requires user linking – see: What is user linking for Office-365 and how to manually link users in SLM)
With this information, active usage can be provided for users on the following types of plans:
- Any plan that includes Exchange or Skype for Business, for example:
- E1, E3, E4, E5 – including the Government and education equivalent editions
- F series plans (formerly K1)
- Any other plan that includes Exchange or Skype for Business
- Any plan that includes the Office 365 ProPlus Suite, for example:
- E3, E4, and E5 – including the Government and education equivalent editions
- Office 365 Pro Plus plan
- Microsoft Visio/Project Pro for Office 365 plans that include the desktop application
In other words, active users, and more significantly non-active users can be identified for the most popular subscription plans. However, some important pieces of the puzzle are missing.
For example, the E5 plan includes PowerBI Pro and Skype for Business PSTN calling features – applications that are not included in the cheaper E3 plan. For the moment, the Office 365 connector does not track these two applications, and so the information provided by SLM does not yet support E5 to E3 optimizations.
Other applications that are not currently tracked include:
- Microsoft Flow and Power Apps
- Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS)
- Microsoft Dynamics 365
- Microsoft Teams
- Microsoft Office Online suite
Optimizing inactive subscriptions
Figure 2: Users showing no activity and no recent activity
Figure 2 shows details for the Microsoft Office 365 E3 plan. The data indicates that there are 3 users to which an E3 subscription has been assigned, who have never opened Exchange, Skype for Business, or any of the applications in the ProPlus Suite. Ideally, this number should be low. But whatever the actual figure, it provides an ideal starting point for subscription harvesting. In the example shown in Figure 2, 8 users have not opened any of the tracked applications in the past 30 days (at least) – providing yet another potential source for subscription harvesting.
Figure 3: Users showing no activity – number of days since account created
To dig deeper into potential harvesting opportunities, select the plan and then select No activity. As the screenshot in Figure 3 shows, more information about inactive users is available here, including the date when the user was assigned an Office 365 subscription and the number of days of inactivity since.
Figure 4: Users showing no recent activity – date of last activity, number of days since, and service last used
Figure 4 shows the number of users who have used their Office-365 account, but who have not been active for more than 30 days – again providing a starting point for additional investigation and potential subscription harvesting opportunities.
Figure 5: Plans without usage tracked
Some Microsoft subscription plans, such as Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security E3/E5, are shown in the user activity panel. However, as usage for the applications included in these plans are, as yet, cannot yet be tracked by SLM, the Last activity column will not be present.
If you are unsure if a plan includes any of components SLM tracks activity for, check Microsoft’s website, or check Active users for presence of the Last activity column.
Figure 6: Plans with usage tracked showing when tracked applications were last opened by the user
Are users assigned to the correct subscription level?
Figure 7: Usage of installed applications, showing number of days since last opened by the user
To determine if people are using their installed applications, check the No recent application activity panel, as shown in Figure 7. As a rule of thumb, users with more than 30 days of no activity are good candidates for further investigation.
To measure installed application usage, Office 365 user accounts need to be linked to the corresponding SLM user. For more information on user linking see: What is user linking for Office-365 and how to manually link users in SLM.
Figure 8: Active users, showing when the user last opened each tracked application
Users for which SLM has extracted usage information from the data supplied by the Microsoft Office portal who have used at least one of the tracked components within the previous 30 days are designated as active users – see Figure 8.
User activity and cost per subscription plan report
The information available in the user activity view is also available in a customizable report: Microsoft Office 365 user activity and cost per subscription plan. This report contains information about user activity and cost per subscription plan. The report can be configured to highlight specific plans, and activities. For example, you can create a report that highlights users that can be moved from the E3 to E1 plan – the same information as is displayed in the No recent application activity category.
As is often the case with new features, they require further development. For example, we will expand the applications tracked so that subscription harvesting can encompass additional Microsoft plans.
A key challenge is the mix of information displayed in the same panel. For example, No activity and No recent activity provide starting points for harvesting potential, whereas No recent application activity provides potential optimizations.
If you have any feedback about this post or the user activity functionality, please comment below, or ask a question on the SnowGlobe.
Tom Sautelle – Product Owner Snow License Manager