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Unite the Union (Unite) is the UK’s largest trade union and works to support trade union members across all industry sectors.


As a not-for-profit organization, Unite was eligible to purchase Microsoft licenses at reduced rates until April 2013. The withdrawal of this entitlement coincided with the need to migrate from XP to Windows 7 and upgrade software installed on all desktops and laptops. Unite needed a SAM solution to help it project manage the migration efficiently and purchase the correct number of new software licenses before commercial pricing came into effect.


Implementing Snow License Manager gave Unite accurate data to quickly understand its actual software usage across all regional offices in the UK to avoid over-spending and allow IT to start centrally managing its purchasing and software asset management.


Snow provided an accurate, single view of Unite’s current usage across the organization in the shortest possible timeframe, which helped to save over £1m by avoiding the need to purchase new licenses at standard commercial rates.

Unite the Union is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, and can be found in workplaces right across the economy. The not-for-profit organisation is geographically dispersed and manages over 2,000 assets located across 100 offices from a central IT department. Unite’s IT infrastructure is predominantly Windows based, with a growing number of Mac devices. 

Over the years, regional offices had been responsible for purchasing their own hardware and software as needed. Although Unite maintained a spreadsheet of IT assets, this was updated on a sporadic basis and the data was often unreliable and out of date. “Getting a true picture on our IT assets was an issue for us because we relied on Unite’s ten regions to inform us when they had purchased new software or hardware. This made it difficult to keep control of what was being spent and whether what we had installed was compliant with our different licensing agreements,” said Geoff Davidson, National Systems Coordinator at Unite the Union.

Unite was formerly eligible for heavily discounted software licenses based on academic pricing, but this benefit was withdrawn to trade unions by Microsoft with effect from April 2013. Since Unite was at that time running Windows XP and Office 2003, this announcement meant the organization had a good incentive to accelerate its migration plans to Windows 7 and Office 2010. The financial implications of both the price rise and the migration were huge and Unite needed to identify a way to quickly and accurately establish what software it had installed and whether it was being actively used. This data needed to be correlated with their license entitlement in order to purchase the correct numbers of new licenses at reduced rates, before the commercial pricing came into effect.

“Information was not being fed back in a reliable manner so we could not centrally control the IT purchasing process, two problems that we needed to resolve to successfully understand the Microsoft software assets we had installed and upgrade all the PCs in our estate”, says Geoff Davidson. 

Unite was recommended Snow 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 organization to expedite its 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 was operational almost immediately and we could easily generate a single report of exactly what assets we needed to take ownership for centrally and what new licenses needed to be purchased.” Unite also uses Snow to monitor its virtual server infrastructure by gathering data directly from the virtualized estate and matching this against entitlements to ensure it is compliant with VMWare licensing agreements. 

Overall, the most significant benefit realized by Unite was cost avoidance. As a result of the ability to see a single, nationwide view of its entire estate – spanning hardware and software plus license renewals, support and maintenance entitlements – Unite estimates the savings provided by the Snow SAM solution exceed £1million. 

“I have been involved with many roll outs over the years and this was very straightforward from start to finish. The services team at Snow were first class and the support they provided us with was exemplary. Looking back, I wish we had invested in a SAM solution from Snow sooner, as it has both given the management team confidence that we are fully compliant and kept our software licensing costs to a minimum,” says Geoff Davidson. 


“Snow played an essential role in Unite’s migration to Windows 7. It gave us the ability to accurately calculate the number of clients we have and with estimated cost avoidance of £1m, has easily saved us over 20 times the amount we originally invested.”
-Geoff Davidson, National Systems Coordinator at Unite the Union