How to prepare for Microsoft’s Server and Cloud Enrollment

Microsoft recently announced its plans to launch a new volume licensing program called Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE). Anticipated to go into effect in the fourth quarter of 2013, this new enrollment offering will give customers the ability to license Microsoft server, applications, and cloud technologies under a single enrollment structure. The server and cloud technologies include Windows Server, System Center, SQL Server, and Azure. Customers will also have the ability to enroll their Visual Studio Developer, BizTalk, and SharePoint Server licenses.

In addition, SCE provides organizations with pricing discounts, standard program terms, and a flexible licensing approach that offers the option to procure perpetual or subscription licenses, depending on deployment needs. Here’s everything you need to know about SCE.

How does SCE work?

SCE is a three-year commitment signed under a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA). It requires an enterprise-wide commitment to Software Assurance (SA) across the installed base of one or more of the components that make up the program. These SCE components are:

  1. Core Infrastructure (i.e., Windows Server and System Center)
  2. Application Platform (i.e., SQL Server. BizTalk and SharePoint can also be included)
  3. Developer Platform (i.e., Visual Studio)
  4. Windows Azure

By joining the SCE program, customers will receive the following benefits:

  • Discounts on new license and Software Assurance purchases
  • Discounts on Software Assurance renewals
  • New subscription-based licensing options, which replace the deferred SA approach offered in the EAP, and that will provide flexibility when retiring workloads or migrating to the cloud
  • Windows Azure pricing discounts
  • Full Software Assurance rights, including License Mobility and version upgrade rights
  • Unlimited problem resolution support for qualifying premier services customers
  • Consolidated enrollment covering both Core Infrastructure and Application Platform components

What does SCE mean for you?

The release of SCE will alter or end current licensing programs and redefine organizations’ future licensing entitlements. In order to prepare for the launch of SCE, customers should ask themselves these questions:

1. Are we currently licensed under an Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI), Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP), or Enrollment for Windows Azure (EWA)?

If the answer is yes, take note that Microsoft will retire these programs with the release of SCE, so it is important to understand how the products will be licensed under the new program. Be aware of the end dates on your current enrollments to ensure you have enough time to learn about the program changes and understand the potential financial impact to your organization.

If you are not currently enrolled under an ECI, EAP, or EWA, evaluate the potential benefit to enrolling in one or more of the components offered under the SCE program. For example, decide whether investing in Software Assurance for your SQL Server or Visual Studio Developer licenses will provide savings compared to alternative volume licensing programs. The current ECI and EAP enrollments give organizations a program option that addresses price discounts, license compliance, virtualization requirements, and predictable payment structure. Also, consider whether investing in ECI or EAP before the release of the SCE program offers greater financial benefits than waiting for SCE to launch and becoming subject to the pricing and program terms it will introduce.

2. What is our cloud strategy?

The SCE program is designed to provide flexibility for leveraging strategic workloads both on-premises and in the cloud, through System Center, for example. In fact, customers committed to Core Infrastructure have rights to use System Center to manage Azure virtual machines. The SCE program also provides the ability to license Windows Azure at additional discounts under the same enrollment as on-premises server licenses, making it simpler for organizations to manage.

3. Are you committed to licenses enterprise-wide?

As mentioned above, SCE requires an enterprise-wide commitment to the components being licensed. This is not any different than what is currently available under EAP. Under that program, if customers want to license SQL Server, they have to license all instances across the organization. They cannot pick and choose.

However, enterprise-wide commitment is a deviation from what is currently offered under ECI. The ECI program only requires that customers license a minimum of 25 servers, or 50 processors (two processors per server), to enroll. In contrast, under SCE customers will have to commit to Software Assurance across the entire install base, regardless of what the server or processor count is.

As you evaluate the SCE program, keep in mind that the enterprise-wide commitment is per component, allowing you to select the pieces that you want while also deciding what components that you want to license outside SCE under existing volume licensing programs, such as the EA or Select Plus.

The SCE program allows customers to standardize one or more of Microsoft’s key server and cloud technologies for simplified license management. Before SCE launches later this year, customers should familiarize themselves with how the SCE program, along with all other licensing programs, fits into their current and future IT initiatives.

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