Office 365 incentives are back – with a new core benefit

Microsoft IncentivesDetails of the next round of incentives for Office 365 (O365) adoption have been released, and there’s one big change for customers.

Microsoft has unveiled the Fiscal Year 2016 incentives, which will kick in for customers who purchase new licenses after Sept. 1 of this year, in order to spur O365 adoption and deployment. For customers who purchase O365 licenses from July 1 through Aug. 31, a bridge period with similar benefits is available as well.

Here is what you need to know about this year’s FastTrack offer, and why you should prepare your IT environment before you contact Microsoft. (more…)

This is how Microsoft’s upcoming product and pricing changes will affect you

confusionIn May, SHI detailed the upcoming price changes impacting Microsoft’s Client Access Licenses (CALs). These changes, which took effect Aug. 1, 2015, will result in an approximate 13 percent increase on the cost of User CALs.

But that was not the only change from Microsoft: In conjunction with the User CAL price increase, Microsoft adjusted additional products and pricing that impact multiple product offerings, SKUs, and licensing programs.

The following is a summary of the licensing and pricing changes effective Aug. 1, 2015. (more…)

Windows 10 is here: Here’s what volume licensing customers need to know

windows-10Windows 10 is live, and with it comes product portfolio changes, adjustments to Software Assurance (SA) benefits, and a bevy of new features and enhancements. But perhaps the biggest change is how updates are delivered.

Here is the breakdown of these changes, and considerations for how to acquire Windows 10 licenses moving forward. (more…)

Perpetual or subscription licensing for Autodesk? You can choose – for now.

jan-31-countdownIt’s the year of choice for Autodesk customers — organizations can either license Autodesk software through perpetual rights or Autodesk’s latest subscription licensing model, called Desktop Subscription. But not for long.

After Jan. 31, 2016, seats of Autodesk Point products, such as AutoCAD LT, will only be available through a term-based license plan called Desktop Subscription. While some suite products can still be licensed through perpetual rights after that date, standalone and network versions of popular Autodesk software will fully transition to Desktop Subscription. Customers currently licensed through perpetual agreements will see no change in their contract, but after Jan. 31, 2016, they’ll no longer have the option of purchasing new perpetual licenses.

So what does this deadline mean for existing customers? Is there an advantage to one option over the other? Should you change now or early next year? Here are a few considerations to ponder after you circle Jan. 31, 2016 on your calendar. (more…)

Before upgrading to vSphere 6, read this

stop handYou’ve never seen virtualization work like this before.

vSphere 6, the newest installment of VMware’s cloud computing OS, is available now for upgrade. The latest version has hundreds of new features and capabilities, but its true power lies in its breadth: vSphere 6 can “vMotion” instances across virtual switches, vCenters, and long distances. Now an instance can be moved from any cluster of computers and servers in an organization to another, regardless of where the two clusters are, and regardless of the version of vCenter that the second destination cluster is running.

But as useful as this load-bearing capability can be for spreading virtual machines throughout a network to maintain uptime, it can also create issues with your Microsoft licensing. Before you upgrade to vSphere 6, make sure you know the potential conflicts and take steps to remedy them. (more…)

What’s new in Creative Cloud 2015? New ways to collaborate

Adobe Creative Cloud 2015Collaboration could be Adobe Creative Cloud’s middle name: New enhancements to the powerful suite of applications give designers new ways to work together and cooperate on projects, and a new stock image collection can accelerate the workflow of designers who spend much of their day in Adobe’s photo-editing tools.

Today Adobe announced the release of Creative Cloud 2015, which not only opens up new avenues for collaboration, but delivers “a frictionless creative process” across all devices. Included in this update are new enhancements and features for Adobe’s 15 desktop apps, as well as new mobile apps for iPhone and Android. Plus, the new Adobe Stock program gives designers access to 40 million stock photos and graphics. Because Adobe is making its software more mobile-friendly, Creative Cloud 2015’s launch should prove to be a huge productivity gain for all businesses. (more…)

4 reasons to quit hanging onto Windows Server 2003

Win2k3Windows Server 2003’s end of life is less than 90 days away, and July 14 (the last day of support) is quickly approaching. Many organizations, seemingly hesitant to undergo a full migration, still haven’t even begun to plan the move from Win2k3.

C-suite executives and IT professionals are asking the same questions about the status of Windows Server 2003 starting July 15: What will happen to my network? What will work – and what won’t? Is there a quick fix, or a cheap one? If I’m running business-critical applications that require Windows Server 2003, will they continue working? Will Microsoft extend support, and how much will it cost?

We’re going to answer all of these questions in an upcoming Win2k3 webinar for enterprises, education institutions, and government agencies that will illustrate what’s at stake and why every organization should begin their migration immediately if they haven’t already. Suffice it to say, Windows Server 2003’s end of life can pose serious problems for organizations of all sizes, and postponing a migration could be extremely expensive.

Before we delve into these issues in the webinar, here are four reasons why all organizations should be planning a migration, and why it’s time move past Windows Server 2003. (more…)

Microsoft User CAL pricing is changing. Here’s what you need to know.

Microsoft User CAL ChangesIn December 2012, Microsoft increased the cost of the User Client Access License (CAL) by 15 percent. Here on the SHI blog, we discussed the evolving nature of how organizations were accessing devices, both on premises and in the cloud, and Microsoft’s need to address this shift through an increase in the cost of User CALs.

Flash forward to 2015: Microsoft has announced an additional change in the cost of the User CAL licensing model. The decision behind the increase can be attributed to multiple factors, including increased adoption of multiple devices by information workers, and the subsequent ease of license management of User CALs versus Device CALs in multi-device scenarios. So we’re back on the blog to help you understand what this price adjustment means, and what some of your options are. (more…)

The 3 most common questions we hear about Office 365 deployment

Office 365 DeploymentYour organization has purchased Office 365 (O365). Now what?

If you’re tasked with deploying O365 and are unsure what to do next, you’re not alone. From uncertainty about which workloads to move, to a lack of technical expertise, many IT professionals we’ve spoken with have run into roadblocks in the way of completing an O365 migration. And pressure from the C-suite to move to the cloud doesn’t help.

Based on our recent conversations, we put together a list of the three most common questions we’re asked about O365 deployments. In addition, we’ll be conducting a free webinar to demystify the process and delve into the core technical components of a deployment. Take a look at the questions below and sign up for one of the webinars to kickstart your O365 deployment.

We bought O365, but how can we deploy it? How do we best consume the service?

It’s common for organizations to have under-deployed O365 assets – they just don’t know the best way to make use of their new services or conduct the deployment. Some companies, because they question the security of the cloud or simply hesitate to enact such a drastic change, simply sit on assets they’ve bought.

An O365 deployment can be accomplished either by an organization’s own IT department or with the help of a Microsoft partner that can help “turn on the lights” for your O365. When you consider your deployment options, investigate Microsoft incentive programs that help offset the costs of deployment.

With Microsoft set to offer new incentives in the coming months – details of the next incentive round will likely be announced in June – organizations that start planning now will be better prepared to qualify for them. These plans will provide a roadmap that can help you or a partner actually conduct the deployment.

What workloads should we move to the cloud?

While executives are pushing their organizations into the cloud, IT departments have to worry about the nuts and bolts: In the cloud, which workloads can be effectively run and which information can be properly stored?

The most common O365 workload we see moved over to the cloud is Exchange, followed by Lync and SharePoint. Lync is actually fairly easy to deploy in the cloud for organizations that run it on premises already. These are the most common workloads, but all Office products – Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Access, and OneNote – are available through certain O365 licensing.

What skills and tools do we need to deploy all the necessary workloads?

A full O365 deployment is a daunting task simply because many organizations lack the tools or technical expertise required. Even planning a deployment can be overwhelming, and many IT professionals realize they need help in both the planning and the migration. Deploying from old infrastructure and servers (like soon-to-be-retired Windows Server 2003 components) presents its own set of difficult challenges that can stifle progress.

For some organizations, a lack of manpower in the IT department or the preliminary cost of a deployment are hurdles they cannot overcome. So when organizations rely on a Microsoft partner to help with deployment, they receive a new level of technical knowledge and different processes that help vault them past these common issues.

How to get your O365 cloud deployment off the ground

Once you have the basics down — whether you want to deploy yourself or with a partner, what you plan to deploy, and what resources you need — it’s time to take a closer look at the technical requirements. In our O365 webinar, we’ll look at everything from the core components of O365 to identity management to migrations of Exchange, SharePoint, and Lync.

If you’re a corporation, education institution, Texas education institutiongovernment agency, or Texas government agency that needs help deploying your O365 services or even figuring out how your organization can best take advantage of the service, register today to secure your spot in the webinar, and feel free to leave a comment below with any questions.

3 simple ways to take control of your Oracle licensing

three checksIt’s a simple fact: Software licensing is difficult to understand and manage. Even the savviest IT professional can struggle to comprehend certain complex language and terms in licensing agreements from the major software manufacturers. For example, companies report they often have difficulty understanding and complying with Oracle’s licensing rules, particularly when it comes to virtualization conflicts and upgrades that require additional licenses.

Case in point, one organization received a bill for millions of dollars, due in 30 days, after an audit revealed that the company was inadvertently virtualizing much of its infrastructure without the proper licensing. The organization brought on SHI, which eventually helped reduce the total cost owed by 90 percent, but this experience shows how ignorance of licensing can result in major costs.

Here are three common Oracle licensing challenges IT staffs are faced with, and three solutions that can alleviate those headaches and diminish the chances of an audit. (more…)