3 licensing options for migrating to Microsoft Azure from Windows Server 2003

Win2k3Where will your organization go when Microsoft ends support for Windows Server 2003? Many organizations are formulating an answer to that question right now, preparing to meet the July 14, 2015 deadline. The myriad licensing models, program options, and cost scenarios for a Win2k3 migration make it a daunting task involving multiple decision points.

The top three options for migration are Windows Server 2012, Office 365, and Microsoft Azure, which will be the focus of this post.

Microsoft Azure is an option that can be implemented as an alternative to or in conjunction with an on-premises migration to Windows Server 2012. Azure infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provides organizations with a flexible cloud computing platform to build, deploy, and manage applications in a predictable operational expense model based on consumption. Microsoft Azure enables organizations to make an initial monetary commitment based on anticipated usage and future growth.

The most cost effective means to procure and manage Azure is through the Enterprise Agreement (EA) program. Here are three options for organizations looking to procure Azure under an EA model. Continue Reading…

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Migrating to Windows Server 2012 after the retirement of Win2k3? Read this first.

Win2k3Organizations should be starting to plan their move off of Windows Server 2003 in anticipation of its end of support on July 14, 2015. As they evaluate their options, a key decision will be identifying the migration destination for applications and workloads.

Microsoft has three target migration destinations: Windows Server 2012, Microsoft Azure, and Office 365. Each target destination will have various licensing implications and costs that need to be examined as part of the overall migration process.

We’ll cover all of these options in a three-part series on licensing considerations for Windows Server 2003 migrations, starting now with Windows Server 2012 — a logical choice if you’re looking to simply upgrade your systems. Read on to learn more about the Windows Server 2012 migration option, including its virtual environment rights and other key licensing considerations. Continue Reading…

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Microsoft’s O365 price change: What every customer needs to know

O365 BannerMicrosoft Office 365 (O365) has seen its fair share of changes, both in features and functionality and in price point. Most notably, in May 2012 and then again in September 2013, Microsoft decreased pricing on O365 by roughly 15 percent in both instances. Now, effective August 1, Microsoft increased pricing by 15 percent on its O365 Service Plans E1, E3, and E4, aligning them with the pricing offered back in May 2012.

This price change affects both Enterprise Agreement direct and indirect programs whereby an organization is adding O365 plan subscriptions to the agreement for net new users or is transitioning qualifying licenses with Software Assurance (SA) to O365 plan subscriptions.

In conjunction with this O365 price change, Microsoft will also be offering a new, discounted SKU for customers that have invested in fully paid perpetual licenses with SA and are looking to transition to O365. This new SKU, called O365 from SA, will be available to purchase at your agreement anniversary date or upon renewal of enrollment. Eligibility is dependent on your organization’s current on-premises entitlements at the time of transition.

The following table illustrates when customers are eligible to apply an O365 from SA user subscription license (USL) to their agreement either at agreement anniversary or agreement renewal. Continue Reading…

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How the retirement of Microsoft’s Select Plus volume licensing program will affect you

Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA)

Broader availability of MPSA is coming this fall.

Since its inception in October 2008, Select Plus has been the recommended transactional volume licensing program for medium-to-large organizations looking to procure Microsoft products and services. But with the introduction of cloud services, such as Office 365, and other new programs, licensing models continued to grow more complex and gain more complicated program terms. For that reason, Microsoft introduced its new volume licensing program vehicle, Microsoft Product and Services Agreement (MPSA).

Now, with a broader release of MPSA — including the availability of Software Assurance (SA) — scheduled for September 2014 and worldwide availability planned for July 2015, Microsoft announced it is retiring Select Plus.

The Select Plus licensing program will be phased out in two stages: Continue Reading…

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Microsoft’s volume licensing transformation: Here’s everything you need to know about MPSA

Late last year, Richard Smith, GM at Microsoft Worldwide Licensing & Pricing, revealed it would be introducing a “next-generation approach to commercial licensing” to provide customers a more flexible and simplified purchasing experience across all solutions. Dubbed by Microsoft as Next Generation of Volume Licensing (NGVL) or transformation of volume licensing, the initiative takes a multi-phased approach, which began and will continue to be driven by feedback from the different licensing communities–partners, customers, and Microsoft field.

NGVL then entered the pilot phase, for which SHI was proud to be one of the handful of participating partners across the globe. On Dec. 1, 2013 the initiative reached its current phase, a controlled, but broader, launch. This current phase is not the final product. We will likely see the transformation continue for some time to come.

Today’s offering, the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA), is simple but clearly displays the three primary tenets of the transformation. Continue Reading…

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Office for iPad: Answers to your most common licensing questions

Since Microsoft’s unveiling of Office for iPad two weeks ago, SHI has been inundated with phone calls and emails from customers asking about how they can get the new offering. This question would seem to have a simple answer given the nature of how easy it is to obtain apps on an iPad — just download it!

However, as organizations assess their current and future mobile device strategy, it stands to reason that the more robust capabilities available for Office for iPad require a more complete and thorough understanding of the licensing and cost models involved. For that reason, we’ve taken the time to address the five most common licensing questions organizations have asked about Office for iPad.

1. Is Office for iPad included in my existing Office 365 (O365) service plan?

In order to edit and create documents with Office for iPad, organizations must have an O365 ProPlus subscription. The following volume licensing (VL) O365 subscriptions include O365 ProPlus:

Microsoft-Office-365--Volume-Licensing-Plans

2. Is Office for iPad included in my existing Enterprise Agreement (EA)? Continue Reading…

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Microsoft updates licensing for Windows desktop operating system

Microsoft announced a change to licensing options for Windows Enterprise edition on March 1. Below I provide an overview of the changes and how they might impact organizations looking to take advantage of the features and functionalities.

Historically, Windows Enterprise edition has been only available through the acquisition of Windows Professional with Software Assurance (SA). Organizations that wanted these capabilities needed to purchase them through one of the following means:

  • A new upgrade License with SA
  • The renewal of existing SA
  • The acquisition of SA only within 90 days of OEM or a Full Packaged Product (FPP) purchase

These procurement options were accompanied by certain restrictions on the type of qualifying volume licensing programs. For example, organizations couldn’t acquire SA within 90 days of OEM or FPP purchase under the Enterprise Agreement program, only via Select or Open. In addition, the ability to renew existing SA depended on keeping maintenance current to ensure continuity of coverage. SA renewal rules are defined in the Microsoft Product List.

Microsoft will now provide Windows Enterprise edition as an upgrade License only offering moving forward, making the features of Enterprise edition available to organizations not invested in Windows annuity licensing or programs. In addition, SA will come standard with the Windows Enterprise edition only, eliminating the Windows Professional Upgrade with SA option. Organizations with active SA on Windows Professional will have the option to renew using the Windows Enterprise SA SKU. Continue Reading…

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4 questions customers are asking about licensing Office 365

Microsoft has attempted to simplify the licensing of Office 365, but the rules can still be confusing, especially when migrating from a perpetual-based licensing model to a subscription. To clear the air, we’ve compiled and answered four of the most common licensing questions organizations ask when looking to transition to Office 365.

What is a CAL Bridge?

Microsoft introduced the Client Access License (CAL) Bridge to help organizations transition their on-premises workloads to the cloud while maintaining their enterprise-wide commitment and licensing rights. Each CAL Bridge consists of CAL Suite workloads that aren’t included in the corresponding Office 365 service plan.

Consider this example. The Core CAL Suite grants all of an organization’s users and devices access to on-premises servers that run any of the following workloads:

  • SharePoint Server
  • Windows Server operating system (OS)
  • Lync Server
  • Exchange Server
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection

When an organization transitions to Office 365 Plan E1, its users gain cloud access to some of those same workloads. However organizations must still remain licensed for the workloads not included in Office 365 plan E1. The Core CAL Bridge accommodates the change in access rights for those users. Instead of licensing users for Core CAL Suite, an organization can license its users for Office 365 plan E1 and Core CAL Bridge for Office 365.

The new licensing configuration divides users’ licensing workloads as follows:

Office 365 Plan E1 gives users licenses to SharePoint Server, Exchange Server, and Lync Server while Core CAL Bridge for Office 365 provides licenses to Windows Server OS, System Center Configuration Manager, and System Center Endpoint Protection. Continue Reading…

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Putting the value in value added reseller: Why both manufacturers and customers rely on VARs

Many organizations struggle to keep tabs on their IT assets. The number of products, manufacturers, and licensing agreements is enough to make any person’s head spin. That’s why most companies use some sort of IT asset management (ITAM) to keep track of the various renewal dates and understand what licenses they have on hand. But even then they have little strategic direction for their licensing.

Software manufacturers too have their work cut out for them. They can’t afford to spend the time and money to find every potential customer for their software. In order to earn a reasonable profit on their products, they need a base of customers and a dedicated sales force.

To make the landscape more manageable for both the manufacturers and their ultimate customers, value-added resellers (VARs) serve as a liaison, helping manufacturers get their software in users’ hands while offering customers a range of manufacturer and software options that best fit their business objectives.

It’s too difficult for one customer to attain knowledge about every manufacturer, product, and licensing option on the market, just as it’s nearly impossible for manufacturers to gain clear insight into customer markets and needs. Since both spheres are so vast, VARs meet in the middle to fill the gap.

Value add for customers

No organization looking to license software or hardware has the time or resources to research every potential manufacturer’s products and compare the costs and benefits. VARs, on the other hand, have staffs devoted to staying up to date on the products available, as well as the nuances of every agreement. When customers work with VARs, they receive advice on which manufacturers and products can best support their goals, as well as guidance on manufacturer pricing. Continue Reading…

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How to plan for renewal management

If your company has uncovered issues in underlicensing or overspending on software licenses — or even if you just want to be more proactive about IT needs – it’s time to rein in renewal management. Renewals can hit your company throughout the year from various vendors for everything from software maintenance to hardware leases. Even original equipment manufacturer (OEM) warranties eventually expire and create a need for a new warranty or new equipment.

The problem is that many companies fail to track these renewal or expiration dates. When the invoice for a renewal arrives without advance notice, they simply pay it based on their past agreements without stopping to think strategically about current and future needs. The issue is only exacerbated by the adoption of the cloud as perpetual licenses, which have no expiration date, get replaced by subscription and term licenses, which do expire.

By tracking expiration and renewal dates, as well as key dates internal to your company — such as when budgets are set — you can replace the reactive response to renewals with a more proactive stance that will not only potentially save your company money, but equip employees with the tools they need to do their jobs.

With advance warning of impending renewals, IT and procurement can take time to analyze and discuss any renewals, negotiate new agreements, or vet alternative vendors or solutions that better suit the state of your business. For example, your company might need to right size the number of commitments it has, reducing software maintenance to 800 desktops from 1,000.

Here are four points you should consider before renewing: Continue Reading…

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