What you need to know about Windows Azure’s pricing and licensing changes

Effective today, Microsoft is changing the way it sells and licenses Windows Azure through the Enterprise Agreement (EA) program. The changes apply to all enrollment programs, including the new Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE), which also goes live today.

The Azure pricing update involves three major changes:

  1. Simplified pricing
  2. A new consumption allowance that eliminates overage fees
  3. A single subscription option

Below we’ll take a look at each of these changes and outline how organizations can license Windows Azure via SCE moving forward. Continue Reading…

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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? Continue Reading…

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Microsoft adds flexible, cost-effective Office 365 purchase option

Effective yesterday, Aug. 1, Microsoft customers have a simpler way to add Microsoft Office 365 to their Enterprise Agreements (EAs). Known as Office 365 Add-ons, the new Office 365 purchase plan will allow new, existing, or renewal EA customers to procure Office 365 as an “add-on” to their existing on-premises Software Assurance (SA) investment.

Why Microsoft Office 365 Add-ons are a breath of fresh air

When Microsoft introduced Office 365 a couple of years ago, the goal was to move organizations to the cloud and transition their on-premises, perpetual license workloads, such as Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and Office ProPlus, to a hosted subscription-based licensing model. But with thousands of customers already under Enterprise Agreements for these traditional licenses with Software Assurance, the process wasn’t going to be easy.

In order to accommodate organizations that wanted to begin transitioning to Office 365 before the term of their Enterprise Agreement ended, Microsoft offered a purchase option that introduced transitional part numbers (SKUs), Client Access License (CAL) Bridges, and pricing changes that would account for the difference in what customers were paying on-premises versus what they would need to pay in the cloud.

Additionally, Microsoft had to update many of its contractual documents, including Enterprise Agreements, to accommodate terms for online services. The new language used to address minimum purchase order requirements, price level minimums, true-up due dates, and other conditions brought about a whole new set of program terms or changes.

The result: the hybrid licensing model that many customers use today. This licensing approach has its benefits. It allows organizations to transition to cloud services at their own pace, matches online services plans to meet requirements of users within the organization, and amasses no incremental costs in a year for equivalent transitioned users. These benefits make the hybrid licensing model optimal for customers looking for a long-term solution.

However, the new SKUs, licensing options, and product/program terms introduced by the transitional hybrid licensing model add a layer of complexity that can become an unforeseen administrative burden for some organizations. Continue Reading…

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SHI simplifies Microsoft True-up for Mid America Computer Corporation

Properly licensing software in a virtual environment can be a challenge for many organizations, and I’ve heard the process described as everything from a “minefield” to “a ticking time bomb.”

However, an experienced IT Asset Management (ITAM) partner can help you navigate the virtual terrain. Take this customer case study, for example.

THE PROBLEM

Billing and software solutions provider Mid America Computer Corporation (MACC) was approaching its annual True-up reconciliation for its Microsoft software. To make sure the company’s license inventory was in compliance with its contract prior to renewal, MACC needed an accurate, comprehensive look at exactly what software was being used on what devices.

Kourt Jensen, Network Supervisor at MACC, faced three challenges:

  1. He didn’t have the time to collect a complete inventory himself.
  2. He lacked the confidence in the software inventory tools MACC had in place to provide up-to-date licensing information necessary for an accurate True-up.
  3. And he needed help understanding the licensing requirements for a virtual server environment. Continue Reading…
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Microsoft User CAL Changes: What it means for you

As the nature of the cloud evolves, so too does its licensing models. In the past, organizations were set up with licensing on a “per device” basis, but with the ongoing consumerization of IT and the proliferation of new devices (mobile phones, tablets, ultrabooks, etc.) in the workplace, many organizations are looking to cut costs by shifting focus to the user rather than the device.

To address this shift, Microsoft is raising the cost of its User Client Access License (CAL) licensing model. Effective Dec. 1, 2012, the cost of the following User CALs will increase 15 percent:

  • Bing Maps Server CAL
  • Core CAL Suite
  • Enterprise CAL Suite
  • Exchange Server Standard and Enterprise CAL
  • Lync Server Standard, Enterprise, and Plus CAL
  • Project Server CAL
  • SharePoint Server Standard and Enterprise CAL
  • System Center 2012 Client Management Suite
  • System Center Configuration Manager
  • System Center Endpoint Protection
  • Visual Studio Team Foundation Server CAL
  • Windows Multipoint Server CAL
  • Windows Server CAL
  • Windows Server Remote Desktop Services CAL, Terminal Services CAL
  • Windows Server Rights Management Services CAL

What does this mean for you? Continue Reading…

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