How to prepare for the expiration of your EAP and ECI enrollments

 In Microsoft, Software, Volume Licensing

A year after Microsoft launched its Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE) volume licensing program, many organizations are preparing to make the switch as their Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP) and Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI) agreements expire. Customers with expiring contracts are facing critical decisions regarding the renewal of their software assurance (SA) into the SCE, which marks a major step in the simplification of Microsoft licensing programs.

The SCE allows organizations to consolidate ECI and EAP licenses into a single enrollment featuring standardized terms and discounts. Its broad product offerings include the Core Infrastructure Suite, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, SharePoint Server, Visual Studio with MSDN, and Azure.

EAP and ECI customers should closely evaluate the SCE option before enrolling in order to fully understand the changes and how their current licensing will shift under the new structure. Here’s what EAP and ECI customers must know and do to prepare for the SCE.

Prepare for EAP and ECI Expiration

What should customers with an expiring EAP consider?

The SCE is modeled after the EAP, in which an enterprise-wide commitment to SA is required for any products chosen as “Enterprise” products. Some customers attained the EAP commitment via a deferred SA option. This allowed them to bring unmaintained licenses into the EAP at an SA-only price point, and to delay payment for the underlying license as long as SA was active.

The SCE doesn’t offer customers this option. Instead, organizations with deferred SA licenses can buy out licenses prior to EAP expiration, add new perpetual License and Software Assurance (L&SA), or cover the licenses under the SCE’s subscription model. A review of your current contract will determine if this change impacts any licenses on the agreement, and how to cover these licenses going forward.

What should customers with expiring ECI enrollments consider?

The SCE requires an organization’s entire footprint of Windows servers to be accounted for and licensed in conjunction with System Center. This is in contrast to the ECI, which only required a 50-processor minimum. In return, customers receive a 5 percent discount on the SA renewal price. Organizations that didn’t include all of their Windows servers in their ECI previously must determine if their future Windows server roadmap consists of a strategy to manage the environment with System Center.

It’s important to evaluate the latest tools and technologies in the System Center portfolio to determine if a commitment could lower costs via standardization and replacement of alternative solutions. If the SCE is not the best fit, customers have other options, including continuing SA with the Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS) Standard or Datacenter license under their desktop Enterprise Agreement, or a transactional program, such as the Microsoft Products and Services Agreement.

SQL licensing changes

Customers who have SQL Server licensed in their EAP must evaluate the impact of the licensing changes that occurred since the SQL 2012 release — for instance, the licensing metric moving from processor-based to core-based, as well as the discontinuation of the per-server model for new licenses of SQL Enterprise. These changes can be a substantial factor in assessing what licensing investments should be made prior to expiration, as well as in determining your licensing strategy for the renewal.

Expiring customers might have a window of time in which they’re able to true up licenses under the older licensing models to help buffer against potentially larger budgetary impacts of buying later via the per core model. Although software assurance can be renewed for SQL Server Enterprise under the per-server model, there is now a licensing restriction that limits servers licensed under this model to 20 or fewer physical cores. It’s especially critical that customers under an older SQL licensing model map out core counts, virtualization requirements, server consolidation efforts, and plans for new server environments and assess how these align with their current license entitlements.

Evaluating the SCE subscription option

The SCE allows new license quantities to be purchased via an available subscription, priced at 35.5 percent of the license price per year. This option can be leveraged to fulfill an enterprise commitment or to cover licenses required for a short term. Under the SCE, as long as you have paid for at least 12 months of use, you are permitted to reduce quantities of that product for future annual payments.

With this subscription option, organizations can add SA to an older, unmaintained license or migrate to a different licensing model (such as SQL per server to SQL per core) at a lower initial price than new perpetual L&SA. Customers can utilize the subscription model to reduce their number of licenses as they retire servers or consolidate workloads. Prior to expiration of the enrollment, any active subscription licenses can also be bought out to attain perpetual license rights.

Next steps for enrolling in the SCE

The SCE offers the largest discounts for your commitment to SA on your existing applicable deployments. The decision to renew all or a portion of available ECI and/or EAP licenses through the SCE will require a thorough review of your current license entitlements and your IT strategy. SHI can assist you in cost modeling and asset management services to help you make an informed decision as you plan the best way to manage and license your technology investments.

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