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Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Licensing

Nov 12 2014: Published by under Microsoft,Microsoft Enterprise Agreements,Microsoft Licensing Compliance,Microsoft Licensing Tip,Server CAL

Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 comes with the availability of two primary editions – Standard and Datacenter. The versions are identical from a technical perspective with the only difference being virtualization rules. Both primary editions can only be licensed in the Processor Plus CAL metric . . .unlike the limited functionality editions for Windows Essentials and Window Foundation that are licensed by Server with CALs included.

So, which do you choose?

Since the functionality levels are equal, it’s something of an arithmetic issue.  The licensing for Datacenter Edition is about 5½ times that of Standard Edition. Keep that in mind as we walk through the example.

Microsoft requires all physical processors on the server be licensed. Let’s assume that we have a four-processor device. Each license covers up to two processors. For this server, for either edition, two licenses are required.  For Datacenter Edition, the number of virtual instances on this server would then be unlimited. It would also cost nearly $10,000 at a Select Plus Level A pricing without Software Assurance for those two licenses. It costs less than $2,000 to license it with Standard Edition, but we only get four virtual instances because with Microsoft’s Standard Edition you only get one physical instance and up to two virtual instances per license.

Now, in this example, we’re not talking about these huge servers so spinning up just four VMs might be all it can handle, but what if there was enough cycles,say, for two more?  The answer is simple. From a Microsoft perspective, you just stack licenses. What Microsoft allows you to do is allocate more licenses on Windows Standard on a device than it would otherwise call for simply for the purpose of adding more virtual instances. 

With this third license on that server, two more VMs can be spun up and the cost is just another $900 or so. If you still have some more room, add another for another $900. For an investment of around $3,500, a total of eight virtual instances can be deployed on that server. If that is all you could ever be on that server, you made a really good decision about going with stacking the Standard Edition licenses.

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Microsoft License Mobility and Limitations

Nov 12 2014: Published by under Microsoft Audit,Microsoft Software Assurance,SQL

What is License Mobility?

License Mobility refers to the ability to move virtual instances from host to host and between server farms without the constraints of Microsoft’s license reassignment rule. Microsoft restricts reassigning a license from one server to another or from one device to another more frequently than every 90 days (This is often referred to as Microsoft’s “reassignment rule”). License Mobility is a Software Assurance benefit.

The limitations of License Mobility

Microsoft’s Product Use Rights state very clearly that you may not reassign licenses on a short-term basis (within 90 days of the last assignment). However, licenses can be reassigned sooner if the licensed device or server is retired due to a permanent hardware failure. That’s a constraining and very strict rule that talks about when the 90-day timeframe is set aside and it talks specifically about hardware failure.

Given the strictness of that rule, without License Mobility you could only move the licenses to a server every 90 days. What that means then is that in order to be properly licensed amongst the hosts in a cluster, you would have to have enough licenses assigned to each of those nodes to cover the peak number of virtual instances that could be moved to that server at any given time. While the licenses or environment may call for, say, half a dozen licenses, you might need 20 simply because you’ve moved these instances from physical node to physical node within the cluster.

Now, looking at SQL Server as an example, all of the cores on all the hosts in the cluster must be licensed and covered by Software Assurance. This now expands your rights to allow any number of instances of that software to run in any number of virtual machines within that farm. In the case of SQL Server that is not covered by Soft Assurance, you’re limited to the number of licenses that you’re actually running (core licenses). If you have a total of 16 cores within that cluster, License Mobility rules without Software Assurance state that you can only have 16 instances of support SQL Server. 

It’s complex and easily misconstrued but it’s a trend that we’re seeing over and over again. Microsoft is associating Software Assurance to many, many new benefits – License Mobility is just one of them.

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CCL Report – Oracle Auditing Process Bad, Confusing

Nov 10 2014: Published by under Compliance,Oracle audit,Oracle license,Oracle Licensing Compliance,Oracle: News You Can Use

The Campaign for Clear Licensing (CCL) has published a report on Oracle’s auditing processes, and the results aren’t good.
• 92% of customers surveyed believe the company does not communicate its licensing changes clearly
• 88 % believe Oracle’s audit requests are difficult to manage and respond to

The conclusion is drawn that Oracle conducts audits for revenue purposes only, not with compliance in mind. Read more here.

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Microsoft Earnings – Much Improvement, Thanks to Nokia

Oct 24 2014: Published by under Microsoft

Microsoft is having a good first fiscal quarter, with an increase in sales by 25%, much in part due to the recent purchase of Nokia. The company is definitely showing signs of progress, but still has some strides to make in the mobile business.

Read more about their earnings report here.

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Microsoft Audits – What is worth fighting for?

Oct 23 2014: Published by under Microsoft Audit,software asset management,Software audit

Most common questions we get during a Microsoft Audit:

  • What are the primary points to negotiate with the supplier or their agent when an audit notice is received?
  • What are the points to fight for?
  • What are the points that are most important?

There are many, many moving parts involved in a Microsoft audit because of the many and varied products, license metrics, volume license programs, and Software Assurance considerations. 

There is a central set of principles in responding to audits that have been blogged about and spoken about and presented about from many software asset management professionals. They involve communication protocols, date of delivery, settlement, negotiation, et cetera, and these are well known; but to these, we can add or perhaps maybe just reemphasize some other points.

Ensure that the audit scope is explicit and written. The auditor will prefer to dictate schedules and priorities and it’s important that you, as a representative of the organization, control that process.

Scrutinize the findings. Understand that the findings, especially the initial findings, are going to require some adjustment and warn your teams not to take any action based on the initial findings.

Data from automated tools is only as good as the interpretation. The audit scripts and SAM tools gather the deployment information. The Microsoft license statement details the entitlements and the comparison between them is not simple arithmetic. There is a big chasm that exists between these two data points and it needs to be accurately and very effectively navigated.

Buyer Beware. Another point to mention is that your reseller (now referred to as a License Solutions Provider or “LSP”) may offer this service for free, but be aware that there is an incentive for them to complete a licensing transaction.

 

 

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IBM audits: complicated and getting nasty

Oct 22 2014: Published by under Compliance,IBM,IT Asset Management,Software audit

IBM audits are never welcome, but they are increasingly becoming part of the norm. Why? IBM has targeted software to comprise 50% of its total revenue by 2015– this growth is not from SoftLayer or Watson’s cognitive computing alone.

In the past, long-time IBM customers who have been audited felt that they did well even if they needed to true-up. Things have changed. The settlement process has taken on an adversarial tone with repeated threats of theft of intellectual property, rather than a civil discussion regarding usage and a straightforward cost for over deployed licenses plus two years back support.

IBM insists it could ask for a settlement in excess of current usage if its licensing measurement tool is not in use, and then applies some shady methodology called ‘sharing the burden’. However it’s presented, the settlement amount is in excess of a straight true-up and may include a new license purchase unrelated to the client’s current usage but bundled as part of the settlement. The client is prevented from settling without the new license purchase which by itself could financially exceed the true-up license cost multiple times over.

It may be a company will not be subjected to this new audit method. Or, a company could be a fully compliant IBM customer that runs ILMT or a Tivoli tool, looks at the reports for accuracy, and if a purchase was necessary will make the purchase. If a company is IBM loyal, perhaps there is a deeper understanding of IBM’s licensing language. With all that said, in today’s enterprise, with the vastness of IBM products and its aggressive auditing techniques, it’s not impossible to remain compliant, just complicated.

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Microsoft’s New Volume Agreement Isn’t As Short And Simple As Advertised

Oct 15 2014: Published by under Microsoft,Microsoft Enterprise Agreements,Microsoft Licensing Compliance,Microsoft Licensing Tip,Microsoft: News You Can Use,Uncategorized

Microsoft debuted a new volume licensing agreement earlier this year – Microsoft Products and Services Agreement (MPSA). Tim Hedegus of Miro was asked by CRN Magazine to shed some light on this new agreement and debate whether its really as simple as Microsoft claims. If you are interested in finding out more about this topic, you can read his comments here. 

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Microsoft licensing lessons learned – Mobility, BYOD and Desktop Virtualization?

Oct 14 2014: Published by under BYOD,Microsoft,Microsoft Enterprise Agreements,Microsoft Licensing Compliance,Microsoft Licensing Tip,Microsoft Software Assurance,Virtualization

Neither BYOD and/or desktop virtualization are inherently bad. If the funding is there for the correct licensing and the benefits of improved security and device and account management are realized, these approaches can be quite favorable to you.

Server virtualization is the generally accepted standard, the dominant model if you will. Today’s servers are far too massive, far too dense for single applications and perhaps more importantly, far too massive and dense for licensing.

Microsoft has moved towards its Core processor and Core licensing constructs for some of its products and the cost of licensing many of these very large servers is too cost prohibitive. Licensing just a few servers is not only more economical from a licensing perspective but also from a desire to maximally leverage the computing capability.

One of the best ways to do that is through virtualization and we have truly seen some sophisticated workload balancing schemes. In terms of Microsoft licensing on the desktop side especially, there seems to be a lot of confusion. Questions like: Is Software Assurance required? Or do we need other licensing like VDA or RDS? Or can employees use their own devices? The answer to all those questions is maybe. This may be the reason, in addition to cost, that desktop virtualization hasn’t quite hit its stride yet. In fact, some bloggers who have predicted its demise in favor of a migration to cloud and to Software as a Service models.

We know there are significant factors in play involving licensing a virtualized environment. These are based on architecture and license mobility among other things and we see companies struggling with achieving and maintaining the defensible license position as they try and interpret these licensing rules. We’ve also learned that BYOD and desktop virtualization can be more expensive than originally thought. We think that this stems from understanding the myriad rules around CAL licenses, VDA, subscription licenses, and Software Assurance benefits.

 

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Get Ready for (Another) Microsoft Audit

Oct 10 2014: Published by under Uncategorized

Nearly 60 percent of executives report having been audited by Microsoft in the last 12 months. The lesson: If you haven’t been audited by Microsoft recently, you likely will be soon. Tim Hegedus, resident Microsoft expert at Miro, recently published an article on Enterprise Apps Today regarding Microsoft audits – common triggers, navigating the process and prevention.

You can check out the complete article here.

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Managing Microsoft Inventory When Enterprise Edition Expires

Oct 10 2014: Published by under Microsoft Enterprise Agreements,Microsoft Licensing Compliance,Microsoft Licensing Tip

As your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement is set to expire, there’s a great deal to consider with your renewal options.

 

Some considerations when determining the next, best course of action:

  • current entitlements
  • expansion and consolidation
  • dynamics of the environment (e.g. remote users and access devices)
  • the company’s roadmap versus Microsoft’s roadmap
  • current license position
  • spending target

Every organization is unique and there is no clear cut answer to what is best. The products, the quantity, the license programs, the current state, the look forward, are all unique in every situation.

It can be impossibly complex to navigate this renewal process unless you understand a vendor’s specific licensing rules – in this case Microsoft – and can customize approaches that are most favorable to your organization. 

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