Office 365 vs Microsoft 365

It doesn’t matter if you’re working from your office or at home or up a tree, it seems that companies are rushing to take their business to the Cloud, and that includes where employees are expected to do their work. Microsoft has been quite aggressive in their focus to move their industry (and their customers) to their Cloud platforms, including their two most popular Cloud productivity services. Today we’re breaking those services down in a head-to-head comparison. It’s Microsoft Office 365 vs Microsoft 365.

While they may seem similar in name, they both offer unique levels of functionality and cost. So, which one is best suited to your needs?

At MetrixData360, although we are unaffiliated with Microsoft, we pride ourselves in educating our clients, so that businesses everywhere can make informed spending decisions regarding their software.

Office 365

To put it succinctly, Office 365 offers a variety of the most popular Microsoft products like Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneDrive, all of these offered programs are geared towards business productivity such as Skype for Business, SharePoint, Teams, Yammer, and Planner.

These services can be found either online or on-premise through a subscription-based payment plan. Plans with Office 365 offers to host Microsoft Exchange mailboxes. There are also additional add-ons that you can pay for, this includes additional security.

This is the main argument Microsoft will use to get you to switch to Microsoft 365, since with Microsoft 365, these add-on features are included in the package, as opposed to having to pay for additional fees. However, that doesn’t always mean the transition is worth it, especially if you are not expecting to use every feature in Microsoft 365.

To give you a taste of all the plans that are available to you, here are two different versions of Office 365:

Office 365 Business

This plan is an excellent, low-cost way for getting key components of Office 365 to your company with either the Essential, Business, or Business Premium plans. However, this skin-and-bones plan comes with a few drawbacks:

  1. It doesn’t allow for remote desktops to have access to Office 365.
  2. Office 365 Business is not compatible with Nerdio for Azure (NFA) environment, for instance.

If you’d like to compare Office 365 Business package pricing, you can find a basic outline of the plans here.

Office 365 Enterprise

ProPlus, E1, E3, and E5 all offer varying levels of Office 365 Enterprise, which is aimed primarily towards providing Enterprise productivity.

Excluding the E1 license (which actually doesn’t include any application offered with it, only the services), all of these plans come with Office ProPlus and are suitable for Remote Desktop Service (RDS) environments. If you want to maintain any Nerdio environments, at minimum you’ll need an E3.

Changes to Office 365 ProPlus Licensing

Microsoft announced that beginning in the summer of 2020, Office 365 ProPlus plans would allow licenses to be assigned to Windows 10 devices as opposed to it being assigned to the user.

The same can be applied to Office 365 ProPlus for education. This can prove highly beneficial if multiple users are sharing one device. However, there are some catches when it comes to the device-based licensing. For instance, commercial customers can only use Office ProPlus through their EAs, and for education customers, they will only be able to access Device-based licensing for Office 365 ProPlus through their Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES).

In order to use this device-based licensing, customers must meet certain requirements:

  • They must have Version 1907 or later for Office 365 Plus or Version 1803 or later if they have a Windows 10
  • All Window 10 devices must be joined to Azure Active Directory or joined to hybrid Azure AD.

If you’d like a full examination of the different Office 365 Enterprise Plans, you can find the outline here.

Microsoft 365

Microsoft 365 can basically be thought of as Office 365 with added bonuses. It’s a bundled offer of existing products, including Office 365, along with Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise Mobility + Security.

Windows 10 serves as Microsoft’s safest and latest operating system, complete with BitLocker and Windows Defender Anti-Virus. Mobility + Security is an extra layer of security for your data, including mobile device and identity management.

Microsoft 365 is the response for small- to medium-sized businesses who were going to purchase Microsoft 365’s three major components (Office 365, Windows 10, and Mobility + Security) separately on three different platforms. So, Microsoft 365 is marketed towards businesses who want to have a single, secure platform that can be shared across the company.

If you are negotiating any sort of contract renewal with Microsoft and you already have Office 365, you can expect pressure from Microsoft to scale up to Microsoft 365 from Office 365.

There are some obvious benefits to getting Microsoft 365; the fact that it is an all-inclusive package that provides a single platform for everything, creating an easier end-user experience, makes a compelling case. If you choose Microsoft 365, there are a few choices that are available to you.

Microsoft 365 Business

Centered around SMB deployment and designed for 300 users or less, this plan includes Office 365 Business and some of the most basic device management, although it is considered the next step up from Office 365 Premium plans.

It should be noted that this plan doesn’t use Office ProPlus in its package, which has significantly more features than Office Business. It’s really a win-some and lose-some situation.

Here’s a link for more information on the Microsoft 365 Business Plans.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise

This plan is marketed heavily towards larger businesses with an emphasis around strong security and device management functionality.

It bears a lot of resemblance to Office 365’s E3 and E5 plans with a bonus of Windows 10 Enterprise, EMS features, Azure Information Protection, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection, and Microsoft Intune with availability on-prem and on the Cloud.

Microsoft Enterprise is broken down into three plan options: F1, E3, and E5.

Click here if you’d like more information on the Microsoft 365 Enterprise plans.

Microsoft 365 Education

Microsoft 365 Education is another exclusive offer that is given to schools that can be used by both teachers and students. There are three plans that are offered with Microsoft 365 Education:

  • A1 – The basic package which includes the lowest tier information protection, and a free, although limited, version of Office for students and teachers.
  • A2 – The standard suite, which includes everything in A1 with the addition of all the Office desktop apps and strong information protection and security.
  • A3 – The premium tier includes everything from A3, plus advanced security and compliance tools, along with top analytic systems.

Click here for more information on Microsoft 365 Education plans.

Office 365 Reporting Tool: Why is it Important?

Regardless of which plan you pick, it’s important that while you are using Office 365, you have a means to effectively monitor your usage. This will allow you to predict and potentially eliminate any consumption issues before they arise in an audit.

To address this issue, at MetrixData360, we have our exclusive Office 365 Consumption Reporting Tool available for installation. There are a few main benefits that come from having Office 365 Consumption reporting on your side, including but not limited to:

  • Detecting Multiple Subscriptions

    MetrixData360 have often seen that our clients will have multiple subscriptions for Office 365 that they have accidentally repurchased over time. These redundancies often make for a quiet drain on the IT budget.

  • Tracking Consumption of Subscriptions Over Time

    Being able to track your use of subscriptions will allow you to track not just how much you owe, but also what sort of value these subscriptions are bringing to your company.

  • Detecting Blocked Users

    How do you know you have a subscription when you don’t have access to an application or program?

    It may seem as though those two situations are polar opposite of each other, but we have often seen that case appear unknowingly in the software profiles of the clients that we have examined.

    Sometimes this blockage is intentional, but other times the customer is unaware of these users and by removing their subscriptions they can save a lot of money.

  • Detecting Last Usage

    MetrixData 360’s Office 365 Consumption Reporting tool can pick up if an account hasn’t been active in 90 days or longer.

    Such inactivity usually means that the account has been retired (or at least attempted to be) or it simply belongs to a user who doesn’t need the subscription.

    Either situations can easily remain a drain on your budget and presents the potential to reclaim licenses.

For more information on how MetrixData360’s Office Consumption Reporting Tool can give you control over your software spending and usage, check out our tools page for more information!

To Summarize

With so many different plans and packages to pick from, the Office 365 vs Microsoft 365 debate comes down to what is right for you.

So long as you have a means of keeping track of that consumption, you can certainly find a package that fits your interests without proving a drain to your software budget.

At MetrixData360, we have often seen companies either underestimate their usage, leaving them at risk for compliance issues; or we have seen them overspend eroding their IT budget.

We know how to navigate our customers around such pitfalls when it comes to their software. If you’d like to learn more about how MetrixData360 can give you the visibility you need, contact us and we’d be happy to answer any of your software licensing related questions.

5 Ways to Cut Software Licensing Costs

How to Save Money on Your Software Licensing

Software licensing is ridiculously confusing, and its hyper complexity is not slowing down anytime soon. This confusion can easily lead to overspending, which equates to more money in the software vendor’s pockets, taken at the expense of your company’s software budget. How does overspending on software licensing occur and what steps can you take to cut software licensing costs?

At MetrixData360, we have helped hundreds of companies save millions of dollars, so we will show you the steps you can take to mitigate any potential areas of overspending in your software licensing environment.

Have A Clear Life Cycle for Assets

Not having a clear system that retires old assets is one place that is often a source of overspending for many companies. Employees leave the company, but they still have accounts and their old desktops are put in storage, but those old devices are still showing in certain environments as active. These old assets can become a source of artificial inflation for a company’s license requirements.

These retired assets could easily still be visible in your Active Directory, which is where the software auditors will look in the event of an audit. This will make it appear like you owe far more than you actually do while also being quite a drain on your company’s budget.

One of the reasons for this inflation lies in the lack of systemization in place for tracking assets. Old employees drop off their computers to the IT department but new hires head to procurement to ask for new desktops (and the licenses that go along with them).

A lack of proper organization for this process fails to account for the possibility to redeploy licenses and will leave you ill-prepared for both a software audit and a contract renewal.

Having an inventory tool in place will greatly assist in the monitoring of assets, which brings us to our second point.

Have a SAM Tool in Place – and Someone Who Can Read It

Software Asset Management tools are essential if you have a large software estate and you need to keep track of everything that’s deployed. Software Asset Management tools specialize in inventory and licensing, and are an indispensable means to cut software licensing costs.

Demonstrating to your software vendors the systems you have in place to track your software deployment will give you a greater appearance of control.

However, SAM tools cannot grant you instantaneous and easy, always-available visibility into compliance gaps and overspending. Depending on the SAM tool you’ve installed, your SAM tool might struggle with the following:

  • Multiple licensing metrics
  • Detecting development or test products that are not yet in full production
  • Cloud licensing
  • Failure to account for duplicates (they might accidentally count new software and older version of that software that has not been fully removed from your environment)
  • OEM and Retail Boxes Purchases (SAM tools are often confused by such purchases)

Want to know more about where your SAM tools are leaving you open to compliance risks, check out our article Why Do Software Asset Management Tools Stink at Software Asset Management?

All of these complications can leave your SAM tool lacking in some areas, which may make you resort to buying another SAM tool or it will force you to fill in the missing gaps of information manually.

Both these tactics mean you’re wasting time and money on the SAM tool you purchased. That is why it is important to have someone who can actually manage your SAM tools and analyze the data it produces. This can be done through hiring an in-house software asset manager or hiring an external partner.

Don’t Guess Your Projected Usage in Contract Negotiations

If a company does not have a firm grasp of their software usage when their contract is up for renewal they will inaccurately estimate how much they will need.

Due to lack of visibility into requirements, many companies end up licensing simply what their sales reps suggest in contract negotiations, instead of licensing what they actually need. Sales reps have quotas to meet, they are not in the business of saving you money.

Also, make sure that the value of the software that you’re interested in deploying is not outweighed by the cost of maintenance. We’ve seen companies crippled with the cost of running programs where support and maintenance costs continue to grow year after year. If you have a good handle on the software you use, you can also align the cost of maintenance to match your actual usage.

Move to the Cloud Carefully

The Cloud poses a tempting offer for many businesses thanks to its flexibility, its storage capabilities, and its seeming ability to remove the difficulty of managing both the hardware and software on-premises.

Now you need only pay for what you use like a utility bill. It is often the case, however, that companies begin the transition to the Cloud only to stop halfway through because the costs of moving there was much more than the company anticipated.

Unexpected costs come from the following areas when moving to the Cloud:

  • Your department spins up projects without shutting them down after the project has been completed.
  • Everyone in your company is allowed access to your Cloud estate. We once had a client accidentally pay $80,000 in the span of two months because one of their junior IT had turned on an expensive storage option that was collecting data for the whole company.
  • You assume your licenses can be taken to the Cloud when in reality vendors might allow it, they might not or they might allow for only a partial move.
  • You assume your licenses neatly translate to the Cloud when in reality, license metrics behave differently in the Cloud, often in a way that will leave your servers under-licensed and your company exposed to the heavy penalties of an audit.

Having a process in place that controls who has access to your Cloud estate, understanding your expected usage and having a strong understanding of your licenses along with their potential mobility to the Cloud will help to ensure that your transition is a smooth one!

Perform Internal Audits Constantly

Regular upkeep of your software licensing and usage should occur on a monthly or bi-weekly basis. The two main benefits of performing internal software audits are that it reduces the number of inactive licenses in your environment and it ensures your ability to maximize the efficiency of your current licensing position.

It can also help counter many of the issues that crop up due to Cloud migration and data gaps in your SAM tools.

Getting a handle on your data will also allow you to be ready in the event of an audit. Having quality data to challenge the auditor’s findings will be a massive advantage for your company during the auditing process and the settlement that will occur after.


Start Saving on Your Software Licensing

Being able to cut software licensing costs will mean money back into the IT department for smarter and more innovative investments. This can be done by tracking the life cycles of your assets through the successful deployment of an inventory tool (along with someone who can effectively read it), through having a clear understanding of usage during contract negotiations, carefully considering your migration to the Cloud, and by conducting internal audits to ensure compliance.

At Metrixdata360, we can help you cut down your costs to save you from unnecessary drains on your budget and potentially heavy audit penalties. Don’t put off saving money, get your free consultation today!

Project For The Web Now Available

Price And Product Impact of Project For The Web

Microsoft’s newest offering for cloud-based project management, Project for the web, expands on the Project platform, but may have a pricing impact to you. Microsoft currently has the following Project Online products available, Project Essentials, Project Pro and Project Premium. This new offering Project for the web is the entry level Project management program, designed to be used by task-level employees. With the new Project for the web, Microsoft has aligned the subscription structure with other Office 365 products, moving from the “Essentials”, “Professional”, and “Premium” titles, to the familiar E1, E3, and E5 plans, labeled Project Plans 1,3, and 5 respectively. This shift in titles may also include an increase in price for the E1 type users.

What Is Project For The Web?

Project for the web is Microsoft’s newest cloud-based project management tool. The “For the Web” moniker refers to the fact that the Projects system is accessible in a browser-based format. As Microsoft describes it:

Project for the web is Microsoft’s most recent offering for cloud-based work and project management. Project for the web provides simple, powerful work management capabilities to meet most needs and roles. Project managers and team members can use Project for the web to plan and manage work of any size.

What does that actually mean? Project for the web allows teams to remotely work together, view project roadmaps, schedule tasks, create and track milestones, and compile reports. For the web also integrates with most of Microsoft’s other online offerings, allowing a smoother workflow across Office 365, Power Apps, and Microsoft Flow. This means that a project manager can assign and schedule tasks to their team members. From there, the team members can see where on the project roadmap they are, what tasks have been completed or are still open, and even create reports.

Project Pricing Tiers

Microsoft is continuing with their trend of tiered-subscription models for Project for the web, but they have also rebranded the tiers. The former “Project Online Professional” is now Project Plan 3, while “Project Online Premium” has become Project Plan 5. Let’s look at what each tier will cost you compared to their previous price. If you want to check out some of the features available with those plans. Click here to see Microsoft’s Project pricing page.

Project Plan 1

Project Essentials Pricing
Project Plan 1 gives users access to only Project for the web, it does not allow on-premise use. Users can manage project documents across the Office 365 ecosystem, schedule tasks, submit timesheets, as well as use integrations with PowerApps and Power BI. This plan is meant for those who work at the task level and removes much of the higher-level project and portfolio management tools. The entry level subscription is $10 per user per month. 

Project Plan 3 vs Project Pro Online

Used to be: $30/month per user
Is now: $30/month per user

Previously known as the “Professional” tier, Project Plan 3 gives access to Project Online and you can use Project Online Desktop Application (Project Pro) for users looking for more functionality and flexibility than those on Plan 1. All the features of Plan 1 are included in Plan 3, but users can also create roadmaps to success, set tasks, add team members, and view the entire project from a top-down perspective. Plan 3 also allows for full integration with the Power Platform, including PowerApps, Power BI, and Microsoft Flow. While users can access Project Online and the Desktop Application with Plan 3, some functionality is restricted, like the ability for demand management and enterprise resource planning.

Project Plan 5 vs Project Premium

Used to be: $55/ month per user
Is now: $55/month per user

Formerly the “Premium” edition of Project, Plan 5 is Microsoft’s complete Project subscription package.
Project Plan 5 gives users access to the Project Online Desktop Application and is designed for Enterprise Project Management (EPM) type users. The Project Desktop Application allows Directors to monitor and manage their department’s complete roster of projects from the top down. Project Plan 5 allows Project Managers the most in-depth planning and management tools available. Users at this level can compile smaller projects into master projects, track project resource costs, compare planned budgets and resources to actual real-world data, and even set baselines to monitor performance against historical data. Plan 5 also opens additional functionality in Project Online not available in Project Plan 3.

Project Essentials

Project Essentials was an add on for Project Online which provided the most commonly used features for task-level workers, but required that you also have Project Online Professional or Premium to actually use Essentials. With Project for the web, Essentials has stayed, essentially, the same, providing team member functionality. Team members with Project Online Essentials can:

  • Only use a web based interface.
  • Update tasks, issues, and risks.
  • Submit timesheets
  • Share documents and collaborate with Microsoft Teams users.

If you have a Project Plan 3 or Plan 5 license, you can purchase Project Essentials for task workers.

How Do I Control Project Online Costs?

For clients that are currently contracted for Project Essentials, you will not feel any impact on pricing until you renew your contract. For Project Pro Online and Premium Online users there really is not much of a pricing impact. The real key to control costs is ensuring that you subscribe your end-users to the correct licensing tier. There is a big difference in costs between E1 and E5, and so often we see companies buying higher level licenses for users that only need E1s.

Understanding the hierarchy of Microsoft’s pricing scheme is essential to making a smart buying decision.

For task-level team members, Plan 1 should suffice. Users at this subscription level can communicate with each other, share files and resources, can monitor the timeline and task lists, as well as submit timesheets. While the feature list is limited, Plan 1 is designed to allow teams to complete their assignments without interrupting the planning process.

Project Managers will want at least Project Plan 3 since this tier makes the real planning tools available. Anyone who is active in the planning process of the project, assigns tasks, is authorized to make approvals or requests, or needs to closely monitor performance and resources, will require at least this level of subscription.

Project Plan 5 is designed for organizations that want Enterprise Project Management (EPM) functionality and who need full control of their project environment and portfolio. Not all users will require Plan 5, but users that are planning, tracking, and managing projects across a department or company likely will.

Where To Go From Here

Now that you have a better understanding of the Project platform, you can make an informed decision regarding the subscriptions your organization needs. If you are considering purchasing licenses for Microsoft Project and would like more information about negotiating a contract with Microsoft, our learning center is full of useful information for you to use, or you can reach out to us and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

How Much Does Hiring A Software Audit Consultant Cost?

Software audit engagements with a SAM Expert consultant, it sounds quite fancy, technical and expensive. Before a long, labor-intensive audit, you’ll come to the part that most people think about all throughout the process, waiting, dreading and hoping the consultant has accurately assessed your environment and their calculations are correct.

In this blog we are going to be answering a few common questions many businesses have about hiring an audit consultant. Is it worth the investment in hiring a third party? How much does hiring a software audit consultant cost? What is the industry standard of pricing for a software audit consultant?

What Is The Value Of An Audit Consultant?

The main job of an auditing consultant is to get you organized and ready for your upcoming audit. Their primary focus will be to save you money, energy, and provide their expertise.

Save You Money

The financial penalties a company can suffer due to lack of preparation and organization can be absolutely crippling. According to the BSA Global Software Survey, the global rate of PC software that was installed without proper licensing in 2013 was at 43%, making it an issue that impacts many businesses worldwide. A software audit gone sideways can leave a company with a bill that is anywhere up to 100% of their annual software budget (for some companies that’s $50,000 and for other companies, that budget is millions of dollars). Your business has hardworking employees to keep on the payroll and it would be a rare thing if you just happened to have that kind of money in your back pocket. That’s the main reason people hire software auditing consultants, to analyze the data (freeing up your internal resources) and to get your bill down to the lowest possible number. If your environment data is accurately inventoried and organized, it’s possible to hand over your data for an audit and have your vendor respond “You owe much less than we initially thought.” What a great feeling! Software auditing consultants can potentially achieve that result for you.

Save You Resources

One of the advantages to having software auditing consultant as a part of your team is how much time and energy you save. Software auditors can come into a company like an impatient tornado, wanting data to be gathered yesterday. These are the type of tasks that you can’t pass off to your assistant, the data gathered will be highly sensitive and can only be done by high-paid employees from every department, from IT to finances, legal to security, all the way to upper management. Software auditing consultants can streamline a lot of the data collection process because what the software auditors will ask for and what they actually need to run the audit are not the same thing. It drains the time of your highest paid employees by sending them off on fool’s errands. So as to prevent valuable internal resources from being consumed with collecting required data, software audit consultants gather your data for you, using their own finely tuned SAM tools.

Provide You With Expertise

Another great advantage of deciding to have software audit consultants on your team is that this is what they do; they analyze data. Compare it to use-rights, look at product bundles and figure out how best to leverage what you have, as opposed to what you need in the near future. Software auditing consultants dive into the data and effectively achieve a strong push back position, getting rid of all shades of grey in audit assumptions with clear, concise and accurate license inventory used during negotiations. Consultants can also prevent overspending, showing you not just where you are underpaying in your licensing but also where you are overpaying and where your costs can be cut and put back into your budget. They are with you every step of the way, so you don’t have to worry about software vendors pushing you around. Instead, you’ll be able to push back.

Who Is A Consultant A Good Fit For?

Companies that need software audit consultants come from all branches of every industry and range in all sizes. If you’re a single location or if your company reaches a global scale, as long as you have software licenses and the need to manage those licenses, you could probably benefit from the help that software auditing consultants can offer. In a survey run by Gartner in 2013, 49% of respondents reported experiencing more than one audit in the previous year, so it’s not a question of if you’ll be audited… it’s when. However, if your company is small enough that it only has a few licenses to keep in order or if your IT department is running flawlessly and they have the situation perfectly under control, then you probably won’t need the services a software auditing consultant can offer.

How Much Does It Cost?

There are many factors that can affect the cost at the end of the day, so to give you one price to fit every case would be inappropriate and inaccurate. It also doesn’t help the situation that most consulting firms will keep their prices locked away to whip out only after you’ve contacted them for a quote and after a five-minute sales pitch about all their fine services. Here are the factors that can drive up your costs:

  • Size: How big is your organization (how many software users)? This will affect the volume of data a software consulting firm will have to go through.
  • Vendor Type: What type of vendor are you facing down? Some vendors like Microsoft, SAP, IBM, or Oracle will have a more labor-intensive process compared to vendors like Adobe.
  • Timeframe: What is the engagement’s estimated timeframe? Some audits (hopefully yours) take two to three months, others can drag on for the better part of a year.
  • Consultants Payment Method: The method by which software auditing consultants can charge you could be based on either a flat rate, a contingency rate or based on the number of working hours.

A Software Audit Consultant With MetrixData 360

At Metrixdata360, we want to see you succeed by saving time and money. If you are interested in a software audit our engagements typically range between $35,000-$100,000 depending on each client’s unique environment (as discussed there are many factors that contribute to cost). That being said, most of our projects fall into the $75,000 range. Our preference in pricing is usually at a fixed fee.

After reading this you may have realized that you need the expertise of an audit consultant to keep you company on track. We would be happy to help you take the next step toward hiring the perfect consultant for your project. Get a quote now.

SQL Server Licensing Price Increase

We have done a significant amount of work with clients recently preparing them for the changes that Microsoft made to SQL Server licensing.  Contrary to how Microsoft has positioned these changes in the market, most of our clients have faced price increases of 50% to 100% or more on their SQL Server licensing costs!

SQL Server 2012 License Changes

During the launch of SQL Server 2012 we were given the impression that SQL was transitioning to Core based licensing to allow clients the opportunity to purchase based on capacity.  In other words, as servers become more powerful and virtualization becomes more prevalent – clients can virtualize their SQL Servers and license based on capacity (Cores in use in Virtual environments) or license all cores in a server and have unlimited virtualization rights (requires SQL Enterprise with active Software Assurance).  On the surface the concept seems to make sense and promises savings, but in practice it costs clients more for their SQL Server licensing. 

Consider the following:

1 SQL Processor license = 4 SQL Core licenses

SQL Server Core Factor

SQL Servers That Are Not Impacted

For older servers there is really no price difference as most of those servers are running less than 4 cores per processor (we will ignore the impact of SQL Enterprise Server/CAL model disappearing for now) and the price is the same.  For more details on how SQL Server 2012 licensing works you can download the SQL 2012 Licensing Guide here.

Servers not impacted

SQL Servers That Are Impacted

The challenge is that most new servers are running 6 or more cores per processor (many as high as 32+ cores per processor) and for each of these your licensing costs continue to multiple.

The only way to avoid this multiplying licensing cost effect of Cores is to consolidate and virtualize your SQL Servers.  This is easier said than done as many of the applications that reside on these servers do not allow for deployment under these scenarios.

How Will SQL Pricing Changes Impact Users?

Let’s take a look at a hypothetical client (these clients exist out there):

Here is the scenario:

  • In 2nd year of an Enterprise Agreement
  • Currently have SQL Standard Servers, SQL Enterprise Server and CALs (for all users) on their EA
  • Have a SQL Standard Server Processor license but no SQL Enterprise Processor and no step-up option (to allow a move from SQL Standard to Enterprise)
  • Deploying a new “internal use only” SQL 2012 Enterprise that will be on a cluster of 2 servers with 32 cores each (total of 64 cores) deployed physically
  • Would normally purchase a SQL Enterprise Server and use all their CALs that they currently own to license this application

Worried that you are not licensing SQL Correctly?

Click here for information on our SQL Server License Optimization services.  



SQL Enterprise Server CAL Eliminated

Upon the launch of SQL 2012 Microsoft eliminated SQL Enterprise Server/CAL option. The only way to purchase SQL 2012 Enterprise is via Core licenses.

SQL Server CAL

SQL Server/CAL Licenses

Can’t this EA customer just use their SQL Server Enterprise Server CAL licenses?  That’s a great question! Let’s look at what the SQL Server 2012 licensing rules state for this client:

“SQL Server Enterprise Edition Customers Licensed Under the Server+CAL Model

As of July 1, 2012, Microsoft will no longer be offering SQL Server Enterprise Edition under the Server+CAL license model. Current customers with active SA coverage for existing SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition server licenses should consider the following when transitioning to SQL Server 2012:

SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition server licenses will be available on price lists through June 30, 2012. EA and EAP customers with active agreements on this date can continue purchasing new licenses until the end of their current term.

After their current term expires, SA coverage can be renewed and maintained on SQL Server Enterprise Edition server licenses to provide continued access to SA benefits, including License Mobility rights and access to future releases.”

Sounds good so far, doesn’t it?  

Lets continue:

“SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition software licensed under the Server+CAL model is restricted to only run on servers with a total of twenty cores or less: There are now two versions of SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition software: a server-based version and a core-based version. Customers must run the software version for which they are licensed.

For customers running SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition server-based software instances in a physical environment, that OSE is only permitted to access a maximum of twenty physical cores. A per instance technical limit is also enforced.”

WHAT!!!!  They limit it to 20 Cores?????

Yes that is correct! This customer cannot license their new deployment via server/CAL even though they have an active EA because the server will use more than 20 cores (they are running 32 Core servers).



How Much Does SQL Server Cost Now?

Under an EA Level A they would have trued up 2 x SQL Server Enterprise for approximately $30,000 total (for the 2 licenses)

But instead:

Microsoft’s suggested solution is to sign an EAP Agreement for this purchase (positioning this as if the client will save 40% off list) as follows:

EAP Agreement – 32 x SQL Enterprise 2 pack Core licenses 3-year total approximately $480,000

The CIO is rightfully upset.  His $30,000 budget was just blown by 16x for this purchase!



SQL 2014 License Change

With the launch of SQL 2014 Microsoft made another significant license change – they removed the right to only pay for the Active Server in an Active Passive Cluster.  They instead added this into Software Assurance (SA) Benefits. So previously you only needed to license the Active side, regardless of where you had SA or not. This change forces you to purchase SA for the Active side of the cluster.

How To Avoid SQL Server Price Increases

The question one needs to ask is if SQL is giving the company a 16x better return than it would have before June 30th?  Nope! Is Microsoft doing him a favor with the EAP offer? Nope! 16x over budget is 16x over budget. We’re not talking a 10% price increase here and this is hard dollars!

So what should this client do?  

What should you do if you find yourself in this situation or a similar situation?

SQL Server License Optimization Services

SQL Server is one of Microsoft most confusing licensing models.  It also is one of their most expensive products. This is why we developed a SQL Server Optimization Service.  Utilizing our proprietary developed licensing tool, you can rest easily knowing that you are licensed in the most optimal manner.  If you’d like to read more or the tool, please check it our here or if you are interested in having a call with one of our SQL Licensing experts please feel free to hit the talk with an expert button on the side to schedule a call.