10 Data-Driven Software Asset Management Best Practices to Revolutionize Your IT Program

In today’s fast-paced tech landscape, you’re leaving money on the table if you’re not using data to manage your software assets. I’m not just talking about a few bucks here and there—I mean big bucks. Between complex licensing models, data fragmentation, and unpredictable audits, the lack of a data-driven Software Asset Management (SAM) strategy can lead to massive financial losses and compliance nightmares.

Years ago, I worked with a client overwhelmed by a vendor audit. They had no clue about their software inventory and licensing requirements. After tens of thousands of dollars in penalties, they finally realized the value of data-driven best practices. Here’s how to avoid those pitfalls and supercharge your IT program with these ten data-driven Software Asset Management best practices.

I. Comprehensive Inventory

Multiple Discovery Sources:
You’re missing a lot if you rely on a single software discovery tool. SCCM (System Center Configuration Manager) only gives part of the picture, while other tools like antivirus consoles can provide critical data. In Software Asset Management, pulling inventory data from several sources is essential to see the complete landscape.

Coverage Completeness:
You need at least 90-95% coverage across devices, servers, and user accounts. Anything less leaves you vulnerable to incomplete data that could result in costly non-compliance fees. Think of it like sweeping a floor—if you miss a corner, you won’t realize the dust bunnies until someone points them out. Make sure you’ve covered every nook and cranny.

Consolidation:
It doesn’t stop with discovery. Centralizing all this data into a single source of truth, like a Configuration Management Database (CMDB), will streamline analysis. This way, you won’t scramble to consolidate conflicting data sources when an audit happens.

II. Data Normalization and Standardization

Normalization Engine:
Imagine your data as raw material. Without refining it through normalization, you’re left with noise and chaos. A normalization engine ensures consistent data across your Software Asset Management program. I’ve seen many clients implement engines that cleaned up their data significantly, saving them hours (and dollars) when reconciling inventory.

Validation:
Don’t just trust automated tools. Trust but verify! I’ve had cases where ServiceNow Sam Pro or Flexera normalization engines returned false positives. Conduct periodic manual checks to ensure the data reflects your IT environment.

Attribute Accuracy:
Getting a hold of accurate attributes is crucial. Verify physical and virtual distinctions, guest/host relationships, and cloud deployments. SQL Server’s Reporting Services might be licensable separately from the primary database, which you shouldn’t overlook.

III. Contracts and Licensing Optimization

Centralized Contracts Database:
Keep a centralized database of contracts, purchase orders, renewal dates, and vendor license statements. A centralized contracts database simplifies managing your organization’s licensing agreements and entitlements.

Entitlement Management:
Unused entitlements are like buried treasure waiting to be discovered and aligned with actual usage. I once helped a client recover several unused licenses after aligning their usage data with contracts, resulting in significant savings.

Optimal Licensing Models:
You can’t assume the licensing model you chose years ago is still the best fit today. Regularly reassess models like per-core vs. per-processor to avoid over-licensing. For instance, switching to licensing at the virtual OS level saved a client almost 50% of Windows Server licensing costs.

IV. Audit and Compliance Management

Audit-Ready Inventory:
Don’t be the company that panics when the vendor calls for an audit. Ensure your inventory data is always up-to-date and aligned with your licensing agreements. If you’re not audit-ready, you’re asking for trouble.

Compliance Monitoring:
It’s essential to have systems monitoring compliance regularly. Microsoft makes over 400 changes per year to its licensing terms alone. Consistent compliance monitoring keeps your Software Asset Management program in line with vendor rules and changes.

V. Implementation and Best Practices

Executive Support:
Having your executives on board with the SAM program would be best. Without their buy-in, getting the resources and authority necessary for successful implementation is an uphill battle.

Clear Objectives and KPIs:
Set clear goals and KPIs for your SAM program, like reducing audit risk or improving license optimization rates. A client once complained about not seeing the ROI from their SAM program, only to realize they hadn’t set measurable KPIs to track progress.

Consistent Processes:
Inconsistent data monitoring leaves you guessing. Establish consistent processes for checking data quality and implementing corrections. By maintaining regular tracking, you can fix issues before they balloon into costly problems.

Conclusion

A data-driven SAM program is your ticket to significant cost savings, audit compliance, and strategic IT planning. It can help you revolutionize your IT operations by implementing comprehensive inventory management, standardizing your data, optimizing your contracts and licensing, and maintaining audit-ready compliance.

Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management

Azure Cost Management
Male manager is explaining about the company’s cost graph on the laptop computer for employees to listen to and share the analysis.

Azure is a powerful and feature-rich cloud platform that offers a wide range of services and tools to help organizations build, deploy, and manage applications and workloads. However, the cost of using Azure can be a significant concern for organizations, particularly as the scale and complexity of their Azure environment grow.

Optimizing Azure costs requires a strategic approach considering the organization’s specific needs and requirements. To help organizations optimize their Azure costs, we recommend the following strategies:

Understand your workloads: One of the critical steps in optimizing Azure costs is to understand the specific workloads and resources consumed in your environment. This includes identifying which services and resources are used, how they are used, and how much they cost. 

Right-size your resources: Ensuring your resources are appropriately sized for your workloads is critical to optimizing Azure costs. This can involve scaling resources up or down as needed to meet the demands of your workload or selecting cost-effective resource sizes that meet your performance requirements.

Utilize Azure Cost Management tools: Azure provides various tools and services to help organizations optimize costs, including Azure Cost Management, Azure Advisor, and the Azure Pricing Calculator. These tools can help you identify optimization opportunities, track your costs over time, and plan for future growth.

Use resource tagging: Resource tagging is a powerful tool for optimizing Azure costs. It allows you to assign metadata to your resources and track their usage and costs more granularly. This can help you identify and optimize underutilized or overutilized resources and allocate costs more effectively.

Optimize resource deployment: The way that you deploy resources in Azure can have a significant impact on your costs. To optimize your costs, consider using resource groups to manage and deploy resources more efficiently and leverage deployment automation tools like Azure Resource Manager templates to streamline resource deployment.

By following these strategies, organizations can optimize their Azure costs and get the most value from their investment in the cloud.

  1. Azure cost management best practices:

Effective Azure cost management requires a strategic approach considering the organization’s specific needs and requirements. To help optimize Azure costs, we recommend the following best practices:

  • Understand your workloads: One of the critical steps in optimizing Azure costs is to understand the specific workloads and resources consumed in your environment. This includes identifying which services and resources are used, how they are used, and how much they cost.
  • Right-size your resources: Ensuring your resources are appropriately sized for your workloads is critical to optimizing Azure costs. This can involve scaling resources up or down as needed to meet the demands of your workload or selecting cost-effective resource sizes that meet your performance requirements.
  • Use resource tagging: Resource tagging is a powerful tool for optimizing Azure costs. It allows you to assign metadata to your resources and track their usage and costs more granularly. This can help you identify and optimize underutilized or overutilized resources and allocate costs more effectively.
  • Optimize resource deployment: How you deploy resources in Azure can significantly impact your costs. To optimize your costs, consider using resource groups to manage and deploy resources more efficiently and leverage deployment automation tools like Azure Resource Manager templates to streamline resource deployment.
  • Leverage Azure Cost Management tools: Azure provides tools and services to help organizations optimize costs, including Azure Cost Management, Azure Advisor, and the Azure Pricing Calculator. These tools can help you identify optimization opportunities, track your costs over time, and plan for future growth.
  1. Azure cost management tools:

Azure provides a range of tools and services to help organizations optimize their costs, including:

  • Azure Cost Management: Azure Cost Management is a comprehensive platform that provides visibility into your Azure costs, usage, and trend data. With Azure Cost Management, you can track your costs in real-time, optimize your resource usage, and optimize your Azure spending.
  • Azure Advisor: Azure Advisor is a free service that provides recommendations to help you optimize your Azure resources. Advisor analyzes your resource utilization and workload patterns and provides recommendations to help you optimize your costs, improve performance, and increase security.
  • Azure Pricing Calculator: The Azure Pricing Calculator is a tool that allows you to estimate the cost of running your workloads on Azure. You can use the calculator to estimate costs based on specific services, regions, and resource sizes and compare the cost of running your workloads on Azure to other cloud platforms.
  1. Azure cost management strategies:

Effective Azure cost management requires a strategic approach considering the organization’s specific needs and requirements. To help organizations optimize their Azure costs, we recommend the following strategies:

  • Adopt a cost-conscious mindset: To optimize your Azure costs, adopting a cost-conscious mindset and approach to resource management is essential. This involves being aware of the cost of your resources and actively seeking ways to optimize those costs.
  • Develop a cost management plan: A cost management plan is a roadmap for optimizing your Azure costs over time. Your plan should outline your cost management goals, the strategies and tactics you will use to achieve those goals, and the metrics you will use to track your progress.
  • Utilize Azure Cost Management tools: Azure provides tools and services to help organizations optimize costs, including Azure Cost Management, Azure Advisor, and the Azure Pricing Calculator. These tools can help you identify optimization opportunities, track your costs over time, and plan for future growth.
  • Use resource tagging: Resource tagging is a powerful tool for optimizing Azure costs. It allows you to assign metadata to your resources and track their usage and costs more granularly. This can help you identify and optimize underutilized or overutilized resources and allocate costs more effectively.
  • Optimize resource deployment: How you deploy resources in Azure can significantly impact your costs. To optimize your costs, consider using resource groups to manage and deploy resources more efficiently and leverage deployment automation tools like Azure Resource Manager templates to streamline resource deployment.
  1. Azure cost management tips:

In addition to the strategies and best practices mentioned above, there are several additional tips that organizations can follow to optimize their Azure costs:

  • Monitor your costs regularly: Monitoring your Azure costs can help you identify optimization opportunities and make changes to reduce your costs. Azure provides a range of tools and services, such as Azure Cost Management and Azure Advisor, that can help you to track your costs and identify areas for improvement.
  • Consider using reserved instances: Reserved instances can help you to save on Azure compute costs by allowing you to reserve capacity for your workloads at a discounted rate. When you purchase a reserved instance, you commit to using a specific computing capacity for a certain period in exchange for a discounted rate.
  • Use Azure Hybrid Benefit: Azure Hybrid Benefit is a licensing benefit that allows organizations with Windows Server and SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance to use their existing licenses to save on Azure compute costs. By leveraging Azure Hybrid Benefit, organizations can reduce their Azure compute costs by up to 55%.
  • Utilize Azure Cost Management policies: Azure Cost Management policies allow you to set rules and alerts to help you optimize your Azure costs. You can use policies to define budget thresholds, set alerts for when costs exceed a certain threshold and enforce resource tagging standards.
  • Use Azure Cost Management APIs: The Azure Cost Management APIs allow you to access your Azure cost and usage data programmatically, enabling you to build custom cost management solutions or integrate your Azure cost data with other tools and systems.
  1. Azure cost management tools – documents that can help:

Azure provides a range of documentation and resources to help organizations optimize their Azure costs, including:

  • Azure Cost Management: The Azure Cost Management tool and its documentation provide detailed information on how to use the Azure Cost Management platform, including how to track your costs, optimize your resource usage, and manage your Azure spending.
  • Azure Advisor: The Azure Advisor documentation provides information on using the Azure Advisor service to optimize your resources and reduce costs. The documentation includes information on how to use Advisor to identify optimization opportunities, get recommendations, and track the progress of your optimization efforts.
  • Azure pricing: The Azure pricing tool provides detailed information on the cost of Azure services, including pricing details for specific regions, resource sizes, and services. The documentation also includes Azure pricing plans, discounts, and billing options.
  1. Azure cost management pricing:

The cost of using Azure varies depending on the specific services and resources consumed. Azure offers a range of pricing plans and options to suit the needs of different organizations, including:

  • Pay-as-you-go pricing: With pay-as-you-go pricing, you pay for the specific Azure services and resources you consume based on the published rates. This pricing model is ideal for organizations with variable or unpredictable workloads or wanting the flexibility to scale their resources up or down as needed.
  • Commitment-based pricing: Commitment-based pricing allows you to purchase Azure services at a discounted rate in exchange for a commitment to use a certain number of resources over a specified period. This pricing model is ideal for organizations that have predictable or stable workloads and can commit to using a certain number of resources over a more extended period.
  • Azure Hybrid Benefit: Azure Hybrid Benefit is a licensing benefit that allows organizations with Windows Server and SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance to use their existing licenses to save on Azure compute costs. By leveraging Azure Hybrid Benefit, organizations can reduce their Azure compute costs by up to 55%.
  1. Azure cost management resources:

In addition to the documentation and tools mentioned above, there is a range of additional resources available to help organizations optimize their Azure costs, including:

  • Azure Cost Management blogs: The Azure Cost Management blog provides updates and best practices for optimizing Azure costs, case studies, and success stories from organizations that have successfully optimized their Azure costs.
  • Azure Cost Management webinars and training: Azure provides various webinars and training resources to help organizations learn more about Azure cost management and optimization. These resources include online courses, in-person training sessions, and virtual events.
  • Azure Cost Management Community: The Azure Cost Management community is a forum for Azure users to share best practices, ask questions, and connect with other users and experts. The community is a valuable resource for organizations seeking guidance and support on optimizing their Azure costs.
  • Azure Cost Management support: Azure provides a range of support options for organizations looking for help with Azure cost management. These options include online, phone, and support from Azure partners and third-party vendors.

By leveraging these resources and strategies, organizations can optimize their Azure costs and get the most value from their investment in the cloud.

 

Microsoft CEO Says, “We’ll Help You Optimize Azure.” Here’s why that won’t work.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently announced that the corporation would support its clients in cost-saving Azure optimization. Many professionals, nevertheless, have doubts about Microsoft’s capacity to fulfill this claim. Let’s examine why Microsoft’s optimization plan is unlikely to yield results and the actions you can take in its alternative to achieve true cost reductions. 

 

Why Microsoft’s Azure Optimization Strategy Won’t Work

Microsoft will probably recommend using “reserved instances” and “right-sizing” workloads as optimizations. Azure Reserved Instances are a price option that can lower your cloud technology expenses. In exchange for a promise to utilize Azure services for one or three years, it offers savings.

The procedure of rightsizing involves examining the utilization of your workloads. It includes deciding whether or not they are operating effectively given the price you are paying and then taking measures to enhance them by upgrading, downgrading, or terminating the resources as necessary.

However, these measures are not likely to result in significant cost savings. The reason for this is that the vast majority of waste in Azure comes from so-called “zombie resources”—resources that are no longer being used but continue to accrue charges.

Zombie processes significantly harm the business environment by idly using large amounts of raw computational resources. It is typical for a large company with thousands of programs to have many zombie processes, often as many as 20%

Zombie resources can exist for a variety of reasons. Perhaps a project was canceled or put on hold, and the associated resources were never deleted. Or maybe someone created a resource for testing purposes and forgot to delete it after they were done. In other cases, people might create duplicate resources or duplicate resource groups containing the same set of assets. Lastly, sometimes people simply forget they have certain resources deployed and continue paying for them even though they’re not being used.

Whatever the reason, it’s important to get rid of these unused resources as soon as possible so that you don’t continue wasting money on them.

 

The Truth about Microsoft’s Azure Optimization Strategy

Microsoft isn’t incentivized to help you find and eliminate these zombie resources because doing so would reduce its own revenue. They stand to gain financially if you use more Azure resources. Therefore, it is important to be skeptical of their motives when they recommend “right-sizing” or using “reserved instances.” You can save an average of 30–40% on your Azure spending without right-sizing or reserve instance optimizations.

How to Avoid Zombie Resources in Azure Spending?

There are several methods you can use to identify zombie resources within your Azure environment. 

 On your VMs primarily, alleged “zombie assets” can be active. These are services or parts of the architecture that aren’t required and aren’t being used. Simply put, they are wasting your workspace and wasting your money. Examples include virtual machines (VMs) that were utilized for a specific purpose, left unattended after use, program failures that prevented VM provisioning, inactive network equipment, and more.

These “zombies” can be located by looking for VMs with a max CPU of less than 5% over the preceding period, as this is a widely used indicator of such resources.

Furthermore, disk space is often connected to your software when you deploy a VM. And although you aren’t using the storage devices when the VM is terminated, they are still operational, and you are still obligated to pay for them. Best practices recommend terminating disc storage that has been detached for longer than two weeks, although your company may have different requirements.

 

Other ways to avoid zombie resources include the following.

  • Check your Azure portal for any deployments that haven’t been used in a while. You can use Azure Resource Manager (ARM) tags to help identify which assets haven’t been used recently.
  • Another method is to export your Azure bill into a format that can be analyzed, such as CSV or JSON. This will allow you to see which services are consuming the most money so that you can investigate further. 
  • You can also set up Azure Monitor Logs to monitor your environment for any deployments that aren’t being used. 

 

Once you’ve identified which assets are no longer being used, it’s time to delete them and stop paying for them. The first thing you’ll want to do is delete any unnecessary resource groups. Then, go through each resource group and delete any individual resources that aren’t needed. Be sure to check with your team before deleting anything, as some assets might be in use by other people or processes within your organization. Once everything has been deleted, you should see a reduction in your Azure bill.

The best way to efficiently deal with zombie resources is to seek help from experts. An experienced team of Azure experts can help you identify and delete all of the zombie resources in your account while optimizing your overall Azure usage to reduce your costs. With their help, you can get your Azure account cleaned up and running more efficiently in no time.

 

Conclusion 

Microsoft’s recent announcement that it will help customers optimize their Azure usage is unlikely to result in significant cost savings. The reason for this is that most waste in Azure comes from unused “zombie resources,” which Microsoft has no incentive to help you eliminate.  There is an opportunity for savings in Azure, but most people are not taking advantage of it because they don’t know where the waste is. However, there are some steps you can take to optimize your Azure workloads for maximum efficiency. By finding and deleting Zombie Resources, you can make sure that you’re getting the most out of your investment in Azure. If you’re looking for real cost savings on your Azure spending, you’re better off working with a company that specializes in optimizing Azure usage.  

What are Software Audits, and Why Are They On The Rise?

Recent years have seen an uptick in software audits, with more companies being asked to provide evidence of licensing compliance. This is largely due to the fact that organizations are now using more software than ever before, with an increasing number of employees working remotely.

Watchdog groups like the Business Software Alliance (BSA) and the Federation of Software Theft (FAST) serve the sole purpose of ensuring the protection of software vendors’ intellectual property. These groups and software vendors are dedicated to discovering and auditing non-compliant organizations every single day with little to no notice. According to Gartner, the likelihood of an assessment for a medium to a large firm over the next two years is predicted to be 40%, which is expected to rise by 20% annually.

But why do software vendors act in this manner? 

Simply put, the main motivator is money. Revenue from software sales fell when the American economy saw a downturn and software expenditures were slashed. Software vendors were forced to hunt for alternative income sources when these profits started to decline. Audit fines and penalties of several hundred thousand dollars to even millions of dollars appeared as lucrative options for these vendors. According to the BSA, 25% of businesses that operate in the US are non-compliant in some way, costing software vendors an estimated $6 billion in the loss. 

 

What is a Software Audit?

A software audit is an assessment of a company’s compliance with software licensing agreements. Organizations that use pirated or unlicensed software can be subject to expensive penalties, including fines and damages. In some cases, they may even be required to forfeit their business’ computers and other equipment. 

 

How Do Organizations Fall Out of Compliance?

 The truth is that conformity is not simple. It involves more than just purchasing adequate licenses. Even techies typically struggle to completely comprehend software licensing laws because they are so sophisticated, and even when they do, modifications to the regulations occur so often that it is challenging to stay up to date. 

Most businesses lose their ability to comply with the rules when they lack proper record keeping and miscomprehend software usage rights. Both parameters are equally crucial to stay in compliance. The first approach is to have clear visibility into your integrated software usage. In the unfortunate case of your company being audited, this can be an added benefit because you will be able to provide records immediately and demonstrate your good faith efforts to adhere to the regulations.

Furthermore, it’s crucial to have an attorney or specialist who excels in contract negotiations. They can elaborate to you how you can lawfully utilize your software, saving you from involuntary non-compliance. Avoid attempting to resolve this on your own, as it is easy to misinterpret or fail to notice crucial facets of software use terms and conditions. For instance, there have been instances where a business has expanded internationally and had staff members using software in other countries. They believed this was acceptable since they had many licenses, but since those licenses were only intended for use in the United States, they were in violation without even recognizing it. 

 

How to Lower Your Risk of Being Audited

  1. Exhibit a Sound Understanding to the Software Auditors 

To show that you have a good grasp of your software agreements, it is crucial that you respond to any inquiries the auditors pose in an efficient and thorough manner. In order to achieve this, you’ll need a workforce in control of the project, a SAM solution in place to oversee your software inheritance, and frequent internal audit findings to get a complete picture of your software assets utilization. 

This is especially true if your business has just undergone a merger or acquisition or if it is a large corporation with numerous branches. Such circumstances will make you prone to disorganization, which in turn raises the possibility of overlooking factors important for compliance.

  1. Stay Prepared

Inform your staff on the importance of software asset management, and prepare a defense plan in case a software inspection occurs. Even if a software audit is conducted, a quick assessment with a few fines will show the software provider that you are not an easy catch. Preparing includes having your licenses in order, appointing a specific person to oversee your company’s software audit, and having an audit defense strategy in place. Knowing what to do will ensure that every software audit of your company proceeds without incident and with the least amount of damage possible.

  1. Be aware of your Software Architecture

Establish an efficient asset life cycle, along with a streamlined procedure to purchase and retire software resources to keep a close check on them. Failure to do this can lead to the acquisition of numerous unnecessary licenses, which quietly drain the company’s IT budget. Keep track of what licenses you have and how many licenses you need so that you can stay compliant. Additionally, make sure that only authorized users have access to your organization’s software. Implement user controls and set up alerts so that you can immediately spot any unauthorized access or usage. 

Often, the majority of software audits search in the company’s Active Directory (AD) to assess compliance. A company’s AD contains all devices and accounts—not just those that are currently in use—that have ever used their software resources. There will be ex-employees in your Active Directory, along with devices that have been gathering dust in the company’s store, and the auditors will claim that each of these entities needs a license.

 

Conclusion 

Monitoring your software resources will cost much less than having them audited. In addition to achieving compliance, successfully managing your software and how they are used also ensure that your software resources are used to their full potential. You may delete shelfware and restructure your agreements to ensure that every software program you have is being successfully utilized. Efficient asset administration has no drawbacks because the added administrative costs will eventually result in equal cost reductions. By making sure all of your organization’s software is properly licensed and keeping track of who is using it and when, you can help your company avoid costly penalties associated with non-compliance.

How Office 365 Works – The Organization’s Guide

One of the most cutting-edge and comprehensive work tools on the market is Office 365. It has several components intended to help organizations become more productive and improve routine operations. But while Office 365 can significantly enhance how your business runs, properly integrating the program into your company’s daily operations can be challenging.

So how can you get around this problem?

Since Office 365 is a holistic platform for office productivity, and new functions and features are constantly added, employees should have access to initial and ongoing training on how it works. This will help them become acquainted with the software and its features, ensuring a smooth technology diffusion within your organization.

Subscribing to Office 365 represents a significant change for many organizations, which have traditionally purchased Office products for a one-time charge and then utilized the software for as long as possible. It may feel like an uphill battle, so organizations that are up for this transformation should be well-equipped with the necessary information. There are several factors to consider when licensing a software suite in this modern paradigm. Understanding how Office 365 works and how it is licensed will undoubtedly influence its efficient implementation within your organization, ultimately helping with Office 365 cost-cutting.

Below, we will go through a few reasons why you should consider switching to Office 365 to upgrade your organization’s operational efficiency.

 

Why Organizations Need Office 365

Why Organizations Need Office 365

One of the primary reasons you should consider upgrading to Office 365 is that Microsoft is discontinuing its traditional desktop solutions in favor of subscription-based cloud solutions. This is true for both Windows and the Office 365 suite. Security updates will always be available for Microsoft cloud subscription products but not for older, unsupported versions of perpetual licenses. This could imply that there will be no updates, fixes, training, or support, potentially making outdated, non-cloud programs more vulnerable to malware and hackers and putting you, your data, and your organization at risk.

 

Office 365 Features and Functionality

Microsoft’s objective is to provide Office 365 members with a one-stop shop of continuously growing relevance, which is the opposite of the depreciation of their desktop products. Knowing how Office 365 works allows ease and efficiency in your operations. It now includes several frequently used company management features, communication tools, document and file management workflows, and even backup.

As a result, you gain more capability for your investment and benefit from the simplicity of learning only one user interface. You also benefit from the power of integration. All your documents, storage, and tools communicate with one another and work seamlessly together, saving you a tremendous amount of time and hassle.

 

1. Versatile Planner  

Microsoft Planner is another time-saving functionality that comes with Office 365. A supervisor or a project manager can start a new group in Planner, such as for a department within your company or a specific task it is working on. A group in Planner and Office 365 can be momentary, like for an occasion, or permanent, like for regular responsibilities given to a sales department. Once a Planner group has been made, the group owner can create swim channels, or what Microsoft refers to as “buckets,” after which any group member can establish tasks that must be completed to achieve the planned goals.

Each task in Planner can be allocated to a single person or a group of people, and if necessary, it can be given a due date. Individual tasks can have attachments and components that are a portion of one major task, and each group or project Planner can be adjusted and updated. If a person’s role changes or they transfer to a different project or group, it is simple to redistribute their responsibilities. Since all group members can see the responsibilities, Planner helps facilitate transparency and effective collaboration.

 

 2. Effective for Teamwork 

The Office 365 service Microsoft Teams is the optimal solution for corporate group chats. Microsoft Teams offers visibility and accountability regarding discussions and work activity while enabling employees to interact with each other creatively and professionally. Microsoft Teams can be integrated into everyday business processes for companies who subscribe to Office 365 Business Premium, Business Essential, or Enterprise (E1, E3, or E5). With the help of Office 365, Microsoft Teams enables divisions inside an organization to collaborate more efficiently.

Microsoft Teams also offers many advantages over comparable competitors, like Slack. It not only provides greater benefits at a lower cost, but it also makes work more efficient and user-friendly. Strive to have your employees on the same page, as this will improve the working atmosphere and boost output, which will benefit your bottom line. With the right training, you can easily integrate Office 365 and its services into your company’s everyday operations.

 

Ongoing Battle: Organizations Struggle with Office 365 Cost-cutting

Despite the multitude of benefits of Office 365, most organizations are almost certainly paying too much for it. We surveyed 100 IT managers and purchasers, and 42% stated they were paying too much, while another 30% stated they were confused by licensing. The intricate licensing arrangements that enterprise agreements require are intended to be confusing, increase your expenditure and regulatory risk, and make it more difficult to keep records of who uses what licenses in your company.

Ongoing Battle: Organizations Struggle with Office 365 Cost-cutting

It is essential to compare your utilization to the accessible licensing, illustrate where your staff members are over-licensed, and identify how much it costs you. For enterprise-level organizations, the cost of over-licensing staff can result in thousands of dollars being overspent each month.

Organize your licensing so that it is detailed and simple to comprehend, more feasible and efficient, and so you can make educated choices about your software expenditure, resulting in a streamlined and contemporary approach to software asset management.

 

MetrixData 360: Office 365 Licensing Specialists are Here to Help

It might be an unfamiliar and exciting opportunity to switch to Office 365, so it’s important to comprehend what you require and how you’ll employ it. By doing so, you can come up with a custom solution that best matches your organization’s needs, keeping your costs low and your productivity high. MetrixData 360 specializes in helping businesses transition from desktop services to cloud-based platforms by establishing a contemporary approach to software asset management for Office 365 cost-cutting

Visit our website to learn how MetrixData 360 helps its clients understand how Office 365 works and to see how much you can save.

Switching from EA to CSP

5 Hidden Azure Cost Optimizations: How to Save on Azure

The more resources you spend on your business, the better it gets. With Azure’s increased variety and efficiency boosters like machine learning tools for data analysis or IoT connectivity options, there are no limits to what can be achieved. But be aware, Azure cost management can also be very challenging. 

 

Understanding where your company’s money is coming from might be complex, given that firms frequently own dozens of Azure-related services for which they must make monthly payments. Shifting more assets to the cloud and cloud expenses also comprise a sizable portion of IT expenditures. 

 

So, do you want to know how to reduce IT budgets?

 

There are various Azure cost optimization secrets that can assist you in visualizing and controlling costs. You can use these to cut down on waste and maximize already-existing resources.

 

Here are some insights on practices and tools that can assist you in optimizing your Azure costs. 

1. Efficient Use of VMs

Azure provides a diverse range of virtual machines (VMs) with various hardware and functionality options. To determine which offers maximum throughput or efficiency while being cost-efficient, experiment with different VMs for the same job. You can auto-scale to adopt the number of VMs for actual workloads and continue with the VMs that perform best. 

 

Keep in mind that 100% utilization of all VMs will result in the lowest cost. By utilizing Azure Monitor to analyze your metrics alongside techniques, such as auto-scaling, to update the number of machines based on utilization, aim to reach as close to this target as possible.

 

2. Utilizing B-series VMs

Another way to ensure Azure cost optimization is through B-series VMs. The B-Series virtual machines provided by Azure are intended for programs that are normally inactive but occasionally see spikes in consumption. If the job is manageable, you can earn credits with low levels of computational resources. The CPU power is increased with abrupt spikes in consumption, and you can use the credits to cover the cost of capacity addition. The machine returns to its default CPU power when credits have been used up. 

 

B-Series VMs offer reductions from 15-55% compared to other VMs. Determine which tasks must be available but only seldom require high throughput or performance, and migrate them to B-Series virtual machines.

 

 

3. Shifting Workloads to Containers

Containers weigh less compared to VMs. You can run up to hundreds of containers on a single host machine, with each running a different containerized program. By repackaging your programs as containers, you can significantly lower VM utilization and your expenditures. Consider moving workloads to a container service like Azure Kubernetes Service from conventional Azure VMs (AKS). 

4. Using Storage Tiering

Most continuing costs for Azure setups are often related to memory. With decreasing costs per each storage tier of Azure Blob Storage, several redundancy choices are also available (less redundancy means less storage cost). Consider researching Azure storage pricing to find out how much each storage service costs. 

 

Shifting less critical or infrequently accessed data to a cheaper tier or a lower redundancy option will help you save money. You can further build tiering storage management into your software to ensure that data is routinely migrated to a lower-cost tier when it is no longer required.

5. Utilizing Cost Optimization Tools

The Azure consumption tools, such as SLIM 360 for Azure, are highly beneficial if you are interested in controlling your budget reports and improving Azure cost optimization. SLIM 360 is one of these tools and is solely designed to uncover your potential for cost savings, helping you carefully examine your data to identify superfluous expenses so they can be reinvested into your business.

 

Working with the information generated by the Azure portal can be challenging. The overwhelming volume of data that Azure customers receive frequently leaves them unable to make sense of it. Solutions like SLIM 360 Azure Reporting streamline and simplify the process of analyzing results by compiling them into plain-language graphs and charts, enabling greater use of your Azure Portal invoices.

 

MetrixData 360: Here to Help

 

If you attempt to break down your costs using the receipts in your Azure portal, you will probably be met with a headache from complex data spreadsheets. However, MetrixData 360’s Azure Usage Tool is specially designed to comprehend Azure’s detailed pricing and simplify it into information that is easy to understand and use. Our tool categorizes your current Azure charges for storage, VMs, SQL databases, and more. The total cost for each category is then shown, along with the list price and any discounts used. 

If you’re looking for how to reduce IT budgets, visit our website to book a demo to see how much you can save.

Bring Your Own License (BYOL) Rules on Third-Party Cloud Providers

Bring Your Own License (BYOL) Rules on Third Party Cloud Providers

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 occur? One key reason behind our client’s overspending stems from the complexity of Bring Your Own License rules (BYOL) on their third-party cloud providers. 

At MetrixData360, we have helped hundreds of companies save millions of dollars, in this article, we will clear the waters by showing you the steps you can take to mitigate any potential areas of overspending in your software licensing environment.

 

 

 

Rule Change 

Microsoft changed its rules as of 1st October 2019 around how Microsoft products are licensed in 3rd party hosting scenarios.  These changes primarily impact AWS, Google, and Alibaba clouds (although others are affected).  The concept of Bring Your Own Licenses (BYOL) is influenced significantly by these changes.  Before these changes, as long as you had hardware dedicated to your use (i.e., were not using shared infrastructure), you could BYOL now.  With these changes, you may be required to purchase subscription licenses for these products through the hoster (e.g., Windows Servers, Office).  Specific versions may still be licensed via BYOL if licenses were acquired for those products before October 2019 or on a contract still active as of October 2019. 

 

To understand these rights, you must review the Microsoft Product Terms.  Below are the relevant sections: 

 

 

  1. Customers may use the server software on a Licensed Server, provided it acquires sufficient Server Licenses as described below. 

 

A Licensed Server is: 

A Licensed Server means a single Server, dedicated to the Customer’s use, to which a License is assigned.  Dedicated Servers that are under the management or control of an entity other than the Customer or one of its Affiliates are subject to the Outsourcing Software Management clause.  For purposes of this definition, a hardware partition or blade is considered to be a separate Server. 

 

 

The Outsourcing Software Management clause states: 

Customers may install and use licensed copies of the software on Servers and other devices that are under the day-to-day management and control of Authorized Outsourcers, provided all such Servers and other devices are and remain fully dedicated to Customer’s use.  The customer is responsible for all of the obligations under its volume licensing agreement regardless of the physical location of the hardware upon which the software is used.  Except as expressly permitted here or elsewhere in these Product Terms, the Customer is not permitted to install or use licensed copies of the software on Servers and other devices that are under the management or control of a third party. 

 

Authorized Outsourcer means any third-party service provider that is not a Listed Provider and is not using Listed Provider as a Data Center Provider as part of the outsourcing service. 

 

AWS is a Listed Provider.  Next, we need to determine if we have a right to utilize software at the Listed Providers through Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance right: 

 

License Mobility through Software Assurance 

Under License Mobility Through Software Assurance (SA), Customer may move its licensed software to shared servers under any of its Licenses which are designated as having License Mobility for which it has SA, subject to the requirements below.  Products used for Self-Hosting may be used at the same time under License Mobility through SA rights, subject to the limitations of the Self-Hosting License Terms.  

 

Permitted Use: 

With License Mobility through SA, Customer may: 

      • Run its licensed software on shared servers;  
      • Access that software under access licenses and for which it has SA, and under its User and Device SLs that permit access to the Products;  
      • Manage its OSEs that it uses on shared servers; and/or  
      • Manage its OSEs that it uses on its servers using software that it runs on shared servers. 

 

Requirements: 

To use License Mobility through SA, the Customer must: 

      • Run its licensed software and manage its OSEs on shared servers under the terms of its volume licensing agreement;  
      • Deploy its Licenses only with Microsoft Azure Services or qualified License Mobility through Software Assurance Partner; and 
      • Complete and submit the License Mobility Validation form with each License Mobility through Software Assurance Partner who will run its licensed software on their shared servers. 

 

License Mobility allows for use on a shared server.  Products that have this right associated with them allow BYOL (as long as you have active Software Assurance).  Next, we need to see if a product has Server Mobility.  For Windows Server: 

 

4. Software Assurance 

 

Windows Server does not include License Mobility rights.  For Windows Server (or any product without License Mobility), this means BYOL is only available for versions that were released before October 2019 and for which licenses were acquired prior (or on active contracts as of October 2019) to October 2019 

 

 

Please refer to the current Product Terms to ensure this info is still accurate as Microsoft makes changes frequently to their licensing rules. 

 

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!