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.

4 Tips to Upgrade Your Azure Financial Reporting

If you’re like most organizations these days, you’re utilizing Azure to power at least a portion of your operations. Additionally, if you use Azure, you are aware of how crucial it is to keep a close check on your expenses, as it’s a constant struggle to avoid paying more than you need to. Here are a few tips and recommendations on how you can upgrade your Azure financial reporting and develop strong FinOps (Financial Operations) for your company so that you can maximize savings and get the most out of your investment.

1. Look at Your Costs on a Rolling 30-Day Period

One of the finest techniques for keeping track of your Azure costs is to look at them on a rolling 30-day period. This way, you can spot trends and optimize your usage accordingly. You can search for patterns and adjust the way you employ services. You can also use this method to compare your current month’s usage to previous months so that you can see if you’re making progress in terms of efficiency.

A 30-day period is an ideal number to follow for ensuring consistency in cost assessment. This is because most managers prefer having cost comparisons on a month-to-month basis. Further, typical Azure reports are produced monthly, which is another factor to consider. However, months can have 28 days, 30 days, or 31 days which can cause inconsistency when comparing costs. Hence taking an average,  a rolling 30-day period seems to be a reasonable period of time to follow.

It should be noted that your Log Analytics workspaces and Application Insights services often incur the most expenses through data import and maintenance. Through a 30-day rolling period, you will be able to accurately determine how much of the Azure budget is being spent on insight and other Azure services. 

One popular tactic is to activate supervision for a small subset of resources, then use the calculators and the observed data levels to estimate your expenditures for the entire ecosystem.

2. Remove FX (Foreign Exchange) from the Reporting  

If you have multiple subscriptions in different currencies, it can be helpful to remove foreign exchange (FX) from the reporting and solely report in a single currency (USD). This will make it easier for you to compare your costs across different time periods and see how exchange rates are affecting your spending. It will also help you track your costs more accurately since currency fluctuations can sometimes distort the data.

3. Associate Costs To Match Where “Value” is Being Achieved

Another way to upgrade your Azure financial reporting is to associate costs with customers, departments, etc. This will help you match your costs with the areas of your business that are actually generating value. For example, if you have a department that is responsible for generating revenue, you’ll want to make sure that its costs are properly reflected in the overall financial picture. By doing this, you can get a better understanding of where your money is going and how it is being used.

You can further associate cost with revenue to create a “unit economic” Key Performance Indicator (KPI) on a per workload/RSS-group level. By doing this, you can track how much each unit is costing you and compare it to the revenue that it is generating. This will help you make better decisions about where to allocate your resources and identify areas where additional investment might be needed.

4. Use FinOps (Financial (Cloud) Operations) to Enhance Financial Reporting

Finally, one last tip for upgrading your Azure financial reporting is to utilize FinOps’ benefits. And what is FinOps? The administration technique known as FinOps, or financial operations, encourages collaborative accountability for an organization’s cloud infrastructure deployment and expenditures.

The FinOps  methodology brings together leadership from the finance, IT, and DevOps sectors to control the overall cost of cloud platforms across an organization. With FinOps, an organization gives cross-functional teams the authority to control cloud costs while functioning according to FinOps standards. In order to implement the best practices for cloud financial planning, the FinOps initiative frequently involves setting up governance structures with a team or council.

Four steps can be taken to implement a FinOps structure:

  • Analysis. Monitor all cloud spending and gain insight into team-specific IT expenditures and allotment.
  • Benchmarking. Evaluate cloud instance efficiency to identify over- and underprovisioning.
  • Optimization. To enhance cost/performance, rightsize instances, shift loads, and tweak applications.
  • Negotiation. Streamline your cloud service provider (CSP) payments and match your overall performance with cloud service allocation.

To preserve productivity, spur innovation, upgrade financial reporting, and reduce costs, you have to perform these processes on a regular basis.

 

Conclusion

Azure offers organizations a robust framework for managing their operations, but it’s crucial to monitor expenditures to prevent out-of-control spending. You may improve your Azure financial reporting by using the aforementioned advice so that you have a proper insight into where your money is invested and how it is being used. This information will help you make informed decisions about where to allocate resources and invest in new technologies.

Managing your Azure costs can become a little complicated. Hence, our experts are here to assist you in managing all your Azure costs with ease. So, if you’re looking for ways to cut Azure spending, request a demo on our website to find out how much you can save.

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.

Microsoft 365 vs. Office 365: What’s The Difference?

Sometimes Microsoft 365 and Office 365 are used interchangeably, which can lead to confusion about what each represents. If you’ve wondered about the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365 and which one is the better option for you, you’ve come to the right place. Although they are frequently substituted for one another, they are significantly different. The term “Microsoft 365” describes a broader range of software and services, including Office 365.  

Let’s explore the differences between Office 365 and Microsoft 365. Once you are aware of the differences (and similarities), you can better distinguish between them and recognize their main characteristics. This knowledge can help you conquer the uphill battle of choosing the most cost-optimized Microsoft solution.

The Office 365 Suite

The Office 365 suite components are referred to as “Microsoft Office 365.” Microsoft launched the Office 365 package as a collection of teamwork tools to facilitate productivity. These include Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Exchange, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Microsoft Excel. Each of these instruments is designed to function with the others.  But just because they were built to run on top of Windows doesn’t mean they have to. One of its greatest benefits is that most contemporary suites are cloud-based and readily available online. They can also be accessible on various platforms, including Mac and Linux laptops, iOS and Android mobile devices, and desktop computers. The Office 365 suite has effectively been expanded so that it is now essentially platform-neutral. Therefore, Windows-based machines are no longer exclusively used with the Office 365 package, which is significant for the larger “Microsoft 365” framework. While one of the top creative and collaboration suites for most organizations is still Office 365, Microsoft Teams allows staff members to collaborate on software like Microsoft Word and Excel from anywhere in the world. The Office 365 suite must also be carefully controlled to maintain communication efficiency and data protection.

The Microsoft 365 Suite

The Office 365 collaboration toolset and the larger Microsoft 365 environment are collectively known as “Microsoft 365”, comprising both the Enterprise Mobility Suite and the Microsoft Windows operating system. The operating system, mobility suites, and collaboration architecture have all seen significant improvements thanks to Microsoft – something that has become essential in a world where more employees work remotely. While operating the Office 365 suite from the cloud is an option, Windows also improves the simplicity of switching fluidly between desktop and cloud-based tasks.

Organizations that desire higher levels of flexibility and privacy are supported by Microsoft 365. The Office 365 suite can be utilized on various systems, but it mostly connects with the Microsoft 365 environment. This infrastructure was designed to assist and surround the Office 365 product line.

Another benefit of adopting a Windows system is its versatility. Windows computers have significantly boosted security and manageability support, provided regularly-updated security fixes, and offered more capabilities for remote work and collaboration

The Comparison: Microsoft 365 and Office 365

When you purchase Microsoft 365 (M365), Office 365 is included in the M365 package. So, what’s the difference between Microsoft 365 and Office 365 if Microsoft 365 also includes Office 365? In truth, both Microsoft 365 and Office 365 are essentially Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. But Microsoft 365 has more services bundled together, which can be particularly useful for enterprise-sized organizations.

Along with O365, Microsoft 365 also consists of the Windows operating system and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS). Because it contains the operating system and the EMS, two platforms with considerable capabilities, Microsoft 365 truly isn’t the same as Office 365. With additional services included, M365 offers a single, secure package for organizations to use for enhancing operations and collaboration.

While it may appear like semantics, it’s not. When researching systems, diagnosing them, or learning more about updating, optimizing, and managing them, it’s critical to be aware of the distinctions. It’s also significant from a developmental and architectural perspective. Would you like to spend money on the complete Microsoft 365 infrastructure? Or are you just thinking about Office 365? The distinctions (and similarities) between products like Office 365 E3 and Microsoft 365 E3 can considerably contribute to well-informed purchase decisions.

MetrixData 360: Here to Help

It isn’t necessary to spend significant time and effort finding hard savings in Office 365 subscriptions. You can start recognizing savings within six months with our support. You’ll be able to identify the areas where money is mismanaged and which individuals have excessive, insufficient or no licenses, helping to make your regulatory shortcomings and value gaps in your purchases more evident. 

If you’re interested in software asset management, then visit our website to learn more about our Office 365 Licensing Bootcamp.

Interested in Office 365 Cost Avoidance?

Take the Office 365 Savings Symposium Course Today!

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!

Azure Active Directory

Taking your organization’s Active Directory to the Cloud can be an exciting and complicated event that businesses have had to do in some capacity over the past year in order to survive. Perhaps the initial transition was nothing but scaffolding, a hastily compiled structure that could accommodate your organization’s needs for the time being. But now that you are settled in your new Cloud space, you might want to make an important and permanent transition in hosting your Active Directory in the Cloud. It is obviously not as simple as copying and pasting your Active Directory’s data (if only it was!) but at MetrixData 360, we are here to help you with the transition, as we have helped many of our clients prepare for their move to the Cloud. So, what does a cloud-based Active Directory look like? How will it differ from your on-prem system as it currently exists? Keep reading and find out.

What is Active Directory

To know where you’re going, let’s look at where you’re coming from. At its most basic, your Active Directory is a directory service which allows for wide-reaching control over the desktops and users in your organization’s software infrastructure. The AD stores users, passwords, devices, and licensing entitlements, just to name a few. Since it is a single interface that stores a wealth of data, it is often extremely valuable for the IT department to deploy new technology, ensure compliance and optimization. As you might guess, the safety and accuracy of the data within the AD must be a top priority for organizations since the AD cannot deliver peak performance and results if the data it stores is not accurate and secure.

If you have spent any time on the Internet, you may have been asked to create a free online account by almost every website you’ve come across. The same is true when it comes to SaaS applications; in order to track users, every user needs an account for every application they will use, which means that every user may have dozens of usernames and passwords that the administration department will need to keep track of. For organizations with over a thousand employees, you can understand how quickly this could get away from you. This is where Azure Active Directory comes in. Azure AD provides users with a single username and password in order to access all the applications they have a license to use. In addition to keeping track of all the users in its system, Azure AD can also be used to:

  • Monitor access to applications
  • Provision Users
  • Enable federation between organizations
  • Extend existing on-prem AD implementations to your Azure AD

The Inherent Nature of the Cloud

Moving to the Cloud comes with Cloud related advantages and drawbacks and the Azure AD is no exception to this rule. As is the general nature of the Cloud, Azure AD’s main advantage is that the hardware and software needed for the operation of its service is hosted elsewhere, meaning you do not have to handle maintenance, deployment and security, your cloud solutions provider will take care of that. Pricing is much simpler being that you only pay month-to-month and pay only for what you are using, although Microsoft does still reward large upfront payments and yearlong commitments.

Main Benefits of Azure AD

  • Allows users to have a single log-in and password for every applicable SaaS application that your organization has on the Cloud.
  • Provide users with the ability to access these Cloud services from anywhere, allowing for secure remote access
  • Effectively manage your SaaS applications in a single location, increasing control, organization and security
  • Highly scalable at low costs compared to on-prem counterparts
  • High quality security at your fingertips

Azure AD Editions

There are a few options you can pick from when it comes to Azure AD, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

  • Azure AD Free Edition

This version comes as a free edition available to every Azure subscription and offers a maximum 500,000 Directory Object creations. The only drawback with this edition is that it is not applicable with Microsoft paid services and applications like O365 and Intune.

  • Azure AD Basic

Allowing you to be both productive and cost-effective, Azure AD basic provides central cloud application access and self-service identity management solutions for the task worker who wants their infrastructure to exist exclusively in the Cloud. Basic also comes with many cost-reducing features like group-based access management, self-service password resets, and Azure AD Application Proxy.

  • Azure AD Premium P1

Premium P1 offers its customers a more empowered experience, with the ability to perform more demanding tasks in identification and access management. The P1 also comes with a wide variety of enterprise-level features to help improve identity management capabilities and allows hybrid users to access both on-prem and cloud services. Ideal for information workers, with the bonus of having Microsoft Identity Manager for on-prem identification and access management, P1 offers a full suite of options for security, identity management, and access management.

  • Azure Premium P2

    The Premium P2 encompasses all the features of the other editions plus some added features, including Identity Protection and Privileged Identity Management, allowing top of the line security for your organization’s most sensitive data.

Integrating Azure AD with On-prem Active Directory

If you currently have an on-prem Active Directory Solution and are thinking about moving to the Cloud, there is no need to choose between Active Directory on-prem and Azure AD since you can potentially have both. The two systems can be blended seamlessly, for instance, if you are using Office 365, you can have the usernames and passwords of users managed by on-prem AD while Azure AD takes care of the network logons while synchronizing the two systems so that if details are changed both ADs are updated.

Getting Your Azure AD Solution Under Control

Microsoft Azure AD is a great way for your company to improve the organization of your infrastructure on the Cloud, but it won’t matter how organized you are if you are not compliant. At MetrixData 360, we help our clients ensure they can safely transfer their applications to the Cloud without running the risk of falling out of compliance. This will provide you with the peace of mind of knowing exactly what you have deployed in your environment and that you can use it. For more information on our services, you can check out our MetrixData 360 Cloud Services page.



Migrating SQL Server to the Cloud Like a Pro

Moving your SQL Server to the Cloud, that devilish concoction of riddles and frustration, might be a little harder than anticipated. There is a lot to figure out, such as providers, solutions, and options — so many options. At MetrixData 360, we often assist our customers in migrating to the Cloud successfully, primarily in making sure their transition is adhering to the rules of their software vendors and to make sure they are moving in the most cost-effective way possible.

So, in this article, we’ll be discussing how you can successfully move your SQL Server into the Cloud and some of those juicy options you have at your disposal.

Why Migrate Your SQL Server to the Cloud?

Before you go through all the trouble of moving your SQL Servers to the Cloud, it is important to ask why you would even want to do something like that when you already have a SQL Server on-prem that works just fine.

  • Future-proof your software infrastructure:
    • It is clear that the Cloud is where the business world is going, and the pandemic of 2020 has only sped up this transition. It is also clear that Microsoft’s goals are to operate and sell licenses exclusively in and for the Cloud, and on-prem products are being phased out of their lineup.

 

    • Scalability in the Cloud is so much easier: Your SQL Servers need to be as elastic as possible (especially in these times of uncertainty), and the Cloud typically allows you to adjust your Cloud sizing as you go along.

 

  • The Cloud is praised for having advanced security: Protecting your data is everything, and the top Cloud vendors are praised for having world-class security infrastructure.


Azure vs. AWS

While there are many cloud providers to pick from, there are basically two main Cloud providers that dominate the marketplace and serve as the only viable option for large international companies: Microsoft’s Azure and AWS from Amazon.

Both providers will allow you to move your SQL to their Cloud platform, and both offer your classic pay-as-you-go plan that is often found in the cloud, along with a variety of configuration types. So, let’s look at each platform’s SQL Server Migration Options and see if we can find one that is best for your business.

Related: How do the top three Cloud platforms stack up?
Check out our Comparison

Virtual Machine Configuration Types

Objective Description AWS Azure
General Purpose Balanced CPU-to-memory ratio. Ideal for testing and development, small to medium databases, and low to medium traffic web servers. T2, M3, M4 DSv2, Dv2, DS, D, Av2, A0-7
Compute Optimized High CPU-to-memory ratio. Good for medium traffic webservers, network applications, batch processes, and application servers. C3, C4 Fs, F
Memory Optimized High memory-to-core ratio. Great for relational database servers, medium to large caches, and in-memory analytics X1, R3, R4 GS, G, DSv2, DS
Storage Optimized High disk throughput and IO. Ideal for Big Data, SQL, and NoSQL databases I2, I3, D2 Ls
GPU Specialized virtual machines targeted for heavy graphic rendering and video editing. F1, G2, P2 NV, NC
High Performance Compute Fastest and most powerful CPU virtual machines P2, R3, R4, X1, C3 H, A 8-11

 

Recommended Virtual Machine Configuration Type(s) by SQL Server Edition

SQL Server Edition Virtual Machine Types (both AWS and Azure)
SQL Server Express General Purpose
SQL Server Web General Purpose / Compute Optimized
SQL Server Standard Memory Optimized / Storage Optimized
SQL Server Enterprise Memory Optimized / Storage Optimized / High Performance Computer

Azure in the Cloud

Microsoft’s Azure has currently three deployment options for putting your SQL Server Database in the Cloud:

Azure VMs

With Virtual Machines (VMs), you have access to the Server’s Operating System (OS) as if it were hosted in your infrastructure, allowing you the freedom to install all the software that you require, just so long as you have sufficient storage space. This solution offers the widest range of services, including backups, restoration, mirroring, detaching and attaching, log shipping, bulk loading, DMA/DMS, and replication. VMs are also excellent for almost every migration strategy and it is quite easy since it is the closest you can get to simply copying and pasting your old server into a new server. For this reason, it is the most popular option.

 

Azure Managed Instances

Manages Instances are a fully managed SQL Server Database hosted by Azure and are simply placed in your network. This means you do not have to worry about security, updates, or patches — all of which are handled by Microsoft. This solution is the next best option after VMs, since it has all of features listed above except for detaching and attaching, mirroring, and log shipping. It is fairly compatible with most strategies and a migration can expect few hiccups.

 

Azure SQL Server Database

Azure SQL Server Database is perhaps the most limited solution of the three, since this option doesn’t provide you with backups or restoration, detaching and attaching, mirroring or log shipping, it is also the solution where you are most likely going to run into issues. There are often issues surrounding security and infrastructure incompatibility which can halt the operation.

To assist in this migration, Microsoft has created the Data Migration Assistant, which is specifically designed to help you move your SQL to Azure by comparing feature parity and database compatibility, allowing you to better understand your unique deployment options.

SQL Server in AWS

Microsoft SQL Server is flexible enough that it can be moved to a host that is not owned by Microsoft, including AWS. There are a few advantages to picking AWS over Azure: AWS is larger, has more options, and it may already be the primary platform that your company is using, and keeping your operations on a single Cloud host will make your management of it that much easier.

AWS has two options when moving your SQL Server: Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS).

Amazon EC2

Amazon EC2 allows you to maintain control over every aspect of your SQL environment and it will run very similar to when your SQL Server was on-prem. This means that you can have your own database administrators and set up your own architecture. Availability, configuration, and backups with the EC2 will be up to you since you will be setting up your own database. Despite the fact that, in general, the RDS is more attractive, the EC2’s main appeals come from its full control, its greater variety of features, and its ability to exceed the maximum database size and performance needs of the RDS.

Amazon RDS

Where the EC2 offers an experience as close to on-prem as possible, the RDS is much more akin to your typical Cloud services, with pre-configured parameters and settings that are best suited for the SQL Server edition and DB Instance you select upon installation. RDS also provides you with additional features such as CloudWatch and AWS Management Console to provide you better control over your compute, memory, and storage capacity utilization. RDS takes care of things like patching, backup, disaster recovery, and event notification to ensure you’re up to date and running at peak performance while enjoying a hands-off experience.

Virtual Machines
Features AWS Azure
Product Names EC2 – Elastic Compute Cloud – Virtual Machines Virtual Machines
Commitment Types Pay as you go (on demand),
Reserved Instances (1 or 3 year terms for discounted rates compared to On-Demand pricing)
Pay as you go
Instance Types Standard (no control over which physical server hosts VM, Dedicated Hosts Standard (no control over which physical server hosts VM)
Operating System Yes Yes

Managed SQL Server Database(s)
Feature AWS Azure
Product Name RDS – SQL Server SQL Database
Availability Single AZ (one server), Multi AZ (SQL Server mirror across multiple servers) Standard, Premium (High Availability)
Editions Express, Web, Standard, Enterprise
Versions 2008, R2, 2012, 2014, 2016
Max Databases Per Instance 30 Single – 1
Elastic Pool – 50-500 depending on level
Max Storage 4 TB Single – 2 GB to 4 TB depending on level
Elastic Pool – 156 GB to 4 TB depending on level
Ease of Importing Databases Difficult/Complicated
No access to underlying OS so accessing the database can be challenging
Requires AWS S3 or Azure Storage Container (cloud storage)
Relatively straight forward
No access to underlying OS
Features/Limitations Support for native capabilities of SQL Server Edition (seamless migration)
No support for SSAS, SSIS, SSRS, DQS, MDS. These require SQL Server in Virtual Machine
Not all native capabilities of SQL Server edition supported (may require code modification and/or loss of functionality)
No support for MDS, DQS, or SSIS. These require SQL Server in Virtual Machine
Benefits Over VM & SQL Server Approach No overhead management required (OS/SQL Server patched, service packs, maintenance all handled by provider)

What Type of Licenses Will You Need to Move Your SQL Server to the Cloud?

SQL Server Licensing
Features AWS Azure
Provided by Service Provider Yes Yes
Client Provided
(with SA)
Yes with SA using Licensing Mobility Yes with SA using License Mobility
Client Provided
without SA
Yes (EC2 Dedicated Hosts only) No

How Much Does SQL Server in the Cloud Cost?

The question on everyone’s mind always circles back to price and how much it will cost you. As pressing as this question is, it is also difficult to answer since there are so many factors to consider that will be unique to your individual environment. Luckily, both AWS and Azure have tools to help you come to an estimate:

Related: SQL Server is one of the Most Confusing Licensing Models out there.
Check out our SQL Server Licensing Guide for an Explanation that makes sense.

 

Need Help Moving to the Cloud?

SQL Servers can be such a headache that simply getting them to work properly on-prem and ensuring they are licensed accordingly can be a task and a half. So, moving to the Cloud can be an intimidating process to say the least. If you find yourself in this situation of wanting to move your SQL Servers to the Cloud, know that it is possible, and you don’t have to go through it alone. At MetrixData 360, we have helped many of our clients get ready for the Cloud by ensuring your licenses will permit you to move safely and in a manner that will ensure your transition is compliant and cost-effective. If you would like to learn more about our Cloud Services, you can click the link below.a

What are Microsoft Audit Penalties

Microsoft Audit Penalties: The High Cost of Software Audits

 

If you’re found non-compliant in a Microsoft Audit you’ll be faced with fines as outlined in your software contract. In this video, SAM Expert Mike Austin explains how Microsoft calculates those audit penalties and how you can make sure you’re not paying more than you’re obligated to. If you’d like to explore the penalties in deeper detail, feel free to download our Microsoft PDF below the video.

 

Everything You Need To Know About Microsoft Audits and Audit Penalties:

Ever wonder what one of these ‘SAM engagements’ could end up costing your organization’s pocket book at the end of the day? Would you like to know if it’s necessary to respond to them? Fill out the find out:

  • What are the biggest costs in a Microsoft audit?
  • Where to find help in reducing penalty costs
  • The differences between a Microsoft SAM Engagement Vs. Software Audit



The Pros and Cons of Microsoft’s CSP: Is it Right for You?

Microsoft’s Cloud Solution Provider Program has begun to build momentum in the software industry, and it may have caught your attention as an appealing option for Cloud deployment. If you are considering purchasing from Microsoft’s CSP program, it’s important that you weigh the pros and cons in order to carefully consider what is right for your business.

At MetrixData 360, we like to keep a finger on the pulse of the software industry, and, as such, we’ve noticed many of our customers are coming to us with questions about the CSP program and if it’s right for them.

In this article, we’ll go into the details of the CSP program and its benefits and drawbacks for potential customers.

What is Microsoft’s CSP Program?

The Cloud Solution Provider Program is a new way Microsoft intends to sell licenses and manage client’s accounts.

Instead of Microsoft selling licenses directly to their customers, they will be selling their licenses to Direct CSP Distributors, who in turn will either sell to Indirect CSP Resellers or to you, the customer. Indirect CSP Resellers will also sell directly to customers.

As a customer, you don’t have to interact with Microsoft and instead will merely have to manage the relationship with your Reseller and/or Distributor. Your Reseller or Distributor will handle relations with Microsoft and will represent you to Microsoft over any outstanding issues.

Your Reseller or Distributor will provide you with anything related to your customer experience, including negotiating exclusive discounts, customized bundles, support, maintenance etc.

Pros of the CSP Program

Monthly Payment Models

One of the main appeals that draws customers to the CSP is the month-to-month payment models that CSP offers.

This allows you to adjust for seasonal influxes of workers and customers alike. Not only is it easy to scale up, it is easy to scale down, which is not a feature found in Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement (EA).

With the EA, while it was simple and almost expected for customers to add licenses to their final count at every true-up, it would be painful and almost impossible to remove any licenses, which often left customers feeling forced to buy more than they needed simply to maintain their EA level status and to keep Microsoft happy.

With the CSP, while there are other long term payment models available, there are no such restrictions that limit you to locking yourself in, and you are free to add and drop licenses from month-to-month as your needs dictate.

The billing that you receive is also supposed to be more detailed than that of the EA, allowing you to easily track your spending.

No Minimum Commitment

Microsoft’s EA required its customers to meet many rather tedious requirements in order to maintain their pricing level and the discounts that go along with it. These pricing levels are primarily dictated by the number of seats you need, and as of 2016, the minimum seats you need to qualify for the EA at all was raised from 250 to 500 seats.

This leaves a lot of mid-sized businesses in that 250-500 employee range in the lurch and looking for alternatives that will not force them to pay for licenses they don’t need.

This is where the CSP program comes in; with the CSP program, there are no minimum commitments you need to adhere to. This makes CSP ideal for mid-sized businesses and many former EA customers are expected to switch to the CSP for that very reason.

There is also no minimum length of time you need to stay in the CSP program. With the EA, you typically needed to sign up for a three-year agreement, and during that time you could easily add licenses but you couldn’t easily dip below your original agreement count.

With the CSP however, there is no minimum seat requirement and no length of time you have to commit to, giving you complete freedom in how long you stay and how much you use.

You Get to Work with Your CSP Partner

As an individual consumer, you might know the pain of trying to get Microsoft’s attention. As excellent as they are at selling products, they often have difficulty providing meaningful customer service to every one of their customers simply by the sheer size of their business.

You can often feel like you’re little more than a number to them, which is why the CSP partner program offers a more engaging and personalized experience. Since your CSP partner will be handling the relationship with Microsoft, you will only have to handle your relationship with your CSP partner, whose role in this chain is to provide you with an ideal customer experience.

This means that they will be offering you around the clock support, assistance in migrating to the Cloud, and customizable solutions hand-tailored to your organization’s requirements.

In order to stand out in the market, CSP partners will be eager to provide you with deals and enticing offers and will often be more willing to negotiate pricing and bundles compared to dealing directly with Microsoft.

It’s Where Microsoft is Clearly Pushing Their Clients Anyway

It’s clear that Microsoft has a vision and that’s one where their platform, products, and business exist exclusively on the Cloud. They’ve been quite aggressive in growing their Azure platform, which is now sitting second to only AWS in size and selection.

They also have begun steadily making their Enterprise Agreement less appealing to mid-size businesses and pushing their clients into other revenues, including Microsoft’s CSP. In 2016, they announced that the number of minimum seats required for companies to possess an EA would jump from 250 seats to 500.

In 2018, Microsoft also removed programmatic discounts offered to Level A customers with a seat count between 250-2,399 seats, significantly deteriorating the previously superior pricing of the EA compared to other volume license programs. At MetrixData 360, we think this deterioration of the EA will continue eventually even to the Level B customers. The reason for this is a bit multi-layered but essentially, what the EA provided for customers was direct access to Microsoft, they could negotiate custom-made deals and required a large quantity of Microsoft’s time and money supporting customer-service infrastructures. What the CSP does is it allows the CSP partners to present to their customer’s a more fixed, non-negotiable pricing while also giving the CSP partners the task of handling customer relations.

While you should always make your business decisions in accordance with the goals and priorities of your organization, it is important to note that Microsoft is visibly pushing away from the EA and into other avenues, including the CSP program.

Cons of CSP

It’s in the Cloud

It might be a little bit of a no brainer but the CSP program is a Cloud-only program, meaning it won’t offer products that are only available on-premises. This may be a roadblock to some organizations who require that their software and their data to remain on-prem.

For other products that are on-prem, such as servers, you will need a different license for them. With an exclusive Cloud platform comes Cloud-related problems,, including but not limited to:

  • Security Issues
  • Data Ownership
  • Lost connection leading to downtime
  • Difficult to track software assets in the Cloud, often leading to rampant spending

Some of the Partners are Newer than Others to the Cloud Business

It can be a rigorous process becoming a Direct CSP distributor, and you’ll need to meet the following requirements:

  • You need to prove that you are capable of providing around the clock technical support.
  • You need to pass a credit check in order to purchase Microsoft’s support plan.
  • You need to have a customer billing structure already in place.
  • You need to already have at least one managed service, IP service, or customer solution application.
  • You need to have at least one Microsoft Gold Productivity Competency.

However, to become an Indirect CSP Reseller doesn’t require nearly the same level of prerequisites, since they’ll get most of their infrastructure, such as their billing and their technical support, from their Direct Distributor. As such, you may find that smaller and newer resellers are not as well equipped to deal with your unique business demands as they arise.

Ready for the CSP Program?

With an uncertain future ahead of us, it can be understandable to be hesitant when picking a long-term IT solution for your business. Getting saddled with a platform that will prove to only be a weight around your neck to drag you down is hardly an ideal situation.

It is always best to examine the pros and cons to figure out if CSP is best suited to your company’s software environment.

At MetrixData 360, we are offering a unique solution to help you see if your software environment is ready to make the transition to CSP. Our SAM Compass Services offers you the ability to monitor your software environment to make sure you are only using what you need in order to keep your software spending as low as it can go.

Our solution offers our customers the ability to take control of their IT budget by providing them visibility into their usage and offering more streamlined licensing solutions, with the help of our team of experts on your side.

If you’d like more information on our SAM Compass Solution, you can check out our SAM Compass Service Page.

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