Azure and Reserved Instances – strategy to reduce and limit unexpected cloud costs

Azure and Reserved Instances - strategy to reduce and limit unexpected cloud costs

Cost Control of the Cloud: On-Demand or Reserved Instances

Cloud IaaS is increasingly a core component of IT operations strategy in the deployment of new technologies to support business goals. One of the most asked questions before starting any cloud deployment is cost control. Being able to extract the maximum value out of your cloud infrastructure, especially those resources/servers that will be online for long expected periods of time would be a great benefit to many companies. The most common way to purchase IaaS instances in public cloud is in an on-demand model. You pay for what you want when you use it at a predefined price for the increments of time that you use it. Additionally, there are two other means of purchasing an IaaS instance in either Microsoft Azure or Amazon AWS/EC2 today which are spot pricing and reserved instances.

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Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) and the ABCs of modern Microsoft cloud licensing

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) And The ABCs Of Modern Microsoft Cloud Licensing

How the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program helps partners add value while their customers gain flexibility

Technology acquisition continues to evolve – away from infrastructure and towards web services – and vendor licensing and partner programs with it.

In recent years, Microsoft has recognized how customer buying habits have changed to meet the rapid pace of innovation. To align with them, Microsoft developed the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. It’s all part of a larger trend moving away from traditional software licensing. By 2020, Gartner predicts that 80% of software vendors will abandon licensing and maintenance for subscription models.

While understanding how CSP solutions will impact you as a customer is important, according to Luke Black, Manager of Microsoft Programs and Marketing Operations at Softchoice, customer knowledge of CSPs varies.

In our recent Modern Microsoft Licensing webinar, Black and co-presenter John Byrne, Softchoice’s Managed Services Advisor, peeled back the CSP curtain. They discussed how CSP works and the benefits customers can see from solutions using to build solutions.

What is CSP?

Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is a non-contractual monthly, cloud subscription platform on top of which partners can build and support solutions. Today, three Microsoft cloud solutions are offered as CSP solutions: Office 365, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility +Security and Azure.

CSP customers gain the flexibility of scaling Microsoft technology up and down in a cloud environment, but with the support of a solution provider. Customers aren’t locked into the long-term commitment of an Enterprise Agreement (EA) or other volume licensing programs.

The program also changes the service and support model. The solution provider, and not Microsoft, is responsible for technical issues, service, and support. This allows partners like Softchoice to layer extra value onto the solution.

Why is the CSP program needed?

There will continue to be organizations for whom a three-year commitment to Microsoft around on-premise solutions makes perfect sense. But increasingly businesses need the ability to scale up and down and a simple way to do it, Black noted. “It’s all about simplification.”

“We all want to do more with less,” he said. “That’s why there’s a need for this modern licensing and a platform like Cloud Solution Provider.”

If you’re familiar with existing Microsoft license agreements, you are likely used to managing disparate agreements across many commercial systems. CSP solutions remove that complexity. They provide a single platform from which to buy and manage Microsoft cloud solutions, available from multiple entry points.

Who are CSP solutions ideal for?

According to Black and Byrne, CSP solutions are excellent options for customers who:

  • Purchase direct from the Microsoft Office Portal – If you already buy through Microsoft’s online portal, or who want to, CSP continues that, but with added value coming from the solution provider.
  • Don’t want contractual agreements – CSP is perfect for those adamantly opposed to long-term commitments, or who want to be billed only for what they use month-to-month.
  • Don’t mind buying separate on-premise licenses – While it’s on the roadmap, on-prem licenses are currently not part of CSP offerings. They are expected to be incorporated in the first half of 2018.
  • Need shorter-term cloud subscriptions for testing – Customers on EAs today can add cloud subscriptions, but there’s often still a long-term commitment involved. CSP solutions let you test out the cloud environment without being locked in.

What are the benefits of CSP solutions?

While CSP is a partner program, the ultimate beneficiary is Microsoft’s customers. It allows solution providers to offer greater value above and beyond the software purchase.

CSP solution customers can pay for as much or as little service and support as they need. For example, at a minimum, a partner might offer 24 x 7 live support. The real benefits come, however, when further value and managed services are layered onto a solution, Byrne suggested.

For example, navigating and managing the many updates and changes that come when using Software as a Service can be an overwhelming, full-time job. At the same time, traditional support often requires going through a script describing your environment.

Partners, on the other hand, have knowledge of both your environment and Microsoft solutions to provide strategic advice. A trusted solution provider using the CSP model can help customers achieve faster time to value and happier users. And can do so this while reducing risk and complexity and offering efficient, predictable costs.

Through a CSP solution, like Softchoice’s Keystone for Office 365, your partner can provide you with the administration, actionable insights and ongoing mentorship to get the most out of the solution in your specific environment.

To learn even more about CSP, or for a refresher of what you heard in the webinar, you can watch it here.

Right Sizing Your Windows Server Environment

Right Sizing Your Windows Server Environment

Did you know that Windows Server is one of the most mislicensed products under SPLA?

This can lead to unnecessary audits and expenses that no one wants to deal with.

We all know that Microsoft introduced a new licensing model for Windows Server 2016 when they changed the model from Processor to Core. As we wrote in our July article, the biggest concern was that if you were running more than 8 cores per instance (the minimum required) you would have to license the additional cores when you upgraded to Windows Server 2016 or when your SPLA contract renewed.

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What you need to know about Windows Server 2016 licensing


First off, let’s all take a moment to remember the licensing model of Windows Server 2012 R2. It was universally loved by the Microsoft community due to its clarity and simplicity. Microsoft offered two editions, Standard and Datacenter with the exact same functionality. Both covered two physical processors with the only difference being that Standard would allow for 1 physical or two virtual operating system environments (OSE) while Datacenter allowed for unlimited OSEs. For an environment with little to no virtualization, organizations would purchase Standard. For highly virtualized environments, organizations would go with Datacenter. This licensing setup would also include your Windows CALs (Client Access Licenses).

While Windows Server 2012 R2 licensing was wildly appreciated, we all knew that due to constant improvements in the processing power, this model would have to adapt soon enough. And it did…

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Windows Server 2016 Licensing Changes – Plan Accordingly!

Windows Server 2016 Licensing Changes

Windows Server 2016 Licensing Changes coming this September. Get ready.

With the upcoming release of Windows Server 2016 at the end of September, Microsoft is promising a lot, and if they deliver, this could be a game changer for you and your clients. The Softchoice SPLA team is here to simplify the licensing complexities and ensure you’re ideally positioned for future growth.

I encourage you to review the features I’ve attached in this blog post, but at a very high level, Windows Server 2016 boils down to this:

  • Increased cloud integration
  • Better security
  • Additional features in the Datacenter edition

Download Windows Server 2016 Feature Comparison

Download Windows Server 2016 Datasheet

Windows Server 2016 only available through core-based licensing

The biggest difference for the hosting world is that Windows Server 2016 will only be available through core-based licensing, with a minimum of 8-cores per processor. At the moment, the cost of 8-cores is expected to be identical to the cost of a single processor license, so anyone running 8 cores or less should not see a difference when moving to 2016. Anyone running more than 8 cores per processor will have to license those extra cores for an added cost when moving to 2016.

Important: When Windows Server 2016 comes out, all Windows Server editions will also move to core-based licensing, but Microsoft will allow you to continue reporting processors until the end of your agreement for all editions except 2016.

Very Important: Do you meet the following criteria?

  • Host Windows Server
  • Run more than 8 cores per processor
  • No immediate plans to upgrade to 2016
  • Your SPLA contract expires soon

If so, then you should renew your SPLA contract before the September release to protect yourself for 3 years and continue reporting processors.

The Softchoice SPLA Team is here to help you make sense of licensing in order to stay compliant and profitable. We give you the ability to report licenses through our unique online portal, which are then reviewed before being sent to Microsoft for processing. Our TechCheck teams can also arrange SPLA-specific assessments to help you gain a better understanding of your hosting environment.

If you have any questions about Windows Server or the SPLA program, let us know!

Click here if you want to learn more about other SPLA licensing changes.


Microsoft increases seat minimums for corporate Enterprise Agreement

Microsoft Moving Corporate Enterprise Agreement User/Device Minimums From 250 To 500

Earlier this month, Microsoft announced that starting July 1st, 2016 any new corporate Enterprise Agreement (including Enterprise Agreement Subscriptions) will require a 500 user/device minimum. Before we get into the specifics, let’s all take a deep breath.

While at face value this may seem like a major change from Microsoft, in reality, the impact on existing EA customers is minimal. That’s because Microsoft is allowing all current EA customers, including those who sign up now until June, to have the ability to renew one (1) time for an additional 36-month term. That means that customers under 500 seats may still be in an EA for the next 6.5 years (if they sign or renew in June of 2016).

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