Miro Consulting, Inc. Audit Trails

Change to Microsoft Enterprise Agreement

Let’s say your current commercial Enterprise Agreement – scheduled for renewal this coming September – is for 325 seats of Windows client, Office, and perhaps one of the Client Access License (“CAL”) Suites. Your company hasn’t seen significant growth in user population, so the anticipation is that the renewal will be for that same number of licenses.


Based on Microsoft’s change (their “refresh” as Microsoft refers to it), you are not eligible for the Enterprise Agreement any longer. That refresh has raised the minimum number of users / devices for Enterprise Products to 500.

So the issue becomes one of arithmetic. Or, actually, one of several arithmetic calculations. First, if your seat count is close enough to 500 to overcome the difference in price points between the Enterprise Agreement and the Microsoft Products & Services Agreement (replacement for the Select Plus Agreement), then increasing the license count to 500 may be the right course of action.

But recognize that the Enterprise Agreement was effectively a three-year price-hold. And since Microsoft does not increase its license prices uniformly or across the board, there will be an increase in unit cost for some of the licenses on which Software Assurance would be renewed. But that increase is exacerbated by the difference in price between the Enterprise Agreement and the Microsoft Products & Services Agreement – to the tune of about 15% for Enterprise Products (e.g., Windows Client, Office, Core CAL Suite, etc.) and around 10% for Additional Products (e.g., Windows Server, Exchange Server, SQL Server, etc.)

Then there are the evolving benefits / requirements associated with Software Assurance, meaning that simply dropping Software Assurance coverage on every product is seldom a reasonable answer.

But there are options – and more arithmetic. So start planning early.

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Windows Server “Per Core” Licensing

Microsoft Window Server Per Core licensing here we come! With the general release of Version 2016 expected in the second half of 2016, Windows Server will switch from “Per Processor” licensing to “Per Core”. As might be expected, there are caveats to this.

Microsoft architected a transition for SQL Server 2008 R2 in the “Per Processor” metric to SQL Server 2012 in the “Per Core” metric. And Microsoft will adopt a similar process for Windows Server. First off, customers with active Enterprise Agreements or Server & Cloud Enrollments will continue to be able to license Windows Server in the “Per Processor” metric through the end of their agreements.

Pricing has been adjusted to allow for a transition from existing licenses to the new metric. For both Windows Server Datacenter and Windows Server Standard covered by Software Assurance, each two-processor license will be exchanged for eight (8) two-core licenses (or total licensing for 16 cores) or the actual number of cores. By providing Microsoft with configuration information via the Microsoft Assessment & Planning (“MAP”) Toolkit, servers with a greater core density can be licensed without additional immediate cost – but Software Assurance renewals will be based on the higher number of licenses.

The new license construct is especially important as part of planning hardware upgrades. This is not only true for determining the cost of the required software, but also for virtualization. An important change to the licensing rules for Windows Server Standard requires that all cores be licensed in order to be eligible for just two (2) virtual instances. The strategy of “stacking” licenses of Windows Server Standard now must be measured against the cost of licensing the entire server a second time. . . or a third time or more. So as experts have pointed out, Windows Server Datacenter, with its unlimited virtualization benefit, is the platform for virtualized environments.

One last thought: When Windows Server 2012 was released, it marked the first time that the Datacenter Edition and the Standard Edition were technologically equivalent. Their only difference was in their virtualization rules. However, with Version 2016, there are some features and functionality that are only available with Datacenter Edition. Namely, the new storage features including Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica, and the Shielded Virtual Machines, Host Guardian Service, and Network Fabric features.


Microsoft Gets Serious About Mobile

Microsoft has made some changes as of late that certainly reflect the mantra “mobile first, cloud first.” Satya Nadella has been at the helm of Microsoft for a year now and has certainly proven that he is making changes within the company – we see it as breaking through the previously “rigid” structure of the Ballmer days. Nadella gets it – Microsoft cannot conquer the world on its own, regardless of how well-entrenched they are in the productivity realm of commercial businesses.

Microsoft is making moves to be prevalent on smartphones – and not just windows phones – they have finally realized that they need to make applications for Android and iPhone too (thankfully for us Office users!).

With a regime change, Microsoft is becoming a much different company – in a good way!

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IBM licensing and eligibility for sub-capacity licensing

IBM is a leading expert with partitioning and server virtualization technologies.  They recognize non-IBM technology also, like VMWare, as a way to meet the demand for flexibility.  They introduced subcapacity licensing in 2005 as a tool to assist customers in maintaining compliance in a dynamic environment.

Subcapacity  for IBM software with PVU (core-based) licensing metrics is desirable because only the capacity used needs licensing.  This would work well for partitioned, virtualized, dynamically allocated, or even cloud-based environments.

The default for IBM software licensing is full capacity.  That’s licensing for every activated, physical processor core on the server(s) where the software is deployed.  Clustering would dramatically increase the software licensing burden with full capacity.

The condition for sub-capacity licensing from IBM is utilization of one of their tools, such as ILMT or TAD, and retaining a minimum of quarterly reports for two years.  Some clients have asked for an exception based on using a non-IBM comparable tool and have received subcapacity entitlement from IBM.

Why does this matter?

If you have a couple 4-core max partitions of WAS on a Power 6 with 64 cores with full capacity, all 64 cores would be used to calculate the PVU licenses in a full capacity scenario – 64 x 120=7,680 PVUs.

With sub-capacity, only 8 cores would be counted for licensing – 8 x 120 =960 PVUs.

How much is that in terms of list price?

Full Capacity = $400,000 for 7,680 PVUs.
Sub Capacity = $50,000 for 960 PVUs.





IBM WebSphere Application Server Processor Value Unit (PVU) License + SW Subscription & Support 12 Months (D55W8LL) is $52.25 list price  on IBM’s web site Oct. 11, 2013.


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PVU licensing for DR with IBM DB2

PVU licensing for DR with IBM DB2 by Sharon Trembley

Some vendors and products need fully licensed Disaster Recovery.  Not so with PVU licensing for IBM’s DB2.

I’ll explain, but first let me explain IBM-speak regarding DR servers.  The IBM Software Group describes servers as Hot, Warm, and Cold, and those terms have been adopted where DB2 is installed.

HOT/Full License Required


Database software installed on another server intended for failover purposes. At the same time this server maintains partner high availability, it is servicing other applications as a primary data server.  In other words, there is end-user access to this standby database even when no failure has occurred. DB2 HADR + read on standby, DB2 + replication reads or writes on both sides , DB2 pureScale or replication scheme.

 WARM/Partial License Required
Log Ship Standby
Idle (started DB2 instance)
Passive (started instance)

Using the PVU model a warm DB2 standby server, physical or virtual, is licensed for 100 PVUs regardless of processing architecture or processor count.


COLD/No License Required
Powered off (DB2 installed)
Idle (DB2 instance not started)
Passive (DB2 instance not started)

For the cold conditions listed above, IBM does not require any licensing.

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Microsoft Windows 10 truly mobile: Optimism as a renewable resource

Microsoft is making good on its move into mobile after its acquisition of Nokia. The company continues to move towards the present as it bolts into true mobility. Today’s NY Times article – Microsoft Looks to Windows 10 for a Jolt in the Mobile Realm shows Microsoft’s continued evolution away from the Ballmer era under Satya Nadella and the new, very relevant Windows 10. Given his cloud and R&D background, he is making a push toward the consumer space, possibly as the re-making of Microsoft given its flagging enterprise sales.

The article notes that people don’t buy iPhones or Androids for the apps, but apps are a huge part of the reason they do buy them. Microsoft has over 500,000 apps (according to the company) versus the millions for iPhone and Android. More importantly, Microsoft’s suite lacks apps like Snapchat. Microsoft was way too early in the cell phone industry and then way too late. In the meantime, its competitors timed their pounce just right and now Microsoft finds itself playing catch-up from an appreciable distance.

Nonetheless, I think they’re on the right track. Nadella has quickly realized that the same ol’, same ol’ won’t work anymore. And he’s working to change things.

It would be foolish of us not to point out – you still have to pay attention to mobile licensing. Mobile licenses in conjunction with the enterprise can get complex.


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Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 Licensing

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

So, which do you choose?

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

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

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

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

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Microsoft License Mobility and Limitations

What is License Mobility?

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

The limitations of License Mobility

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

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

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

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

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