Miro Consulting, Inc. Audit Trails

Microsoft Replaces CRM Online with Dynamics 365 and Increases Prices

In October 2016, Microsoft announced that it was no longer going to sell the CRM Online suite.  Current users of the product will now be forced to buy Dynamics 365.  For some users this may amount to a small decrease in the price of the subscription, but for many it will be much more.

CRM Online offered different per user, per month prices for different levels of functionality:

  • Professional – $50
  • Basic – $23
  • Employee Self Service – $2

Now new customers will have to buy the Dynamics 365, which combines CRM, ERP, and other apps. Existing customers of Dynamics CRM can continue to use and purchase additional licenses of these older applications, but when they renew their agreement, they must transition to Dynamics 365 SKUs.

The new offerings of Dynamics 365 are:

  • Business Edition – $50
  • Enterprise Plan 1 – $115
  • Enterprise Plan 2 – $210

These plan prices can be discounted with the right timing and strategy.  To discuss your software licensing situation, and find out how to save on your next purchase, including cloud purchases, contact Miro at contact@miroconsulting.com.

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Office 365 Price Tiers Provide Less Value Than Other Microsoft Products

Price tiers for Office 365 represent only a 3% difference from the preceding level rather than the more traditional 7+% for other products.

Both of these are reflective of cost and budgeting.

For Windows Server / System Center, the cost of licensing larger servers (that is, with more cores per processor) will increase. Organizations may have opted – or are contemplating – these denser servers as a way to increase capacity and workload while constraining additional software license investment. That’s the point I was making here.

For Office 365, the notion of determining cost by ascribing a routine 7% discount from one price level to the next does not work. So if an organization is considering going for that extra 100 seats in order to attain Level “C” pricing, for example, Microsoft’s proposal may come as a surprise. So consider Office 365 Plan E3. At Level “B”, the monthly fee is $18.80. Thus, 5,900 licenses would cost $110,920. If the organization opted to license 6,000 users, the unit cost is $18.20 – the 3% variance – and the monthly cost is $109,200 – just $1,720 less.

What the customer might have been expected is the traditional 7% price variance, which would result in a $17.84 monthly unit cost, which, in turn, translates into a monthly total of $104,904 – over $6,000 less!

So the price variance by month is nearly $4,300. The annual variance is over $51,000. That could be a hard nut to crack if not budgeted.

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Vendors Provide Trial Software Licenses for Clients to ‘Try Before They Buy’

Utilizing those licenses in another manner could create a non-compliant situation for a client, even if the vendor has not clearly defined strict limitations regarding trial use.

Something that is often misunderstood is testing a trial version of a product that is already owned and being used elsewhere in the environment. If it’s the same version as what’s in the production, there’s no need to try it out – it’s now test/dev. However if it’s a new version of the same title, let’s say you’re on Microsoft Server 2008 R2 and want to try 2012, Microsoft does allow 10 copies of a software title for a 60-day evaluation. Or if you want to talk Oracle, let’s say you have a production environment with Oracle Database Enterprise Edition with Diagnostics and Tuning. An acceptable 30-day trial on a test server would be all right if you want to try out a new-to-you management pack such as Active Data Guard.

Some vendors have built-in safeguards such as a temporary product key that expires after a period of time, like IBM SPSS has a 14-day trial. If a new key code is not entered at expiration, the software stops functioning.

Other vendors allow their clients more leeway to test and don’t shut down the test product so abruptly. However in a compliance situation or audit, a client cannot play the ‘trial license’ card easily if use is in excess of the vendor’s expectation.

Before you end up in this situation and paying for it, do a self-audit and look at all products labeled as trial. Most vendors have applicable rules, but if not you can use some common sense –

• How long has the trial product been installed? Has it been long enough to make a purchase decision?
• When was the last time the trial product was accessed? If it’s been a significant period of time, why isn’t it deinstalled?
• Where is the product installed?
• How is the trial product used? (Hint: it better not be production)

Also be aware that there may be some record of install or usage. If you’re an IBM sub-capacity customer, you may have two years of ILMT reports kept on file per your contract; or if you’re using Oracle Virtual Compute Device, it may phone home.

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Microsoft Moves to “Per Core” Licensing for Windows Server

Microsoft has (pretty predictably) moved to “Per Core” licensing for Windows Server, just like SQL Server before it. This is more to the trend of denser servers – that is, with more and more cores per server – and, possibly, in a nod to Azure.

It’s been pretty well documented, but there are minimums:

  • A minimum of 16 core licenses is required for each server.
  • A minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical processor.

And, like for SQL Server, there is a “trade in” program, more officially referred to as a “grant” program, that will follow along the same lines as the SQL Server program. Specifically, for every license of Windows Server 2012 R2 that is covered by Software Assurance, the customer will receive an equivalent number of “Per Core” licenses for no additional license charge. Yes, I stressed the word “license” and we’ll get back to that in a minute.

If these large beefy machines are already in place – those with more than 8 cores per processor – then you can get these licenses free of charge as well. You have to make your case, of course, by sending Microsoft information via the Microsoft Assessment & Planning or “MAP” Toolkit. This will validate the servers’ configurations.
Now, I mentioned that there will be no license charge. And that’s true. However, since you must continue to pay for Software Assurance, those fees will be based on the new number of licenses. So if you received an additional 20 licenses, for example, you will be paying an additional 20 licenses’ worth of Software Assurance.
(This will also foul up your Microsoft License Statement or “MLS”, but that’s a different story.)

But there are two somewhat major “gotchas”:

  1. Since forever, the different editions of Windows Server were technologically different. That ended for Windows Server 2012 when the two primary editions, Datacenter and Standard, had the same feature and functionality set. The only difference was in their virtualization rules. Now that has ended. Once again, there are technological differences, including:
    • Storage Spaces Direct
    • Storage Replica
    • Shielded Virtual Machines
    • Networking stack
    • But not Nano Server… that’s part of Standard Edition as well, BUT… Software Assurance coverage is required to deploy Nano Server.
  2. The virtualization practice of “stacking” licenses doesn’t work so well any more for Version 2016. Under the 2012 and 2012 R2 rules, licenses of Standard Edition could be “stacked” to allow more virtual instances to be supported. For example, if Windows Server Standard was deployed on a server with 4 processors, two (2) licenses would be necessary (as each license covers up to 2 processors). This allowed up to 4 VMs on that server because each license permitted up to 2 VMs. If you needed another VM or another 2 VMs, just allocate another license to that same server.

    That doesn’t work with Version 2016. First, all physical cores have to be licensed, so for this server, at least 32 cores – or 16 licenses – are needed. That allows for up to 2 VMs. If another VM or another 2 VMs are needed, then the entire server must be licensed again! That is, another 16 licenses. Maybe that’s not so earth-shaking for our example, but in an environment where many VMs are needed, then it’s logical to assume that it’s a larger server, with more cores. So those 16 licenses could very well turn into 20 licenses, or 24 licenses, or more!

So, clearly, Microsoft has made Datacenter Edition the only practical choice for heavily virtualized environments.

And don’t forget System Center follows suit… as far as “Per Core” licensing and minimums and virtualization rules go…

And, yesterday, general availability for Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 was announced for the October timeframe.

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Miro Consulting Celebrates 15 Year Anniversary with Record Breaking Growth

Miro Consulting, the world’s leading software license management expert, is celebrating its 15-year anniversary with record breaking growth in revenue and headcount.

“Miro Consulting had an impressive revenue surge in Fiscal 2016, with a record breaking number of new clients. Through our consulting services, our clients were able to save over $100 million dollars this year alone. This success is a testament to our dedicated and talented employees who work as trusted partners with our clients. We are looking forward to Fiscal 2017 where we can further broaden our success while maintaining and improving the prudent advice our clients depend on.” said Eliot Colon, Miro SVP.

With Fiscal 2016 over, Miro is reporting a 50% increase in revenue over last year, and a 25% growth in personnel.  In addition, Miro has clients worldwide in all six continents and has recently expanded into the southern California region, with plans to continue growing nationwide.  Miro’s growth isn’t limited to the physical world either, as it has recently worked to transition a major international pharmaceutical company to the cloud, showing its expertise in off premise capabilities.

“Preparing to enter into a very large software negotiation with Oracle is a significant undertaking. You have to be fully prepared and be sure you’ve explored all the angles. And having teamed with Miro, I was able to conduct negotiations with the confidence of a highly informed buyer, and having that peace of mind was key to striking the best agreement with Oracle.” said David Michael, CIO at The Madison Square Garden Company.

Miro Consulting specializes in Adobe, IBM, Microsoft and Oracle in software audit defense, contract negotiation and license optimization and management. Since it was founded, Miro has helped hundreds of clients worldwide to optimize their total cost of ownership and has overseen over $1.5 billion in licensing transactions.

To learn more about how Miro can help with your licensing needs, including Oracle, Microsoft or IBM audits, and for media contacts, please contact Shawn Donohue, VP of Marketing at sdonohue@miroconsulting.com or call 732-738-8511 x1205.

Correction: A previous version listed David Michael as a PR Newswire employee.  He’s now CIO at The Madison Square Garden Company.

 

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Rimini Street loses again to Oracle, fined $28m

On Tuesday, a Nevada judge declared Rimini guilty for infringing Oracle’s software.  The judge also issued a permanent injunction preventing Rimini from providing any Oracle software to its customers.

Rimini, its CEO, and employees are now barred from accessing any non-public portion of Oracle’s website.  Previously, Oracle was awarded $50m in a jury verdict and an additional $46m in attorney fees.

Rimini’s  responded with a press release, as did Oracle.

Third-Party support has its benefits in the many strategies of managing your software licensing estate. However, such news can provide an uneasiness with client’s utilizing such services. Clearly, any concerns should be discussed with your Third-Party services vendor. If an organization is not comfortable with what their vendor tells them or they wish another opinion, then Miro Consulting is available to discuss the short and long term risks and alternatives.

Read more on the decision here.

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MEGABYTE Act – New Federal Software Licensing Requirements

CIOs will be required to implement a comprehensive licensing policy to manage software inventories

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued guidance in June on agencies inefficient use of software licensing as well as what it saw as excessive spending.  Now the White House is involved.  President Obama signed the Making Electronic Government Accountable by Yielding Tangible Efficiencies Act (MEGABYTE Act) on July 29, 2016.  It will require agency CIOs to more accurately track their software and applications licenses.  You can review the law itself here.

“The new policy is another step forward in implementing the President’s vision for a modern government, one that leverages private-sector best practices to achieve a Federal Government that is smarter, savvier and more effective in delivering for the American people.”  United States Government CIO, Tony Scott, and CAO, Anne Rung, co-wrote a blog post at whitehouse.gov explaining the reasoning for passing the new law, and what it means for the future.

“Examples of the other work the Enterprise Software Category Team (ESCT) will take on include consolidating software requirements across multiple agencies to begin the process of negotiating two additional government-wide enterprise license agreements by the end of the year, recommending further policy changes, sharing best practices across the government to improve how we buy and use software, and monitoring agency progress toward reducing duplicative agreements.”

Scott and Rung wrote that the government’s ESC Team expects CIOs to solve the problem with experts, not applications.  “It calls on agencies to appoint a software manager to centrally manage software buys and reduce underutilization, to maintain a continual inventory of software licenses and better track usage, to consolidate redundant applications while identifying other savings, and to maximize the use of best-in-class solutions.”

Its not just government agencies that can save on software licensing by making better informed decisions.  Public and private companies with multiple units and divisions can also likely benefit from the same type of software licences central management, leveraging their purchase size to gain better prices and contract terms. “Smarter acquisition strategies typically don’t garner a lot of headlines or attention. But they matter.”

To learn more about how Miro can help your company make better software management decisions and achieve significant savings, please contact us.

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Adobe Moves Away From Audits, But You’re Not Off the Hook Yet

by Phara McLachlan

Adobe’s Richard Atkinson confirmed that they are moving away from the audits program. While this removes the labor-intensive audit process that companies face, it doesn’t remove the actions that need to be taken post-audit, which will likely result in un-forecasted expenditures and additional implementations.

The reason for Adobe’s move away from audits is Adobe Genuine, which runs validation tests. While Adobe has eliminated the complexity of the audit, don’t be fooled that an enterprise with non-compliant software won’t have to worry anymore. They do and it’s highly likely they will need to procure Adobe licenses.

Why?

  1. Adobe Genuine “sniffs out” pirated software. Similar to a post-audit, Adobe will need to take action and the organization will have to purchase the software.
  2. Invalid licenses will be discovered by Adobe Genuine resulting in re-purchasing of licenses.

While Adobe has moved away from formal audits, Adobe Genuine’s “validation test” is basically Adobe’s automated discovery tool. It wouldn’t surprise me if many more software vendors move to this model.

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