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Miro Consulting specializes in software license audit defense, license management, subscription management, and cloud services, for Oracle, Microsoft & IBM.

Compliance Risk – Oracle alters license allocation rules for Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services Environments

Oracle has introduced new rules on how to apply on premise licensing for use in Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services environments. The changes result in an effective doubling of requirements for most Azure and AWS environments, while keeping Oracle Cloud requirements the same.

Compliance risk to current clients who use Oracle within AWS and Azure environments still remains unknown at the time of this writing, but expect this to definitely impact any future deployments of Oracle on Azure or AWS platforms.

To find out how these changes affect your environment, contact Miro Consulting at <a href=”mailto:sales@archive.miroconsulting.com”>sales@archive.miroconsulting.com</a>.

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New Updated Rules Make Oracle Cloud Less Expensive than Amazon AWS

On January 23, 2017, Oracle introduced significant updates to their “Licensing Oracle in a Cloud Environment” guidelines document. Miro has been reviewing the document to identify the key changes, and how they relate to current environments and decisions for future environment plans.

As is typically the case with Oracle, the document does not express a clear view of the true comparative impact of the changes they made against the previous guidelines. The changes appear to favor the Oracle Cloud over AWS and Azure environments when calculating the requirements when applying on premise Oracle licenses. With Oracle’s announcement, using the same configuration in other provider’s clouds, or even on premise, can pose a substantial cost increase, both in terms of licensing as well as perpetual support. The impact may be significant; we are working with Oracle to confirm the conclusions we have made. Once confirmed, we will send you details of the changes and their impact for current and future environments.

Miro will be communicating the analysis of the changes this week, so until that time, we highly recommend that you hold off on expanding any use of Azure or AWS until we confirm the impact. Cloud licensing is very complex. Members of the Miro Support Network are encouraged to contact Miro to discuss your current environment, as well as any plans for transitioning to the cloud.

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Adobe Has A New Way of Tracking Non-Licensed Software

Adobe’s new Genuine Software Integrity Service validates installed Adobe Software.  It automatically checks for counterfeit software, invalid licenses and alerts Adobe of fraudulent use. The process looks for illegitimate serial number and if it includes software hacks. Once verified, Adobe notifies the company/violator that their software is not genuine.

Companies still should have a program in place to track the full lifecycle of their software assets, to have full control and understanding on:

  • Software requests vs Actual software need
  • Centralized procurement process to manage the acquisition of software through a standardized channel vs multiple sources.

One key point is to stop users from purchasing from non-qualified resellers.  The service is still very new. We will share more information as we learn more.

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Warning: Your Software Asset Management (SAM) Tool is NOT Certified

IT professionals must remember that a tool does not understand the rules

Many software license management tools claim to be certified by Oracle, Microsoft, IBM and others, but none actually are. For example, Oracle’s LMS page does list a number of tools, but only as supplements, not as certified tools, and they often miss 90% of Oracle products.

“Tools from the following vendors have been verified to provide the required data set to supplement a LMS engagement. The scope of the verification process only covers the data collection related to the installation and usage of specific Oracle products, namely Oracle Database and the associated Options. The verification does not include any other Oracle products or the overall capabilities of the vendor’s solution… Please note that the installation and usage of a tool from a verified vendor does not replace an Oracle License Audit or True Up engagement or revoke Oracle’s contractual right to perform a License Audit or True Up.”

IBM has similar language in their rules. “ILMT is a mandatory IBM requirement for all IBM customers who take advantage of sub-capacity licensing, regardless of whether they utilize third party reporting tools.”

Microsoft’s Software Asset Management (“SAM”) program is an audit, albeit a “friendlier” one. In such an engagement, Microsoft will tend to accept the output of virtual any tool. However, if this information is inadequate or incomplete or otherwise not acceptable to Microsoft, the customer could be compelled to use a Microsoft product. These might come in the form of the for-fee subscriptions or products of Enterprise Mobility Suite, Intune, or System Center. Or, in their absence, the Microsoft Assessment & Planning (“MAP”) Toolkit which a free of charge.

But in the case of a formal audit involving a partner (e.g., KPMG, Deloitte, etc.), Microsoft will equip the auditor with a discovery tool. These scripts are typically executed by a member of the audit term (versus by the customer). Sometimes the audit partner has a tool that Microsoft has certified for use in lieu of the Microsoft tool. In this type of engagement, the output of these tools is the only acceptable one.

IT professionals must remember that a tool does not understand the rules. They can lead to false positives, identifying assets as licensed, even when they are not. Most importantly, software asset management tools don’t understand the context of the software as it’s being used in the business, or if the product is being over used or underutilized.

Don’t let these SAM tools give you a false sense of assurance. No tool is a substitute for expert research, evaluation and validation. If you’d like to speak with a Miro Expert about your use of SAM tools, and how Miro can help evaluate your risk of an audit, contact us today.

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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@archive.miroconsulting.com.

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Office 365 Price Tiers Provide Less Value Than Other Microsoft Product

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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