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

5 Unusual Ways to Save on Microsoft Licenses & Subscriptions

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5 Unusual Ways to Save on Microsoft Licenses & Subscriptions You know the basics, but do you know these advanced strategies for saving on your Microsoft spend? Your organization could save hundreds of thousands of dollars by taking advantage of these special techniques and Microsoft programs, but only if you know what to ask for.

1. Independent Contract Review

When your contract is up for renewal, many organizations simply assume that there’s no need to review the details more than in the past. Unfortunately, a lack of diligence and oversight can result in significant and unnecessary over-spend. Making international headlines, the Dutch Police put in an accidental purchase order, and the courts ultimately determined that they were liable for the full cost of the multi-million-dollar mistake. Miro can do a last-minute double-check of your contracts, even if they’re due very soon, and make sure you’re getting everything you need and nothing extra.

2. True-Downs

We’ve all heard of “True-Ups,” the process where additional Microsoft licenses are purchased on an annual basis, but you can also “True-Down”. On your contract anniversary date, it’s possible to reduce your spending with Microsoft and pay for less subscriptions. For example, if your original contract had 250 subscriptions, and you later upgraded to 500, you can go back down to 250, but no lower than the original amount.

3. Core Grants

As Microsoft transitions from a “per-processor” to a “per-core” licensing model, there are opportunities to save on costs. For all servers with 16 cores or less, there is no price increase as Microsoft has made the cost of 16 Windows Server 2016 cores the same as the 2 processor Windows Server 2012 R2 license. If you have more than the standard 8 cores per server, Microsoft can give you a “core grant” so you won’t have to purchase additional licenses, but only under certain conditions. Contact Miro for details and requirements.

4. Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

You can save money on moving to the Microsoft Azure cloud through the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit. This allows you to move on-premise licenses to Azure, and you only pay the base compute rate, instead of the full price for new Windows Server virtual machines in Azure, which can be up to 41% savings.

5. Get BIF

Business Investment Funding (BIF) is a new Microsoft offering for select clients who don’t meet the infrastructure requirements for certain products like Office 356. BIF is essentially Microsoft providing money for things like upgrades to your company’s network, so that you can utilize their new cloud products. Miro has seen clients offered up to 20% cash back on their annual spend, which they can use for upgrades to their systems.

If you’d like to take advantage of these offers or want to learn more, it’s critically important that you do not call a Microsoft Reseller. They are obligated by contract to report any licensing shortfalls to Microsoft. Contact an independent non-reseller, like Miro, to get confidential advice on your Microsoft contracts and negotiations. You can also download our Microsoft Licensing and Audit Defense Guide.

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5 Ways Your Hosting Provider Can Put You Out of Compliance

ORACLEYour Third-Party Hosting Provider may be putting you out of compliance. Unfortunately, your organization is liable if they do. Most providers have clauses in their contracts which absolve them of all responsibility. Is your hosting provider jeopardizing your compliance? Read more to find out.

1. Virtualized Environment

Do you know if your Third-Party Hosting Provider is running your software in a virtualized environment? We find that Oracle can and will require licensing outside of their client’s own non-dedicated use for those who use a Third-Party Hosting Provider utilizing forms of virtualization. Many organizations think that the Third-Party vendor would be liable for any resulting license compliance issues, but that is never the case. All Third-Party Hosting vendors that own and manage the hardware that hosts client software assume no liability for software license compliance. The client is always liable.

2. Disaster Recovery

Do you know how Disaster Recovery is handled within your Third-Party Hosting Provider? We continue to find situations where a Third-Party Hosting vendor is deploying a form of Disaster Recovery that Oracle would consider to require additional licensing, but clients are never informed of it requiring additional licensing. Some Hosting vendors have even stated that such licensing was not required, but it was only their opinion and had not been confirmed by the software vendor.

3. Proprietary Hosting

Are you running any Proprietary Hosting solutions at your Third-Party Hosting Provider? Oracle’s past policies have dictated that Proprietary Hosting is forbidden, but have recently shown some loosening of those restrictions, but only when Oracle Cloud is the solution in use.

4. Data Sovereignty

Do you know where your data is? Data Sovereignty is a topic that comes up more often as organizations try to ensure that they are not breaking any government jurisdiction on rules and policies that would impact Third-Party access for legal, security, or privacy purposes. The policies and rules can vary greatly by country. Third-Party Hosting Providers often have datacenters in many different countries. Even if your primary data is contained in a local or a geographically acceptable datacenter, your disaster recovery site may not be.

5. Hardware Platforms

Do you know the hardware platform in which your software is being run? We constantly come across organizations that have great difficulty getting such information from their Hosting Provider. We have even seen instances where the Hosting Provider refused to provide such information to the client. Outside of Oracle approved Cloud Computing Vendors, it is necessary to know the details of the underlying hardware so that proper licensing can be calculated.

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7 Signs of an IBM Audit

Do you recognize the signs of an IBM audit? These 7 Signs of an IBM audit are red flags that you should recognize.

  1. You Get a Letter Introducing KPMG or Deloitte

    These are two of the “Big 4” accounting firms that manage the actual software license audit process on behalf of IBM.  IBM refers to them as, “third party independent auditors”.  Keep in mind that when it comes to their “independence,” these firms are paid by IBM for their services.

  2. IBM Software Review

    In this case, “review” is what IBM calls an audit.  Like Microsoft and other software vendors, IBM has begun referring to their software audits as “reviews.”  This nomenclature change is meant to lull clients into a false sense of security.

  3. You Spoke To a Reseller

    Like a good software asset manager, you did your research and spoke to a reseller about making a purchase to stay in compliance.  Ultimately, you decided that you were in compliance and did not buy any additional licenses or products.  Unfortunately, IBM resellers have a “snitch clause” in their contracts which require them to report any possible out-of-compliance situations they uncover directly to IBM.  So, if IBM thinks you may be out of compliance based on that conversation, you have a significant chance of triggering an audit.

  4. IBM wants to “educate” you

    One way IBM tries to initiate a discussion around what software you’re using, and what you may not be fully licensed to use, is by disguising that discussion as an “education” experience.  IBM will want to increase your “awareness” of their compliance policies. It’s a great way for IBM to ask you questions about your environment, but make it look like it’s about educating, not evaluating your compliance.

  5. Not Running ILMT

    Some organizations reach out to IBM because they’re having trouble installing or running ILMT or BigFix.  If you’re not running one or the other, IBM will assume that you don’t have a complete picture of your environment, and are likely out of compliance.

  6. IBM Wants to “Help” You

    Your IBM rep has taken a newfound interest in your organization’s challenges and opportunities with software.  Make no mistake—they’re not looking to help you be more successful.  IBM wants to know if you are having trouble managing your software assets, making you an ideal audit candidate.  They also want to know what new software you might be able to use to solve your issues.  It’s a double opportunity to extract more revenue from you.

  7. Virtualization Questions Start Coming

    Many IBM customers save significantly on their budgets by running IBM software in a sub-capacity model, but virtualization can make staying in compliance more difficult.  If they find out you’re not running ILMT, you are practically guaranteed to be out of compliance.  Either way, virtualization questions are a sure sign that IBM has targeted you. Take caution.

Learn more by downloading our IBM Audit Defense Guide. Miro is the leading IBM audit defense specialist and original software audit defense company. We’re 100% independent from IBM and can confidentially advise you and your organization regarding IBM software licenses, software audits, and compliance. Contact us today.

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5 Things Oracle No Longer Offers in 2017

5 Things Oracle No Longer Offers in 2017If your renewal is coming up soon and you were planning on using one of these, you may need to change your plans.  Here are 5 things that Oracle no longer offers in 2017:

1. Priceholds:

Priceholds used to be the “bread and butter” of Oracle offerings, but are now quite uncommon. Besides being rare, their benefits are constricted, having a limited scope (in terms of applicable products) and limited discounts on subsequent procurements.

2. Limited Use:

Many Oracle products have the potential to be limited to selective areas, such as Development or Testing, or with license packs having split usage. Now, it is far less common for Oracle to grant these permissions, due to increasing complexity with licensing rules and utilization methods.

3. Primary Usage:

Practically a fossil in the digital age, Primary Usage has not been offered for more than a decade, despite still being in use in some environments. Primary usage allows for individuals who utilize a single application for the majority of their work, to also utilize other applications defined within a Primary Usage set, while not having to be licensed independently.

4. VMware Licensing by Cluster:

Prior to VMware’s vSphere 5.x, Oracle would accept an ESX cluster as the smallest licensing boundary by default for a cluster of servers running Oracle products. However, with the later versions of vSphere Oracle has increased such default licensing boundaries to the vCenter or greater.

5. Not Considering the Oracle Cloud:

If you’re an Oracle client, they’ve probably already contacted you about trying Oracle Cloud services.  What you might not know is that Oracle has recently made changes which make running Oracle on other companies clouds twice as expensive as running on Oracle’s Cloud.  Since cloud services are now a huge focus of Oracle’s sales efforts, you can be assured that their sales reps will want to discuss it with you.  If you are considering moving some applications to the cloud, Miro can help you understand your options to get the outcome that matches your needs.

Please contact us for more information.

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Top 5 Questions When Considering an Oracle ULA

Oracle-ULA1. How well do I understand my organization’s environment?

The first step in considering an Oracle ULA is knowing what is currently owned by your organization, as well as what may be changed in the next three to four years. This knowledge builds the foundation for considering an Oracle ULA, and alternative license engagements.

 

2. How well does my IT department communicate its uses and needs?

While a ULA may attempt to be an “all-you-can-eat” agreement, Oracle ULAs require a list of specific products that are expected to be deployed. The specific products being deployed will correlate with the cost of the agreement. Ensure the ULA is efficiently utilized by understanding what products need to be deployed vs. non-essentials , and avoid underuse.

 

3. How does the use of external Third-Party Cloud environments impact my ULA?

How do you plan on utilizing Cloud environments during and after a proposed ULA term. The standard ULA agreement language does not allow a client to allocate licenses against a Cloud environment at the time of certification, so plans post-ULA certification must be considered ahead of time for the best contract negotiation strategy

 

4. Is the cost justified by the utilization?

This may seem like a fairly straight forward question when looking at the isolated price of a point-in-time analysis. However, without taking into account a comprehensive understanding of your organization’s current license ownership, future IT roadmap, or landmark changes, a ULA could go from an ideal agreement to a costly over-spend.

 

5. Does my organization have mergers or acquisitions planned?

If you have a large merger or acquisition in progress, or the leadership plans on positioning the company for such, a ULA can go from a viable agreement to a costly renegotiation. Such changes can jeopardize the initial benefit of the ULA, or in some cases, present difficult roadblocks and risks during the merger and acquisition process. The mergers and acquisition portion of ULA contracts is the most customized section.

 

Oracle ULA Experts

It’s critically important for organizations to right-size their Oracle ULA.  Over-spending on products and licenses that aren’t actually required can significantly increase costs, while under-spending can lead to license shortfalls and large penalties during software audits.  To find out how to customize your Oracle ULA so that it’s perfect for your organization, contact us and Miro’s licensing experts can help you achieve an ideal outcome.

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Oracle License Grandfathering option for AWS & Azure

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Miro has important news for organizations looking to move their Oracle assets to a non-Oracle cloud like Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft’s Azure. Oracle had recently announced in January that certain standard implementations of Oracle database products on other clouds would cost twice as much in licensing as running the same Oracle product on Oracle’s cloud.

Licensing experts at Miro have learned that the doubling of costs does not apply to all on premise licenses moved to the cloud. Moving on premise licenses to the cloud does not necessarily trigger the double cost.

Licenses purchased before Jan 23, 2017 do not necessarily double license requirement if deployed on a non-Oracle cloud. These licenses can be “grandfathered” into non-Oracle clouds, so organizations won’t have to pay the increased costs as they would on new Oracle licenses.  There can be caveats to managing such a “grandfathering”, so assumptions of license compliance should not be made.

Additionally, Miro has learned that Oracle will allow some support maintenance payments to be used for Oracle cloud purchase. Clients that have supported spare on-prem licenses can apply the cost of the unused support cost towards a new Cloud subscription. However, the full subscription cost must be at least 200% of the support cost that is being shelved.

Miro can assist you in understanding whether investing in a Cloud solution is strategic for your Oracle environment. Please contact us for more information.

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This Type of Hybrid Environment Just Got Dangerous

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UK judge rules in favor of SAP against Diageo’s PLC for using a standard cloud connection

Background
Diageo PLC is the world’s largest producer of alcoholic spirits, with brands like Smirnoff and Johnny Walker. They paid SAP about $70M for use of the mySAP Business Suite, which included licensing and maintenance fees. SAP had sued Diageo for violations of the contract, and a UK judge decided the case in SAP’s favor, awarding SAP an additional $67M, essentially doubling Diageo’s costs.

The Issue
Diageo used SAP’s native APIs to connect its systems to a Salesforce instance. Since Diageo was licensed to use the API, they assumed that such a configuration was authorized by the contract, but SAP disagreed. According to SAP, those Diageo Salesforce users should have been considered as “named users” because they had “indirect access” to data stored in SAP systems.

Lessons Learned

  1.  An API License may not cover users who connect through it. Organizations who use APIs to connect various business systems should do a thorough investigation of those APIs, and their licensing contracts, to determine if this interpretation of a “named user” and “indirect access” puts them out of compliance.
  2. Litigation may not be the best option. Involving legal teams and going to trial is a high risk / high cost decision. Negotiation can be a far better tactic, involving less risk and less cost. Technical consultants (like Miro), can often achieve settlements of pennies on the dollar, by working directly with the vendor to achieve an outcome acceptable to both parties.
  3.  Many Vendors such as Oracle, Microsoft and IBM also consider API connected users to be “named users” and may also consider similar situations to this as being out of compliance.

If you’re concerned about your state of compliance, want a review of your licenses or are being audited by a software or hardware vendor, Miro can help reduce or completely eliminate your out-of-compliance penalties, and negotiate terms and conditions that will keep you safe. Contact Miro today for a brief chat about your environment.

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8 Signs You’re About To Be Audited For Non-Compliance

Oracle Software Audits, Microsoft Software Audits and IBM Software Audits can be challenging, time consuming and expensive.  Preparation is the key factor.  If these items apply to your organization, it’s likely you could soon be audited for non-compliance.

1. Merger, Acquisition or Divestment

Software companies like Oracle, Microsoft and IBM know that tracking software assets can be difficult during a merger, acquisition or divestment. When databases get merged and assets combined, licenses are often the last thing on IT staff’s list of tasks. While everyone is focused on getting critical business systems online, software companies take the moment of weakness as an opportunity to audit their clients.

2. Backed out of a purchase

If you recently negotiated a purchase with a software vendor, but then declined to finalize the deal, you are very likely about to be audited. Vendors may assume that you still need those licenses and subscriptions, and that you are trying to avoid paying for them. Unless you are working with a licensing specialists and have complete documentation for your entire environment, an audit is very likely in your near future.

3. Past Noncompliance

If you’ve been audited in the past, you are a prime target for future audits. Some software vendors like Oracle, IBM and Microsoft may audit companies in as little as 18 months from their last audit. During a software audit, compliance teams may look to see if your organization is setting up a system or process for license management.

4. No License Management

If a software vendor is conducting an audit, and they see that the target company is not planning for the future by setting up a process, team or outside consultant to oversee the licenses and subscription management of an organization, they may mark that client for future audits. Not having a license management specialist in place is a sign of vulnerability which vendors may exploit.

5. Reports of Organization Instability

Are there press reports or industry journalists reporting a rising level of instability within your organization? Software vendors have learned that executive departures, office relocations, downsizing or rapid growth are all signs of likely non-compliance at an organization. These red flags may often trigger a software audit.

6. Your Rep is suspicious

Software vendors like Oracle, IBM and Microsoft have trained their sales reps to look for suspicious behavior at the organizations in their territories. If your sales rep is calling you and asking you a lot of questions about your environment, this is frequently a sign of an incoming software audit.

7. Virtualization or Cloud

If you’re organization is looking to move to the cloud or using virtualization, the chances of a software audit greatly increase. There are many complex and ever changing rules regarding virtualization, having to do with processors, cores and server counts. When you factor in virtualization in the cloud, even more rules apply. While companies often employ these technologies to reduce costs, they can lead to audits that cost more in the long term.

8. Your Licensing Expert Leaves

Did your licensing expert just leave the company? If so, your software vendor probably knows. License compliance teams at software vendors like Oracle, Microsoft and IBM keep track of how your organization is managing its licenses and renewals. Using outside consultants is a common strategy used by many large enterprise clients as a way of avoiding audits when personnel changes.

With proper experts managing your licenses and compliance, organizations can be well prepared for the inevitable software license audit.  Miro can help your organization with software audit compliance, license management, subscription management and cloud services.  Contact Miro today if you’re facing a software audit or want to know if you’re ready to be audited.  Our experts can review your environment and let you know if you’re out of compliance or paying too much for licenses and subscriptions.

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