Microsoft Update April 2018

April 2018 saw a number of important licensing and solutions updates, including but not limited to:

  • Roadmap Lifecycle – Multi-Geo Tenancies enters General Availability
  • Licensing  – Azure  responds to AWS, now offers constrained core VMs enabling orgs to constrain the vCPU count to reduce the cost of software licensing
  • Licensing – Microsoft is expanding the editing capabilities of the Office mobile apps to Office 365 Business Essentials, Office 365 Enterprise E1, Office 365 Education, and more. A qualifying subscription now allows view and edit documents, as well as unlock additional features when using the Office mobile apps Read the blog post or Read the announcement FAQ.
  • Licensing – SharePoint Online storage increase to 1 TB plus 10 GB per user license Some thinking presented on why Microsoft would suddenly be so generous, an obvious factor is the influence Teams and Office 365 Groups have on driving usage for SharePoint Online document libraries. After all, with so many document libraries in use, the old (insufficient) allocation was simply too small.
  • Licensing – “Office 2019 uses device-based licenses similar to previous major versions. Users will be able to sign in if they want to. However, they are not required to do this. Key Management Service (KMS) and Multiple Activation Keys (MAK) activation are available to volume license users for offline licensing. No Internet connection is required to use the product”.
  • New Feature – Office 365 Secure Score is now Microsoft Secure Score.. The logic is that the dashboard now includes Windows data as well as Office 365 data.
  • Roadmap Lifecycle – Microsoft introduce Commercial Preview of Office 2019.
  • Licensing – Office 2019 will only be available as C2R “Click To Run” (FAQs)

Read moreMicrosoft Update April 2018

Microsoft Update March 2018

Some principle recent Microsoft solution and licensing updates, for March 2018

  • Licensing – Microsoft re-confirm that Inactive User Mailbox licensing is “postponed indefinitely”  – and reiterate Exchange Online Plan 2 or Office365 E3/E5 is assigned for Litigation Hold of Inactive Mailboxes. Minimum license re-assignment of 90 days.
  • Licensing – Microsoft announce effective May 1st 2018, Outlook Mobile will become part of all Exchange Online SKU service plans
  • Licensing – Microsoft also confirm, effective May 1st 2018,  ‘Commercial Use Rights’ for Office Apps will extend to F1 and E1 and Business Essentials. A long overdue and welcome announcement.
  • New Feature – Enable GDPR with DSR (Data Subject Requests) in Office365 Data Privacy Tab of Office365, and Azure DSR Portal.
  • Pricing – Microsoft market “transparent” pricing, but SQL Hybrid Benefit can mean one customer with VL pricing anchored at Level A, another at Level D, +/- discounts etc. Enabling strong competitive advantage over AWS for Azure SQL DB Managed Instances
  • Roadmap Lifecycle – SQL Information Protection enters public preview. The ‘advanced’ moniker indicates it may be a premium offering in-line with the other notable GDPR enabling features.
  • New Feature – Microsoft Teams guest access expands to consumer accounts
  • Roadmap Lifecycle – Azure Migrate is now Generally Available in March 2018. Microsoft step into commercial TCO with scenario planning inclusive of Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, Right-Sizing, No Charge Dependency Visualization   further enabled by  Azure Advisor. This does move native functionality of Microsoft services into the PyraCloud space, but do you want commercial and technical governance owned by the vendor, and does this address Multi-Cloud?
  • SQL Server Hybrid Use Benefit emerges in the March 1st Product Terms. Specified use scenarios, with a key limitation on concurrent use when comparing to Windows Server Datacenter. Notably no Azure Analysis Services included.
  • Microsoft  announce that Azure Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) was generally available on March 1st. Azure ATP resides within EM+S E5.

Read moreMicrosoft Update March 2018

Microsoft Update February 2018

Some principle recent Microsoft licensing and solution updates, for February 2018

  • Licensing – Azure Information Protection Scanner enters General Availability. Notably aligned within EM&S E5 or AIP P2. Enables GDPR.
  • Roadmap Lifecycle – (Public Preview) Managing Office365 licenses becomes easier with group-based subscription assignments, Admins will be able to restrict individual services for staged deployments, and assign multiple service packages
  • New Feature – Office365 near term roadmap with new features across Planner, Advanced Threat Intelligence and Advanced Threat Protection
  • Licensing – If you want to manage group naming conventions and expiry policies for Office365 groups, you will need Azure AD Premium licenses
  • New Feature – Windows Defender ATP now supports Windows 8.1 and 7
  • New Feature – Microsoft Compliance Manager enters General Availability. Provided natively for Office365 Enterprise Plans for GDPR

Read moreMicrosoft Update February 2018

Microsoft Update January 2018

Some principle recent Microsoft solution and licensing updates, for January 2018

  • Licensing – New Windows Server CAL waiver for Azure AD, and clarification of Windows in Microsoft 365 Business Ref: January 2018 Product Terms a new CAL waiver for the Windows Server base CAL for Customers using Windows Server solely in connection with Azure Active Directory syncs with on-premises Active Directory infrastructures”
  • Reference (Licensing) – Windows Azure VM must enable port 1688 for licensing. To restrict access to Internet IPs, an admin must create an inbound rule in NSG to restrict the traffic. A network security group (NSG) contains a list of security rules that allow or deny network traffic to resources connected to Azure Virtual Networks (VNet).
  • Reference (Licensing)- PowerApps licensing can be expansive – a database managed by the Common Data Service (CDS) could incur all users of the app(s) that access the database to have a PowerApps Plan 1 subscription. There is a good licensing resource available here:
  • Reference (Licensing) – A good resource on Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams add-on licensing
  • Reference (Licensing) – Impact on Office365 service features support across the various iterations of Skype and Lync desktop clients
  • Reference (Licensing) – PowerBI use scenarios can impact licensing and solution topology e.g. ‘User Owned Data’ vs, ‘App Owned Data’ when the user and app authenticate to access PowerBI APIs (for example for task workers to access a kiosk application) requires PowerBI Pro
  • Licensing – Microsoft announce policy change on End of Support and Premium Assurance. Microsoft are re-evaluating the Premium Assurance offer construct, which provides up to six years of additional support beyond the extended support period. Effective Feb 1st 2018, Premium Assurance SKUs will be updated to lead-status and removed from the published price list. As of now Premium Assurance should no longer be sold, and Redmond are working on plans to announce at a later date.

Read moreMicrosoft Update January 2018

Microsoft EA True Up Guide

Over the term of your Enterprise Agreement (EA), you can equip additional hardware, devices, or users with software and online services that you’ve already licensed, and then account for these changes through an annual reconciliation process known as “True Up”. If you have an Enterprise Agreement Subscription  (EAS), this process is known as an Annual Order, through which you can increase, or decrease your license subscription counts.

Once a year, you are asked to reconcile your Enterprise Agreement (EA) license quantities to account for the total number of licenses you’ve added in the previous 12 months. This effort culminates in an order you place (or an Update Statement you submit) that reconciles all the qualified devices, users, and processor/cores added or used by your organization over the course of the year.

Your annual reconciliation order (or Update Statement) are normally due 30 to 60 days prior to your Enrollment anniversary, supporting Microsoft and your LSP (License Solution Provider) to provide eligible license transitions, but also both with annual commercial forecasts [Ref: Enterprise Agreement True-up Guide for more information]

Read moreMicrosoft EA True Up Guide

Multi Cloud – Stay In Control

Multi-cloud is on the rise. In some organisations, individuals and departments adopt various cloud solutions and services over a period of time, resulting in a gradual drift into a multi-cloud scenario. Other organisations deliberately assign workloads to both Microsoft Azure and AWS, seeking to reduce excessive reliance on either vendor, enhance flexibility, improve resiliency and mitigate exit strategy issues. In other cases, sovereignty regulations such as GDPR lead global companies to adopt multi-cloud strategies to keep data in local regions. Either way, multi-cloud is now so prevalent that it’s being referred to by some as the “new normal.”
However, multi-cloud raises challenges as well as benefits. Costs can run out of control, and management complexity can spiral as individuals and teams spin up workload after workload across the organisation, often without involving the IT department. Keeping track of what is under way, where, and for whom can become impossible.

Data and workload fragmentation sets in – silos, much like those we’ve seen for decades in the data centre, but now scattered across the cloud. Also, it’s not uncommon for IT to be unaware of the existence of certain cloud assets, much less where they all are, the resources they’re consuming or the benefits they’re delivering.

Being Wise to Vendor Incentives

Meanwhile, both Microsoft and Amazon are focusing on retaining, as well as attracting, customers. They use contractual devices, but also reward end users for committing more data and heavier workloads to their platforms. Naturally, users take advantage of such rewards, and the greater their reliance on their cloud platform of choice, the greater their inclination tends to be to stick with it.
Unavoidably, a piecemeal approach to multi-cloud results in relentlessly escalating costs, and deteriorating visibility. To effectively leverage multi-cloud’s potential, it is important to improve visibility and bring costs under control. SoftwareONE employs three principal offerings within their PyraCloud platform to help you do exactly that, including:

Read moreMulti Cloud – Stay In Control

Microsoft Update December 2017

Latest roundup of Microsoft licensing updates for December 2017

  • Licensing – Office365 enables GDPR with auto-data classification (Azure Info Protection P2) DLP policies, and Compliance Manager. However, the ‘fire hose’ of Audit Logs are retained for just 90 days, extensible with premium AddOn Advanced Security Management (ASM) for 180 days
  • Reference (Licensing) – Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams – Setting up Communication Credits to enable Pre-Pay access toll-free call-out for Audio Conferencing and Calling Plans
  • Licensing – Azure Monetary Commitment (AMC) changes to reflect (a) the fact that Monetary Commitment funds are available throughout the enrollment term when fully paid upfront and (b) the removal of Consumption Allowance Ref: December 2017 Product Terms
  • Licensing – A single appendix for all Add-on and From SA transitions. Ref: December 2017 Product Terms
  • Licensing – Power BI Report Server – Running Instances entry expanding rights to run Power BI Workload Server on AzureRef: December 2017 Product Terms

Read moreMicrosoft Update December 2017

Microsoft Update November 2017

Some principle recent Microsoft solution and licensing updates, for November 2017

  • Roadmap Lifecycle – Azure Reserved VM Instances are now Generally Available in all EA programs and on Azure Monetary Commitment funds can be used throughout the term of the enrollment for new orders through the EA Prepay (3 year upfront) option, New/Renewal direct EA customers will be billed quarterly for all coverages
  • Reference – Editions and Supported Features of SQL Server 2017
  • Licensing – If you need to control/restrict service access to Office365 services with Intune? You will currently need Conditional Access via Azure AD Premium P1
  • Microsoft News – Microsoft approaching 1 billion identities synced with Azure AD
  • Tool – Microsoft update MAP Toolkit ready for SQL 2017
  • Licensing – If some users do not have a license for Azure Information Protection (AIP) but do have a license for Azure Rights Management, edit the registry on these users’ computers to prevent them from running unlicensed features (Published July 2017)

Read moreMicrosoft Update November 2017

Microsoft Update October 2017

Important licensing updates for October 2017

  • Licensing – Azure Info Protection enters Public Preview in October 2017, scanner crawls through files in CIFS based file shares and SharePoint sites and apply classification, labelling and protection on files policies – driving Azure Information Protection (AIP) P2 –
  • Licensing – Cloud App Security can read files classified by Azure Info Protection Scanner and set policies based on the file labels: General Availability from October 2017.
  • Licensing – New Products added to the Microsoft Product Terms (October 2017) SQL Server 2017, Exchange Online Inactive Mailbox (Note: Removed in November 2017 in a Microsoft U-Turn),
  • Microsoft 365 F1, Visio Online Plan 1 and 2, Microsoft 365 A3, Microsoft365 A5 for Education in the Product Terms (October 2017)
  • Licensing – New Products added to the Online Service Terms (October 2017) Exchange Online Inactive User, new Skype PSTN names, new Microsoft365 EDU services 
  • Licensing – October 1st, 2017 SQL 2017, Semi-Annual Channel for Windows Server, System Center in the October 2017  Microsoft SPLA Services Provider Use Rights:

Read moreMicrosoft Update October 2017

Microsoft Update September 2017

Important licensing updates for September 2017 –

  • Roadmap Lifecycle – Office365 and Azure are both Generally Available from new UK data centers. Microsoft marketing MoD move:
  • Licensing – F1 remains a bold move to target a wider addressable market. At circa $10/u/m and 2B users, you can see why Be aware of feature limits of Windows 10, (and no Azure AD Info Protection) for Microsoft M365 F1. (September 2018)
  • Licensing – Windows 10 – virtualization use rights have been extended to certain licenses purchased under the Microsoft Cloud Agreement. Customers purchasing Windows 10 Subscriptions via Microsoft Cloud Agreement (excluding Windows 10 Enterprise E3 Per User Local Only) may activate the software on up to 5 concurrent physical or virtual OSEs Ref: Product Terms, September 2017 
  • Licensing – Added “Processing of Personal Data” to support the European Union General Data Protection Regulation Terms (GDPR) 
  • Licensing – Dynamics365 – Embedded editions of certain Microsoft Dynamics 365 Services are available through the Microsoft Cloud Agreement.  Embedded editions of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Services may be used only with an Embedded Unified Solution (defined) 
  • Licensing – Microsoft announced Office 2019 “Perpetual”
  • New Feature – Office365 Use Metering and ‘Reader Role’ designation for Usage Reporting
  • Licensing – Microsoft announce Office365 Usage Analytics and will reach general availability in July 2018, including new metrics on teamwork and collaboration, usage data for Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and Office 365 Groups

Read moreMicrosoft Update September 2017