The SAM Club’s 10th Anniversary

As we enter a new decade The SAM Club is celebrating its 10th Anniversary.

<a href="https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/wedding">Wedding vector created by starline - www.freepik.com</a>
vector created by starline – www.freepik.com

One thing that hasn’t changed over the 10 years is that licensing rules & compliance requirements continue to change.

During our 10 years we have:-

  • Continued to acquire long term clients that have on-going Service Agreements with us.
  • Performed many projects to help clients with their Microsoft Enterprise Agreement renewals.
  • Helped clients to become compliant & successfully negotiate Microsoft Audits.
  • Helped to novate & co-term license agreements during mergers (In one case we helped with the merger of 3 major law firms).
  • Helped clients purchase low cost 2nd hand Microsoft licenses to meet specific needs.
  • Helped clients recoup costs by reselling redundant on-premise licenses as they move to cloud-based solutions.

We have seen significant IT changes & trends which have had significant impacts on licensing decisions & costs:-

  • Vendors moving from permanent licensing to subscriptions.
  • Uptake in Software as a Service (SaaS), such as Mimecast.
  • Fast-growing new Software Vendors, such as Veeam.
  • Vendors providing mobility/multi-device management & security solutions.
  • The trend towards cloud-based solutions, especially Office365 & Azure.

The SAM Club has kept pace with these trends & expanded its range of services in order to continue to provide good SAM & Licensing advice to its clients considering their future IT plans.

10 years ago, our largest client was a 600-user law firm. Today our largest client has over 3,500 users.

Our geographic spread has widened with clients in Jersey, Salisbury, Nottingham, Dublin as well as in London. Modern remote working & web-based technology enables us to work efficiently in helping remote clients whilst keeping our fees down.

We can honestly say that we have saved all our clients significantly more money than our fees, as well as saving them time & ensuring compliance.

If you are not already a SAM Club client, then we would be pleased to have an exploratory discussion with you. Contact us.

Follow us on LinkedIn & sign up to our blog, where we regularly publish timely licensing news & good practice tips.

 

News Release – Our new partnership for cloud and modern workplace

Working with the experts at independent cloud consultancy SystemsUp

SAM Club & SystemsUp

At the SAM Club, we are independent licensing and Software Asset Management consultants.

For 10 years we have provided cost effective, practical solutions to manage software licensing, purchasing, renewals, re-harvesting and compliance.

However, many of our clients are in process of moving from, or are actively considering moving from, on-premise IT solutions to cloud-based services such as Microsoft Office 365, M365, Azure and Software as a Service (SaaS) offerings.

To assist our clients with the technical side of these migrations we have partnered with independent consultancy SystemsUp. The team at SystemsUp work with organisations across the public and private sector to ensure that the cloud services and collaboration tools they choose are implemented effectively and securely.

Having the right partner to provide independent technical consultancy services helps our clients to choose the right cloud-based applications and services, and to architect the very best solutions to meet their business requirements.

Our partnership with SystemsUp offers an additional option to The SAM Club’s clients. It does not interfere with our clients using their usual software suppliers.

Ian Nicholls, Director & Managing Consultant at The SAM Club says, “SystemsUp and The SAM Club are both authorised Microsoft partners. Together, we provide objective, expert licensing and technical guidance, to help our clients make the best decisions and to reduce cost and risk.”

Nick Martin, Managing Director of SystemsUp, says, “Our partnership is about helping organisations to exploit all aspects of the cloud in a way that benefits their business as well as their users. We want to ensure that their move to the cloud is as seamless as possible and results in a workplace that is fit for the digital age.”

Get in touch to find out more

VMware announces Price Increases w.e.f. 2nd April 2020

VMware announces Price Increases starting from week ending 2nd April 2020. On 3rd February 2020 VMware announced a change to its per-CPU licensing model.

VMware price increases image

As from 2nd April 2020 any software offering that VMware licenses on a per-CPU basis (e.g. vSphere) will require one license for up to 32 physical cores and an additional CPU licenses for every additional (up to) 32 cores.

This is in recognition of processors having an increasing number of cores, making them more powerful. Also, it starts to align VMware with software authors such as Microsoft that already licenses products such as Windows Server & SQL Server on a per-core basis.

Note that this is related to real physical CPU cores not logical processors created by Hyperthreading.

The change is unlikely to affect the vast majority of customers immediately as most use servers with Intel or AMD processors having less than 32-cores.

For the few customers who are currently deploying VMware software on CPUs with more than 32 cores, or for those that are in the process of purchasing physical servers with more than 32 cores per CPU, VMware is providing a grace period after the licensing metric change goes into effect on 2nd April 2020. Any customer who purchases VMware software licenses for deployment on a physical server with more than 32-cores per CPU prior to 30th April 2020 will be eligible for additional free per-CPU licenses to cover the CPUs on that server.

To apply for additional licenses customers may contact their reseller, VMware sales or raise a ticket with VMware Support via there My VMware portal. Of course, The SAM Club will help its clients where required.

The SAM Club will be making a change to its clients SAM Workbooks to record those servers running VMware software that have processors with more than 32 cores & how many per-CPU licenses are assigned to each CPU.

The terms and conditions for customers to apply for additional free licenses to support deployments of VMware software on CPUs with more than 32 cores are:-

  • Servers and VMware licenses must be purchased before 11:59 pm PST U.S. 30th April 2020
  • The request for additional licenses must be submitted before 11:59pm PST U.S. on 29th January 2021. Proof of server purchase prior to 30th April 2020 will be required
  • Customers must be on active VMware support (SnS) contracts at the time of the request for additional licenses.
  • Customers will be charged for Service and Support (SnS) on the additional free licenses at the time the customer’s SnS contract for the existing licenses renews.

VMware’s announcement can be found here and a useful article can be found here.

For assistance with your VMware licensing & SnS, VMware licensing compliance, & maintaining your My VMware portal please contact us at info@thesamclub.co.uk

You might also be interested in our other VMware blog articles.
Take care when splitting and combining VMware licenses
VMware #I’m Compliant Campaign

SQL Server 2019 licensing

SQL Server 2019 licensing reached General Availability on 6th November 2019.

SQL Server 2019 licensing

See here for product feature details.

The significant change to licensing (from the 2017 release) is that with each purchase of SQL Server with Software Assurance (SA), you are entitled to:

  • Fail-Over servers for disaster recovery New

Allows customers to install and run passive SQL Server 2019 instances in a separate OSE or server for disaster recovery in anticipation of a failover event.

  • Fail-Over servers for disaster recovery in Azure New

Allows customers to install and run passive SQL Server 2019 instances in a separate OSE or server for disaster recovery in Azure in anticipation of a failover event.

  • Fail-Over servers for high availability

Allows customers to install and run passive SQL Server 2019 instances in a separate OSE or server for high availability in anticipation of a failover event.

  • You can also run backups (full and transaction log) and database consistency checks (DBCC CHECKDB) on either or both of these secondary databases.

Microsoft does require these databases to be in non-readable format mode, which is configurable through the AlwaysOn Availability Groups feature set.

You do not have to run SQL Server 2019 to take advantage of these benefits. They are valid for any license of any supported version of SQL Server (which currently is any version starting from SQL Server 2012)

For a summary of SQL Server 2019 licensing see the Licensing Datasheet.

Full licensing information may be found in the Licensing Guide.

These includes details of licensing for Big Data Clusters.

Memo: Microsoft allows you to run any nonproduction workloads under Developer Edition, which is free, so long as your workloads aren’t running production. This includes testing, training and user acceptance.

The SAM Club has helped many clients with their SQL Licensing to ensure compliance whilst making significant cost savings. If we might be of assistance please contact us at info@thesamclub.co.uk to arrange an exploratory discussion.

You might also find our recent blog around SQL Server licensing case studies interesting.

 

VMware #I’m Compliant Campaign

If your organization uses VMware, you may be contacted by the VMware Global Compliance Services team giving your organization the option to be part of its #I’m Compliant campaign stating: “This campaign offers the opportunity to review your company’s state in regards of VMware software licenses usage and prove adequate compliance related to their terms and conditions. After the process is completed, your organization could obtain a Compliance Certificate related to the licenses reported usage.”

The #I’m Compliant invitation does not state that it is a license audit but, in effect, it is.

If you accept the invitation and participate you will be asked to complete a license Deployment Report and instructions on how to extract the required data from your VMware installations.

You will also be required to complete a Certificate of VMware Software License Deployment declaring that your completed license Deployment Report is an accurate report of the VMware software licenses you have deployed.

Note: The VMware EULA states that “During the License Term for Software and for two (2) years after its expiration or termination, You will maintain accurate records of Your use of the Software sufficient to show compliance with the terms of this EULA. During this period, VMware will have the right to audit your use of the Software to confirm compliance with the terms of this EULA.”

The SAM Club has come across many real world scenarios that have caused licensing issues and EULA breaches, including:-

  • Licences purchased in one country and installed outside the permitted country/region
  • Mixed support levels on VMware installations on a host machine often as a result of splitting, merging or reallocating licenses
  • The use of mixed OEM and channel licenses
  • Multiple installations using the same license key
  • Installations using the wrong license key
  • Wrong licenses upgraded by VMware in response to Upgrade Orders
  • Licenses missing from VMware’s own Installed Base Report (IBR) even though they are on the customer’s MyVMware portal

Please contact The SAM Club at info@thesamclub.co.uk if we might help you with any type of VMware audit, your VMware Licensing & Support and managing your MyVMware portal.

For our client’s that have an on-going Service Agreement with The SAM Club we include the above in our standard service.

 

 

Use your Microsoft SA Planning Services Soon

Microsoft has announced the phasing out of Planning Services days as a benefit of Software Assurance (SA).

The timeline is:-

  • 31st January 2020 – Training Vouchers can no longer be converted to Planning Services days.
  • 31st January 2020 – All Planning Services related to migration to cloud services are retired
  • 1st February 2021 – SA customers cease accruing additional benefits (days)
  • 31st May 2021 – Last day to create Planning Services Vouchers
  • 31st December 2021 – Remaining Planning Services fully retired

 

  1. URGENT ACTION is required if wish to convert your Training Vouchers to Planning Services days.
  2. URGENT ACTION is required to use your Planning Services days in relation to cloud migration

Planning Services provide deployment planning assistance for On-premises or Hybrid environments with Microsoft Consulting Services or qualified Microsoft partners.

Planning Services are largely focussed on transitioning On-premise workloads, such as Desktop (Office/Microsoft 365 & Windows), Exchange, SharePoint & SQL Server, to Microsoft-hosted or mixed (Hybrid) deployments.

Note: You must pro-actively activate your Planning Services benefit creating a Planning Services Voucher which must be assigned to your Project Manager. This is done via your VLSC and/or MPSA licensing web portals.

Although it will be 2 years before Planning Services are fully retired, we recommend that you consider using your Vouchers soon.

Note, however, that Microsoft has introduced FastTrack  to help organisations move to the Cloud.

FastTrack services are delivered by Microsoft employees, Microsoft-approved suppliers and Microsoft-approved partners (“FastTrack specialists”).

There are some specific eligibility criteria such as purchasing a minimum of 150 licenses from the eligible plans.

Customers with eligible subscriptions to Microsoft 365, Office 365, Azure, Dynamics 365 etc can use FastTrack at no additional cost for the life of their subscription.

If you need any assistance, please contact The SAM Club at info@thesamclub.co.uk

For those clients that have an on-going Service Agreement with The SAM Club we will be contacting you to help you claim and manage any outstanding Planning Services benefits, if required.

Also, see our blog on the phasing out of Training Vouchers as a benefit of SA.

Claim your Microsoft SA Training Vouchers Soon

Microsoft has announced the phasing out of Training Vouchers as a benefit of Software Assurance (SA).

It has been replaced by Microsoft Learn which is available to everyone now, is free and self-paced with options  for certification.

The timeline is:-

  • 31st January 2020 – Training Vouchers can no longer be converted to Planning Services days
  • 31st January 2020 – Azure related training courses removed from catalogue
  • 1st February 2021 – SA customers cease accruing additional benefits
  • 31st May 2021 – Last day to claim accrued Training Vouchers
  • January 2022 – Training Vouchers no longer redeemable
  1. URGENT ACTION is required if wish to convert your Training Vouchers to Planning Services days.
  2. URGENT ACTION is required if you wish to use your Training Vouchers for Azure related courses.

Note 1: Training Vouchers are acquired when you purchase SA on On-premise product licenses such as Windows Server & SQL Server core licenses, as well as purchases of Microsoft 365 From-SA User Subscription licenses. (From-SA indicates a transition from SA for on-premise products such as Client Access License (CAL) Suites).

Note 2: You must pro-actively claim your Training Vouchers via your VLSC and/or MPSA licensing web portals. If you have not done so, we recommend you consider doing so soon. However, note that once created, Training Vouchers are valid for 180 days.

Although it will be 2 years before Training Vouchers are no longer redeemable, we recommend that you use your Vouchers soon as we expect Microsoft Certified Training Centres to start to wind down the number and range of courses offered.

If you need any assistance, please contact The SAM Club at info@thesamclub.co.uk

For those clients that have an on-going Service Agreement with The SAM Club we will be contacting you to help you claim and manage any outstanding Training Vouchers benefits.

Also, see our next blog on the phasing out of Planning Services as a benefit of SA.

Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment and best practices before you migrate

Our 5th Azure User Group meeting was about the Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment and was kindly held at Charles Russell Speechly’s head office in London. We had some new faces join the group which is always great and gives different perspectives on the challenges faced in the journey to cloud.
Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessments - Azure User Group

The meeting started with an update from The SAM Club and how we are evolving our services to support our customers as they consider the move towards Azure. The SAM Club is working towards becoming a Silver Partner with Microsoft to enable us to complete an Azure assessment to help our customers with their decision process and assessing tools such as Movere and Azure Migrate that are available. With Movere, we are considering becoming a partner to enable The SAM Club to be fully trained on the product and we will provide a separate blog on these tools in due course.

Microsoft update and key trends

Zephaniah Chukwudum, Sr. Product Marketing Manager (Azure Data & AI), Microsoft

Our first guest speaker from Microsoft talked about some of the key trends in the marketplace. Digital Transformation is the focus for Microsoft, enabling employees internally and customers externally with technology. Professional Services (such as law) are in the Top 3 priority sectors for the Microsoft Azure team. Zeph talked about the ‘Digital feedback loop’ and how operations impact services within an organisation, which loops to employees and customers – all are pinned by data and intelligence. Microsoft aim to help organisations take the mass of data they have and to enable them to use it rather than it be locked up in a database somewhere.

There will be a rise in native app developers as employees using data come up with ways to automate processes with AI. Zeph mentioned that since 2014 there has been a 6X increase in the investment into AI by companies based on research by Deloitte. AI capabilities are now being integrated as standard into cloud-based software, so smart insights are available to organisations in the cloud.

Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment

Lewis Crawford, Engagement Manager in the Cloud Economic Assessment Team, Microsoft

The Cloud Economics Team at Microsoft are able to provide customers with an investment into their business of circa £15k which enables customers to benefit from a full scoping assessment of their entire IT infrastructure by breaking this down into a costing analysis, server optimisation analysis, workload/application identification, workload prioritisation for migration and also recommendations for mapping current infrastructure into Azure. Providing a universal view of infrastructure on premise and in the cloud, utilising the ARC scan (Actual Resource Consumption) within the assessment tool enables the delivery of an extensive analysis of what a customer’s infrastructure will look like in Azure, once right-sized and optimised, resulting in the additional benefit of large cost savings.

To qualify for the assessment there are two criteria:
• Executive / board level sponsorship to start cloud journey
• Cloud transition plan – compelling reason to move (EOS services / contract renewal)

The Assessment gives insight into
• Scope of Server count
• SQL and Windows Server EOS status footprint
• Outline of servers to remain on prem, decommission and migrate to cloud

Categorisation of in scope servers by workload type and detailed prioritisation of workloads and apps that would benefit from migrating to cloud. The assessment provides an in-depth analysis in order to create a business case for internal communications and to aid decision making with wider teams, board members and C level individuals.

The process looks like this:
Microsoft Cloud Economics Assessment - process flow
It is advised that the 30-day process includes an end of month or end or end of quarter process for the 2 week scan, to obtain accurate peaks and troughs for the analysis to help with right sizing for the cloud. Maybe starting during the last week of the month. It is possible to run the scan for longer, but applications like Movere are licensed on a 30 day basis which includes the time to analyse the data.

The analysis can then be used to support the business case for moving to Azure and can consider areas such as:
• Servers at end of support
• Hardware older than 3 years
• Non-Production environments
• Lowest utilized production servers
• High end always on production servers

An area that can bring large cost savings is if you have existing licensing for Servers and SQL under Enterprise agreement with SA is the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit – which means you don’t pay twice for these licences when migrating to cloud as it is factored into the pricing.

The Azure Calculator is a useful resource for looking at costings, you can analyse cost savings with the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit, Reserved Instances* (RI) which dependant on VM size can offer savings of between 10% and 70% seen from an end user perspective.

*An Azure Reserved Virtual Machine Instance (RI) is a virtual machine (VM) on the Microsoft Azure public cloud that has been reserved for dedicated use on a one- or three- year basis.

It is possible to cancel an Azure Reserved VM Instance at any time (up to £37,265.45 per year). Cancelling allows you to return the remaining months of an Azure Reserved VM Instance back to Microsoft for an early termination fee of 12 percent. The remaining prorated balance, minus the fee, is then refunded via the original purchase. Alternatively, the Azure Reserved VM Instance could be reused or exchanged for use with another Azure Reserved VM Instance.

There are different levels of discount per VM size and some VM’s are not offered with this discount but the report at the end of the Cloud Assessment will detail costs of 3-year RI with AHUB (Azure Hybrid Use Benefit) so you can see which servers to optimise in the cloud.

Support is offered early in the process of moving to Azure, so even if your organisation is in the early stages of needing to present the ROI case to the board Microsoft Cloud Assessments can be carried out.

Round table Discussion

First, we heard from a legal client who has already made the transition to Azure in 2017. End of life was the reason for migration, and they had adopted Net Documents so it seemed the time to do it and they used a lift and shift approach into the cloud. As they found that SQL Paas was not supported by a lot of vendors pivotal to the legal sector, they over optimised servers initially. The exercise was less about cost saving on migration, but over time they have optimised server usage by monitoring them in Azure. Optimisation is the plan going forward and they are looking at Reserved Instances for further cost savings.

Initially, they said that regarding TCO – they saved a bit on the running costs, but they saved a lot on hardware, support and services that the hardware refresh would have incurred.

Vendors in the legal sector need educating on SQL

A major concern from the room was around the main Vendors when it comes to specifying the servers for their products. The room stated that these are often appeared to be over spec’d and for on premise servers which they are forced to follow due to the vendors support terms. When purchasing new software from a Vendor, their server spec is all that is available and using the Azure calculator the costs are considered too high. Microsoft also recognised this and are working with SI’s and vendors to help educate them. Microsoft suggested that as a group we identify and advise them on 10 vendors that can be investigated.

Discussion on next topic and host

Ideas for the next meeting were discussed and some topics suggested were:
• Panel of peers to discuss their experience migrating to Azure and challenge Microsoft
• Microsoft and iManage to present the way to the cloud
• Azure Sentinal – Intelligent security analytics

The next meeting date and location is to be confirmed for mid-September

You can find blog articles from our previous events here:
Azure User Group meeting
Azure User Group meeting 2 Dev /Test
Azure User Group meeting 3 Security & Compliance
Azure AI Chatbots is the hype justified?

Take care when splitting and combining VMware vSphere licenses

If you are changing your virtual server IT infrastructure, then you may need to split or combine your VMware vSphere licenses.VMware vSphere - technology image

Photo by Daniel Chen on Unsplash

All vSphere licenses installed in the same VMware server farm must have the same Support Level, i.e. Basic (9×5 business hours) or Production (24×7).

So, if you have different support levels on your VMware vSphere licenses you need to take care when splitting and combining them.

Also, if you have VMware server farms installed in different countries and since vSphere licenses are licensed on a geographic regional basis (depending upon in which country they were purchased), you must take care not to split and combine licenses from different regions.

Of course, before combining license keys ensure that they are for the same release. You may need to upgrade some license keys via your MyVMware portal beforehand.

Also, see our earlier blog about splitting license keys.

Because of the complexity of VMware licensing, the SAM Club helps its Clients maintain their MyVMware licensing portals and maintains a synchronised single pane view of all licensing & support data in their SAM Workbooks.

If you might benefit from The SAM Club’s expertise and assistance with your VMware licenses, support renewals and MyVMware portal please contact us.

Enhanced Citrix eLearning benefits with Customer Select Service (CSS) subscriptions

Citrix has enhanced the free eLearning benefits that come with organisations’ Customer Success Services (CSS) subscriptions. The on-line training courses can be accessed by logging into the Citrix Select eLearning portal.

Citrix eLearning - brainstorming image

The courses are on-demand and self-paced making it easy to learn when it’s convenient.

To access its Select eLearning Subscription a user’s Organisation must have an active CSS entitlement and the user must be a designated Technical Contact within MyAccount.

If a user isn’t a Technical Contact they will not see any CSS Access icons when browsing the eLearning catalogue. (That can be corrected by updating the user’s Profile in their MyCitrix portal).

The Select eLearning entitlement enables technical users to:

  • Gain the skills needed to optimize their Citrix environment
  • Learn about other Citrix technologies that can add value to their implementation

Citrix has improved its Select eLearning in several ways:

  • Expanded content choices by adding new courses.
  • Redesigned its training portal for easier navigation and access to all training content and topics – from a single unified view.
  • The new portal also features a student dashboard that makes it easier to track users’ progress.

Citrix Premium eLearning

To supplement CSS customers core Select eLearning benefits, Citrix now offers Premium eLearning (at an additional cost), which gives access to advanced content, Hands-on Labs, and digital badges that validate the competencies users gain. Technical users can earn up to four certifications through online assessments, available at no additional cost. Citrix states that a subscription will help users stay up-to-date on the latest developments, leading practices, and how-to guidance for Citrix products.

The SAM Club’s services include helping its clients access and maximise their benefits from their Citrix Licenses and Subscriptions. If we might help, please contact us.