Azure Cloud Solution Provider vs EA

Azure Cloud Solution Provider
The Azure Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) is being mentioned more by the Licensing Solutions Partners (LSP) when discussing Microsoft renewal options. At The SAM Club we have been asked several times – what the difference is between the Azure Cloud Solutions Provider and the Enterprise Agreement (EA). Recently Microsoft have produced a PDF to help differentiate between the options.

Having analysed this further, we have the following observations which should be considered:

  • The EA is now for a minimum of 500 Users. Organisations that are below 500 Users with an existing EA which expires before 30th June 2019 are allowed to renew their EA one more time.
  • The CSP doesn’t provide a from SA SKU. For example, an organisation that is licensed for Office Pro Plus and Enterprise CAL Suite with SA wouldn’t gain a price reduction for owning these products with current SA.
    However there may be an option/benefit to resell the existing Microsoft Licenses when moving to Office 365 for example.
  • A CSP allows the LSP to determine their own pricing and can provide support for an inclusive / additional fee. Are you reviewing your options adequately?
  • Do you have seasonal staff increases? The CSP option allows for the number of licenses to be trued up or down on a monthly basis.
  • Price Protection – The CSP only provides for 12 months whereas the EA is for the 3 year term.
  • The EA allows for On-premises Server Installation Rights with Microsoft 365 E3/E5: Exchange, SharePoint, Skype for Business Servers. This is not available via the CSP for Microsoft 365 E3/E5 plans.

If you are unsure which agreement is best for your organisation, or would like an independent view of your options, then please do not hesitate to contact The SAM Club.

SAM Club Kickers December Manager of the month

It’s time to announce the Manager of the month for December.

Jonathan Bush with his team Bushe United has the top spot with 379 points, closely followed by Ian Nicholls and his team Curly’s Bees on 356 points and Roy Russell with his team 2nd 2 Nun FC with 343 points. Well done Jonathan and good luck to everyone for January!

The January Transfer Window has opened. Keep an eye out for transfers that may be beneficial to your team. West Ham have been quick off the mark with the signing of Samir Nasri and Chelsea have signed Christian Pulisic although he won’t be available until next season having been loaned back as part of the deal. Check your team for injuries, suspensions or players that are out of favour. There is always the ‘Wildcard’ option for wholesale changes to your team if required.

Good luck to everyone for January 2019!

SAM Club Merry Christmas and a look back on the year – 2018

Merry Christmas - SAM Club 2018 update
Well the year is winding down, less than a week until Christmas. So, we thought we would do a roundup of the SAM Club’s year.

We have had a year of growth and are very excited for what 2019 will bring.

Some of our achievements:

• Increased our client base by 25%

• For 15% of our clients, we have assisted with and completed sign off for a Microsoft Compliance Review

• Worked with 28% of our clients on their Microsoft Enterprise Agreements – reviewing their installations, discussing their future requirements and advising on ideas / solutions. Including completely relicensing SQL Servers for 2 clients which resulted in large cost savings for them

In April we opened our new office at Kings Court, Stevenage. It’s a managed office with great facilities and services that we love working in. To coincide with the new office, we expanded our team to include our new Business Support Assistant, Neeley Casserly – who is helping to keep our clients’ licensing and SAM Workbooks up to date.

Some of our improved business processes:

• Implemented an online accounts system for the SAM Club

• We have now made the SAM Workbooks accessible via a link. So our clients can always see the latest version of their workbook in real time

• Installed Webroot to secure our laptops

• GDPR – as everyone had to tackle this year, we climbed the GDPR mountain, researched and implemented the required processes to ensure we are compliant

We have written more blog articles, providing our clients with regular updates on product lifecycles, new product releases, licensing changes and some great licensing tips. There will be more to come next year, and we have had some great feedback on the topics covered so far. Suggestions are always welcome.

Thank you to all our clients and partners, old and new for 2018. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. We look forward to working with you all, for what will be a great 2019!

If you haven’t already signed up to receive our Blog updates then please sign up here.

Changes to Software Assurance benefits for Exchange 2019

The latest Microsoft Product Terms for November 2018, show some additional Software Assurance benefits for Exchange, see page 25. Microsoft update their Product Terms monthly and with the recent Microsoft product announcements, The SAM Club we have been looking for any useful information. We have found that the below benefits are now available for customers with active Software Assurance on Exchange 2019 products.

SAM Club Exchange Server 2019

4.1 Exchange Enterprise CAL with Services 2019 Supplemental Terms and Conditions

Exchange Server Enterprise CAL with active SA coverage includes the rights to Data Loss Prevention and Exchange Online Protection.

4.2 Exchange Online Voice Mail Service

Customers with active SA coverage for Exchange Server Standard 2019 or Exchange Server Enterprise 2019 may use the Exchange Online Voice Mail Service to access voice messages from Outlook. Use of this Online Service is subject to the OST

Exchange 2019 has recently been released by Microsoft, see more on our article about the release.

Microsoft announce the release of Exchange Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2019, SharePoint Server 2019, and Project Server 2019

Microsoft Exchange Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2019, SharePoint Server 2019, and Project Server 2019 are all now available to commercial customers. The products can now be downloaded from the Volume Licensing Service Center or the Business Center (MPSA)

SAM Club Microsoft Office 2019 Servers available

Some of the new features are listed below for these Servers, with links to more detailed release pages for each product.

Exchange Server 2019

Exchange Server 2019 includes scale and performance enhancements, new and improved search powered by Bing technology, new options to restrict the forwarding of meeting requests, and increased control over “out of office” settings.

Skype for Business Server 2019

Skype for Business Server 2019 provides on-premises and hybrid customers with additional security, quality, and performance features to improve the hybrid scenario.  New features include Cloud Voicemail, Cloud Call Data Connector, Streamlined Migration to Teams, and support for TLS 1.2.

SharePoint Server 2019

SharePoint Server 2019 brings the ease of use of SharePoint Online to on-premises customers.  For end users, the new release delivers modern libraries, lists, and communication sites.  IT professionals will see improved performance and scale with simplified management. And developers will now be able to build for both cloud and on-premise environments with deeper SharePoint Framework integration.

Project Server 2019

Project Server 2019 offers a robust end-to-end project and portfolio management solution, with strong collaboration capabilities powered by SharePoint Server 2019. Updates include enhancements to performance and scalability, improved reporting, and an expanded set of APIs.

The licensing models remain the same but please get in touch if you would like to understand more about your licensing options.

You can read about other recent releases from Microsoft for Office 2019 and Windows Server 2019 on our blog.


Microsoft launch Microsoft Learn portal

As of 1st of November 2018 Microsoft will retire the E-Learning Software Assurance benefit and replace it with a brand new free portal called Microsoft Learn.

Microsoft Learn

For any customers currently using the E-Learning portal through Software Assurance please be aware that as of the 1st November the portal and all content will be retired so there will be no access to current courses, transcripts, completion certificates and admin tools. It is advised that you compete any courses and download transcripts and course completion certificates before 1st November.

Customers will now be directed to the new Microsoft Learn website where there are some courses for Azure and new Dynamics 365, Power BI, PowerApps, and Microsoft Flow courses today and will expand over the next year.

You can read the announcement and advice from Microsoft here.

Microsoft release Office 2019 for Windows and Mac

Microsoft has announced the availability of Office 2019. If you have active Software Assurance (SA) cover on your Office products, as of the General Availability date of 24th September 2018 then you are entitled to this new release.

SAM Club Microsoft release Office 2019

Licensing Office 2019 through the Volume Licensing Programs remains the same as Office 2016 Standard and Professional Plus per device licenses. However, it will be about 10% more expensive due to the October price rise.

If you purchase new licenses from now onwards, you will be entitled to use them at the 2019 release even though you might install them at an earlier release, such as Office 2013 or 2016, under downgrade rights.

Office 2019 provides enhancements to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project, Visio, Access, and Publisher for customers who can’t be cloud-connected or receive regular updates.

The new enhancements are a subset of a long list of features that have been added to Office 365 ProPlus over the last three years.

Office 2019 is a one-time release and won’t receive future feature updates so we don’t see any point in customers maintaining active Software Assurance (SA) in order to solely receive new releases. (However, there are other benefits of SA such as Roaming Use Rights, and options to acquire a “From SA” USL (User Subscription License) if moving to an Office 365 / Microsoft 365 E3/E5 plan if all your organisation’s Office licenses have active SA.

The announcement page has some useful links to FAQs on both the new features and the new technology to deploy it – Click-to-Run. There’s also confirmation that Exchange Server 2019, Skype for Business Server 2019, SharePoint Server 2019, and Project Server 2019 will be released in the coming weeks.

Microsoft will continue to add new features to Office 365 ProPlus monthly, including innovations in collaboration, artificial intelligence (AI), security, and more.

Microsoft’s focus for Office going forward is Office 365, but they state that “We see the on-premises version of Office as an important part of our commitment to give customers the flexibility they need to move to the cloud at their own pace”.

Microsoft will cease Extended Support for Office 2019 in 2029 so we expect them to be pushing all customers to Office 365 by then.

To discuss the best licensing options to upgrade to Office 2019 or if you are considering making the move to Office 365 please get in touch so we can help you choose the best licensing option for your organisation.

Have a look at our recent blog article about the release of Microsoft Windows Server 2019.


Microsoft Windows Server 2019 now available

Microsoft has announced that Windows Server 2019 is now generally available, and it has updated the Windows Admin Centre to support Windows Server 2019 and Azure hybrid scenarios.

Microsoft Windows Server 2019

Erin Chapple, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Windows Server says in his recent blog post that, “Windows Server 2019 is designed and engineered to help modernize your datacentre”.

The new features in Windows Server 2019 include Hybrid features to make it easier to connect to Azure services, security enhancements and advances to the application platform for developers. To find out more about the new features read the blog here.

Windows Server 2019 is now available for download via the VLSC or you can download an evaluation copy from the Evaluation Center. There is also a Windows Server 2019 datasheet that details the licensing options, which remains the same as Windows Server 2016: servers are licensed per core with a minimum of 16 cores per server / 8 cores per processor, User or Device CALs are required and there is a 10% price increase.

Note: If you have Windows Server with active SA licensed with the previous per processor model, you will need to calculate the right number of cores for the new license model with the SA renewal.  The standard transition is for a 2-processor license to become a 16-core license. However, if your servers have more than 16 cores (8 cores per processor) then you can apply for a license grant for the additional cores. However, you must keep date stamped evidence of the server being in place at the time of the SA renewal to satisfy any compliance review.

If you would like to discuss upgrading and licensing options for Windows Server 2019 please get in touch.


Do you know if your Microsoft licenses are fully compliant?

Microsoft licensing rules are always changing and there are a lot of considerations for IT Heads managing licensing within their organisation.

Microsoft licensing

Have licenses been installed correctly? If not you could have a compliance issue and should your organisation get audited then issues like this can be costly.

Do you have Microsoft licenses where the Software Assurance is coming up for renewal? If so, are you taking advantage of any license grants I.e. Windows Server 2016 per processor to per core licensing change.

Do you know which volume licensing program is the best fit for your organisation? Microsoft licensing can be a minefield, with the change in license rules and the many license programs that are available i.e. CSP, MPSA, EA, SCE etc.

Would your organisation benefit from an independent review? We can discuss your requirements with you, identify any potential compliance issues and help identify the right Microsoft licenses and programs for discussion with your license reseller.

Contact us by email for more information.

We provide an independent software asset management (SAM) service to assist Heads of IT manage their software licensing. Our services include a Standard SAM service and a Compliance program that can be tailored to your needs.

Could VMware vSphere ROBO Edition Save You Licensing Costs?

Did you know there’s a VMware option for smaller remote environments/office locations with a local IT Infrastructure? vSphere ROBO Remote Office / Branch Office could help reduce your VMware licensing costs.

VMWare vSphere ROBO blog

ROBO is available in Standard and Advanced Editions. Both Editions provide the vSphere Hypervisor (ESXi) and share a common core of features. These include High-Availability, vSphere vMotion, vSphere Storage vMotion, vSphere Data Protection, vSphere Replication, vSphere Fault Tolerance for workloads up to 2 CPUs, and vShield Endpoint for security.

The Advanced Edition builds on the standard feature set adding vSphere Distributed Switch, vSphere Host Profiles, vSphere Auto-Deploy and vSphere Fault Tolerance for workloads up to 4 CPUs. The Advanced Edition may be more appealing for larger, more distributed enterprise environments that need additional automation to deploy and manage remote systems.

A datasheet is available here.

You can also compare the Standard and Advanced Editions here.

ROBO licenses are priced per-virtual machine (per-VM) and sold in packs of 25 licenses. A 25 VM license pack can be shared across multiple locations. For example, five remotes offices each running up to five virtual machines. This approach provides deployment flexibility and helps minimize the cost of smaller infrastructures commonly found at remote offices.

Note, however, that ROBO licensing is limited to a maximum of 25 VMs in one remote site/office location.

vCenter Standard Server (purchased separately) can be used to remotely managing ROBO sites from a central Datacentre. Alternatively, if you wish to manage ROBO installations locally from within your Remote Office/Branch Office then you can do so using vCenter Foundation Edition (purchased separately).

Just as there is a vSAN option for vSphere so there is also a vSAN option for vSphere ROBO Editions.

However, there is no upgrade path to traditional vSAN licenses for ROBO licensing to Virtual SAN Standard or Advanced licensing.

If ROBO provides the features required for your smaller environments and these are currently licensed with vSphere Enterprise Plus, it would be worth completing a cost analysis exercise to see how the price of purchasing ROBO compares to the renewal costs for the current licenses…….or you might be able to re-deploy the vSphere Enterprise Plus licenses used in your Remote Offices.

Also see our previous blog about being VMware compliant regarding Country of Use vs Country of Purchase.