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Tag Archives: volume licensing

Micromail has once again won Microsoft Ireland’s prestigious LSP Partner of the Year award. The 2016 award was presented at Microsoft’s annual Irish Partner Awards dinner at the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) in Toronto on 12th July.

The LSP Partner of the Year award recognizes excellence in licensing solutions & services, along with the highest levels of customer service. It confirms Micromail’s position as the most successful LSP (Licensing Solutions Partner) in the country.

Congratulations to all the Micromail team. This award is a tribute to their expertise in software licensing, and their dedication to exceptional customer service.

Adobe Select – New Licensing Options from Adobe

Adobe today have launched a major update to their VIP (Cloud) licensing program for Commercial & Government customers – and it’s good news for customers already on the Cloud or contemplating joining. These new licensing options, dubbed Adobe Select, offer great value and budget predictability. Furthermore, they bring structured discounts within the scope of a regular Cloud user.

Changes in discount structure

This is the main update that will interest & affect Adobe users. Previously Adobe Cloud programs had discount bands, but they were unrealistically high. An order for 50+ seats was required to access any additional discount from Adobe! This was completely out of the scope of most Irish Creative Cloud customers. The new reduced discount bands offer a great opportunity for savings – an order of 10+ seats of either Creative Cloud or individual Apps (like Photoshop) provides access to an additional 5% discount, possibly rising to 10%.

The old and new bands:

Screen Shot 2016-03-11 at 14.14.39

10+ seats opens a new Adobe Select Agreement, or converts your current agreement to Select

Current Customers

What of companies who already have an Adobe VIP Cloud agreement in place with over 10 seats? Well, good news. Once you reach your Adobe ‘lookback’ period (31 days before VIP Agreement anniversary) you will be automatically upgraded to the level which you qualify for – and can then avail of the new rate of discount for renewals and new licenses.

3 Year Extended Term

Further good news – Adobe Select customers (10+ seats) will now also be able to lock down their pricing for three years. Once an order is placed, contact Micromail and request a 3-year commit – this will allow you to pay annually for three years, with price protection in place. Even better, Adobe will offer an additional 10-15% discount for committing to the three years.

Don’t have the necessary 10+ seats currently, but interested in securing Adobe Select pricing? It’s possible to commit to a 10+ seat purchase so you can avail of the additional extra discount immediately – simply contact Micromail for further details.

So your new server is up and running and you have of course correctly licensed it with Windows Server 2012. Now you want to get on with the real task, installing SQL Server 2012. But what about the pesky licensing for SQL itself, well the licensing surrounding SQL Server can seem complicated initially but the basics are relatively easy to get a handle on.

First of all you’ll need to purchase the server license itself. You can choose between three options here*, depending on what you need to get done.

Starting at the top end, SQL Server 2012 Enterprise is what would be required for Mission Critical and Tier 1 applications, high availability and Data Warehousing. Click here for more information.
The ‘middle ground’ offering is new with the 2012 release – SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence (BI). BI edition offers the full suite of powerful BI capabilities in SQL Server 2012, including PowerPivot and Crescent. One major focus of this edition is empowering end users with BI functionality. This will be ideal for projects that need advanced BI capabilities but don’t require the full OLTP performance and scalability of Enterprise Edition. It allows for ‘Managed self-service BI’ and scalable analytics. Click here for more information.

SQL Server 2012 Standard is the entry level SQL license for small to medium network scenarios. Standard edition is designed for departmental databases that require only basic database functionality and basic BI functionality. Click here for more information.

Standard suits most SMB scenarios – that said, the linked resources above should have all the information you need to decide which is right for your set-up.

CALs and Cores

As with the Windows Server licensing you will also need to license each user or device connecting to the server in question. Devices and Users are licensed by purchasing Client Access Licenses, or CALs. The type of CAL needed is usually decided by which is more cost effective, i.e. do you have more users or devices? There is however another option which allows unlimited users/devices – this is known as the ‘per core’ option.

Decisions, decisions…

As outlined above there are two distinct ways to license the CAL side of things. You can license the server and then each device or user connecting to it OR purchase a ‘per core’ SQL license. The ‘per core’ option licenses the server and allows an unlimited amount of devices or users to connect to it. If you go for the ‘per core’ model, you will need to license a minimum of 4 Cores per processor. The good news is that each license includes 2 cores, so your minimum purchase here will be 2 licenses. There is a ‘Core Factor’ that needs to be considered but in general it is simply 1:1. Learn more about the ‘Core Factor’ (PDF).

The decision (between CAL and Core model) may be influenced by the size of your network or by the role assigned to the SQL Server – for example, a web facing server with a limitless or unknown amount of devices and users connecting. If all this wasn’t complicated enough – Microsoft have restricted the CAL/Core option to certain SQL 2012 editions. So once you have an idea which model fits best you now have to weigh the answer against the available editions. To this end, SQL Standard 2012 can be licensed by one or other of these methods. SQL BI 2012 can only be licensed Server and CAL, while SQL Enterprise 2012 can only be licensed ‘per core’. So as you can see, your choice of SQL 2012 edition may be affected by both functionality and ‘target group size’. Here’s a handy chart that breaks down the edition functionality and the licensing options available for each:

SQL 2012 Editions Comparision

SQL 2012 Editions

Virtualisation Considerations
A common consideration when licensing SQL is the virtual environment you might be planning. In short you will need to license each individual VM or license all physical servers for Enterprise edition. Adding Software Assurance in both cases here will enable License Mobility. License Mobility is necessary if you need to re-assign the license within a 90 day timeframe, e.g. in a server farm.

This blog entry is meant as a beginners’ guide to licensing SQL as you can see, there are many nuances that can surface depending on the licensing scenario. Feel free to contact me if you have any queries or suggestions. Micromail is a Microsoft Gold Partner for Volume Licensing and provide licensing consultancy for SQL Server.

Sean Deasy.

*Excluding SQL Express, a product free-to-download – aimed at very small user scenario.

ImageSo you’re buying a server? You’ve decided on the hardware and need to address the licensing. Where to begin?!  First you’ll need to license the Server OS of course but which one and how many do you need? Below I will outline the basics of getting up and running with the licensing surrounding Windows Server OS.

At its heart, this process isn’t too complicated. You’ll simply need to license the server and then each device or user connecting to that server. You can choose which Server license suits best, depending on some factors I’ll discuss shortly. Devices and Users are licensed by purchasing Client Access Licenses, or CALs. The type of CAL needed is usually decided by which is more cost effective, again more on this later.

It is worth pointing out initially that with Microsoft licensing, you must purchase the most recent version of the license. However you can choose to deploy a previous version if you please. This ‘downgrade right’ may come into play if your hardware necessitates a previous version for example. The great thing about this licensing right is that you can always deploy the newer version at a later date if you manage to persuade your finance guys to upgrade your system!

With this in mind, new version releases can see new licensing rules come into play. While you might be planning to deploy the version‘n-1’ of the software in question, your purchase will be governed by the version and licensing rules. In my outline below I will only be discussing Windows Server 2012, as this is the current version.

So, let’s get started – you’ll need to decide what edition of Windows Server you’d like to run. The good news is that with the 2012 release things became a lot simpler – there are now 4 editions of Windows Server – Foundation, Essentials, Standard and Datacentre. I’ll be dealing with Standard and Datacentre below*

Windows Server Standard 2012 will suit standalone servers or servers with low to medium virtualization requirements, allowing two virtual instances of the Server OS to be run on up to two processors for every license purchased. The number of licenses you need per server is determined by the number of processors on that server and the number of virtual machines you plan to run. Note – each license will cover up to 2 processors on any one server. You have a server with 4 processors? You will need to purchase 2 licenses. Want to virtualise? Go for it – up to a limit of 4 Virtual Operating Systems Environments (VOSE) of course (in this case)! You can add as many licenses as you like per server but at a certain point (10 or more) it becomes more cost effective to go with the Datacentre edition, which offers unlimited VOSE.

I’ll pause a moment here to note that the product stack/features of Standard and Datacentre are identical. The difference between the editions is essentially the allowed virtual instances. Why virtual instances? Well to cut down on hardware outlay in short. As long as you can manage and maintain a correctly licensed (!) virtual load, the virtual license rights of these new editions can seriously work to your advantage, more anon…

Windows Server Datacentre 2012 is the top of the line offering – as many users as you’d like to license, unlimited virtual instances and the full stack. Remember the feature stack is the same as Standard – this is where your virtual load plans will come into play. If you’re looking at running 10 or more virtual instances, the Datacentre becomes better value. Again you’re licensing per physical processor here. If you have a server with two processors a single Datacentre license will allow you to run unlimited VOSE (remember each allows for up to two processors per server)! If you have a four processor server, you’ll need to purchase 2 licenses.

Those of you familiar with Server licensing may be confused by the ‘per processor’ terminology used here. In the past ‘per processor’ was used strictly to denote specific server licenses that did not need corresponding CALs. With the 2012 release there was a change in terminology and this is no longer the case…more on this in a later post about SQL Server – feel free to contact me if you have any questions on this. In short per processer now simply means counting the processors per server in order to purchase the correct amount of licenses.

Okay, given the brief outline above you’ve come to a decision on which edition of Server 2012 suits your needs. You will now need to consider licensing those devices and users connecting to the server…

CALs are strictly a licensing requirement. You get nothing ‘in your hand’ as such. You should receive a license confirmation and/or receipt of purchase from your reseller of course but as regard deployment – there is no work to do here. So how do you choose which you need? Again this is relatively simple…Buy Device CALs if you have more users than devices; User CALs if you have more devices than users!

The standard Microsoft scenario for Device CALs is the ‘shift worker’ scenario. A fixed desktop has three distinct users over a 24 hour period – three workers, each working 8 hour shifts. You can purchase a User CAL for each of these workers if you please, or simply 1 x Device CAL – as you can see, it is best to purchase 1 x Device CAL. Likewise there are many examples of when purchasing a User CAL is more cost effective than covering each device an employee may use throughout the day. This scenario is true for the Standard and Datacentre editions outlined above.  See here for more details.

This guide to Windows Server licensing is meant as a beginner’s guide. There are plenty of nuances to Microsoft licensing and server licensing in particular but the above info should be enough to point you in the right direction.

* These are essentially the Volume License options, there are also two options which may suit smaller set-ups:

Windows Server Foundation 2012

Windows Server Essentials 2012 

You can contact Sean:, if you have any queries, or if you are looking for a quote. Our product pages are here (Datacenter) and here (Standard)

People often seem to think that software is a commodity – something you buy from a retailer which you then own and use. But in actual fact, with software, you license, not purchase it. Why? Well, when you license the software, the primary value comes not from an object (such as the disk it is stored on) but instead from the knowledge of the people who wrote the software – the ‘cleverness’, if you like. You can’t own that knowledge, you merely acquire a limited right to use it. Put simply, software is intellectual property.

It’s tricky to define or identify the value of intellectual property and thus, such things are copyrighted (copyrights, trademarks, and patents). This allows whoever owns the material, in this case, software to define who can access and use their property, protecting it from unauthorized use. This is in an attempt to define the value of the software.

In this line, a software license provides the legal right to install, use, access, display, run, or otherwise interact with a software program. This doesn’t always include right to media, manuals, or support. Remember checking the ‘I agree’ box whenever you install something? That is you agreeing to the terms of use of the software.

Micromail demonstrates best-in-class capability and market leadership through demonstrated technology success and customer commitment.
Microsoft Gold PartnerFor the sixth consecutive year, Micromail has attained Microsoft Gold Competencies in Volume Licensing and Software Asset Management. This achievement places the company within the top 1 percent of Microsoft’s world-wide Partner Network, and demonstrates a “best-in-class” ability & commitment to meeting Microsoft customers’ needs in today’s dynamic business environment.
To earn a Microsoft gold competency, a company’s staff needs to successfully complete Microsoft Certified Professional exams to prove their level of technology expertise. The certified professionals are then designated uniquely to one Microsoft competency, ensuring a certain level of staffing capacity. Businesses must also submit customer references as evidence of successful projects, and implement a yearly customer satisfaction survey. They must also meet a revenue commitment (for most gold competencies), and pass technology and/or sales assessments. Microsoft technology competencies identify a partner’s capabilities, allowing customers to find qualified solution providers with expertise in specific areas.
“By achieving a portfolio of competencies, partners demonstrate deep expertise and consistent capability on the latest Microsoft technology,” said Jon Roskill, corporate vice president, Worldwide Partner Group at Microsoft Corp. “These partners show true commitment to meeting customer technology needs today and into the future.” 
These specific licensing competencies, which have been increasingly challenging to achieve, enhance our ability to provide top class consulting services directly to customers, or indirectly through solution & deployment partners whose skills complement ours,” said Micromail Technical Sales Director Willy Kelly.
Micromail has 25 years’ experience in licensing consultancy & sales. As a Microsoft Large Account Reseller and Enterprise Software Advisor the company offers the full range of Microsoft products and licensing programs. Micromail’s services cover the entire software lifecycle from consultancy & procurement to renewal, audit & asset management.
Please contact us for more information.

At 42 pages, the Visual Studio 2010 and MSDN Licensing whitepaper is a very useful and comprehensive review of Visual Studio & MSDN licensing. As it’s a long and detailed document, I thought it might be useful to highlight some of the key points and draw attention to a few obscure issues that may not be widely known. I recommend the whole article for future reference but meanwhile here is a summary for those in a hurry. Read More »

Figuring out how many processor licenses you need in a virtualised environment can be tricky. General rule of thumb for Microsoft licensing specialists is to propose Enterprise rather than Standard Edition because it can be licensed per physical CPU only and so is simpler & more cost effective. But is it true that, say, SQL Enterprise Edition is always more cost effective than Standard Edition? Obviously not, but when you start counting virtual processors it may just seem like too much trouble. After all, for Enterprise Edition you just count physical CPUs, while for Standard Edition you’ve got to do some fancy arithmetic with cores, as well as juggling definitions that drift from virtual processor to logical processor without any clear guidance on the difference between them.

Here is what it says in the PUR: “You need a software license for each virtual processor that each of those virtual operating system environments (or OSEs) uses.” This is misleading, to put it mildly. Read More »