By Richard Smith
General Manager, Microsoft World Wide Licensing & Pricing (WWLP)

Richard is responsible for the design and maintenance of our current and new Volume Licensing Programs plus the Marketing and Readiness for Microsoft's Licensing & Pricing.

This is the second in a series of blog posts about how Microsoft’s licensing is evolving to enable customers to take advantage of two major trends: Consumerization of IT and Cloud Computing.

Companies worldwide are embracing cloud computing to take a key step toward better business agility, economics and user experiences. Because of its power to fundamentally change how organizations operate, the cloud is a game changer for companies. 

Cloud computing is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Instead, companies need the power to decide when and how they shift computing capabilities to this new model. For Microsoft, it is essential that licensing evolves to allow companies to adopt cloud computing on their own terms – whether they want to build out a private cloud infrastructure in their own or hosted datacenters or if they want to leverage the public cloud to quickly build, deploy and manage applications across Microsoft’s highly scalable and reliable data centers.

Licensing for scaling up your private cloud

IT organizations are under constant pressure to do more with less. Against this backdrop, they need to find ways to expand capacity within their existing infrastructure in a smart way and adapt and respond to business fluctuations. Microsoft’s private cloud solution which is built on Windows Server 2012 Datacenter Edition, System Center Datacenter and SQL Server Enterprise, offers new levels of agility, focus, and cost-savings.

Licensing changes for these foundational products reinforce these benefits by now including unlimited virtualization. This means that virtual machines can be added at any time without any licensing or compliance considerations.

Licensing for scaling out your private cloud

License Mobility through Software Assurance allows companies who have outgrown their on-premises infrastructure to leverage their existing licenses covered by active Software Assurance and deploy certain server application workloads – under an existing Volume License agreement rather than SPLA – in an authorized mobility partner’s datacenter. These specific server application workloads can be deployed in dedicated or multi-tenant environments, and customers now have the option to use their own System Center for management. License Mobility through Software Assurance is available for System Center, SQL Server, Exchange and other server application workloads. More information is available HERE.

Microsoft has also been working to clarify which products should be used in private cloud scenarios by simplifying and reducing the number of SKUs that are available for Windows Server and System Center Datacenter Edition, SQL Server Enterprise Edition, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and Lync Server. In addition, SKU choice now pivots around virtualization which essentially aligns to private cloud usage. These changes facilitate product choice and make licensing easier to manage.

Licensing to for scaling out in the public cloud

Windows Azure, Microsoft’s public cloud platform, enables companies to respond to business needs quickly and easily without worrying about operational constraints because it offers maximum agility and scalability, To ensure that customers have the fastest and easiest path to the public cloud, Microsoft has added significant flexibility to the way that Windows Azure is licensed. Firstly, Windows Azure can now be licensed the same way as any other additional online service through the EA. There is no additional enrollment or amendment needed to use Windows Azure. Secondly, customers who want to separate purchasing and licensing for Windows Azure can now do so via an enrollment.

Lastly, to better meet customer needs for public cloud agility while helping them with budgeting needs, Microsoft is piloting a new offering called Windows Azure Overage Protection. This is acts as a safety mechanism and helps create predictable annual budgeting for volatile growth scenarios.

Flexible and cost effective licensing through the Enterprise Agreement

For customers with more than 250 users or devices, the best way to take advantage of cloud computing and licensing choices is through the Enterprise Agreement which offers flexibility, manageability and the best value.

Download the datasheet - Licensing for the Cloud- to learn more about how your organization can embrace cloud computing at your own pace.