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Microsoft Audits and the Subtle Art of Compliant Cloud Migration

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Microsoft’s software license compliance strategy is avoiding the “overt” software license audit. Instead it prefers to request a “friendly” review with its customers to check Microsoft license compliance and requirements.

No matter how informal it feels, it’s crucial to treat the “friendly” review as if it’s a software license audit.

Just like a software license audit, your “friendly” Microsoft license compliance review can be an opportunity to find cost savings, prepare your cloud migration strategy, and make your relationship with Microsoft a bit friendlier.

Compliant cloud migration

Let’s start with migrating to the could compliantly.

Adding cloud options to your IT estate can hurt during a “friendly” review with Microsoft. As things bounce between on-premises and the cloud, the risk of non-compliance increases.

Software costs can rise without your knowledge when your company works more in the cloud. And there’s no place to hide. Hybrid is new norm.

A pain in the Microsoft Azure?

Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform, is a useful tool for running virtual machines, applications, and test systems. Microsoft tempts you to move your stuff to Azure with helpful incentives. This is good, until you overstep those incentives.

Hybrid Use Rights, which go under a few similar names, let your Windows Servers and SQL servers move into the Azure cloud with no additional licenses. So, you’re saving a lot of money. But! There are conditions. Before we get into that, let’s briefly go over Windows Server licensing basics for on-premises scenarios:

– A minimum of 16 core licenses is required for each physical server.
– A minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical processor.
– When all the physical cores in the server are licensed, the Standard Edition provides rights for up to two Operating System Environments (OSE).
– For each additional virtual machine, all the physical cores on the server must be licensed again, and you stack the licenses as needed.
– A Datacenter Edition includes rights to use unlimited number of OSEs on the licensed server.

Now take those servers into the cloud!

If you have Windows Server licenses with active Software Assurance, then you can profit from Azure Hybrid Benefit rights. You don’t need to submit any forms to Microsoft partners stating your eligibility for those rights, just tick a box in Microsoft Azure admin console “Azure Hybrid Benefit” and boot up the new instance in seconds.

Remember – here’s one of those conditions – a set of 16 core Windows Server licenses with active Software Assurance allows two virtual machines (VM) with eight cores each or one VM with 16 cores in Azure Cloud or you can stack licenses to run more cores in Azure.