Azure Advisor

Azure Advisor is a free tool which helps you to optimise your Azure resources for high availability, security, performance, and cost by providing free, personalised recommendations based on your usage and configurations. If you’re new to Advisor, find a nice overview video here: http://bit.ly/2KRYT2N. If you want to know more about the ways that Advisor can save you money – for example optimising virtual machine spend by resizing or shutting down underutilised instances, then this is a useful page: http://bit.ly/2ZdW6X0.

Azure Management Portal app

If you’re responsible for the management of Azure resources then you’ll be familiar with the Azure Management Portal. Are you using its baby brother – the Azure mobile app? The idea is that you can keep track of your Azure resources while on-the-go, whether it’s keeping informed of alerts and health issues, or taking corrective action like starting and stopping VMs and web apps.

Find out more with links to download the app here: http://bit.ly/2ZcEdf9.

Predict costs and optimise spending for Azure: Microsoft Learn Course

There are some useful tools available in Azure to help customers to get a better understanding of cloud spend which can be leveraged for significant cost savings. To get an overview of these tools and some great best practice tips and tricks for saving on infrastructure and licensing costs, then the “Predict costs and optimise spending for Azure” course from Microsoft Learn is a productive way to spend an hour and a quarter. Find this free course here: http://bit.ly/33zHHHU.

Pricing guidance for SQL Server VMs in Azure

There’s an excellent article from Microsoft that gives some great advice on saving money when running SQL Server VMs in Azure. Tips include:

  • using a free edition of SQL Server (Developer or Express) where possible
  • choosing the SQL meter for temporary or periodic workloads, and bringing your own licence via the Azure Hybrid Benefit for workloads with a known lifetime and scale
  • correctly sizing the VM – perhaps choosing one of the special VMs that are optimised for certain types of SQL Server workloads which have a high level of resources but a lower virtualised core count
  • shutting down VMs where possible, perhaps using an automatic shutdown facility

Find the article here: http://bit.ly/2Ndp7jd.

Office 365 ProPlus Device-based Subscription for Education

Microsoft announce an Office 365 ProPlus Device-based Subscription for Education, which means that educational institutions can now assign an Office 365 ProPlus licence to a device rather than a user – useful, of course, where shared devices are used.

The experience for users is that those who DO have a User Subscription Licence including Office 365 ProPlus will be able to use the apps on the licensed device as well as their associated cloud services like OneDrive, while completely unlicensed users will be able to use the apps on the device and to save files locally. Using Office 365 ProPlus in this way doesn’t count towards one of the five allowed installations for a licensed user.

This new, free, add-on licence is available from 16 August, 2019 for customers who have an Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) agreement where they’ve covered all Education Qualified Users with Office 365 ProPlus or a suite that includes it. They’re then entitled to as many Device-based Subscriptions as the number of Education Qualified Users.

The Device-based Subscription replaces the Lab and Library benefit that was the previous solution for institutions needing Office installed on a device basis, and note that this benefit remains for OVS-ES agreements where the new solution is not available.

Find the announcement from the Microsoft Education team here: http://bit.ly/30enR2Z, and refer to this page for deployment instructions: http://bit.ly/2KSJjnB.  

Some updates to Reservations

Microsoft announce some updates to Reservations. Firstly, there are new Reservations available for Azure Databricks (1 and 3-year) and Azure App Service (3-year) which both give around 40% savings compared to Pay-As-You-Go pricing. Then there are a couple of new facilities: you can now automatically set your Reservations to renew, and can choose to assign them to a Resource Group within a Subscription rather than to the whole Subscription. Finally, Reservations can now be purchased using REST APIs, and there’s more data available to EA customers to help with optimising Reservations. Find the full article here: http://bit.ly/2Z2xUec.

A new member of the FastTrack family provides Windows 10 deployment guidance

Microsoft announce a new member of the FastTrack family to help customers upgrade to Windows 10. This new deployment guidance is free to customers who have at least 150 Windows 10 E3 or E5 licenses, or Windows 10 Enterprise with SA. Experts will help a customer envision a technical plan, determine how to onboard and deploy new services and/or users, and work with them as they deploy.

Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2TsD9P3, for full details and information on how to sign up.

Notice of Skype for Business Online Retirement

Microsoft announce that Skype for Business Online will be retired on 31 July 2021. Customers will be migrated to Teams between now and then, and starting 1 September 2019 new Office 365 customers will be onboarded directly to Teams. It’s worth noting that this announcement doesn’t affect either the Skype Consumer service or Skype for Business Server. You can find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2KreuaK with further details, including customer information on migrating to Teams. There’s also a link to Forrester’s whitepaper: “The Total Economic Impact of Microsoft Teams”, or find it here: http://bit.ly/33oWVPW.

Changes to the Azure Hybrid Benefit

The August 2019 Product Terms details some changes to the Azure Hybrid Benefit to include licensing options for the recently announced Azure Dedicated Host, so here’s a summary of the rules for both Windows Server and SQL Server.

Windows Server

  • Standard licences may now be used on-premises OR for virtual machines running in Azure OR for virtual machines running in an Azure Dedicated Host. The licensing for both Azure and Azure Dedicated Host follow the “groups of 8” rules. Licenses may now be assigned to both on-premises servers and Azure for a period of 180 days for migration purposes – this is an increase from the previous 31-day allowance
  • Datacenter licences may now be used on-premises AND for virtual machines running in Azure (no change) OR for virtual machines running in an Azure Dedicated Host. Customers can choose to license individual virtual machines running in Azure Dedicated Host following the “groups of 8” rules, or can license all the physical cores of the Azure Dedicated Host and run an unlimited number of virtual machines. Customers moving from on-premises to Azure Dedicated Host have the same 180-day migration window as Standard licences

SQL Server

  • Standard licences may now be used on-premises OR for virtual machines running in Azure OR for Azure SQL Database Services OR for virtual machines running in an Azure Dedicated Host. The licensing rules for Azure Dedicated Host are the same as for virtual machines running in Azure. There is no change to the 180-day migration period allowed when moving from an on-premises to an Azure infrastructure
  • Enterprise licences may be used in the same scenarios as the Standard licences above. However, there is an additional licensing option for Azure Dedicated Host which allows customers to license all the physical cores of the Azure Dedicated Host to run SQL Server in an unlimited number of virtual machines

You can find the August 2019 Product Terms here: http://bit.ly/MSproductterms and there’s an Azure Hybrid Benefit FAQ here: http://bit.ly/2g1HEwS.

Dynamics 365 Licensing Guide

There’s an updated (August 2019) Dynamics 365 Licensing Guide with the changes focusing on two main areas. Firstly, for Forms Pro, there’s clarification on page 26 that Forms Pro survey respondents don’t need to be licensed as long as the survey designer is licensed, and there’s a handy table on page 55 showing the differences between Forms and Forms Pro. Secondly, AI for Sales becomes Sales Insights, and there’s a new Call Intelligence Add-on which adds an additional 1,000 hours of conversation intelligence per month, detailed on page 51.

As usual, you can find this guide here: http://bit.ly/MSLicensingGuides.