Licensing, Security And Pizza: Five Things I Learned At Microsoft Management Summit 2013

Our ongoing World Of Servers series hit Las Vegas last week and dosed up on Windows Server knowledge at the Microsoft Management summit. Here are five key lessons to take away from that event.

1. Azure: Security and spread

Lifting the veil on how security works on Microsoft's Windows Azure platform reveals some carefully-considered and elaborate techniques to protect individual data. (The quick lesson? It's not a good platform for launching a DDOS attack.) Other Azure sessions during the week reminded me that while Azure has ongoing expansion plans, there doesn't seem much likelihood we'll see an Australian data centre in the near future.


2. Virtualisation is good for pizza

The US parent company for pizza chain Domino's has taken to virtualisation in a major way, using Hyper-V to manage a large proportion of its in-store ordering systems. Simpler support was a major factor in that decision, but I'd assume cheaper licensing deals also played a role.


3. Out-of-office: more hindrance than help?

Server experts can offer wisdom on other topics too. Enterprise strategy principal Eduardo Kassner advocates killing the out-of-office message, since the boundaries of the office are so fluid these days. But before you assume that means 24/7 email slavery, Kassner also suggests waiting at least half a day before replying to any message. After all, if people aren't anticipating an instant response, the out-of-office message becomes irrelevant.


4. Drawing the lines around Linux and Unix management

Any modern management platform has to recognise that we live in a world where hardly anyone can claim to be a platform purist and only support a single kind of platform. What differs is the degree of support. System Center offers plenty of options for managing Unix systems, but when it comes to deploying them in a virtualised environment, there doesn't seem to be a lot of demand — it's Windows and Linux that dominate.


5. Check your licences carefully

It's easy to roll out multiple system images quickly with a modern virtualisation platform. What's not so easy is keeping track of the licences, but we're promised improvements from Microsoft in that area. It's also worth checking licence terms carefully if you're considering Windows To Go.


In good news for hotel owners and bad news for my body clock, the next item on the World of Servers agenda sees me return to Las Vegas in a fortnight for Data Center World. The world of servers, it never stops turning . . .

Lifehacker's World Of Servers sees me travelling to conferences around Australia and around the globe in search of fresh insights into how server and infrastructure deployment is changing in the cloud era. Last week, I was in Las Vegas for the Microsoft Management Summit 2013, looking for practical guidance on deploying and managing Windows servers.


Comments

    Microsoft licensing. Don't change a thing, keeps me in a job.

    But seriously, I don't think that there will be too much simplification with licensing. It will be more products offered as a subscription (See Intune, Azue, O365). This will probably be very beneficial for SMB/SME, however Enterprise licensing is fairly straightforward as it is now and most customers are fairly happy with Enterprise Agreements as it is. Campus and School agreements are far, far, far from being ideal or really at all well suited to the client base.

    They've done a good job simplifying SharePoint, Lync, and mapping the Windows Server to System Center licensing. SQL is a bit of a hash, but this is mostly the fault of partners failing to understand the transition and their ability to reiterate this to the end users.

    Last edited 16/04/13 1:39 pm

      SQL is a bit of a mess - especially considering it used to be sold as a processor license (ironically like Windows Server and System Center are now being sold as). The only reason core licensing models were introduced to leverage more money from customers - Microsoft know that the number or cores per CPU is increasing faster than the number of CPU's per server.

      One thing Microsoft doesn't seem to get is that most parters are not selling licensing day in and out. Because the framework is different from product to product, there is no way they can remember all the different rules. Hence, the number one complaint about licensing becomes 'it's too complicated.' E.g. Lync still has 3 different types of CALs, which is different from Exchange with 2 types of CALs, which is different from Windows Server with one type of CAL.

      Subscription is definitely the way they are moving towards, but once again it's a revenue play - they simply worked out that because most customers retain the current version of their software for years at a time, they can get more money out of them by charging smaller amounts at regular intervals.

      Last edited 16/04/13 4:23 pm

        You are correct with the SQL change from CPU to Core based licenses. It is simply a money grab, no doubt about that. Ultimately customers are still getting the same amount of processing power per dollar as before.
        Realistically it is an entirely fair move, a few years ago 16 core processors were none existent. Why should they take such a massive hit to their revenue? Business will more often than not completely understand this, as they too would do the same thing if put in that position.

        The CALs aren't at all difficult to remember. Partners need to understand that whatever they are doing, security, storage, etc, etc. it is all ultimately to support a Microsoft environment at the end of the day. Licensing can be a massive portion of revenue, to the tune of 20-30% for most SMB/SME partners. The reality for most of them they are just too lazy or stupid to realise this and it rarely makes 5% of their revenue and they are leaving massive amounts of money on the table for others to take (and others do take that money regardless).

        A common frustration with end users is that partners are often seen as unwilling to help with licensing, the perception is often a lack of will power to do so by the partners. In the end they end up losing that customer to a partner that is able to cater to their needs more holistically.

        Microsoft licensing is no where near as difficult as people make it out to be. A single page sheet mapping the various CALs to the server products is all it takes to remember what CAL does what and all the server and applications dependencies.

        Last edited 16/04/13 8:58 pm

        Sometimes I wonder if the main reason why MS licensing is so complicated is to ensure that most companies are in violation in the event of an audit...

        We're trying to commission a Windows 2008 terminal server at the moment, running in a virtual environment. As far as I can tell we need at least three different types of licence including three types of CAL (server, terminal services, and Office) and if I'm reading the small print correctly, the number of CALs is determined by the number of people with access to the virtual server cluster (not just that one server).

        MS need to understand that the licensing maze is actually costing them money. We're still running Windows 2003 terminal servers because we already have the CALs and the licences were relatively straightforward. Our upstream partner is not being helpful.

    is there some sort of table which lists the core microsoft enterprise products and the various types of CALs and what they refer to (eg per cpu, per core etc)

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