Back in early 2012, we saw the majority of our clients transition their SQL environment off of their Enterprise Agreement and onto the now retired, Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP). The EAP offered substantial discounting for new purchases of both SQL Standard and Enterprise, with the requirement that your entire SQL footprint would be licensed with active Software Assurance. As we head into 2015, soon-to-expire EAPs will move to Microsoft’s Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE). Prior to making this switch, there are several considerations clients need to be aware first before they move to SCE.
1. Moving from Processor to Core
If your SQL Environment is currently licensed via the Processor based model, the licenses will migrate to a Core license upon renewal of Software Assurance (SA). Microsoft is providing the minimum transition grant of 4 SQL Cores for 1 SQL Processor, which is achieved with quantity 2 of the SQL Server 2Core license.
With that being said, you may be asking yourself, “What about my processors that currently have 8, 10, or even 12 cores?” Have no fear, you are entitled to the greater transition, assuming you are prepared to provide details of your current SQL installations. While you are able to accomplish this in several ways, due to the critical nature of this process, we encourage you to have your Licensing Solutions Provider (LSP) assist with deciphering the outcomes. Here are two solid avenues to take:
MAPs Toolkit: Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit is an agentless inventory, assessment and reporting tool that can be used for self-reporting. You should know the outcome of the data collection is often difficult to interpret, especially when identifying what is required to show Microsoft in order to get the greater processor to core conversion. To make this process easier, Microsoft has several resources available to your organization to assist with this process.
Softchoice TechCheck: Our recommended approach would be to have Softchoice interpret your data, but also analyze your installations to suggest ways to better consolidate. We would take into consideration which hosts could support more virtual instances, as well as any implications to your hardware environment. Softchoice understands what information needs to be illustrated to Microsoft, but we also allow you to self-remediate any possible inaccuracies within your environment.
2. Server and Cloud Enrollment Requirements
Just like the EAP, the SCE does require your organization to cover your entire SQL footprint with active Software Assurance. In addition to SA, the minimum Core requirement to enter into an SCE is 50 Cores, whether Standard, Enterprise, or a mix of both, or 5 SQL Standard Licenses and 250 CALs. SQL Server Enterprise in the Server/CAL model will not count towards the minimum requirement of 5 Server Licenses. Rest assured that if your Core counts are not quite at the minimum, you can explore renewing the SA in other agreements like a Select Plus, MPSA, or EA.
3. Step Ups & True Ups on your EAP
Prior to your EAP expiring, we recommend evaluating stepping up your SQL Standard licenses to an Enterprise license where applicable. I say this for a few reasons. One being that your pricing was locked in when you entered into the EAP and you will avoid any price increases that occurred over the last three years and EAP pricing is better for Enterprise. Secondly, this is your opportunity to install a processor with more than 4 cores and get the cost of the additional core licenses deferred when you move into the SCE. Lastly, SQL consolidation is a great way to cut down on your hardware and licensing spend. By licensing all physical cores on the host with SQL Enterprise, you are entitled to spin up as many virtual instances that the host can support.
4. Discontinuation of SQL Server Enterprise (per server) license
With the release of SQL Server 2012, Microsoft discontinued licensing SQL Server Enterprise in the per server model. Many organizations still continue to utilize perpetual licenses, which is completely acceptable, but it limits you for future growth. Allowances to continue your Software Assurance will permit access to future releases of SQL, but you will not be able to increase the number of SQL Enterprise per server licenses as the sku has been discontinued. Also one of the stipulations is that SQL Enterprise per server must be installed on a server with fewer than 20 Cores. Like referenced above, you can continue paying for Software Assurance, but those licenses will not count toward the minimum requirements to enter into an SCE.
5. 2014 Licensing Changes
On April 1, 2014, Microsoft announced the release of SQL Server 2014. While there were many technology enhancements, the licensing changes could potentially have a greater impact. Previously all SQL licenses granted an active/passive environment without having to purchase additional licenses. With 2014, this has moved from a volume licensing benefit to a Software Assurance Benefit. What that means to you, is if you do not have active SA on the active server, you must license both with the appropriate licenses. If you continue SA on the active machine, the passive machine does not have to be licensed. Keep in mind that the Product Use Rights pertains to the version of the license owned, not the version installed.
So if your agreement is nearing expiration and you’re evaluating your options, be sure to verify the setup of your SQL environment to determine whether or not this change would have a negative impact.
Softchoice wants your transition from the Microsoft EAP into the Server and Cloud Enrollment to be a seamless transition, and we’re prepared to ensure that outcome. We suggest starting this process at least 6 months prior to your renewal to allow ample for any unforeseen issues to be smoothed over, but also set yourself up for an Early Commitment discount from Microsoft.
Knowing how many enrollments are up for renewal in March, Microsoft is trying to lessen the workload of their operations team by completing renewals before the set expiration. Early commitments do not change the start or end date of your agreement, but more importantly, there is no impact to your invoice due date. Your payment will not be required until the natural start date of the agreement. While Softchoice cannot promise discounts from Microsoft, we are here to prepare you (and your SQL environment) so you’re ready in advance of your agreement end-date to leverage any early commitment incentives.