Time to Wise Up as Microsoft gets Tough on Pricing
EA discounts pulled and an 18% price rise imminent – but there is something you can do!
Price rises and EA discounts being pulled … licensing costs could increase by 35% … but there is something you can do!
By Matt Gifford, Microsoft Practice Lead at VCG
In this article I deal with the Microsoft price and Enterprise Agreement changes coming up in March 2023, and how to optimise your costs going forward.
To avoid Microsoft licence price rises at the start of 2022, many organisations signed new agreements ahead of the date to lock-in their existing discount for a further 12 months. It was an obvious thing to do, and it bought time to examine workforce licensing requirements in more detail.
But ‘kicking the can down the road’ means that eventually, you’ll catch up with it again – and that moment arrives in March 2023, and the start of the new fiscal year.
What this means for you …
Absorbing an 18% licensing price rise will be extremely unwelcome, coming – as it does- at a time when operating costs are soaring for all organisations, but to add insult to injury, we’ll be stung by a Microsoft ‘Double Whammy’, as there are wider changes and cost increases to swallow.
Microsoft Enterprise Agreements (EAs) provided a simple broad-brush option for organisations to access discounted licence costs. And whilst many companies intended to look more closely at services they were needlessly paying for, most didn’t – due to the notion that the discount they were receiving was sufficient.
Changes coming in January 23 mean that to qualify for a new EA, organisations must have over 2,400 users, and Microsoft now aim to deal directly with those larger organisations. If you have 2,399 users or less, then Enterprise Agreements are a thing of the past.
The 18% price hike will hit everyone, but simultaneously losing an EA discount will mean an increase in prices for many of around 35% in real terms.
For small and medium businesses (SMBs), the good news is that by working with an accredited Microsoft partner, known as a Cloud Solution Provider or CSP – you can still take advantage of discounted Microsoft licensing options.
Furthermore, it’s the perfect time for IT and purchasing managers to forensically examine the services they’re paying for. Managing complex licensing requirements has long been a tortuous experience, leading many companies to wave the white flag and put everyone the same deal, whether they need it or not.
Many CSPs simply managed the ordering and ceasing of licences and Large EA Partners also handle the annual ‘true up / true down’ process, to ensure that things were kept on an even keel.
We take a more proactive approach with our clients by finding the most appropriate commercial options and blends from the vast array of licensing deals available.
Keeping a close watch on market changes, and anticipating future issues and challenges is key to the value we add, and it’s always been core to our approach – and if alarm bells are ringing about your current arrangements, then perhaps we should have a conversation sooner rather than later.
A thorough understanding of the intricacies of licensing is a pre-requisite, and by working closely with clients to fully understand their operational needs, we tailor licensing packages to drive optimal productivity and value.
Many tariff plans and packages are not widely publicised or promoted, and blending options based on workforce need is the key to competitive licensing costs.
To optimise investment, it’s essential to monitor licensing throughout its lifecycle, not just at the point of renewal, and our on-going managed services and commercial health checks typically reduce licensing spend by around 45% – and we have the examples to prove it.
Having day-to-day involvement in licensing means we’re constantly watching and monitoring developments across the spectrum, and we do the aforementioned forensic examination for you, based on your specific requirements.
Optimising licensing costs is just one the services we provide and our Microsoft practice covers all aspects of collaboration, security, Azure cloud services, networking, and wider accredited IT services from global leading partnerships.
If you’d like an informal business conversation with me about any aspect of Microsoft business collaboration suite licensing, or any other aspect of IT services, then please contact me directly, I’ll be delighted to help you.
Datacentre, network, and collaboration services refresh
Experiencing new ways of driving business in retail: enhanced digital and in-store customer journeys
The pandemic has changed consumer behaviours, some permanently, reshaping the entire retail landscape; many customers have also tried new omnichannel models: buying online, picking up in-store (BOPIS) this grew 28% year-over-year in February compared with 18% in January, and grocery delivery up by 57%.
Consumers report high intention to continue using models such as BOPIS (56%) and grocery delivery (45%) after the pandemic.
COVID-19 has driven cloud spend up versus on-premises software spend down; this isn’t surprising as organisations turn to SaaS to move apps and data to the cloud, as business shifts online.
Creating a future-ready technology ecosystem
Implementing the right IT platforms, network functions or systems in the right sequence can help improve the experience and serve the needs of shoppers, whether in-store or digitally.
This means that while sometimes the business case may seem like a simple implementation and technology decision, the reality of redesigning your network architecture and optimising services, applications and workflows can have several implications on operational efficiency and security if poorly applied.
Fast and secure access to cloud-based software
Retail networks require fast and secure access to cloud-based software, from anywhere at any time, from any number of locations. SD-WAN connectivity provides a single pane of glass that consolidates multi-vendor environments into one cohesive and connected platform.
Built on SD-WAN connectivity, a bespoke store network solution such as the one we developed for Poundland illustrates how this is achieved and the opportunities it provides such as: enabling fast, secure, and reliable access to cloud-based software that can be used from anywhere.
Enabling a consolidated customer journey
Solutions such as SD-WAN and secure wireless access to enterprise-class Wi-Fi for guests, side by side with business networks, can be a game-changer for retailers looking to secure omnichannel environments. Resilient network capabilities and in-store wireless access are key to achieving this.
Why VCG for retail?
Our expertise in the retail sector and multi-vendor relationships enable us to offer seamless solutions, unrivalled engineering capability, delivering technology for retail transformation at scale.
We provide industry-leading capabilities and a lower total cost of ownership when evaluating an acquisition, training costs, deployment, and operations. This helps decision-makers achieve business value, improve operational and cost efficiency and better manage transformational challenges.
Read more to find out how to strengthen or implement an enhanced in-store and online customer experience.
The British Heart Foundation
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Hyperconvergence – Top tips for success
The hyperconverged market is heating up. With the speed, simplicity, and agility needed for a digital economy, HCI solutions are more efficient and deliver a better experience for end users.
Not all HCI solutions were created equal
What’s the best solution, and how do you maximise the potential performance? It’s a crowded market place out there, with vendors competing for market share. The real question is – what’s the best solution for your business? What will enable you to overcome your specific challenges and enable your goals?
Our Data Centre and Virtualisation consultant, Joost Buelens, highlights the key considerations when looking to HCI:
- How much compute and storage power are required to provide HCI services? Utlising the virtualisation host compute resources to provide storage services is the principal foundation behind all HCI solutions. Yet the amount of resource overhead consumed varies amongst HCI solutions, so always consider how much workload your HCI solution can support.
- Network integration. What networking does the solution include? Optimal network performance is essential for a proper functioning HCI solution. To be fault tolerant, all data written to any node must be sent across the network to at least one other node, making it a vital part of the system. Some HCI solutions have the network built in, if not, you may need to invest in additional switches.
- Fault tolerance. How does the solution provide fault tolerance? Some solutions use traditional RAID methods locally on each node, whereas others rely on replicating data to different nodes to provide fault tolerance. Differing strategies mean that some solutions will better handle multiple component failure than others which will impact resilience.
- Deduplication and Compression. Does the solution use storage efficiency techniques to increase the amount of data that can be stored? In some HCI architectures, enabling dedupe and compression can be beneficial for performance – on write, compression means less data is sent to the disk, and using dedupe means only metadata needs to be updated. If the solution does not have compression and dedupe, you may need to purchase more nodes for a certain amount of data.
- Orchestration & Automation support. How much manual work is required to get the solution to achieve what you want – both at installation and in operation? Consider how much resource you have available in your teams to manage the solution at installation and going forward. Can you integrate your HCI platform with any automation tools you are currently using?
- HyperVisor support. This one is quite simple. While some solutions only support ESXi, others will additionally support HyperV.
- Node Sizing. Can you buy or build nodes sized correctly for your requirements? If nodes are limited to a set number of small sizes, you could be paying for more compute than you need to get a certain amount of storage, or vice versa. The right HCI solution should allow you to scale economically as you grow.
- Backup and replication. Some solutions have some backup and/or replication services built-in. Others are supported by popular backup products, so it’s important to consider how to back up the HCI solution and how to replicate data for site resilience – some HCI solutions may even be able replace your current backup solution.
With multiple factors to consider, our consultants first listen to what you want to achieve, combining our commercial and technical expertise to design, implement, and manage the right HCI solution to support your specific requirements.