Microsoft Azure Now Available Through Open Licensing

It is August 1st, and today is the very first day that you can buy credit for usage on Azure through Open Licensing. This includes Open, OV, and OVS, as well as educational and government schemes.

How Does It Work?

The process is:

  1. A customer asks to buy X amount of credit from a reseller – the next bit of stuff is normal licensing operations that the customer does not see.
  2. The reseller orders if from a distributor.
  3. The distributor orders the credit from Microsoft.
  4. A notification email is sent out to the customer with a notification to download an OSA (online services activation) key from their VLSC account (used to manage their Open volume licensing). The customer is back in the process at this point.
  5. The customer/partner enters the OSA key in the Azure Account Portal.
  6. The customer/partner configures Azure administrator accounts and credit alerts.

Credit is purchased in blocks of $100. I believe that it is blocks of €75 in the Euro zone. So a customer can request $5000 in credit. They don’t get 50 OSA keys: they get one OSA key with a value of $5000.

Who’s Account Should We Use?

If you are a customer and the MSFT partner wants to set you up under their Azure account, tell them to frak right off. The VMs will be THEIR property. The data will be THEIR property. We have seen this situation with Office 365. Customers have lost access to data for months while MSFT’s legal people try to determine who really owns the data. It is MESSY.

The MSFT partner should always set up the customer’s Azure deployment using a Microsoft Account that is owned by the customer. Additional administrators can be configured. Up to 5 alerts can be configures to send them to the reseller and the customer.

Using Credit

“How much will doing X in Azure cost?” and “How much Azure credit do I need to buy?” will be the two most common questions we distributors will hear in the next 12 months. Ask me and I’ll respond with one of two answers:

  • If I’m in a good mood I’ll tell a consultant to go do some frakking consulting. How the frak am I meant to know what your customer’s needs are? And that’s if I’m in a good mood 🙂
  • If I’m in a bad mood I might award you with a LMGTFY award and make you famous 😀

The answer is based on how credit is used. You buy credit, and everything you do in Azure “burns” that credit. It’s like having credit on a pay-as-you-go (aka “burner”) phone. If you do A then is costs X per minute. If you do B is costs Y per month. Go look at the Azure pricing calculator.

Not all “Azure” services can be purchased via credit. Examples include Azure AD Premium and AD RMS that are licensed via other means, i.e. SaaS like Office 365. Their branding under the Azure banner confuses things.

Credit Time Limits

Your credit in Azure will last for 12 months. It will not roll over. There are no cash-backs. Use it or lose it.

My advice is that you start off by being conservative with your purchasing, determine your burn rate and purchase for X months, rather than for Y years.

Topping Up Credit

You should have configured the email alerts for when credit runs low. If credit runs out then your services shut down. I hope you reserved VIP and server IP addresses!

When you get an alert you have two options:

  • Normal procedure will be to purchase additional credit via the above reseller model. With alerts, the MSFT partner can initiate the conversation with their customer. Obviously this takes a little while – hours/days  (I have no idea because I’m outside of the logistics of licensing).
  • If the customer runs out of credit and the reseller process will take too long or it’s a weekend, the customer can use a credit card to top up their account in the Azure Account Portal. This should be an emergency operation, adding enough credit for the time it will take to top up via the reseller.

Note that old credit is used first, to limit wastage because of the 12 month life of credit.

The Benefits of Open

For the customer, they can use Azure in a controlled manner. You don’t have to buy thousands of dollars of credit through a large enterprise EA license program. You don’t have unmanageable payment via a credit card. You buy up front, see how much it costs, and deploy/budget accordingly.

For the partner it opens up a new world of business opportunities. Resellers have a reason to care about Azure now, just like they did with Office 365 when it went to Open (and that business blew up overnight). They can offer the right solution for customers, private (virtual or cloud), hybrid cloud or public cloud. And they can build a managed services business where they manage the customers’ Azure installations via the Azure Management Portal.

Distributors also win under this scheme by having another product to distribute and build services around.

And, of course, Microsoft wins because they have a larger market that they can sell to. MSFT only sells direct to the largest customers. They rely on partners to sell to the “breadth market”, and adding Azure to Open gives a reason for those partners to resell Azure on Microsoft’s behalf.

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