Thinking About Or Using Azure? Then Give This A Vote

Microsoft has some of the dumbest boundaries between the licensing deployments of their cloud products. If you deploy direct-billing (MOSP, and this includes MSDN) Azure then you cannot switch your services to Open licensing. If you are in syndicated Office 365 then you cannot switch to volume licensing. Basically, the Microsoft imaginary cloud boundaries that I know of are as follows:

  • Syndicated
  • CSP
  • Open
  • Enterprise Agreement
  • MOSP/direct-billing

Whatever you deploy in one plan is stuck there. And that sucks, considering that:

  • Customers will develop something on direct-billing or MSDN, like it, and then want to go “production”, and then hit the Microsoft licensing barrier.
  • Customers do move up/down/across the various forms of Microsoft licensing.

What can be done? I’ve heard stories that if you bought a big enough EA, then you could open a support call with Microsoft billing to move all of your deployment to that agreement. I’ve also read that customers in direct-billing could do the same to move to volume licensing.

Do you, like me, think that this sucks? I sure do – this should be something that is easy, and not dependent on a “favour”. If you agree then vote here, like I just did.

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Pricing For Azure to Increase In The Euro Zone (11%) & Australia (26%)

Microsoft announced, by email, tonight that pricing for Azure in the Euro Zone will increase by 13%. This is not surprising; The Euro has tanked thanks to Greece over the last 6 months.


Effective August 1, 2015, local prices for Azure and Azure Marketplace in euros will increase by 13% percent to more closely align with prices in most markets.

Microsoft goes on to say that:

Customers or partners who purchased Azure through Enterprise Agreements (EA), Enterprise Subscription Agreements (EAS), or Server and Cloud Enrollments (SCE) have price protection on currently offered Azure services and will receive the better of their baseline price or the new market price

If you are in MOSP (direct billing) or Open, or start some other kind of Volume Licensing agreement then prices increase on August 1st.


Australia is also getting a price hike – thanks to Danial (comment below) for this tip:

Effective August 1, 2015, local prices for Azure and Azure Marketplace in Australian dollars will increase by 26% percent to more closely align with prices in most markets.


After thinking about this overnight, one has to wonder about the motivation of the hikes. Local costs have not increase by this amount. In Europe, power costs have come down and Microsoft already owns the land around North Europe (not hard to find even if I cannot say where it is). If anything, local costs have probably reduced. This would appear to be a bottom line operation to restore profits in the ledger for shareholders to see. As I said in the original post – not unexpected because The Euro has gone from $1.35 to $1.11.


It’s amazing how many “journalists” just cannot be bothered spelling my name correctly  when crediting me for this story … lazy tossers.

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Microsoft News 02-June-2015

The big news of the last 24 hours is that Windows 10 will be released on July 29th. I posted before The Verge, etc, that I will be away and not reporting on the release on that date.


Windows Server

Windows Client




Microsoft News – 25-May-2015

It’s taken me nearly all day to fast-read through this lot. Here’s a dump of info from Build, Ignite, and since Ignite. Have a nice weekend!


Windows Server

Windows Client

System Center


Office 365


  • Announcing support for Windows 10 management with Microsoft Intune: Microsoft announced that Intune now supports the management of Windows 10. All existing Intune features for managing Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 will work for Windows 10.
  • Announcing the Mobile Device Management Design Considerations Guide: If you’re an IT Architect or IT Professional and you need to design a mobile device management (MDM) solution for your organization, there are many questions that you have to answer prior to recommending the best solution for the problem that you are trying to solve. Microsoft has many new options available to manage mobile devices that can match your business and technical requirements.
  • Mobile Application Distribution Capabilities in Microsoft Intune: Microsoft Intune allows you to upload and deploy mobile applications to iOS, Android, Windows, and Windows Phone devices. In this post, Microsoft will show you how to publish iOS apps, select the users who can download them, and also show you how people in your organization can download these apps on their iOS devices.
  • Microsoft Intune App Wrapping Tool for Android: Use the Microsoft Intune App Wrapping Tool for Android to modify the behavior of your existing line-of-business (LOB) Android apps. You will then be able to manage certain app features using Intune without requiring code changes to the original application.



VMware Increasing Pricing For Partners

I was forwarded an email today from a VMware distributor that informs VMware authorised partners that their prices are going up.

No customer buys software directly from the big software vendors. Typically the path is either:

  • Manufacturer > Distributor > Reseller > Customer
  • Manufacturer > Large account reseller > Large customer

Each link in the chain (or channel) makes a small percentage. There is a “price list” at the top of the chain, but that is often discounted. Discounts are applied to large deals, and that discount can vary depending on sales targets for the product, what is included in the deal (adding more can sometimes reduce the original price), the time in the sales cycle and the size of the deal. In the case of VMware, few ever pay the prices listed on their website.

This is the email sent out to VMware authorised partners:


VMware are reducing those discounts, giving VMware more earnings and reducing the profitability of VMware software to partners.

Do note, that any reseller that has a business plan to make profit from licensing needs to sell A LOT of licenses. Real profits for resellers come in services, not in s/w or tin.

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New Azure Backup Pricing Description – With Examples

Microsoft has corrected and changed the description of the new pricing for Azure Online Backup that comes into effect on April 1st. This is after the owners of the website royally screwed the pooch in February with a confusing and incorrect posting.

NOTE: I am redacting this post because no one is able to explain what a “protected instance” is. Until then, while Azure Backup is great technically, and could be cheap, I have no idea how much it will cost.

As with all posts regarding licensing or pricing on this site, I will not be answering questions. Ask your reseller, distributor or LSP – they’re the people you are paying so they are the people who can do the work.

With the new pricing you no longer pay (using North Europe pricing in Euros) €0.149 per GB stored in Azure per month. Instead the pricing is broken into 2 pieces:


Think of an instance as The block of data that has to be protected. I

The charge per instance depends on the size of the instance. Sigh!  This charge is based on the size of the protected instance. I do not know if this is based on data protected or the total amount of disk space in the instance. Another sigh!

  • Less than 50 GB:€3.7235 per instance
  • 50 GB to 500 GB: €7.447 per instance
  • Larger than 500 GB: Multiples of the 50-500 GB charge


Azure Online Backup will use Block Blob Storage. You can use either LRS (3 copies in 1 data center) or GRS (3 copies in 1 data center, and 3 async copies in another region) at a higher cost.



The end result is that for most customers, the pricing will come way down.

1 File Server with 30 GB on LRS Storage

  • 1 instance: €3.7235
  • Storage: 30 GB * €0.0179 (LRS) = €0.54

Total = €4.26

4 Machines with 80 GB each on LRS Storage

  • 4 instances: €7.447 * 4 = €29.788
  • Storage: 30 GB * 4 * €0.0179 (LRS) = €5.73

Total = €35.52

1 Machine with 1400 GB on GRS Storage

  • 3 instances (3 * 50-500 GB): €7.447 * 3 = €22.341
  • Storage: 1400 GB * €0.0358 (GRS) = €50.12

Total = €97.52


As I have told some people in Redmond, the added complexity to Azure Online Backup pricing is indicative of everything that is wrong with Azure pricing. The only blocker I’m seeing in Azure sales is that sales people cannot get their heads around the wildly varied and complicated pricing. I really don’t care what AWS does – I don’t work with AWS and what they do to limit their own sales is their issue. Microsoft needs to fix the pricing structure of Azure to grow it the way they want, and need, to.

Another Reason to Use Azure IaaS – System Center Licensing

I just had a conversation with a customer about a Hyper-V/System Center deployment that they are planning. They have multiple branch offices and they want to deploy 2 VMs to each, and manage the hosts (hardware included) and guest OS/services with System Center. The problem was: the cost of System Center – not a new story for SMEs, even larger ones, thanks to the death blow served by MSFT to System Center sales in the SME space in 2012.

This customer was looking at purchasing 1 Standard SML per site. The lack of density was increasing costs – using a centralized deployment with Datacenter SMLs would have been more cost effective. But they needed VMs for each site.

But I knew a trick:

Customers can use the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance to assign their System Center 2012 license to a Windows Server instance running on Azure. A System Center Standard license can be used to manage 2 VM instances; a System Center Datacenter license can be used to manage 8 VM instances.

What if the customer did this:

  • Deployed the VMs in Azure instead of on-premises Hyper-V
  • Shared the services via RemoteApp
  • Managed the guest OS and services using Datacenter SMLs, thus getting the cost/density benefits of the DC license.

As it turns out, the solution wasn’t going to work because the regional sites suffer from Irish rural broadband – that is, it sucks but not enough to download faster than a few MB, let alone upload.

But this is something to keep in mind for getting density benefits from a DC SML!

Microsoft News – 3 March 2015

Here’s the latest in the Microsoft world!


System Center


Office 365


Video – Pricing Solutions With Azure Virtual Machines

One of the biggest blockers, in my personal opinion, to Azure IaaS adoption in the SME space is understanding how to price solutions. I don’t get questions about technology, features, cost, trust or any of that; instead, I get questions such as “how much will this cost me?”. Microsoft does not help themselves with a very complex pricing model – please don’t try to bring up AWS – Microsoft doesn’t sell AWS so I don’t get why they are relevant!

So I’ve started producing some videos for my employers. This one focuses on pricing solutions based on Azure virtual machines.

Video: Microsoft Azure For Small-Medium Businesses

Earlier today I produced a video for my employers to discuss the role of Microsoft Azure infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) in the SME/SMB market. In the video I talk a little about what Azure is, the economic sense of a service like Azure for these businesses, how the Open licensing scheme works, and then I talk about 3 of the core services and some of the scenarios that apply.