Microsoft Intelligent Data Platform


At Microsoft Build 2022, they have introduced us to the new Intelligent Data Platform.

They say this will help in “removing points of friction between your databases and analytics systems while automatically mapping and governing your full data estate” and allow developers/organisations to “Focus on building innovative apps—and spend less time managing your data“.

Is it a new product?

No – instead it’s a collection of existing products that MS position as forming a better, cohesive eco-system for organisations. Those products are:

  • Azure SQL
  • Azure Cosmos DB
  • SQL Server 2022
  • Azure Arc
  • Azure Synapse Analytics
  • Power BI
  • Azure Machine Learning
  • Microsoft Purview

The latter enabling comprehensive governance of data across all these different locations, products, and use cases.

For many organisations across a variety of verticals, data is the key to success. However, given the increasing regulatory pressures and growing threat of cyber attacks – not managing that data effectively can be one of the largest risks a business faces. The dual concept of helping organisations better connect their data to extract more useful insights more quickly AND securing all that data will surely seem a particularly attractive offering for a lot of customers. Several other organisations, including Amazon and Google, are heavily focusing on data too – it’s the next frontier for winning/losing customers in many ways – and I’m sure Microsoft will continue to enhance this area of their business. I’m also sure they will be selling this concept, and the underlying products, heavily during renewals and customer briefings etc.

Further Reading

Intelligent Data Platform page

Microsoft IDP announcement

Microsoft Financial Results: Q3 FY22


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Microsoft’s financial results for Q3 FY22 (Jan – Mar 22) are in and, once again, they’re showing strong growth in all their key focus areas. They also listed several big name customers that they’re working with including:

  • Bridgestone
  • Lufthansa
  • Fujitsu
  • Woolworths
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Heineken

and called out Boeing, Heinz, and Westpac among customers making “strategic” Azure commitments.

Satya Nadella always hits us with a good quote during the earnings call and this quarter’s was:

“The last two years have proven that every organization needs a digital fabric that connects the entire organization”

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers:

Overall

Revenue = $49.4 billion – up 18%

Operating income = $20.4 billion – up 19%

Really strong top line numbers as always – remember, this is for just 3 months!

Productivity & Business Processes

Revenue = $15.8 billion – up 17%

  • Office 365 Commercial up 17%
  • Dynamics 365 up 35%
  • LinkedIn up 35%

Microsoft saw growth in SMB and frontline SKUs as well as increase in Revenue Per User – a key SaaS metric.

Office on-prem revenue was down 28%, continuing the downwards trend that we’ve been seeing for a couple of years now. It was noted as well that the end of Open Licensing has caused a drop in transactional license sales during the last quarter.

Intelligent Cloud

Revenue = $19.1 billion – up 26%

  • Azure (and other cloud services) up 46%
  • Server products up 5%

Another strong showing from Azure…with the number of $100 million Azure deals more than doubling over the previous year.

The server products increase includes Window Server & SQL Server in hybrid use cases (as well as Nuance) and again Microsoft mentioned the impact of Open Licensing’s end.

What else did we learn?

  • Satya Nadella once again called out the performance of Cosmos DB, with 100%+ YoY growth for 3 quarters in a row.
  • Power Platform, as a family, was up 72% year on year.
  • Microsoft Viva has over 10 million monthly active users.

Overall this is another great performance from Microsoft, giving them good momentum as they move into their Q4 (April – June) which is always a busy time of year. It will be interesting to see the full FY results in July for sure!

Microsoft Defender for Cloud pricing


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Microsoft Defender for Cloud is a relatively new product name – created through a combination of “Azure Defender” and “Azure Security Center” – and is Microsoft’s solution for “cloud security posture management” (CSPM) and “cloud workload protection” (CWP).

It works not only in Azure but also Amazon AWS and Google GCP and hybrid scenarios via Azure Arc.

Licensing & Pricing

The main thing to understand is that Microsoft Defender for Cloud isn’t one thing, it is an umbrella for several separate products that all have their own costs.

Resource TypePrice
Microsoft Defender for Servers Plan 1£0.006/Server/hour
Microsoft Defender for Servers Plan 2£0.016/Server/hour
Included data – 500 MB/day
Microsoft Defender for Containers£0.0072/vCore/hour
Microsoft Defender for SQL on Azure£0.016/Instance/hour
Microsoft Defender for SQL outside Azure£0.012/vCore/hour
Microsoft Defender for MySQL£11.420/Instance/month
Microsoft Defender for PostgreSQL£11.420/Instance/month
Microsoft Defender for MariaDB£0.016/Instance/hour
Microsoft Defender for Storage£0.016/10K transactions
Microsoft Defender for App Service£0.016/App Service/hour
Microsoft Defender for Key Vault£0.02/10K transactions
Microsoft Defender for ARM£3.046/1M API calls
Microsoft Defender for DNS£0.533/1M Queries
Microsoft Defender for IoT agentless monitoring£107 per month per 100 monitored devices
https://azure.microsoft.com/en-gb/pricing/details/defender-for-cloud/

Microsoft Defender for IoT agentless monitoring covers existing environments and is deployed on-premises. It can be connected to Microsoft Sentinel with no additional Sentinel charges – but it will require an IoT Hub which costs between £7.61 – £1903.17 per month.

For new IoT devices deployed via Azure IoT Hub, Defender pricing is:

SolutionPrice
Defender for IoT for devices managed by IoT Hub – by device£0.0008/month
Defender for IoT for devices managed by IoT Hub – by messages£0.153/25K transactions

Both of these offer free usage for the first 30 days and then the pricing kicks in, so be aware of what things people are turning on within your organisation.

Microsoft Defender for Cloud Free Tier

This is enabled on all Azure subscriptions when you visit the Defender for Cloud section of the Azure portal and includes:

  • Continuous assessment
  • Security recommendations
  • Secure Score for Azure
  • Secure Score for AWS

Further Reading

The Microsoft Defender for Cloud page is here.

Microsoft Defender for Servers


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Microsoft Defender for Servers is available as one of the workload components of Microsoft Defender for Cloud and is now split into Plan 1 and Plan 2.

Microsoft Defender for Servers Plan 1

The features contained in Plan 1 are:

  • Auto onboarding for resources in Azure, AWS, and GCP
  • Microsoft Threat & Vulnerability management
  • Use of Defender for Cloud or M365 Defender portal
  • Integration of Defender for Cloud and Defender for Endpoint

Microsoft Defender for Servers Plan 2

Additional capabilities in Plan 2 include:

  • Log Analytics – with 500MB free
  • Security policy & regulatory compliance
  • Vulnerability assessment
  • Threat detection
  • Just in Time VM access
  • File integrity monitoring
  • Adaptive network hardening
https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/defender-for-cloud/defender-for-servers-introduction

Pricing

Under the Azure meter, the prices are listed here as:

  • Plan 1 = £0.006 per server per hour
  • Plan 2 = £0.016 per app service per hour

Volume Licensing

If you have 50 or more combined licenses of:

  • Microsoft Defender for Endpoint
  • Windows E5/A5
  • M365 E5/A5
  • M365 Security USLs

you can acquire Microsoft Defender for Endpoint (Server) under EA/EAS/MCA/EES agreements.

If you have these licenses and then choose to cover the same servers with Microsoft Defender for Cloud (the new name for Azure Security Center + Azure Defender), you will be eligible for a credit towards the cost of the latter.

Resources

Microsoft Docs page

Microsoft SQL Server 2012 end of support


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SQL Server 2012 goes end of support on July 12, 2022 – that’s about 10 weeks from the time of writing! This means even security updates from Microsoft will no longer be provided to customers running this software – a situation organisations really don’t want to find themselves in.

It only seems like 5 minutes since this was the situation with SQL Server 2008 (it was actually almost 4 years ago!) which causes headaches for a lot of organisations. I’d say that, based on conversations at conferences and training sessions etc., SQL Server 2012 is going to be at least equally painful as many businesses seem to have got to 2012 and then no further, considering it to be much more modern than 2008.

If your business is still running SQL Server 2012 – what are your options?

Remain on-premises

Assuming you want to remain up to date on security patches (which I’d say you do!), you’ll need to acquire Extended Security Updates (ESU) from Microsoft which will give you 3 more years of security updates. That however, comes at a price:

  • Year 1 = 75% of SQL Server license price
  • Year 2 = 100% of SQL Server license price
  • Year 3 = 125% of SQL Server license price

Let’s say you have a 4-core SQL Server 2012 Std box – approx. license cost of £5,000. That will mean:

  • Year 1 = £3,750
  • Year 2 = £5,000
  • Year 3 = £6,250

3 year total = £15,000

Migrate to Azure

ESUs are included free of charge for workloads running in Microsoft Azure VMs – including “regular” Azure VMs as well as:

  • Azure Dedicated Host
  • VMware on Azure
  • Nutanix Clusters on Azure
  • Azure Stack HCI/Hub/Edge

You can save a big amount of money through not having to pay for the ESUs…but cloud migrations come with their own set of costs…as well as benefits.

If you’ve not already made a decision on this, please gather the relevant people together and discuss the option. While both the above options can seem expensive, I’d suggest they’re nothing when compared to the cost of a security breach/ransomware attack.

You can see more info in the Microsoft blog post here.

Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment (MACC)


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What is it?

Available for EA and MCA customers, the Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment (MACC) is a 3-year agreement where an organisation commits to spend a certain amount on Azure over that time period.

It doesn’t require an upfront payment of the agreed amount, rather the total must be reached by the end of the MACC term. Ongoing qualifying Azure spend (either PAYG or the purchase of Azure Prepayment) is deducted* from the total on a regular basis by Microsoft and the remaining balance can be seen in the Azure portal (or via REST API). In this way, it adds some flexibility to what’s possible with Azure commitment and budgets.

However, it is a contractual commitment so if future Azure spend has been over-estimated, an organisation will find itself expected to make up any shortfall at the end of the agreement.

*If you receive Azure credits from Microsoft, any services paid for using those will not count towards your MACC total.

Azure Marketplace

Certain 3rd-party services in the Azure Marketplace are eligible to count towards a MACC. In the Marketplace portal, there will be an “Azure benefit eligible” option to filter the applicable services.

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/azure-consumption-commitment-benefit

This has the potential to be a decent benefit for many organisations as the use of cloud marketplaces is currently skyrocketing.

Resources

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/cost-management-billing/manage/track-consumption-commitment?tabs=portal

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/marketplace/azure-consumption-commitment-benefit

https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/azure/marketplace/azure-consumption-commitment-enrollment?msclkid=8f732ce1b10c11eca28f584e00856880

Microsoft Cloud for Retail: Pricing and licensing


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Microsoft have added another Industry Cloud to the Product Terms – this time it’s Microsoft Cloud for Retail.

I’m still working through some of the info and it doesn’t necessarily all seem complete yet but here’s the overview I can give so far.

Licensing

It is available as an add-on SKU, currently only Dynamics 365 Customer Insights is listed as an eligible base license to purchase the add-on. The Microsoft Docs site lists other licenses that are required in order to use certain elements of the retail cloud solution, these are:

Retail cloud featureRequired license
Omnichannel for Customer ServiceDynamics 365 Commerce / Dynamics 365 Customer Service
Microsoft 365 for Frontline WorkersMicrosoft 365 (F or E SKUs)
Power Virtual AgentsPower Virtual Agents

as well needing an Azure subscription to use:

  • Synapse Analytics
  • Cognitive Search
  • Intelligent Recommendations

Pricing

The Microsoft datasheet lists it as being $20,000 per tenant per month but also states that you “only pay for what you don’t already own“.

This makes sense as they won’t want to penalise customers who are already investing in some of these products but does suggest negotiations will be needed to get pricing…leading to the potential for different rates at different points of the year.

Availability

Available only via EA/EAS, Microsoft Cloud for Retail can currently be deployed from:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Singapore
  • Australia

and is available in English and French – the latter only being an option in Canada at the moment though.

Further Reading

Microsoft Cloud for Retail datasheet

Microsoft Docs page

Microsoft Cloud for Retail Product Terms page

Windows Server subscription for Azure Stack HCI


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Microsoft have announced a new way for Azure Stack HCI customers to license their Windows Server guest VMs. The snappily titled “Windows Server subscription for Azure Stack HCI” (WSSASHCI) allows organisations to purchase Windows Server licenses via their Azure subscription.

Currently the versions available are:

  • Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition
  • Windows Server 2022 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2019
  • Windows Server 2016
  • Windows Server 2012 R2

Pricing

WSSASHCI is currently free in public preview but once it hits General Availability (GA) it will be $23.6 per physical core (in your Azure Stack HCI cluster) per month.

Further Reading

Announcement

Docs page

Azure Stack HCI page

Microsoft Financial Results FY21


$168.1 billion.

That was Microsoft’s revenue for FY21, which ended June 30, 2021, and it is a pretty staggering number! In fact, it’s about 40% bigger than the revenues of Oracle, SAP, and IBM combined!

Equally impressive was their Operating Income number of $69.9 billion but let’s dive a bit deeper and look at the numbers for Q4 FY21 (April – June 2021).

Q4 FY21

Overall for the final quarter, Microsoft saw:

  • Revenue = $46.2 billion – up 21%
  • Operating Income = $19.2 billion – up 42%

(As a comparison – Microsoft’s Q4 revenue was bigger than the individual total year revenue for both Oracle and SAP!)

Productivity & Business Processes

This division had revenue of $14.7 billion, an increase of 25% and within that:

  • Office 365 Commercial increased 25%
  • LinkedIn increased 46%
  • Dynamics 365 increased 49%

Intelligent Cloud

Here Microsoft saw revenue of $17.4 billion, a 30% increase, which was mainly driven by a 51% increase in Azure revenue.

More Personal Computing

This section saw a 9% increase to $14.1 billion with Windows Commercial products rising by 20%; however – Surface revenue dropped 20%…likely impacted by the ongoing chip shortage.

Other areas

The investor calls and information can give great insights beyond simply revenue figures, some of these tidbits include:

  • Another increase in long term Azure deals
  • Office 365 E5 comprises 8% of the total commercial installed base
  • Almost 250 million monthly active users on Teams
  • Almost 80 million monthly active Teams phone users
  • Over 1 billion Teams calls in a single month
  • Almost 600,000 orgs using Microsoft security products – with a 70% increase in SMB

Microsoft continue to grow and Satya Nadella seems confident they will be able to keep this up going forward. It certainly feels that there is a lot of expansion space available for Microsoft across several product areas – both winning business from rivals but, probably more so, creating brand new sectors in the cloud and across business applications too.

Further Reading

Microsoft Investor Info

Microsoft extend Extended Security Updates


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Extended Security Updates (ESUs), available for Windows Server 2008/R2 and SQL Server 2008/R2, were introduced in 2019 to extend available security support for 3 more years beyond the end of the products’ extended support periods.

It’s now less than 12 months until the end of the ESU period for SQL Server 2008/R2 and Microsoft have announced they will be providing 12 additional months of cover – but only for workloads running in Azure. This will also apply to Windows Server 2008/R2 – the end of ESU dates are:

  • SQL Server 2008/R2 – July 12, 2022
  • Windows Server 2008/R2 – January 10, 2023

End of support for 2012 Server versions

They have announced the availability of ESUs for the 2012/R2 releases of SQL Server and Windows Server. Extended Support for these ends:

SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022

Windows Server 2012/R2 – October 10, 2023

It’s now less than 12 months until SQL Server 2012 goes out of support so if you’re using that within your organisation, you need to come up with a plan to:

  • Upgrade on-premises
  • Migrate to Azure for free ESUs
  • Budget to purchase on-premises ESUs

See more info from Microsoft here.

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