This new benefit will allow customers with Software Assurance or subscription licenses to use their existing licenses to install and run on any (but not Listed Provider) infrastructure – whether it’s dedicated or shared.
Windows Server virtual cores
Customers will be able to license Windows Server by virtual core on 3rd party infrastructure. There will, of course (!), be a per VM minimum. The Microsoft announcements don’t mention Listed Providers for this element so perhaps this new licensing option will be available with Amazon, Google, and Alibaba…although it seems unlikely!
Microsoft 365 E3/E5/F3 users without a primary device with a Qualifying Operating System (QoS) will be able to virtualize Windows 10/11 on 3rd-party infrastructure (but not Listed Providers) without needing the VDA add-on.
Cloud Solution Provider – Hoster
This new variant of the CSP program replaces the QMTH (Qualified Multi-Tenant Hosting) program. It will enable hosting partners to pre-build hosted desktop & server environments for customers and either provide the licenses or use customer provided licenses – giving greater flexibility for organizations. Customers will need to show proof-of-license for BYOL scenarios – verification of which I assume will be done by the partner. Initially it will only be available for Direct partners but Microsoft “look forward to expanding program eligibility over time“.
Microsoft state these will go live from October 1st so we should see them added to the Product Terms on that date too. I’ll of course be updating on that asap 😊
Microsoft’s “Cloud for Sustainability” is here (released June 2022) in the guise of Microsoft Sustainability Manager – a new tool/platform aimed to help organisations with their journey to net zero and bolstering their ESG (environmental, social, and governance) capabilities.
Sustainability & ESG is a growing focus for business leaders across the globe and this is just the start of Microsoft’s plans in this area. Sustainability Manager focus on several areas:
Unify data intelligence
Build a sustainable IT infrastucture
Reduce environmental impact of operations
Create sustainable value chains
What does it do?
It helps organisations track their emissions across the business, automate the collection and analysis, and present it to the business via analytics and dashboards. It covers Scope 1, 2, and 3 emissions – for those of you not familiar with those (as I wasn’t until relatively recently), here’s a quick overview:
Emissions from sources that an organisation owns/controls like fuel used in company vehicles
Emissions indirectly caused by a company when energy it purchases/uses is produced. An example being the emissions from the generation of electricity that is used to power electric company vehicles.
Emissions not covered by the above but where a company is indirectly responsible across the supply chain such as using/disposing of products from suppliers.
I used this page from the National Grid to get the above definitions.
Scope 3 emissions can make up the bulk of emissions for an organisation but they are also the hardest to reduce.
Pricing & licensing
It is priced at $4,000 (USD) per tenant per month – although Microsoft do point out that additional capabilities added to the product may incur additional charges in the future. That price includes Dataverse capacity which is capped at:
Database – 10GB per month
File – 20GB per month
Log – 2GB per month
and if additional capacity is needed, add-on licenses will need to be acquired.
It is available in 32 languages and can deployed from the US and Europe.
Microsoft have just announced a range of changes to their rules around using their software in SOME cloud environments, aimed at reducing some of the heat they’ve been receiving from European cloud providers – including complaints to the European Commission – and also heading off potential issues with the EU Digital Markets Act.
The changes include CSP access, more support for providers from Microsoft, and some changes to Software Assurance licensing rules too.
Microsoft have been under fire from various angles due to their licensing rules that restrict which products can be used within 3rd-party datacentres…particularly when compared to Microsoft Azure. It recently came to light that ‘OVHCloud’ lodged a complaint with the European Commission in 2021 and many of the “Fair Software Licensing Principles” were seen to be aimed at Microsoft too.
The current BYOL (Bring Your Own Licensing) rules of Microsoft restrict certain on-premises licenses from being used in cloud environments (apart from Azure) which, for some customers, causes frustration and higher costs…and in some cases it means a project cannot be completed.
Microsoft have announced a big new focus on ‘European Cloud Providers’ (ECP) – giving them expanded access to CSP (Cloud Solution Program) as well as creating a new internal team to focus on supporting them and their customers.
Cloud providers can host more products
The ECPs will be able to offer hosted desktop solutions containing Windows desktop and Office – including Office 365 Apps for Business/Enterprise. They will offer this via their own “unified solutions” and also by hosting customer-owned licenses – hugely expanding the available options for customers.
Microsoft are also expanding the availability of long-term fixed pricing for these providers, removing some of the pricing volatility from them and their customers.
Software Assurance changes
This is a pretty big one – Microsoft are adding ‘License Mobility’ rights to Software Assurance for Windows Server, Windows desktop, and Office. This means customers can use their on-premises licenses in 3rd-party ECP datacentres (but not AWS, GCP, or Alibaba), something that wasn’t possible before.
New Windows Server licensing option
Windows Server is licensed based on the physical CPUs and cores within the server. Microsoft are now introducing the ability to license just the virtual capacity you need, regardless of the underlying hardware. Whether this will be available globally and across all licensing programs, or restricted to just ECP datacentres, is something we are yet to discover.
European Cloud Providers – and more?
Although Microsoft’s announcement was careful to keep referring to ‘European Cloud Providers’ – it seems a Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed that the CSP and Software Assurance changes apply globally (via Mary Jo Foley). This means the vast majority of cloud providers are now able to offer something to their customers that they couldn’t previously.
On the flipside of that though, the main takeaway is that this doesn’t help customers looking to run software on AWS, Google, and Alibaba (the Listed Providers) and, in all honesty, that’s where I see most of the customer issues in this area. However, perhaps Microsoft hope that not only will these changes placate the EU but that they will also divert business away from the Listed Providers to smaller partners instead. In the new world, Microsoft may see that as a win…sure, they’re not on Azure…but they’re not on AWS either.
Microsoft have confirmed here that these changes do NOT apply to the Listed Providers – Amazon, Google, and Ali-Baba.
Microsoft have outlined their 5 “European Cloud Principles”:
and also discussed their plans to further partnerships around providing sovereign clouds for various European governments.
In the recent earnings call for Oracle’s Q3 FY21 results, Oracle Chairman Larry Ellison once again went on the offensive against SAP when it comes to their ERP capabilities.
First, some background…
At the 27th Citi Technology Investors Conference in September 2020, SAP CFO, Luka Mucic, said that SAP hadn’t lost a single ERP customer to Oracle. This was in response to a question based on Larry Ellison’s claims during a previous Oracle earnings call that Oracle were making inroads into SAP’s top 10 customers and were moving into their top 50 accounts too. Mucic said:
We are not aware of any competitive replacement. We actually are aware of quite a few we have competitively replaced other ERP solutions from our traditional competition through S/4HANA recently
He then said:
“I think also the relative growth that we are able to post versus that traditional competitor…actually speaks the clear language…perhaps at some point there will be more transparency given to us [as to] which customer…exactly [the] competition is talking about.”
and finished off by clearly stating:
“I have checked and we have not lost a single customer.”
“In Q3 alone [Oracle] signed contracts, totalling hundreds of millions of dollars to migrate several very large SAP ERP customers, to Oracle Fusion ERP”
And then, clearly in response to Mucic’s request for more transparency as to which customers are involved, he went on to list over 100 customers that have, or are in the process of, switching from SAP to Oracle Fusion ERP! Customers listed included:
New Zealand IRS
University of The Andes
Postcon (2nd largest mail carrier in Germany)
Birmingham City Council (in the UK)
The largest private company in Belgium
And there were plenty more too.
These are all customers that Ellison claims have replaced all their SAP with Oracle, or they’re in the process of doing so. He had another section of the list for organisations that are purchasing Oracle ERP but still running SAP ERP too and said it is Oracle’s expectation is that “the vast majority” of those organisations will ultimately move entirely across to Oracle ERP.
He finished off by saying:
“SAP, the once-dominant on-premise[s] ERP market leader is currently not competitive in the cloud ERP market. … SAP … never rewrote their ERP system for the cloud and it’s too late for them to start now”
When asked why this SAP to Oracle migration is happening now, Ellison had more to say about SAP’s strategy:
“SAP instead, embedded their own database called HANA and focused on this new database and never really rewrote their ERP code for the cloud. I mean, it’s just an unbelievable error. S/4HANA in the cloud is … not a cloud product at all. It is the 35-year-old … programming language called ABAP”
and finished with:
“SAP really is more responsible for our leadership position than we are”
It’s difficult to know what the facts are here. SAP clearly stated they haven’t lost any customers to Oracle…but Oracle have publicly listed dozens of customers they say they’ve taken. They can’t both be right…but surely neither would have made such false claims? I can only assume there’s a way that they ARE both right…perhaps different definitions of what “losing” a customer is?
These two companies have long been rivals but things really seem to be heating up now. Whether this is because Oracle truly believe they’re the stronger option or this is a case of “the best form of defence is attack” remains to be seen but either way, this escalating ERP battle us sure to have an impact on customers.
If you’re an SAP ERP customer, can you use this to your advantage? Will the mere mention of looking at Oracle ERP prompt SAP to offer discounts and favourable terms in your next negotiation?
Maybe there’s no smoke without fire and Oracle really ARE miles ahead of SAP now (disclaimer – I have no idea!). If so, should you seriously evaluate them before moving to SAP S/4 HANA?
I’m intrigued to see the next steps in this conflict for sure!
Back in May 2020, Microsoft announced Cloud for Healthcare – their first vertical specific cloud offering and it launched in October that year. Microsoft Cloud for Retail was announced in January 2021 and now, following Ignite 2021, they have announced three more:
Microsoft Cloud for Financial Services
Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing
Microsoft Cloud for Non-profit
One of the great benefits of public cloud – the ability to pick and choose from an almost endless array of options and combine them in a seemingly infinite number of combinations – can also be a huge weakness. For some industries, it’s more important to have an “Out of the Box” offering that does what they need and, most importantly these days, be super secure while it’s doing it.
Plugging various different cloud services together is often where security gaps start to appear – a slight misconfiguration here, a forgotten port there – and that can means certain industries are less enamoured with the cloud. Equally, from a portfolio perspective, knowing which different products do exactly what you need and which ones can be combined to help you achieve your goals can be perplexing and overwhelming.
These pre-built cloud packages for different verticals aim to address both of those issues as well as introducing brand new features aimed at vertical specific issues.
Microsoft Cloud for Retail
A combination of Microsoft products including Azure, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, Teams, Bing, Advertising among others, this is largely driven by changes brought about by COVID-19 and the (even greater) shift to online shopping. It focuses on areas of importance to Retail such as:
This combines products including Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, and Power Platform in a solution designed to comply with regulatory and compliance frameworks in what is a highly regulated industry. It offers functionality in key areas including:
This combines Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Azure, Power Platform, and LinkedIn to help charities better connect with their supporters and volunteers, make better decisions, and reach their goals faster.
There’s not as much info available for this offering yet but you can see more here and register for a webinar to learn more about this offering on March 30th here.
Microsoft have stopped producing the standalone Product Terms document and have officially launched the Product Terms website as a replacement.
I’ve been a big fan of the Product Terms document for a long time and I’m not 100% happy about this change tbh! The ability to filter the site by program (EA, MPSA etc.) and product (M365, SQL etc.) will probably make it less confusing for many people – showing only the info that’s relevant to their search.
However, being able to see everything altogether was great for spotting any changes, missing bits etc. that Microsoft hadn’t highlighted and that isn’t as easy on the new site.
My initial concern was that not having a point in time downloadable copy would put customers and partners at a disadvantage, giving them nothing to reference in future conversations. However, having played with the site a little bit it turns out you can download a document from the site. It’s quite similar to the previous document although you have to filter by program, so you don’t get a document that allows comparison across the different licensing options.
The changes in February 2021 are:
Addition of Microsoft 365 F5 SKUs (more info here)
Planning Services & Training Vouchers SA Benefits have been removed
The free Audio Conferencing promos for EA/EES/CSP have been extended to June 30, 2021
Clarification that the Microsoft 365 E3/A3 Unattended license doesn’t require a Qualifying Operating System
Updates to terms for Azure Maps and Cognitive Services
The latest Azure offering, Purview, is a “unified data governance” service to help organisations manage data across their ever expanding environments – including on-premises, IaaS multi-cloud (Azure, AWS etc.) and also SaaS services. According to Microsoft, Azure Purview will offer automated discovery and classification of data, a map of where it all resides and how it relates to each other, easy searching to locate data, and an overview of how data moves across your organisation.
Given the increasing amounts of data we all create and collect, combined with the rising threat of cyber attacks – at a personal, corporate, and national level – this is a welcome introduction.
Azure Purview is (almost) free to try until February 28, 2021 but we can already see an overview of how it will be priced going forward.
First of all, you need to provision the “Data Map” – this is priced based on 2 things…Capacity Units and metadata storage.
This is a set of resources provisioned in order to keep your Data Map up and running. One Capacity Unit can support “approx. 1 API call per second” and is currently priced at $0.342 per hour.
This stores the metadata associated with the scanned assets which enables the searching capabilities within Purview. Microsoft talk about this being in a “graph” format – so this appears to be another element of the “Microsoft Graph” being surfaced as part of a product. Pricing is yet to be announced but will be on a per GB basis…I can well imagine many organisations finding themselves with a HUGE amount of this metadata storage!
When it comes to scanning your environment, this is charged at $0.63 per “v-core hour” that you consume whilst actively scanning. Microsoft state there will be no “incremental charges” for connectors to 3rd party datastores.
Almost regardless of cost, I think many organisations will find it hard not to use this service – given the worries, risks, and potential fines that data mismanagement can bring. Microsoft have made another strong move to position themselves as an integral part of the future of business. Even if everyone stopped using Windows and Office tomorrow, Azure Purview (and other new services) would keep Microsoft at the forefront of many an organisation’s mind for years to come.
Microsoft have announced a partnership with Nutanix to help organisations develop multi-cloud and hybrid cloud scenarios. Nutanix clusters will be added into Azure datacentres – extending on-premises Nutanix environments into the cloud:
Software and nodes will be paid for via “Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment (MACC)” or PAYG, as well as existing Nutanix licenses being portable into Azure. Azure Hybrid Benefits can be utilised on the “Nutanix Clusters on Azure” and Microsoft’s Extended Support Updates are available too. Additionally, via Azure ARC, various Azure services – including Kubernetes – can be run in on-premises Nutanix environments.
Microsoft are really working to extend Azure to as many organisations as possible – VMware on Azure, Azure Stack, Azure Arc, and now this. It seems very much the approach they took to Office software on mobile devices – if you allow people to use your service alongside those from competitors, you end up in a better position that forcing them choose one or the other.
The service is currently in public preview – more info is available here and you can sign up to the waiting list here.
This whole Microsoft buying TikTok thing strikes me as very strange…I don’t see that it would be successful for anyone involved. The rumoured price tag of $30 – $50 billion means it’s not something you can take a punt on – even with Microsoft’s revenues and profits, that’s not a trifling sum of money!
Xbox aside, Microsoft don’t have a great track record when it comes to consumer products – Skype brand recognition seems to have dropped off massively since MS’s acquisition, Windows Phone (as awesome as it was!) never properly made it, and earlier in 2020, Microsoft shuttered “Mixer” – their game streaming platform – less than 4 years after acquiring it.
While it’s fair to say that Microsoft are now (again) considered a “cool” company, that’s a relative statement…being “cool” to 30+ year old people in tech roles who use LinkedIn is not the same as being “cool” to teenagers!
Any attempts to “Microsoft-ize” the platform would surely be the beginning of the end of TikTok’s success – causing the big users (and thus their millions of followers) to migrate to the next platform (i.e. Triller) and reducing the available data…which may be the focus of the purchase. Even if they let it run as a totally separate entity, I can’t help but wonder if just the fact it’s owned by Microsoft would be enough to put the core users off?!
Another problem with this purchase would be the distraction it causes. Microsoft have done a great job under Satya Nadella of becoming a “true” Enterprise company – very focused on business, their customers, their goals, and their roadmap. Bringing TikTok into the organisation will distract pretty much every aspect of Microsoft:
Leadership – potentially opening them up to a whole world of scandals and issues around content, censorship, election interference, cyber-bullying, data breaches and more. Things which surely Microsoft would rather stay clear of?
Staff with new colleagues and new (or unclear) corporate strategy. Will they be side-lined for this new consumer focus? Will this affect their career path or budgets or bonuses etc.?
Customers – what does this mean for Microsoft’s strategy going forward? I’m sure some execs will start to wonder if it’s a good idea to bet their 10-year cloud strategy on the company that owns TikTok – are they the fully committed enterprise partner they want and need? Will they try and merge TikTok with Microsoft 365 and/or Dynamics 365?
I also think it will give so much ammunition to competitors like Amazon, Google, Oracle, Salesforce. They’ll be able to market to customers playing on the change in Microsoft’s direction, their lack of focus on business needs and enterprise customers, and the idea of having TikTok videos within business communications.
While data is massively important these days, and Microsoft will clearly have one eye on the future of tech and the company itself, I’m of the opinion that buying TikTok would be a mistake. Yes, they’d have access to many many millions of consumers…but would Microsoft really be able to make much use of them? I can’t see that direct advertising would work at all so one has to assume it’s more about data mining a la Facebook – I’d suggest that staying away from being tarred with that brush would serve Microsoft well in the long run.
Walmart have thrown their hat in the ring and are apparently looking to team up with Microsoft to purchase TikTok. This makes more sense than a solo Microsoft bid – US grocery retailers have been some of the leaders when it comes to mining and using consumer data with targeted vouchers/offers etc. This would give them a huge amount of extra data…for a new generation of consumers who, to a large degree, buy different things in different ways for different reasons than the generations before them.
Reports say that Walmart were already working with SoftBank to put a deal together but the US government pushed back due to a lack of cloud technology – hence the move to join with Microsoft.
Alternatively, Oracle are apparently also in the running to acquire TikTok. As much as I can’t really see it fitting into Microsoft, I definitely don’t see it fitting into Oracle. Again, I’m sure it comes down to access to data but I’m also sure that Oracle’s involvement would kill it even faster than Microsoft!
Who will eventually win out is unclear at the minute. The Trump administration has been oddly involved in this whole thing – in fact, they’re the reason it’s even happening – and that may influence the eventual new owner. Oracle have close relations with Trump – Safra Catz was on his transition team back in 2016 while Larry Ellison hosted (but didn’t attend) a fundraiser for Trump earlier in 2020.