SQL Server 2022 is now generally available and is, in Microsoft’s words, the “most Azure enabled release” so far.
There are a few licensing updates and changes to be aware of with SQL Server 2022 as well as a price increase:
Flexible Virtualisation Benefit
Both licenses with active SA and active subscriptions can now be deployed with any Authorized Outsourcer – that is, anyone who isn’t a Listed Provider (Amazon, Google, Alibaba). However, don’t forget that License Mobility through Software Assurance rights still exist (via SA) which allow you to put software on the servers of an “Authorised Mobility Partner” – and the Listed Providers are eligible for this.
Furthermore, when licensing SQL Server Standard or Enterprise by virtual OSE, if you have active SA you can run an unlimited number of containers containing SQL Server within that virtual OSE.
Machine Learning removal
Looking at the Product terms, it appears that Microsoft have removed the rights for SQL Server Enterprise customers to use:
Machine Learning for Window or Linux
Machine Learning Server for Hadoop
Enabled via Azure Arc, this new billing model enables organisations to pay for SQL Server on a monthly or hourly basis:
The servers must be connected to Azure Arc to use this option. For 2022, the Arc connection is a default part of the setup process while for SQL 2014 and above, it will be enabled via a capability within the Azure portal which is, according to Microsoft, coming soon. This seems to suggest that PAYG isn’t available with SQL 2012 or earlier which makes sense, given they’re all out of support.
See more on SQL PAYG here and the pricing is here.
Microsoft have confirmed that SQL Server 2022 Standard, Enterprise, and Web pricing will increase by 10% from January 2023 – including public sector.
Microsoft price increases are coming – again. They have announced they will be performing “price harmonisation” in 2023 – where they will be bringing local currency pricing in line with US Dollar (USD) pricing. They say this is to give customers “more consistent pricing”, but I’d say it mainly to stop organisations purchasing in regions other than their primary location.
They state that some products in some regions are up to 40% cheaper than the US pricing and I believe the Euro is around 15% cheaper. Once the initial adjustment is made, Microsoft will continue the process on a 6-monthly cadence going forward to keep ensuring local pricing doesn’t drift too far from USD again. They do say that prices will be “aligned up or down” so it will be interesting to see what happens to pricing in regions such as Australia that typically pay more than USD for more products.
While the focus of the announcement is cloud pricing, on-premises software pricing will also be affected although Microsoft will consider “local and regional market dynamics including competition, business models, local currency rates and local inflation” – which includes rising energy costs.
More changes for Japan & Korea
Alongside the above, Microsoft have also revealed they will be revising pricing across all products (on-premises and cloud) in Japan & Korea from April 1, 2023. The increases are as follows:
Those of you with long-term contracts such as Enterprise Agreements won’t be affected until your renewal (or if you add new products) but now is the time to start planning how this will alter budgets over the next few years. Also, don’t forget the O365/M365 price increases in March 2022 that will also kick in on certain products you may have on your contract.
Microsoft, somewhat confusingly, “introduced” Intune at Ignite 2022…despite it having existed for what – at least a decade at this point?! It’s more of a Jay-Z style “allow me to re-introduce myself” as it seems Microsoft have decided to make Intune the primary brand for endpoint management going forwards…say goodbye to Microsoft Endpoint Management (MEM) as part of this.
The new suite will include:
Remote Help for Windows & Android
Microsoft Tunnel for Mobile App Management
Endpoint Privilege Management
Advanced endpoint analytics
as well as more features to be announced in 2023.
The add-on license will be available for Microsoft 365 E3/E5 and any licenses that include Intune and will, not surprisingly, be cheaper than buying all the individual components separately. This is another example of where organisations licensed with M365 E5 must still acquire additional licenses – something I know many are not happy with.
Announced at Ignite 2022, Microsoft have introduced a Teams Premium add-on SKU – giving more benefits to organisations as hybrid working becomes more common and continues to evolve. Given the huge success of Teams, and how integral it has become to so many organisations, it makes sense that Microsoft will look to monetize this with a focus on hybrid features. These new options include:
This gives a set of pre-built options for different types of meetings i.e. client calls, brainstorming, help desk calls etc. that will set the length and best practices.
Again, the option to have customised meeting lobbies appears as well as custom backgrounds and together modes.
This sounds like it could genuinely be a game changer.
It will use AI to pick out action items and assign owners during meetings and then create recordings which show key events such as where your name was mentioned or when a screen was shared – making it easier, and faster, to cover what you missed. It will also highlight speakers based on who you work most closely with, so you can skip through the transcripts to find relevant sections more easily.
Live translated captions
This is very cool for international companies and partnerships. An organiser having Teams Premium will mean all attendees get live captions in one of 40 languages.
Advanced Meeting Protections
New options around the security of meetings and recordings include watermarking and, for E5 customers, the ability to use Purview Information Protection sensitivity labels.
Teams Premium will offer advanced Virtual Appointments with better end to end management, text reminders, appointment access without the Teams app, a dashboard to see appointment overviews, and analytics. See more here.
Advanced webinar features
There are also some new features that help enhance the Teams webinar offering – something I’m particularly interested in. These include:
Automated branded reminder emails
Virtual green room – this gives a space for speakers to chat, monitor Q&A, check content etc. separate to attendees
Teams Premium also gives control over which speakers, videos etc. attendees can see – which can be very useful when you have multiple presenters at once.
Pricing is currently expected to be $10 per user per month. The Preview will begin in December 2022 and General Availability with be February 2023, although intelligent recap features will be “first half of 2023”.
As well as the Azure Stack HCI news, Microsoft have also added Azure Hybrid Benefit (AHB) for AKS (Azure Kubernetes Service).
How it works
This benefit is available for Windows Server Standard and Datacenter (both with SA) and also CSP server subscriptions. Hosts must be Windows Server 2019 (and later) or Azure Stack HCI
Each Windows Server core license w/SA allows use of 1 virtual core of AKS. The AKS AHB is additive, meaning the licenses can be used to cover on-prem/Azure workloads AND to use AKS. You can see more info here.
Ignite 2022 saw Microsoft expand the Azure Hybrid Benefit (AHB) to grant access to Azure Stack HCI.
What is it?
It is only available for Enterprise Agreement customers and only applies to Windows Server Datacenter licenses w/SA; licenses must be allocated for all physical cores in the Azure Stack HCI cluster. Licensing in this way allows you to use unlimited Windows Server base instances across the cluster. Furthermore, as per the Product Terms, the “dual-use” rights do not apply so licenses can be used as Windows Server licenses OR as Azure Stack HCI licenses.
It is activated in the Azure portal:
I question the phrasing in the Microsoft announcement here as it says that customers “exchange” their Windows Server licenses to get Azure Stack HCI. This suggests that they are somehow transformed from one type into another but that doesn’t appear to be the case – as this is via AHB, it is simply an additional right that doesn’t change the underlying licenses. As with allocating Windows Server licenses to “regular” Azure, it seems one can re-assign from Azure Stack HCI licenses back to Windows Server Datacenter licenses following the 90-day rule.
Given the increasing level of focus on CSP and the MCA, it’s interesting to see that it is restricted to Enterprise Agreement customers only. It not being made available for Open Value and MPSA customers is, rightly or wrongly, business as usual these days but CSP has been getting a lot of shiny things lately.
This new way of paying for Microsoft Azure was announced at Microsoft Ignite 2022 and seems to bear more than a passing resemblance to Amazon AWS Savings Plans. The similarities are probably a bonus for customers, meaning you don’t have to learn 2 totally different IaaS cloud payment options.
What is it?
Azure Savings Plans is, to some degree, the next step beyond Reserved Instances (RI). This new offering comes with a spend commitment on an hourly basis (over 1 or 3 years) and gives discounts over the PAYG pricing on resources where you have consistent usage. Eligible compute services include:
Azure premium functions
Azure app services
How it works
Savings Plans discounts are applied automatically (starting where the largest discount exists) to any eligible services on spend up to the hourly commitment i.e. £7 per hour. Any spend over that amount is then charged at PAYG pricing so, just as with Reserved Instances, accurate understanding of current and future usage is a must.
They only apply to infrastructure costs but can be combined with Azure Hybrid Benefits for Windows Server & SQL Server etc.
How to buy
Savings Plans are available for Enterprise Agreements, Microsoft Customer Agreements (MCA), and Microsoft Partner Agreements.
EA admins with write permissions can directly purchase savings plans from Cost Management + Billing > Savings plan. No specific permission for a subscription is needed.
Subscription owners for one of the subscriptions in the EA enrollment can purchase savings plans from Home > Savings plan.
Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers can limit purchases to EA admins only by disabling the Add Savings Plan option in the Azure portal. Navigate to the Policies menu to change settings.
Notifications are sent to EA administrators and EA notification contacts.
Users added to a savings plan using Azure RBAC (IAM) permission don’t receive any email notifications.
Microsoft Customer Agreements
Customers with billing profile contributor permissions and above can purchase savings plans from Cost Management + Billing > Savings plan experience. No specific permissions on a subscription needed.
Subscription owners for one of the subscriptions in the billing profile can purchase savings plans from Home > Savings plan.
To disallow savings plan purchases on a billing profile, billing profile contributors can navigate to the Policies menu under the billing profile and adjust Azure Savings Plan option.
Microsoft Partner Agreements
Partners can use Home > Savings plan in the Azure portal to purchase savings plans for their customers.
Savings Plans can be paid for upfront or on a monthly basis, and you don’t pay any more for choosing to spread payments. That said, monthly prices may vary on MCA due to impact of exchange rates.
If you currently have Azure Reserved Instances but would like to move to Savings Plans, you’re in luck – you can trade in Reservations for Savings Plans. The hourly commitment of the new savings plan must be greater than the leftover payments that are cancelled for the returned reservations. That said, not all reservations can be traded – those not eligible are:
Azure Databricks reserved capacity
Synapse Analytics Pre-purchase plan
Azure VMware solution by CloudSimple
Azure Red Hat Open Shift
Red Hat plans
SUSE Linux plans
Beware – Savings Plans cannot be cancelled, exchanged, or refunded. Automatic renewal of Savings Plans isn’t on by default but can be activated if you so wish.
Setting the scope
You can set the scope of Savings Plans to restrict where the savings can be applied. Your options are:
Single resource group
Microsoft have provided information to help with reporting and cost analysis including how to identify wasted spend and how to access the CSV files here.
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