Announcing ComplianceWare 3.0 with the addition of Hardware Discovery and Inventory
As a logical extension to the extensive Software and Licensing functionality of ComplianceWare we've now added the capability to track Hardware as well. Using the familiar script extract and load process across hardware devices you can now inventory your IT assets by site, view associated attributes, and generate reports based on specific templates.
For companies with sub-entities there is also the ability to create a hierarchy of related sites to provide a holistic view across all assets - a valuable insight into what refreshes might be necessary and coordinated across all sites enabling:
Future planned enhancements include the ability to interrogate failure rates to assist in determining which products and models are performing better than others, enabling procurement of least costly and more reliable IT assets.
New for 2020 - Microsoft to reduce Software Assurance Benefits
Changes to Microsoft's SA Benefits have been announced effective 1st February 2020 which will see the end of some of the most useful aspects of the program, in summary:
So time to review all of your enrollments and make sure you convert all of your SA Benefits to get full value out of your investment in these programs. As a refresher, take a look through the list below.
Check out this October announcement - It could save You Thousands!
Microsoft recently announced a new SQL Server SA benefit that is well worth reviewing – it could either release some currently consumed cores or save you buying more for any clustered environments you have now or are planning.
Starting Nov 1st, every Software Assurance customer of SQL Server will be able to use three enhanced benefits for any SQL Server release that is still supported by Microsoft:
So considering a typical architecture per diagram below the number of SQL Server core licenses required to operate this topology would be only 12 cores as opposed to 24 cores in the past:
Now the FAQ’s in the announcement included a specific question as to the versions that were covered and was answered in the affirmative by a Microsoft representative:
Q1. Is this applicable to old SQL Server versions like 2014 & 2016?
Answer for Q1: Yes. The benefit applies to all supported releases of SQL Server.
Which raises the question – why do we once again see a potential conflict in the Product Terms which appear to qualify the benefit to SQL Server 2019 only:
4.2 SQL Server 2019 – Fail-over Rights
For each of its Primary Workloads, Customer is entitled to:
We shall (again) seek clarification from Microsoft. In the meantime, check out more comprehensive information and examples in the accompanying Licensing Guide.
Lets Straighten out On-Premise Rights Included with M365
A quick internet search is likely to find conflicting views on what on-premise rights you are granted with your M365 Subscription particularly in relation to server software. Many sites will state that you gain only user access rights with your USL licenses, ie. essentially a CAL license entitlement, and that you are still required to acquire the server licenses for the likes of Exchange and Sharepoint.
Simply, that's not correct.
Firstly though, be sure of the M365 Subscription you are dealing with as each will offer different content and scope. The CAL/ML equivalency table of the Product Terms provides a good overview to this:
Note for example that the common business E3 and E5 plans provide both Base and Additive access rights for Exchange and SharePoint Server. But what about the Server Licenses?
A quick browse through the FAQ of the M365 Site provides the first hint that certain Server software is indeed included:
While the respective sections covering the likes of Exchange or SharePoint Server software don't provide any clues, the Microsoft 365 section clearly articulates the entitlement (page 57 of the October 2019 document):
Assuming all of your users are properly licensed (and they should be) your on-premise Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business Server installations are covered!
... and that includes back-versions of course under the Universal License Terms part 3 - "Rights to Use Other Versions and Lower Editions".
So no need to True-Up those on-premise Server licenses for Exchange or SharePoint, and who isn't keen for less overhead and more funds right?!
IBM Announces its new "Authorised SAM Provider" Offering (IASP)
While it appears the disgruntled messaging from clients is finally starting to register with some major vendors, a recent announcement from IBM (outlined here by the ITAM Review) by no means makes it an all clear.
We're all for any move to make software licensing compliance simpler, and the IASP program for some large IBM customers might just do that - although by invitation only and accomplished by engaging one of just four designated IBM partners:
OKAY, SO WHAT's THE OBJECTIVE?
In a nutshell, to offer those select few an alternative to IBM's License Reviews by operating a managed service that brings SAM expertise, tools, and knowledge to organisations who are perhaps struggling with those skills themselves - which happens to be exactly what we at Software Compliance have been offering our valued clients since 2016!
HOW ABOUT the APPROACH?
Once invited, an organisation selects an authorised partner who will then - through a defined scope of paid work - follow the standard licensing compliance process to create a baseline (using ILMT), perform an initial reconciliation, resolve any issues, and implement an ongoing management and control program, all done under an IASP Agreement that must be executed with IBM (covering a term of up to 3 years).
... And THE Benefits?
The major attraction is that any licensing shortfalls discovered in the initial baseline can be resolved at the customers entitled price without any back-dating of S&S - and - an apparent waiver of any sub-capacity issues (tbc).
... and we all know how problematic (ie. costly) issues in this space can be!
On the surface perhaps an admirable new direction from IBM, but does it really differ to how customers operating under the likes of an Enterprise Services & Software Offering (ESSO) have been treated for the last 10+ years? We think not - baselines were created, shortfalls resolved (albeit perhaps not as transparently), regular reporting was mandatory, etc ... so the only difference seems to be that the customer is required to engage one of just four designated partners.
Contact Us ... (before your Vendors do)
terms related to outsourcing rights and dedicated hosted cloud services Change 1-Oct.
Microsoft’s off-premise outsourcing terms are changing October 1, 2019, evidently to clarify the distinction between on-premises/traditional outsourcing and cloud services, and create more consistent licensing terms across multitenant and dedicated hosted cloud services, the core of the changes being:
Now there’s one statement that seems to negate it all (page 3 of the FAQ) given all of the Listed Providers are currently in the Authorized Mobility Partner list which we’re seeking clarification from Microsoft for (italics added):
Do the updates to the Outsourcing Software Management clause affect my rights to deploy licenses with an Authorized Mobility Partner? License Mobility through Software Assurance rights will be expanded to permit deployment of licenses with License Mobility coverage with Listed Providers’ dedicated hosted cloud services for those Listed Providers who are Authorized Mobility Partners. (and importantly) Rights to deploy licenses on Authorized Mobility Partners’ shared servers are not impacted by the outsourcing update.
But that aside, lets dissect it all ...
Firstly, what exactly are “dedicated hosted cloud services”? Microsoft’s states this to be the “services offered by major public cloud providers typically with elastic, ondemand, pay-as-you-go resources, like their multitenant cloud services.” Multitenant cloud services? Wouldn’t that be the opposite of dedicated?? Well for the Listed Providers examples given are “Azure Dedicated Host, Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts, single tenant nodes from Google” – all dedicated – and “VMware Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS)” – so perhaps the/an exception being SDDC architecture.
The first thing to note - the change won't impact the use of existing software versions under licenses purchased before October 1, 2019 so you can continue to deploy and use software under your existing licenses on servers dedicated to you, just not workloads under licenses acquired on or after October 1, 2019 (and don’t forget that just performing a Software Assurance renewal doesn't affect your perpetual use rights for existing versions). And secondly, rights to deploy licenses on Authorized Mobility Partners’ shared servers are not impacted by the outsourcing update.
So what to be wary of …. as usual, the limitations:
Are there any alternatives? Well, besides any SPLA or otherwise ‘bundled’ licensing options available with the provider service, enter the Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit (!) where, solely with Azure Dedicated Host, there are exceptions (!!) if you happen to have current SA or equivalent subscription rights. And what might the Azure Hybrid Benefit provide:
Oh … and don’t forget – to make use of License Mobility through SA, you must ensure that you:
NOW INCLUDING CLOUD CONSUMPTION REPORTING
We've been busy .... and our development efforts are now live
Cloud Consumption Reporting is here!
As of version 2.6 of ComplianceWare get your cloud consumption information in one easy view with the new ComplianceWare Subscriptions feature. Check your cost or license usage with simple and secure REST API connectivity to the following platforms:
With standard configuration (typically IAM) through your selected platform you'll soon have ready access to your daily consumption levels, enabling quick action where usage appears to be at limits or following a worrying trend.
Cost figures will be displayed for the current month and prior year (where available):
Or for usage, your entitlements ... and where available, your consumption:
So no more need to open all of those portals and navigate through the layers of screens to your billing or license information, just one click and you're there! You don't even need a login - with ComplianceWare configured as a service all access is programmatic.
If you'd like to know more check out the Configuration Guide which provides step-by-step instructions on how ComplianceWare would be configured for each platform, and if you'd like to see it in action just Contact Us for a login to our demonstration site.
A great new feature - along with the new Vendor records administration - adding more value for our customers, keeping ComplianceWare the most functional, cost effective software discovery and license management tool on the market!
A New And WeLcome Direction in Consolidated, Direct, Licensing Information
Microsoft announced the 1st June 2019 as the date at which the new 'Licensing Terms Site' will replace the current downloadable document versions of the Product Terms (PT) and Online Service Terms (OST) (although at date of this publication it is still stating "under construction and for preview use only.")
Not only is this intended to consolidate the myriad of licensing documents and material rife across Microsoft sites, but according to the FAQ (available here) will also ease navigation through filters available by program and product, and also introduce a new 'compared-to' function which allows users to compare changes (albeit post 1st June 2019) to 'current' use rights going forward - a useful utility!
So what does it look like? - the landing screen as below (see it for yourself here):
A quick test run found the site easily navigable, presenting targeted information based on your selection in the familiar format of the Product Terms structure. Of course it can't solve the 'knowledge complexity' invariably attached to licensing - you basically still need to know what you are looking for, and then be able to apply what you find to your own situation.
A quick delve into the SQL Server section highlights the information then available by edition:
All in all though a timely advance in the overall licensing landscape that would be welcomed across other vendors with similarly broad and complex license terms and models, which makes us wonder ...
... is it too much to hope for a cross-industry standard?
Could the Change to IBM's PVU Core Table Signal a Refreshing SHIFT in Sub-Capacity Licensing?
While some vendors prefer to wallow in the mire of antiquated and irrelevant licensing regimes others seem to be moving ahead with revised models that provide clarity and ease in establishing your licensing and compliance position.
A case in point - IBM - who flagged a rethink with a shift from the messy PVU to Virtual Processor Core metrics (example in the hyperlink).
Starting April this year the x86 PVU Table has been culled down to just 6 entries with the Intel category now much simplified for the Xeon chipset, basically all determined by the number of sockets at 2, 4, and >4 (with the lower models in the listed ranges remaining at 50 PVU's):
There is however one complication - Symmetric Multiprocessing Servers - which you need to factor per definition below:
The PVU requirement for the Intel processor technology indicated is dependent on the maximum number of sockets on the server. If sockets on two or more servers are connected to form a Symmetric Multiprocessing (SMP) Server, the maximum number of sockets per server increases. Example:
Good news from our perspective - anything that removes ambiguity is welcomed (with reference to the linked post at the start of this blog: "oh but you have to count the Physical cores, not virtual, on the Host, in fact all Hosts in the complex, actually in the Data Center, well let's say the Cloud then, so basically ...
... everything, everywhere")
All might not be what You think - It's time to Check
So all's fine with your Oracle Database - it's been installed for some time now, had a few upgrades, tweaks and tune-ups, you're across your NUP and Processor entitlements, so why have any concerns from a licensing perspective? Well, what about all of those Feature, Option, and Management Packs that lurk quietly in the background - have you checked on the status of those lately?
Worth checking to be certain before that next, friendly ... 'Oracle License Review'.
To facilitate this Oracle provides a script - options_packs_usage_statistics.sql - which enables you to check Oracle Database feature usage, option usage, and management pack usage. The script lists, in two distinct sections:
The script can be run manually on an individual database or you can use Oracle Enterprise Manager Job System to automatically run the script on multiple databases, giving output like the below (with formatting added):
Now with insight into the actual system settings a simple reconciliation to your licensing / entitlements will give you assurance that everything is in order, or alternatively highlight what needs to be resolved.
A simple task well worth scheduling at least annually.
and it's always good to keep a record for later comparison / compliance requirements (with ComplianceWare you can easily register the output as 'Verification' material alongside your licenses).
Could You Be At Risk From Covert LICENSING TERMS?
While some vendors are well known for their hostile terms towards specific forms of virtualisation (consider Oracle with VMware), others are not, slyly waiting for sufficient time to pass before issuing that dreaded ‘license review’ (aka audit) letter, hoping they can trap you with their archaic, antiquated, yet bizarrely enforceable terms that could see you severely punished if you have virtualised systems that fall under these conditions.
Two current protagonists are coming to the fore in this space for their equally aggressive – and global – onslaught, hounding their loyal customers with totally unreasonable findings and outrageous demands for compensation. The problem emerged from the days of licensing physical installations by cores – easily managed when applications ran in their own dedicated servers, but with the shift to now omnipresent server farms, be it on-premise or cloud based, where their terms have not changed and don’t automatically recognise virtualisation as a means to limit the licensable metric (cores) you are at risk of paying for all of the physical cores in your entire Host estate.
Consider the terms below extracted from the respective vendor agreements:
Micro Focus End User License AgreemenT
"Server License for CPUs. Licensed Software provided under this License Option gives Licensee the right to install the Licensed Software on a single machine or server ("Host Server"), or one or more Containers on the Host Server, and have the Licensed Software executed by up to the total number of CPUs, Cores, Integrated Facility for Linux processors ("IFLs"), Blades or other processing devices specified for the license in the applicable Product Order ("License Specification"). If the number of Cores is not specified for a CPU in the event a CPU is specified in the License Specification, such CPU shall be considered to be single-Core. A Server License for CPUs license covering all CPUs, Cores, IFLs, Blades and other processing devices that are contained in and/or can be accessed by the Host Server ("Total Processors") is required with all applicable license fees paid, even if one or more of such CPUs, Cores, IFLs, Blades or other processing devices are not accessing or running the Licensed Software. For example, if 32 Cores are the Total Processors on the Host Server, but only 16 Cores are utilized to execute the Licensed Software, a 32-Core Server License for CPUs license is required notwithstanding the fact that 16 of the 32 Cores may not actually be accessing the Licensed Software. Each Core on a multi-core CPU requires a Server License for CPUs license covering each such Core. For example a Host Server with Total Processors consisting of a single quad-core CPU will require a 4-Core Server License for CPUs license and payment of the license fees applicable to all 4 Cores."
OPEN TEXT – ECD Central Processing Unit (“CPU”) ModeL
Affected products are any of those on your Order From that have a UOM code of ‘ZA’:
"Licensing and pricing is based upon the total number of CPU cores present in the computer upon which the ECD Software will operate. The ECD Software is licensed per physical dual-core device (“Dual-Core CPU”). Licensee must purchase an individual Software License for each Dual-Core CPU on which the ECD Software is executed or made available to execute."
If you are in the unfortunate position of running any products that fall into the categories above, act fast. You will need to either move the affected applications to a right-sized physical box (with all of the accompanying issues that presents) or seek to agree with the vendor the appropriate virtualisation terms (and be wary – if they play this type of game that will likely just get their cash registers ringing).
We find it hard to believe that such terms remain in vendor agreements, more so even deemed enforceable. If you've had the misfortune to have gone through such an affront, or think you might be about to, get in touch - we'd like to hear of (or help with) your experience.
IT SEEMS AUDIT SEASON HAS STARTED EARLY ...
Revenue outlook must be a concern for a number of large, global corporates going by the number of audits we're aware of already this year - typically they seem to favour the mid to late part of the calendar.
And lets face it, an audit is the last thing you need when you're just getting back to those major initiatives that need focus. Of course often its that very focus that leads to compliance issues - lacking the necessary oversight and controls in your IT landscape its not uncommon for BAU changes to cause a world of difficulty - a simple server refresh that introduces more cores, a change in access permissions that broadens the user base, or perhaps just plain old virtualisation.
So what might target your organisation for attention by those loathed 'License Review Teams' waiting out there?
Well the answer is, more than you might think.
Typically something has got you to the top of the list. It can of course be within a common cycle such as at a contract renewal period, or an untimely prompt by one of those independent organisations whose entire income is through specialised and aggressive audits, but if not, what might cause it - and how might you prevent it?
First, consider the common triggers:
If any of the above have you a little worried look for the most telling signal from your vendors of an impending audit - the unexpected communication that your "account team is going through some changes", which is simply a calculated, preemptive move to extricate any history and/or advocacy you might otherwise have had - prepare and get ready!
all of those "but" arguments will get you nowhere - "but we had an agreement",
"the account have known it was like this for years",
"it was the licensing sold to us", etc etc.
Alternatively, if you're feeling comfortable that you're not under any imminent threat its still a good idea to take stock and review your position against the common triggers. The best defense is without doubt a robust and competent software licensing function within your organisation that maintains the necessary level of control (and has the added benefit of warding off those vendors who would rather take on an easier, less capable target).
When it comes to licensing and compliance its good practice to not treat your vendors like 'trusted partners' - keep in mind who they're actually working for, and who's paying their salaries.
So - what to do:
Concerns? if you need any help, we're just a phone call away.
With a New Year ahead it's a good time to reflect on your IT Licensing status and Compliance Position - Are you confident that it's all under control?
Or does effective management of IT licensing just seem too vast and perhaps cost prohibitive to implement and maintain? It can seem that way - there are numerous and ever changing products, platforms, and models to complicate the situation, so how do you keep up?
And what about the cost? - yes, Software Asset Management and Licensing Compliance to many executives can seem like an unnecessary spend, much like the early days of Disaster Recovery where the prevailing thinking was typically "why would we spend so much on hardware that's just going to sit idle?". Well compare that to the contemporary thinking today where Service Recovery is a given with any robust application - the spend is seen as a worthy investment, not just additional cost.
At Software Compliance we recognised these factors as the perplexing problems the majority of organisations with broad IT solutions faced, and we decided to develop a solution that would work - and scale - to a vast array of companies, particularly SME's.
So how did we do it?
First and foremost we developed a tool to enable organisations to capture, contain and maintain that vast amount of software information important to them - their contracts, deployments, and licensing - the tool - ComplianceWare.
Not only does ComplianceWare discover and track your software deployments, but it removes layers of licensing complexity by automatically tallying installations, performing product bundling where appropriate, and providing direct links to vendor licensing information to help you decipher whats relevant - all kept current for you by the team here at SWC.
So if that solves the complexity issue, what about the next inhibitor - cost?
Again, that was something we were very aware of. While there were existing solutions in the market they are typically high-end, bloated products aimed at large enterprises at a cost to match. We took a different approach - build a lean, cloud delivered, simplified application that organisations could subscribe to based on their requirements, and be there to provide ongoing support and expertise as those ever-changing products and platforms emerge and evolve. All at a such a compelling cost you'll wonder why you paid such exorbitant remediation fees in the first place (or perhaps might be about to!).
So as holidays come to an end and we embark on another year it's a good time to reflect and ask yourself, in 2019 will we be:
It's not nearly as hard or as costlier a problem as you might believe it to be - find out more - get in touch and let's see how we might be able to help you gain more success in 2019.
effective January 2019 ORACLE HAS ANNOUNCED THAT Java SE 8 public updates will no longer be available for "Business, Commercial or Production use" without a commercial license.
What does this mean to your organisation?
... For Commercial Users (being those "entities other than Oracle Customers that use Java SE for free for business, commercial or production purposes as part of a Java application delivered by a third party or developed internally" Oracle will not post further updates of Java SE 8 to its public download sites after January 2019. If you need continued access to critical bug fixes and security fixes as well as general maintenance for Java SE 8 or previous versions you'll need a long term support subscription through Oracle Java SE Advanced Desktop, or Oracle Java SE Suite.
Of course if Java is licensed for use under another Oracle or other third-party license you are exempt. You'd be entitled to ask - what exactly is Oracle's justification for this new charge, well simply put their contention is captured in this statement:
"As the main contributor and steward of Java SE, Oracle is the only company that can guarantee long-term support and updates on a timely and predictable schedule. The Java SE Subscription from Oracle provides access to tools that consistently manage updates, enables enterprises to monitor their own Java platforms, and provides direct access to a specialized Java SE support team"
Where to next? ... What do I need to do??
Assuming you have broad use of Java SE like most organisations - noting the Java Platform, Standard Edition (Java SE) and Oracle Java SE Advanced and Suite products are currently shipping from Oracle in the form of the Java Development Kit (JDK), and Java Runtime Environment (JRE) - you'll need to inventory your entire software landscape to identify what installations you have, under what license. For those that aren't captured by an over-arching entitlement you will need to assess the level of support and currency you are willing to operate.
Put simply, that all means:
And what's that all going to cost? ... Well the latest Oracle Technology Global Price List (June 19, 2018) states the following under Fusion Middleware:
... however the literature surrounding the Subscriptions appears to indicate a more reasonable cost profile:
So with January 2019 looming the priority needs to be getting full clarity of your position:
... and then quantify what that might cost.
It would be fair to predict that Oracle will no doubt scrutinise this space at some point in the near future ... best to be prepared.
READY TO WORK WITH US?
LAWSuit CITES MISREPRESENTATION OF CLOUD SALES DRIVERS
Oracles share price fell 9.4 percent on March 20 after forecasting slowing cloud sales.
The BSA, in collaboration with IDC, release their latest global study:
Software Management: Security Imperative, Business Opportunity.
- unauthorised network access (40 percent)
- responding to potential ransomware (30 percent)
- system outages and downtime (28 percent), and
- the time and cost of disinfecting the network (25 percent).
Clearly, minimising malware exposure by avoiding unlicensed use is critical but, even when a company is using licensed software, the study reiterates that having an adequate SAM system in place is still essential.
Sounds interesting right, so how might you go about implementing it?
- You’ll need to be able to tag and track mobile transactions, and there are different architecture options for doing so:
- Option 1 - Route requests to mobile specific regions ; or
- Option 2 – use the same regions and filter mobile transactions based on a tagging mechanism.
- You’ll also need the MWRT (Mobile Workload Reporting Tool) which replaces SCRT and will subtract mobile CPU seconds from peaks.
Ok then, how does this actually translate to benefits?
Per the diagram below, with the Mobile Records identified, the resultant usage data is submitted into the MWRT and up to 60% of the designated capacity is then deducted from the overall LPAR values (Refer steps 1-3):
Sounds good, but how would each option actually work and on what basis do I choose one over the other?
Option 1 - Use individual regions for mobile-only workloads:
- Relies on implementing a routing mechanism such that all mobile requests go to a distinct set of processing resources (CICS or IMS regions for example) and then simply measure the CPU consumed by those regions.
- Region CPU can be measured using SMF 72 (RMF Workload Activity) or SMF 30 (Address Space Activity)
- This has the advantage that transaction-level monitoring is not required – in this example, it does not need CICS SMF 110 records. It also means that all of the CPU used by the region is captured.
- Relies on a ‘mobile tag’ being sent with the request so that transaction-level monitoring can filter the transactions and accumulate CPU only for the mobile transactions.
- Reflects most system setups today e.g a CICSplex (set of CICS regions) processing requests from different channels.
To supplement either you’ll also need a tool to analyse the transaction level data. There are a number of tools (IBM and non-IBM) on the market today, such as generic tools like TAW and TDS which are capable of processing records from multiple products, or if your MWP comprises a limited product set (e.g just CICS DB2) then a product based tool such as CICS PA would suffice.
And finally, you’ll need a Contract Supplement (don't forget the Supplement!) agreed with IBM outlining how the mobile CPU for each of the MWP programs will be calculated, which would be something similar to the below :
If you’re not ready to go down the MWP path yet you might still want to consider what could be done now in preparation, eg.
- tag and track mobile workloads (you cannot assess what you cannot measure);
- and if you can, simplify the process of quantifying CPU utilisation by isolating mobile workloads to their own processing region.
the range of reaction can be outright fear to mild anxiety,
but ... sometimes - enthusiasm!
Well yes surprisingly - for those organisations who run a well informed and skilled software / licensing function - it offers the prospect of evaluating just how effective their investment in processes and tools has been, and make any adjustments as/if necessary. Similarly, it provides an opportunity for objective feedback to management in a discipline that is otherwise difficult to gauge - just think - how can you quantify ROI without having a relative measure to report against?
- Do you have dedicated resources overseeing your software assets?
- Do you have a current, accurate and accessible record of your entitlements?
- Do you have the necessary software discovery and inventory tools to keep track of your deployments?
A classic example - the FTE metric. Simple right? Full Time Equivalent, standard 38 hours per week, calculated across the hours worked for the period by the organisation. Well as it turns out from some recent examples, perhaps not.
Firstly, there are a number of improvements to the reporting function that will keep you informed of the progress of running reports, list those that are queued to run, and also allow you to cancel one that is currently executing:
Configurations are similar however they are specific to an individual server or desktop (an 'Element') and capture software that is installed that cannot be identified via the extracts, eg. where you might have a specific Appliance that operates outside of your environment, or perhaps a Cloud based installation that you want to include.
but interested in taking a look,
How might it affect performance and licensing?