Software Asset Management in Azure

August 21, 2017 | Published by

Most large technology firms are now focusing heavily on cloud computing solutions, and Microsoft is one of them. Cloud solutions have been around for years but only in the last two have consumers really started to see the advantages, and many organisations are now looking to utilise IaaS or PaaS, whether to fully replace on-premises infrastructure, or to work as a hybrid solution. Due to self-policing online service subscriptions, software compliance in the cloud with Microsoft Azure or any other cloud computing platform/service, is seen by many as unnecessary, however there are factors to consider:

“There are no Software Compliance Issues in the Cloud”

Organizations that have, or are contemplating, transitioning workloads to Azure often overlook Software Asset Management as they believe that software compliance is no longer an issue. However, the ability to utilise existing on-premises licenses in the cloud through Software Assurance requires a more advanced License Management process with entitlement stretching between a customer on-premises estate and the cloud. Traditional License Management tools will not be able to reconcile both environments within a single pane of glass.

The key to software compliance in the cloud

Azure Hybrid Use Rights and License Mobility through Software Assurance allows customers to use their existing investment in the cloud, but expired Software Assurance will leave you non-compliant.

For those organisations that have their disaster recovery (DR) in Azure, licensing SQL Server to include a passive DR instance in the cloud changes the standard Active/Passive rules as when the passive instance resides in the cloud. In standard licensing, Software Assurance would grant the rights to a passive instance, however if this instance resides in the cloud, the failover instance requires full licensing. These rights are further complicated if both the active and passive instances are in the cloud; only the active instance requires licensing, just like on-premises.

This is only one instance of how licensing is affected. Knowing how the on-premises licensing rules change when applied in Azure can help organizations in the planning stages of any migration by identifying any potential risks early.

“I will only pay for what I need”

One of the main advantages of Azure is that hardware assets no longer require maintaining and replacing. Azure services can be scaled up or down depending on what is required, but consumption is not based on a simple per user model. This means that when an application is moved to Azure, organizations should carefully consider the level of resource required. If the requirements of a production service are not taken into account at the service design and transition phases, organizations risk overspending when running that service in Azure. Worse still, if it cannot easily be moved out of Azure, that organization is then committed to higher ongoing costs.

Avoiding overage and overspend in Azure

Overage is the term given to the use of Azure services beyond the contracted financial commitment. Azure, by default, will not prevent a customer from going over their initial commitment, and will automatically bill any overage up to 50% annually. Further overage is automatically billed quarterly. It is therefore imperative that customers be proactive in their Azure management, monitoring usage to avoid unexpected and unbudgeted spend.

“My current policies will not need to change”

Organizations adopting Azure must review their Process and Policies, and update them to reflect the change in their IT environment. As soon as a new service is activated within Azure, or any of Microsoft’s cloud offerings, a financial obligation is automatically incurred, and with users being able to create new services, despite not having the approval to sign off on the cost, there is a risk that the budget holder will not be aware of a purchase until they receive the bill. Instating a new request/purchase Procedure will prevent this.

Integrating software asset management into Azure usage

Software asset management is still as important, if not more so, as customers transition to the cloud. Poor planning, not utilizing existing licences, and lack of asset monitoring will result in higher Azure costs and although under licensing is still an issue, the focus has shifted to over licensing. Over licensing is ultimately more damaging to an organization as it is wasted capital. Combining both on and off premise datasets enables an organization to report on the entirety of the estate.

Integrating software asset management into your organization will allow for:

● Maximization of on-premises licensing taking advantage of Hybrid use rights and License Mobility
● Identification of when VMs within Azure are consuming more resource than originally anticipated allowing action to be taken before large surprise invoices are received
● Highlighting of VMs created by unauthenticated users
● Ensuring Azure resources are properly retired so they do not consume Azure commitment

Contact Licence Dashboard to discuss the Azure usage management options.