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Why “Windows Home” makes an IT Pro cringe! (8/13)

Occasionally we have a client who has purchased computers for their business with the Windows Home operating system already installed, and to most people this does not sound like a big deal. However, in a business environment it ends up costing money, time and lots of angst, so below we summarize why the phrase “Windows Home” makes an IT Pro cringe!

Why to avoid Windows Home on a business computer:

  • The vast majority of business computer networks are designed as a Windows “domain”. A domain is a computer network structure that allows computers, servers and other IT equipment to communicate and work together. No version of Windows Home can be joined to a domain. This means the computer with Windows Home on it cannot be connected to the business network and enjoy all the normal network features like secure login, printing, shared network drives, etc.
  • Encrypting File System (EFS) is not fully supported by Windows Home. EFS provides encryption of files and folders, directly from within Windows Explorer, adding a layer of security and preventing access by unauthorized users. Any files placed in an encrypted folder are automatically encrypted.
  • Remote Desktop is not supported by Windows Home – this feature allows IT support to easily login to your system for remote support and also is the type of remote access that many companies use to permit their employees to access their computers from home.

There are additional features that are not supported by Windows Home, but these are the most important to end users.

Licensing Microsoft Office Professional Plus for Office 365 (9/11)

Office 2010 Professional Plus (PP) for Office 365 is part of the Microsoft Office 365 Online Services offering. Therefore, it is acquired as a subscription service as part of the Microsoft Office 365 Online Services offering and has different use rights than Microsoft Office acquired as a software product under a desktop application license.

Microsoft Office 2010 PP for Office 365 is licensed on a “per-user” basis. Users must assign each Microsoft Office license to a single named user before using the software. Each user that is assigned a license may then install and use one copy of Microsoft Office per device, on up to FIVE devices. These devices can be anywhere, on a company managed device or a personal device or on a third-party device.

If you compare this with buying Office 2010 under one of Microsoft’s desktop application licenses you see that the most devices you can install it on at no cost is two (i.e. can install on a 2nd portable device). So right away the Office 2010 PP for Office 365 offers a nice advantage for people who utilize multiple computers.

Note: the pricing of Office 365 Office Professional Plus is also attractive. At $12/user/month, this compares with Office Professional Plus Volume Licensing of about $500 (for Open License with no upgrades) and about $900 (Open Value, which includes upgrades for 3 years.)

Licensing Corner – Microsoft Imaging Rights (6/11)

Organizations naturally are looking for the most efficient method to re-deploy an existing computer to another user during a technology refresh or when new employees are hired. We often receive the instruction to “just go ahead and image/re-image that computer” which we agree can be much faster than re-installing Windows and all the required applications from scratch. However, this can only be done under certain circumstances.

For example, if the organization has only ever purchased its computers/servers with Windows and/or Office pre-loaded by the manufacturer, what’s known as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) licensing, then re-imaging is somewhat restricted – re-imaging can only occur back onto the original PC/server, or its replacement, and only by using the original recovery media provided by the OEM. You cannot use the image from one OEM-licensed PC/server to replace the original OEM image on a second, or more, PC/server.

If the organization desires to re-image PCs/servers with a single, standard image then it must do so using media obtained under the Microsoft Volume Licensing program. Therefore, the organization must purchase at least one license of the Microsoft software that it wants to re-image under an Open License authorization number or Open Value, Open Value Subscription agreement number. This purchase is required to obtain the media and necessary Volume Licensing Keys. Once this Volume License media is obtained it can be used to make copies for re-imaging any OEM-licensed or retail (also known as Full Packaged Product (FPP)) software.

However, one last point is that re-imaging is only permitted if the copies made from the Volume License media are identical to the originally licensed product. For example, Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise and Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard are not the same product and therefore a formerly Standard system cannot be re-imaged with Enterprise. This also applies to the Windows 7 Professional and Windows 7 Home Premium operating systems. Similarly, the Microsoft Office system suites must have exactly the same component products. For instance, Microsoft Office Professional 2010 licensed through the OEM, system builder, or FPP channel and Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010 licensed through Microsoft Volume Licensing are not the same product. They do not share the same components and therefore, you cannot re-image one with the other in this example.

Is this confusing? You betcha. The bottom line: If you are interested in imaging solutions, give us a call and we will figure out the best program for you.

For more information on this topic, check out this Microsoft Volume Licensing Brief.

Licensing Corner – Microsoft Academic Licensing (5/11)

BEI is now able to resell Microsoft Volume Licensing to Educational Institutions at a very substantial discount. Generally, you must be an accredited school or full- or part-time teacher or student to qualify. The list and criteria can be found here. If you think your organization qualifies and are interested in purchasing please contact Ellen Jennings at jenningse@beinetworks.com.

Licensing Corner – Microsoft “License Mobility” (4/11)

We’re sure you’ve all heard about “cloud computing” and utilizing hosted IT infrastructure and/or software (especially if you attended our seminar on this subject last fall!) As we see organizations make decisions about moving all or a part of their IT to the cloud, one of the questions that can arise is “how can we hold on to our investment in Microsoft licensing if we want to move our applications to someone else’s, such as a hosting company’s, hosted infrastructure?”

For example, today if you have purchased licenses for SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, or CRM and you simply want to move these applications and the licensing you have purchased to cloud server infrastructure provided by a 3rd party (known as infrastructure-as-a-service or IAAS) you can but you have to be sure that the IAAS provider places your applications on hardware that is physically dedicated to you. This is very cost inefficient for the IAAS provider and therefore not likely cost effective for you.

To make hosting these types of applications cost effective, then, hosting providers share their infrastructure across many customers (for example, using virtualization) and provide Microsoft licensing to you, the customer, using licenses they purchase on a subscription basis from Microsoft called Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA). SPLA licensing is currently the only way end customers can purchase Microsoft licensing that is utilized on shared infrastructure in the cloud. So to get the best economics of the cloud today customers have to abandon their investments in on-premise Microsoft application licensing.

Microsoft has recognized this gap in their licensing model in today’s world of increasing cloud adoption and is introducing something called “License Mobility” to solve it. With License Mobility customers with investments in certain Microsoft licenses will be able to move those products to shared hosted cloud infrastructure. No longer will it be necessary to re-purchase licensing (which is likely imbedded in any fee you’re paying your hosting provider) to move to the cloud! Here are the details:

  • Available starting July 2011 for SQL Server, Exchange Server, Lync, SharePoint Server, Dynamics CRM and System Center Servers
  • Not applicable to Windows Server – hosting provider will provide this
  • Must have Software Assurance on the licenses to be moved to the cloud (see Nov 2010 License Corner)
  • You, the customer, must have the appropriate client access licenses (See Jan 2011 License Corner)

Contact us if you have any questions about this exciting new Microsoft licensing benefit.

Licensing Corner – Microsoft Online Services (3/11)

There is a lot of noise in the marketplace these days about “cloud” computing and how it is going to revolutionize the way businesses manage their information technology assets. One of the first areas we have seen this happening is with online services such as those involving email and collaboration. In fact, many of our clients are pioneers of cloud computing by virtue of their using the FrontBridge hosted email anti-spam service starting as far back as 2005. Of course the online services available today are much deeper and more robust than six years ago. And as with most products in the IT world these services involve the licensing of a vendor’s software. The following is a description of how Microsoft licenses its online services.

Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services (MEHS)

This is Microsoft’s suite of online services that protect inbound and outbound email from spam, viruses, phishing scams and e-mail policy violations and provide email retention and encryption. These services are Forefront Online Protection for Exchange, Exchange Online Archiving and Exchange Hosted Encryption. These services evolved from the FrontBridge service, which was purchased by Microsoft several years ago.

MEHS is sold under Microsoft’s Volume Licensing, Open Value Program. This program provides a 3-year license having three annual payments based on the licensing organization’s total number of mailboxes to be protected, archived and/or encrypted. There is no option to license this on a month-to-month basis.

Microsoft Business Productivity Services

This is the suite of online email and collaboration services that include Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Office Live Meeting and Office Communications Online. These services can be obtained individually or as the Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS). Later in 2011, Microsoft’s Office 365 will replace and enhance BPOS by including Microsoft Office from the cloud.

These online services are sold under the Microsoft Online Subscription Program. This license program has a 12-month initial term (including an initial 30-day free trial) followed by a month-to-month subscription. These services are also priced based on the total number of users across the licensing organization.

Remote Desktop Applications – Software Licensing (2/11)

We have many clients whose staff needs to use applications while working remotely. These applications range from standard Microsoft Office programs to general business applications like QuickBooks to business specific software such as AutoCad, TimeSlips, or an electronic medical records system. Usually the most efficient method for doing this is to deploy a Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS) server at the location where the applications and their databases reside and have the users connect remotely to this RDS server. The RDS server (formerly known a Terminal Server) then runs the applications for each user locally, at the location with the application data, sending small amounts of data (screen shots and mouse clicks) back to the remote user. In this way the user’s experience with the application is pretty much the same as if they were working local to the application and therefore, productivity is not sacrificed.

A common question regarding RDS installations is how do you license the software applications that will reside on the RDS server and be used by remote users? Can you just install one copy of the application on the server and have everyone use it? Do you need just the number of copies that will match the maximum number of users that would be using the application simultaneously? Or do you need to buy copies of the application for each person even though only one would be installed on the RDS server?

The answer depends on the license terms of each software application. For example, the most commonly installed RDS application is Microsoft Office. Often our clients will already have copies of Office on their PC’s when they install an RDS server. So the natural assumption is that since they already have Office all they need is to install a copy on the RDS server and then everyone can remotely connect and use it. Unfortunately it is not that straightforward.

Microsoft’s license terms are that every computer that is going to access the RDS server and use Office must have an associated Office license AND it must be a volume license. So this means that if a user is using Office that was pre-installed on their PC by the PC manufacturer or that was purchased at Best Buy as a retail box and self-installed they cannot use Office on the RDS server. Only when a volume license for Office is acquired for this user’s PC could they then use it on the RDS server. The cool thing here is that Microsoft’s volume license for Office permits you to install a copy of Office on a portable device used by the primary user. So this would allow a user to access Office remotely from their desktop computer as well as a second laptop.

Another common example is Adobe Acrobat (the full program, not the free reader.) Similar to Microsoft Office, Adobe requires that every computer that will have access to the RDS server must have a valid Acrobat license. Also similar to Microsoft, Adobe allows the primary user of a computer with Acrobat installed on it to install a copy of Acrobat on a portable or home computer as long as Acrobat is never used no all of these computers simultaneously.

Some software applications do allow you to only need licenses for the number of concurrent users that would be remotely accessing the software. Design and development software applications that tend to be very expensive often have a concurrent licensing option such as Autocad and Quest’s JProbe. When an application allows concurrent licensing then you only need valid license quantities that match the number of simultaneous users you’ll expect to have.

The bottom line is that you need to know how your application is licensed in order to know what you’ll need for an RDS installation. These license terms are commonly found in the vendor’s End User License Agreement or EULA.

Licensing Corner – CALs (not Ripken…) (1/11)

We are often asked by clients “What are these CAL things and why do I need to buy them – I’m already buying (or I’ve already bought) a server license?” Well, this goes back to the way that Microsoft sells and licenses most of their server products. If you remember the inaugural License Corner back in October 2010, we said that when you pay Microsoft for software you are not acquiring a physical object that has intrinsic value in the object itself but, rather, are acquiring a limited right to use the software. A software license provides the legal right to install, use, access, display, run, or otherwise interact with a software program.

For most server products Microsoft uses a Server + Client Access License (CAL) model as the primary method for licensing the use of the software. This means that first you must purchase a license to install and operate the server software on the physical server. Then for every user or device that accesses the server to use services on that server, such as file storage or printing or to utilize an application running on that server, a Client Access License (CAL) must be purchased. So the CAL simply permits access to the server. (Note: if you have multiple Windows Servers in your network one CAL permits access to all the servers. You don’t have to buy a CAL for every unique server.)

There are two types of CALs and the decision on which to purchase is based on how users (employees, typically) will access the server. There are User CALs and Device CALs.

User CALs

With the User CAL, you purchase a CAL for every user who accesses the server to use services such as file storage or printing, regardless of the number of devices they use for that access. Purchasing a User CAL might make more sense if your company employees need to have roaming access to the corporate network using multiple devices, or from unknown devices, or simply have more devices than users in your organization.

Device CALs

With a Device CAL, you purchase a CAL for every device that accesses your server, regardless of the number of users who use that device to access the server. Device CALs may make more economic and administrative sense if your company has workers who share devices, for example, on different work shifts.

The Microsoft products that utilize the User/Device CAL model are:

  • Windows Server
  • Remote Desktop Services Server (formerly Terminal Server)
  • SQL Server
  • Exchange Server
  • Lync Server (Formerly Office Communications Sever)
  • SharePoint Server

Since every Microsoft server needs the Windows operating system running on it to function just about every Windows server requires CALs to be accessed. Then if any of the Microsoft server systems listed above are installed on the Windows server, those CALs are also needed. So, for example, an Exchange server requires Windows CALs and Exchange CALs.

Pricing is typically the same for User and Device CALs. In addition, both types of CALs can be reassigned from one device to another or from one user to another provided the reassignment is made either (a) permanently away from the one device or user or (b) temporarily to accommodate the use of the Windows CAL either by a loaner device, while a permanent device is out of service, or by a temporary worker, while a regular employee is absent. You can also have both User and Device CALs accessing the same server. You can only switch between User and Device CALs if the CALs have Software Assurance (see License Corner November 2010) and only upon renewal of the Software Assurance.

So, what do you do for users who are NOT employees of your company that you would like to access your servers (such as business partners, consultants, etc.)? Do you need to buy them CALs? What if there are 100’s of them and the actual number changes frequently? We’ll review that in next month’s License Corner.

Licensing – Microsoft’s Software Assurance (11/10)

Last month we described the various types of licenses available for Microsoft products – Retail, OEM and Volume. This month we would like to address Microsoft’s Software Assurance (SA) which is a feature of their Volume licensing program. There is often confusion around what SA is all about so hopefully we can help clear that up a bit.

Microsoft Software Assurance for Volume Licensing is usually known as just “that thing you buy in addition to a Microsoft software license that gives you a free upgrade to the next version.” While that is one feature of SA, there is much more to it than that. SA is a comprehensive offering that helps organizations maximize the value of their software investment. With Software Assurance, Microsoft license customers have access to tools and resources that support organizational performance by helping to boost business productivity, align IT with business strategies, and get the most value out of their technology infrastructure. SA combines a broad range of benefits in one comprehensive program, supporting organizations as they plan, deploy, use, maintain and transition their software.

In short, SA provides a suite of benefits that varies slightly by the type of Volume License program you purchase it under. These include:

  • Spread Payments
  • Packaged Deployment Services offered by pre-qualified Microsoft Partners
  • Windows 7 Enterprise
  • Training Vouchers
  • E-Learning Home Use Program
  • Employee Purchase Program
  • 24×7 Problem Resolution Support
  • Cold Backups for Disaster Recovery
  • Microsoft TechNet Benefits
  • Extended Hotfix Support

Continued

Microsoft Licensing Overview (10/10)

This month we are introducing a new newsletter feature focused on software licensing. Each month we will try to de-mystify the licensing of the common software products many of you use. Many of the articles will be on Microsoft licensing since 100% of our client base use Microsoft software – but we will also include other vendors.

To kick this off we’d like to cover the different types of licenses that Microsoft offers since this is often confusing. For instance, have you ever wondered why that copy of Office you get bundled with a new PC costs about $150 when the copy you buy separately as a “volume” license costs about $400? Seriously, what kind of “volume” discount is that?

The first thing to remember is that when you pay Microsoft for software you are not acquiring a physical object that has intrinsic value in the object itself but, rather, are acquiring a limited right to use the software. This is because software is an intellectual property, much like books or music. When you buy a book, you own the ink and the paper, but not the words and thoughts of the author. The same holds true for music, software, and all other intellectual properties.

Retail – This is boxed or “full packaged product” (FPP) that you would find at a retailer like Best Buy or Staples. It can also be acquired through distribution from a Microsoft partner like BEI. This license is typically for low volume needs (<5 licenses). Each FPP generally contains one license per box along with the media and documentation.

OEM – An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) license is provided for software that is pre-installed on hardware (PC, laptop, server) and sold bundled with that hardware.

Volume License – This program is designed for customers who need multiple (and usually many) licenses but don’t need multiple copies of the media and documentation and don’t want to keep track of numerous individual end-user license keys.

Continued…




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