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2018

Microsoft Visual Studio Subscriptions are the most comprehensive set of resources for you to create, deploy, and manage great applications on your preferred platforms and devices, including Windows, iOS, Android, and Linux.

Visual Studio subscriptions are offered monthly, annually, or on multi-year contracts. You can purchase through a reseller, through the Microsoft Store online, and directly through the Visual Studio Marketplace which is billed through Azure (along with any other Azure services you may be using).
There are options to buy just the Visual Studio IDE, or to also get a comprehensive set of subscriber benefits including cloud services, software for development and testing, extensions, support and training, and much more. Below you can find a short overview of the subscriber benefits.

 

Developer tools

Get access to the latest versions of Visual Studio: full featured IDE for Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, web and cloud app development, and other cross-platform tooling, on PC or Mac.

  • Visual Studio Professional or Visual Studio Enterprise
  • Visual Studio Professional for Mac or Visual Studio Enterprise for Mac
  • Team Foundation Server and TFS CAL

 

Cloud services

Receive free access to Azure services, plus discounted development and test rates, and exclusive access to a subscriber only image gallery with preconfigured virtual machines. Share code, track work, and ship software – for any language, all in a single package.

  • Azure developer services, with monthly cloud credits
  • Visual Studio Team Services – access to unlimited number of accounts
  • Visual Studio App Center
  • Office 365 Developer Subscription, PowerBI Pro

 

Software

Access core Microsoft software with simple per-user licensing, enables you to install and use software as much as you need for your development projects.

  • Windows and Windows Server
  • SQL, SharePoint and Exchange
  • Office Professional Plus

 

Support and training

Take your skills to the next level with world-class technical and professional training on all and the latest trends, technologies, across platforms. Rely on technical experts to help you solve issues and answer questions.

  • LinkedIn Premium (business, tech and creative)
  • Pluralsight (cloud, design, security, mobile and data)
  • Data Camp (data-science and AI)
  • Xamarin University (mobile development)
  • Opsgility training (cloud-focused)
  • Microsoft Professional Technical Support incidents
  • Azure Advisory Chat1
  • Azure Community

 

Licensing

When it comes to Visual Studio subscriptions, there are 2 important licensing basics to keep in mind:

 

Visual Studio Subscriptions have a user based licensing model.

All Visual Studio subscriptions and Visual Studio Professional are licensed on a per-user basis. Each licensed user may install and use the software on any number of devices to design, develop, test, and demonstrate their programs. Visual Studio subscriptions also allow the licensed user to evaluate the software and to simulate customer environments in order to diagnose issues related to your programs. Each additional person who uses the software in this way must also have a license.

Visual Studio Subscriptions are not licensed to run in production environments.

The licensed user can install and use the software on any number of devices. The software can be installed and used on your devices at work, at home, at school, and even on devices at a customer’s office or on dedicated hardware hosted by a 3rd party. Most subscriber software can also be run in Microsoft Azure VMs. However, the software is otherwise not licensed for use in production environments.

You can find all additional info on licensing Visual Studio Subscriptions in the licensing whitepaper.

A basic overview on how to register your Visual Studio Subscriptions in Snow License Manager is available here.

 

Dear reader,

 

Based on the previous questions asked about how to efficiently manage the lifecycle of Microsoft SQL Servers, I’ve decided to write a blog post about this specific matter. In this blog post, I’ll try to explain and show ways to determine how to draw up an overview of the SQL Servers currently being inventoried in your environment, how to assign specific SQL Server licenses with different metrics to these SQL Servers and which reports you should apply to maintain and manage the lifecycle of your Microsoft SQL Server estate – quantity, version, edition, location and of course compliance –

 

So…after reading this blog post you should be able to:

  • determine and create an overview of all SQL Servers running in your estate
  • collect information about the SQL Server version, edition, resources used, allocation, if it’s running in a virtual server or not, and more interesting information.
  • add a SQL Server license and assign the license accordingly based on the correct metric
  • create and save easy to use reports specifically for your SQL Server estate, including compliance information

 

 

MICROSOFT SQL SERVER APPLICATIONS

Looking at the list of all applications in the Snow License Manager, you might get overwhelmed with the amount of SQL Server applications you see and wonder where you should start. Luckily, the Snow Recognition Services will provide useful filters to easily switch between metrics and bundles. From a license compliance perspective I assume that you end up with the following editions you wish to manage; Enterprise, Standard, Web Edition and the somewhat older Datacenter. For this blog post – and all other examples used - I will focus on the Enterprise and the Standard editions. SQL Server Express and Developer are free of charge, Datacenter is obsolete and the Web Edition is only available via SPLA providers.

 

Lets have a closer look at one single SQL Server application, in this case “Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Standard”. I have selected the compliance tab, to highlight some interesting findings (picture 1).

Picture 1

 

In this particular example every SQL Server 2012 Standard installation is calculated on the number of cores. The compliance tab provides information about the actual cores (247) in use on every server in your IT estate, and at the same time also adjusting the required number of cores (302) needed to be compliant. Although, the calculations are made based on the number of cores, this doesn’t mean that you are unable to apply a different metric; like the “Server + Call” model. I’ll get back to this matter in the last subtopic.

 

Microsoft SQL Server family

In the screenshot above (picture 1) of the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Standard application, you’ll see a red rectangle. By clicking on “Microsoft SQL Server” you’ll end up in the Application Family of the SQL Server. This section in the Snow License Manager contains lots of interesting information about all the Microsoft SQL Servers in your IT estate.

Picture 2

 

The top section (picture 2) highlights different SQL Server editions and shows a total compliance percentages. The lower section (picture 3) shows more details about your SQL Server IT estate, which provide some very interesting details you may apply for making important (business) decisions. The first tab contains information about your SQL Server licenses purchases, including the amount of license purchases, but more importantly if you still have active Software Assurance on top of those license or not.

Picture 3

 

The last tab (picture 4) contains details about the actual installation of each specific SQL Server, including information about the server type, edition, version and processor/core resources used for each installment. This is important information for assigning the right license based on the metric that might apply.

Picture 4

 

Although we have seen lots of vital information by looking at one single SQL Server application and analyzing the details provided in the Application Family for SQL Server, the best way to collect and analyze the data needed to assign all your SQL Server licenses accordingly, is to use the reports available in the report category.

 

 

MICROSOFT SQL SERVER REPORTS

In this section of my blog post I will zoom in and use two out-of-the-box available reports, that are very helpful for getting a better understanding of your total SQL Server estate and the capability of keeping a keen eye on the compliance per SQL Server. Our goal is to determine which SQL Servers needs which specific SQL license, so that you can assign them accordingly.

 

The two default reports I’ll use are the following:

1) Microsoft SQL-Server hardware comparison

2) License tracking per computer

 

Starting with the first report “Microsoft SQL-Server hardware comparison” I have removed and added the following columns for a better overview of the SQL Server IT estate.

 

Removed columns:

  • Organisation (which you could consider to keep in the report, if you need to know the business unit the SQL Server belongs to. For this example I’ve decide to remove it)
  • Applications licensed per processor
  • Licensed processors
  • Applications licensed per core
  • Licensed cores

 

Added columns:

  • Is Virtual
  • Processor type (in case you want to know the physical processor of each physical server for the core factor calculation. Please note, that Snow automatically takes the core factor into account!)

 

The screenshots (picture 5) below shows the final report you could end up with.

Picture 5

 

We now have a list of all SQL Servers grouped per version and edition. We can see which SQL Server is running on a physical stand-alone machines and which SQL Server is running in a virtual machine. The information about the number of processors and cores, including the processor type, is important for compliance reasons. In case you wish to have more detailed information about the physical layer that is hosting all of the virtual machines – to apply Microsoft SQL Licenses to the physical layer and use virtualization rights – you can use the information provided in the Application Family of Microsoft SQL Server (picture 4) or use the second report, which I will explain now.

 

The second report “License tracking per computer” first needs some search criteria to show the right output. I have applied the following two filters (picture 6):

Picture 6


I have also removed and added the following columns for a better overview of the SQL Server IT estate in this report.

 

Removed columns:

  • Organisation (which again you could consider to keep in the report, if you need to know the business unit the SQL Server belongs to. For this example I’ve decide to remove it)
  • Manufacturer
  • Assignment type

 

Added columns:

  • Compliance
  • Datacenter name
  • Host computer name
  • Requirement adjustment reasons

 

The result of my tailored report can be viewed below (picture 7). I have currently not added any Microsoft SQL Server licenses in the Snow License Manager, which means that the Compliance columns indicates a shortage for every SQL Server installation. This top section of the report shows a list of physical stand-alone servers.

Picture 7

 

If I select or filter on a particular datacenter, I end up with the following overview (picture 8) of the datacenter and each host that is a part of the datacenter, which I might use to either decide to license the physical layer or each individual virtual server – based on the number of virtual servers running SQL Servers -

Picture 8

 

I will save this tailored report in my personal report group called “Microsoft Reports” with the name “Microsoft SQL Server installation on physical servers and virtual servers, including compliance position”.

 

 

MICROSOFT SQL SERVER LICENSES

Now that I have been able to investigate the different Microsoft SQL Server applications running in my estate with the use of the applications list and the application family overview, I’ve also created two helpful reports that provide the information I now need to start assigning my Microsoft SQL Server license entitlements.

 

I have gather all my Microsoft agreements and licenses, and found out that I own the following Microsoft SQL Server Licenses:

  • 9 Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard (server + call)
  • 2 Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise licenses (server + call)
  • 18 Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Core licenses (2-pack = 36 cores in SLM)
  • 27 Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Standard Core licenses (2-pack = 54 cores in SLM)
  • 2 Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Standard licenses (server + call)

 

When I look at my current compliance summary for Microsoft SQL Server, I get the following (picture 9) result:

Picture 9 – taking from the report: Compliance summary with criteria set on Microsoft as manufacturer and SQL on application family -

 

I now need to add all my Microsoft SQL Server licenses 1-by-1 and regardless of the license metric, assign each license to the correct machine.

 

To determine and know for sure which machine needs which Microsoft SQL Server license, you might need to address this within your company to find out more about the SQL Database and specific components and what it is used for. Please also be aware that I strongly advise you to contact your Microsoft trusted advisor or reseller (LSP) to assist and advice you with the Microsoft SQL license rules and product terms that might apply to your personal situation.

 

I will demonstrate the adding of licenses for a couple of my available licenses, starting with the nine Microsoft SQL Server 2005 Standard licenses. I will assign five of them to the SQL Server 2000 Standard installations to cover them based on downgrade rights. To make sure I can assign the licenses I need to adjust the “Assignment type” in the license. The screenshot (picture 10) below shows where to find this.

Picture 10

 

I can then start assign the license to each specific SQL Server running a SQL Server 2000 Standard installation, as shown in the screenshot (picture 11) below.

Picture 11

 

I have assign the two Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Enterprise accordingly and will now continue with the 18 Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Core licenses. The screenshot (picture 12) below shows that I have added the license as one purchase record, containing a total of 36 cores (18 x 2)!

Picture 12

 

With the use of my saved license tracking report;“Microsoft SQL Server installation on physical servers and virtual servers, including compliance position” I can easily assign the available Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Core licenses, as shown in the screenshot (picture 13) below.

Picture 13

 

Continuing and finishing the assignment of all other available licenses accordingly (27 Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Standard Core licenses and 2 Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Standard licenses), I can immediately see the results in the compliance report (picture 14) and in my saved license tracking report (picture 15).

Picture 14

 

Picture 15

 

This way, I can easily look at my overall compliance situation for Microsoft SQL and spot the compliance situation for each individual server that has a SQL component installed that requires a license of some kind. If for some reason, new installations of SQL components should take place in my IT estate, I’ll be able to see on which server(s) and in which location this took place and can proactively pick this up and determine a license need or not.

 

I hope this blog post helps you out with getting a better grip on your total Microsoft SQL Server landscape and the possible views you can have to analyze this, and at the same time add your Microsoft SQL Server licenses the right way.

 

Don’t hesitate to comment on this blog post or reach out to me or any of your local Snow contact for more assistance.

Dear community,
Today, I've woke up with the intention of create a HOW TO serie for partners and customers

The idea begin after this conversation:

 

JPP: Did you know you can configure the Snow Inventory Agent's default behavior to colect data from the registry?

Cutomer / partner: Oh wait, what??

JPP: Yes, you can... Let me show you how.

 

I'm going to start with a simple (but usefull) way to collect extra data from our computers: read from Windows registry.

Yep, I know that some of you already know this, but let´s show how to do it to the rest of the world

Registry data structure

In my example, the data in registry is structured as follows:

It could be a real scenario, where we are working with Master Images, and we need to identify how many computers have the latest one implemented and which ones have a pending migration.

  • Main registry path
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\CustomerCustomInfo\
  • Registry path with the desired data:
    • HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\CustomerCustomInfo\MasterImage

Configure the Snow Inventory Agent to gather registry values

Once we have created the registry paths, keys and values, we have to modify the snowaget.config file.

By default, this file is present under the %programfiles%\Snow Software\Inventory\Agent path:

Include the Registry section in the snowagent.config file:

 <Registry recursive="true">
   <Query>
      <Key recursive="true">HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\CustomerCustomInfo\MasterImage</Key>
         <Value>Contact</Value>
         <Value>InstallDate</Value>
         <Value>LastModified</Value>
         <Value>LastModifiedBy</Value>
         <Value>Name</Value>
         <Value>Version</Value>
   </Query>
</Registry>

And then, execute a scan (snowagent.exe scan). when finished, a snowpack file will appear under data folder

The Snow Software employees have access to an internal tool that allow to inspect the content of that file, so let's check the collected registry keys data:

Great, here it is!

Now, execute a send command (snowagent.exe send). The Snow Agent will send the SnowPack file (computer inventory file) to the Snow Inventory server, where it'll be processed.

Check the results in Snow Inventory and SLM database

As soon as the SnowPack is processed, you'll be able to check the results on the Snow Inventory server. Open the SMACC, go to Devices and search for your computer:

Also, you can query the DataCustomRegKey table from the SnowInventory database:

As well as the tblComputerRegistry table from the SnowLicenseManager database:.

NOTE: To check the result on SLM db, you have to wait for the DUJ execution.

 

Voila!! The Snow Inventory Agent is sending custom registry info to Snow Inventory and Snow License Manager.

 

Next How To:  Create SLM Report to show collected registry values (in progress)

 

Hope this help. See you soon!

 

Jorge

Robert.stellinga

Office365 news facts

Posted by Robert.stellinga Employee Mar 13, 2018

Microsoft 365 F1

Microsoft has expanded its Microsoft 365 portfolio with the Firstline 1 (F1) offer. Office 365 F1 is designed to enable Firstline Workers to do their best work. Office 365 F1 provides easy-to-use tools and services to help these workers easily create, update, and manage schedules and tasks, communicate and work together, train and onboard, and quickly take in company news and announcements. The Office 365 K Plans are now replaced by Office 365 F (“Firstline Worker”) Plans. There is no other change to the service customers have access to per their current licensing agreements. Microsoft calls a first-line worker, who mainly works with customers, supported by a computer, tablet or other device. Examples of first-line workers are cashiers, receptionists and service engineers, whom - generally speaking - only need a shared computer at work and/or home computer for staying in touch with their employer and coworkers. This is where Microsoft positions Microsoft 365 F1.

 

Most important features of Microsoft 365 F1:

  1. It offers e-mail, intranet access, presence, instant messaging and other productivity tools. It also includes StaffHub, a resource-scheduling tool that allows managers to schedule first-line workers’ assignments
  2. Individuals who are licensed for Microsoft 365 F1 can share Windows PCs that are upgrade to Windows Enterprise E3, but lacks the following license rights; VDI access, reimaging rights, downgrade rights and Long Term Servicing Channel.
  3. Microsoft 365 F1 contains Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) F1.

 

Microsoft has announced the Common Area Phone Device Subscription License (DSL)

This is a license that combines two sets of capabilities:

  • Skype for Business Online Plan 2; which includes presence, instant messaging and conferencing
  • Phone System; this allows customers to replace their on-premises private telephone network with a cloud-based system.

 

The Common Area Phone Device Subscription License will be available in Microsoft Volume License Agreements like;  Enterprise Agreement, Enterprise Subscription Agreement, Cloud Solution Provider Agreement and Open License Agreement. This license may only be assigned to phones that are not assigned to specific users, such as conference rooms.

 

If you fancy getting your Top Gear geek-on, then please head over the ITAM Review UK Conference on 5th & 6th June in Weybridge, Surrey - where the prize on offer from SAM Charter is a Mercedes Benz driving package around their purpose built racing track.  For full details, please go to the link below:

 

ITAM Review UK Conference – Bring your driving licence! | SAM Charter 

Dear community,

as the change of the licensing model of Windows Server 2016 is coming, I am asked from many customers how they can upgrade their Windows Server licenses in Snow License Manager and reflect the metrics change from processor to processor core model and exchange of amounts as well.

For further explanation I like to reference Microsoft’s documentation on this task:

https://download.microsoft.com/download/7/2/9/7290EA05-DC56-4BED-9400-138C5701F174/WS2016LicensingDatasheet.pdf

Two cases to handle are stated for customers under SA in chapter “Core license grants overview” on page 3.

 

The first case for “server density of 8 or fewer cores per processor and 16 or fewer cores per server” is easy. You will be granted 16 cores per physical machine. This could be calculated automatically but will not reflect the most common cases of this upgrade path. Additional benefit: “customers do not need to document their environments”. Besides, I personally always recommend to document this metrics change no matter if you have this “easy” upgrade path or if you will have to calculate the amount of Processor Cores for this upgrade per machine.

 

If your machines will have processors with more than 8 cores OR the machine has more than 16 cores than the first case is not applicable for you and you will have to document your environment as stated: “Inventory must be maintained at the first expiration of the Software Assurance coverage after the general availability of Windows Server 2016 or before September 30, 2019”.

This means you will have to document your whole hardware estate. I can only recommend doing so, as case 1 will most likely not reflect your whole hardware estate and if you document everything you will have a proof later if asked in an audit.

 

To do so in SLM, a best practice suggestion can be:

  1. Download the Microsoft PUR and archive it with the license upgrade. Think about to do the same with the Microsoft Licensing Brief.
  2. Export the report of your hardware estate (virtual included) at the date of your SA end (=prolongation) or before September 30, 2019 in a PDF/A file that will suite long time archiving requirements. You have all necessary information in the report “Physical and virtual processor comparison of applications in a datacenter” in Snow License Manager and you can easily filter it for specific datacenters or physical machines.
  3. Use the PDF/A to document the hardware estate before license upgrade to ensure you were eligible to do so. Therefore, use this PDF/A later as attachment to the upgrade license.
  4. I like further to recommend to document any upgrade calculation exactly how done in the notes field of the upgrade license in Snow License Manager.
  5. As there were features added to Snow License Manager over time there are two different approaches how the license upgrade with metrics change can be done depending on the version of Snow License Manager used.
    Let’s imagine a 4 Processor “Windows Server 2012” license to be upgraded. 

    Screenshot old Winodws 2012 Server license  
  • Snow License Manager version 8.2.1 or newer

    1. Create a new license with the same version and edition to reflect the amount of upgrade licenses that you will additionally receive on the new metric “Number of processor cores”.
    2. Create the upgrade license in Snow License Manager for the application “Windows Server 2016” in the right edition with the correct new metrics “Number of processor cores”. Let’s call this license the “Upgrade factor license”.
    3. Now calculate the amount of additional licenses in Processor Cores you will receive to the existing Processors for the “Upgrade factor license”.
      Example: Let’s imagine a 4 processor machine with 12 cores in each processor. This will give you an upgrade of 4 x 12 Processor Cores = 48 Processor Cores as described by Microsoft.
      You already own 4 processer based licenses (see above). You will upgrade these 4 licenses later as well. So, we will have to substract these 4 licenses from the total Processor Cores you will have in the end. The amount for the “Upgrade factor license” to upgrade your Processor based license will then be: 48 Processor Cores in total (you will own in the end) – 4 processor upgrade licenses (you already own) = 44 of additional Processor Cores licenses as amount the “Upgrade factor license”.

      Screenshot new Windows Sever 2016 Upgrade factor license
    4. Navigate to the information tab of the “Upgrade factor license” and fill in the notes field the above calculation of 44 Processor Cores.
    5. Navigate to the documents tab of the “Upgrade factor license”. Add the PDF of the hardware estate and the Microsoft PUR to document your upgrade eligibility.
    6. Create a new license in Snow License Manager for the application “Windows Server 2016” for the new total amount of 48 Processor Cores. Set this license as upgrade license in the “Purchase” tab. Let’s call this license the “Upgraded License”.

    7. Go to the “base licenses” tab of the “Upgraded License”. Here the sequence in adding the upgrade licenses is crucial to maintain the correct metrics of the “Upgraded License”. First add the “Upgrade factor license” to maintain the correct metrics in the “Upgraded License”. Choose all 44 cores to be upgraded. Then add your old 4 processor license and upgrade all 4 processors. Thus, you will have upgraded the total amount of 48 which matches exactly to the 48 Processor Cores in the “Upgraded License”.

    8. Done: You will be able to see the upgrade chain from your “Windows Server 2012” Processor based license to your “Windows Server 2016” Processor Core based license in Snow License Manager. You will know what factor applied, why and with which eligibility you upgraded from the “Upgrade factor license”.  

       
  • Snow License Manager prior version 8.2.1 or Snow License Manager 7
    1. Activate “license has a subscription period” in the “Windows Server 2012” license and fill in either the point of time of your upgrade or the maintenance end, i. e. SA end date. In this example it is the agreement end date. This will deactivate the license validity for compliance calculation exactly at that point of time, when the actual metrics change will take place.

    2. Copy Snow License Manager URL link to the “Windows Server 2012” license to upgrade from address bar of your browser.

    3. Now calculate the amount of eligible upgrade licenses in Processor Cores metric for “Windows Server 2016” you will receive to the existing Processors.
      Example: Let’s imagine a 4 processor machine with 12 cores in each processor. This will give you an upgrade of 4 x 12 Processor Cores = 48 Processor Cores as described by Microsoft. 
    4. Create a new license in Snow License Manager for the application “Windows Server 2016” for the new total amount of 48 Processor Cores. Do NOT set this license as upgrade license in the “Purchase” tab! Let’s call this license the “Upgraded License”.

    5. Navigate to the information tab of the “Upgraded License” and fill in the notes field the above mentioned upgrade calculation.
    6. Navigate to the “Documents” tab of the “Upgraded License”. Add the PDF of the hardware estate and the Microsoft PUR to document your upgrade eligibility. Further add the link copied before of the “Windows Server 2012” license to the “Documents” tab to document the license you upgraded from:

    7. Copy the URL link of the “Upgraded License” like above mentioned. Navigate to your old “Windows Server 2012” Processor based license and add the link to the “Upgraded License” in the “Documents” tab to document your license upgrade of this license as well.

      If it is the case that you do NOT want to have the “Upgraded License” to be valid for compliance calculation, tick “Upgrade license” in the “Purchase” tab and leave blank the “Base licenses” tab. This will set this license to “incomplete” and will not take it into account during compliance calculation. You can later activate the “Windows Server 2016” licenses at the point of time suitable for you. The navigation is done easily via the report “All incomplete licenses”. You will just have to remove the “Upgrade license” tick for the license. 
       
    8. Done: You will be able to see the upgrade chain from your “Windows Server 2012” Processor based license to your “Windows Server 2016” Processor Core based license in the “Documents” tab in each license. The old base license will lose its validity based on the subscription end date. You will know what factor applied, why and with which eligibility you upgraded.