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All Places > Snow Product Hub > General Licensing Forums > Blog > Author: Robert.stellinga

 

Dear reader,

 

This time around, I’ve decided to write a blog post about managing a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) within the Snow License Manager. I’ll try to explain and show ways to determine how to draw up an overview of all VDI’s and their relation with the actual physical hardware clients and users. Besides this, we’ll also have a closer look into ways you will be able to create license requirements for the Windows Desktop Operating Systems being used from within the VDI and of course what the impact of a VDI has on you overall application landscape.

 

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

 

  • understand what a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure is and how this data is represented in Snow License Manager.
  • analyze your own VDI environment and the virtual applications being used.
  • analyze the business consumption with regards to which device and / or user is accessing a VDI.
  • add Microsoft Windows Operating System & VDA licenses in Snow License Manager to cover the use of VDI’s.
  • create and save easy-to-use reports specifically for your VDI estate, including compliance information.

 

 

VIRTUAL DESKTOP INFRASTRUCTURE

First lets get the facts and figures out of the way, so to speak…. What exactly is a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?

 

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) is virtualization technology that hosts a desktop operating system on a centralized server in a data center. VDI is a variation on the client-server computing model, sometimes referred to as server-based computing. VDI is a good and solid alternative to the server-based computing model used by Citrix and Microsoft Terminal Services. There are two main approaches to VDI: persistent and nonpersistent.

 

  • Persistent VDI provides each user with his or her own desktop image, which can be customized and saved for future use, much like a traditional physical desktop.

 

  • Nonpersistent VDI provides a pool of uniform desktops that users can access when needed. Nonpersistent desktops revert to their original state each time the user logs out.

 

Picture 1

 

In the screenshot above (picture 1) we can see a common example of different kinds of devices using virtual desktops, which are being streamed / pushed to the devices from the server back-end. In this particular case the virtual desktop has a Windows Operating System installed. The last thing I would like to add, which is very important and is a vital difference between a virtualized applications, is that a virtual desktop infrastructure contains:

 

  1. a virtualized operating system
  2. installations of virtualized applications
  3. and its own data

 

Hence, the reason it is called a “virtual desktop”. Instead of streaming a virtual application to the device, a whole desktop with pre-installed apps and data will be streamed to the device.

 

 

VDI & SNOW LICENSE MANAGER

With the use of the Snow Inventory Client installed in the virtual VDI environment, all of the necessary data will be visible and manageable in Snow License Manager. Together with the integration between the Snow Software platform and the hypervisor technology used to host the virtual VDI pool(s), you will be able to establish a clear overview of the physical datacenter and all of the VDI’s available to be consumed by the business. This also includes, information about what is actually installed in each VDI, and the usage of each application made available in the VDI. You will be able to see which specific kind of device and which user has been using a VDI and the installed applications.

 

List all VDI’s

Lets first focus on generating a total overview of all VDI’s being inventoried in the IT-estate. With the use of the Snow Inventory Client installed in every single VDI (template), we’ll end-up with similar information of each individual VDI, just as we would when inventorying a physical computer. Once this data is available in Snow License Manager, we can have a look at the total number of VDI’s available in the system. If we navigate to the “Computer” category, from the drop-down menu we need to select the List all computer option, as shown in picture 2 below.

 

Picture 2

 

This will present the “List of” all computers that are currently being inventoried in your total IT-estate – either with the use of the Snow Inventory Clients and / or an integration with a third party inventory tool -. The list might also include possible hyper-visor servers. By using the available filters and the appropriate columns we are able to create an overview of all VDI’s. In the example (picture 3) we can see that the column selector needs to be opened first to add the VDI column.

 

Picture 3

 

After adding that particular column we can set the filter to Yes, which will create the list we are looking for, as shown in picture 4.

 

Picture 4

 

Form this list, I’ll select a VDI to have closer look at the detailed overview. Especially, when  using the Snow Inventory Client you may expect to see the following in-depth details (picture 5).

 

Picture 5

 

The User Interface is basically the same as when also looking at the detailed overview page of an individual laptop, server or computer, to name just a few other types of assets that might end-up in your personal Snow License Manager portal. The type of assets will always be display to the left of the computer name:

 

If we zoom in on a couple of interesting tabs available in the detailed overview, we'll see that in the screenshot above (picture 5) we get a nice list of all applications used from within this particular VDI. What is important to point out, is that this will either be an application that is actually installed in the VDI bubble or it will be an application that is streamed separately to the device that is running the VDI at that particular moment. In Snow License Manager, both will also be a part of the total application list. Later on in this blog I’ll highlight some interesting reports, in which you’ll be able to distinguish between these applications.

 

Looking ahead at the data we might need for compliance calculations, we can see a tab that displays the number of unique user that have been using this particular VDI (picture 6). If the appropriate license metric for one of the virtualized applications in this VDI session would be based on the number of unique user, the calculation would be based on these two users - after adjusting the license metric of the application first -.

 

Picture 6

 

We can also see a tab that will give information about each unique machines that has accessed (run) this VDI (picture 7). You may expect to see different kinds of machines in this tab, which will be based on the company assets used to run VDI’s and weather you’ll be able to also approach a VDI from your privately owned assets, like mobile phones, tablets or a laptop. The Snow technology will be able to create easy-to-use list of data and reports so you know exactly which user has used which machine to run which VDI or VDI’s.

 

Picture 7

 

Another very interesting tab to have a closer look at is the “Information” tab. In this tab we’ll see lots of different details ranging from the bit-rate of the Windows Operating system to specific details about the Snow Inventory client. What you’ll also find in this tab, is the link to the physical server that is hosting the VDI, including the information about which hypervisor technology is used. This is highlighter in the screenshot below (picture 8).

 

Picture 8

 

If I would click on the specific host server (ESX18057), I’ll end up on the detailed overview page of that machine, including the information about the cluster it belongs to, as shown in picture 9.

 

Picture 9

 

 

VDI REPORTS

When it comes to using the reporting section specifically for a VDI environment, it is possible to use three available reports straight from the start. Out-of-the box, Snow License Manager contains a separate group that houses 3 unique reports for VDI usage and management. Below you'll find a screenshots (picture 10) of the section I’m referring to. The group is called “VDI (3)” and contains the following 3 reports:

 

  1. All devices that have accessed a VDI
  2. All user that have accessed a VDI
  3. Applications per VDI computer

 

Picture 10

 

In the "all devices" report, you can view exactly which specific company owned machine or any other possible privately owned machines has been using a VDI from the total available VDI pool(s). If you have implemented an organisation structure in the Snow platform, you’ll also be able to see the distinguish between business units. This information is important for those software vendors out there, that need to know the total number of physical devices that have been using application from within a VDI!

 

The "user related" report shows information about each unique user that have accessed one or more VDI’s, including first and last used information. Also in this case, an available organisation structure will distinguish between business units. With regards to specific user related license metrics this is very important information.

 

The third and last report, will show all applications that have been used from within each VDI. This means all applications installed or either used per VDI computer. All installed applications will be the default available applications in the VDI (template), just like the installed Operating System. Once a user is running a VDI locally on his or her device, other applications could also be used during that session, based on company protocols and user privileges. These other applications are streamed seperately to the VDI one by one and will also show up in this report. If you wish to switch between views, there is a criteria you can easily add to this report as shown in picture 11.

 

Picture 11

 

If you set this criteria to “No” it will only display the default installed applications of the VDI’s accessed per computer, and if you set the criteria to “Yes” it will display all virtual applications that have been streamed separately to all VDI sessions. Of course, you could add additional criteria and filters to analyze a specific vendor or application etc.

 

Besides these out-of-the-box available reports in the specific VDI group, I would like also like to point your attention to the following two reports available from the same "Reports" category, but located in different groups. The first report is available from within the Standard reports group and is called “Applications per device” (by default).

In the screenshot below (picture 12) I have create a specific detailed overview by applying the following columns:

 

  • Device/Computer – which is the physical machine used to run the VDI
  • Remote Server name – which is the actual VDI
  • Application manufacturer
  • Application
  • No license required – by applying the Yes/No filter you can easily switch and manage all applications that have a financial commitment, thus need a license!
  • Last user on device
  • Last used
  • and 3 columns with usage information….

 

Picture 12

 

The other report can be found in the group called “Datacenter”. The default name of the report is called “Physical and virtual servers per datacenter” as shown in the screenshot below (picture 13). By applying the necessary criteria (like; Virtual set to Yes and Operating system set to Not Like + words like Server, Linux etc.) you could end-up with this decent reports. The report will display the relation between the physical hosting layer and all the VDI’s running on top, including relevant information like the inventory column. It is important to know if a VDI is not being inventoried by the Snow Inventory Client.

 

Picture 13

 

 

VDI COMPLIANCE IN SNOW LICENSE MANAGER

By using VDI technology in your own IT-estate and being able to report on relevant data with the help of the Snow platform, you will be able to investigate the usage of VDI sessions from different angles. Up until now I’ve tried to explain how the collected data is presented in Snow License Manager and which specific reports will also assist you to get a better understanding of the consumption. A part from all this relevant information, you would also like to establish useful compliance information to determine particular license risks or possible optimization possibilities.

 

In order to create the correct compliance information, you’ll need to first determine the appropriate license metric that must be applied to each individual applications that is being used from within a VDI session. Vendors likes Microsoft and Adobe might approach the calculation of the required licenses, as to be based on the number of unique physical devices or the number of actual users that have access to a VDI. A vendor like VMware, might approach the calculation as the total number of unique VDI’s that have been accessed during a particular period in time.

 

Another very important matter might also be the virtual Operating System that is used inside your VDI bubble (environment). Most likely, this will be a Microsoft desktop operating system like Windows 10 or Windows 8. In order to actually run & access a VDI with a Microsoft desktop operating system on your local physical machine, you need to have the right license to do so. I would like this blog to be about the management of VDI environments in Snow License Management, and not spend too much about all the possible and mandatory license rules and available products in the market today. I will however, like to mention that Microsoft basically offers two vital option in order to be compliant on “the right to run & access a VDI that has a Microsoft desktop operating system installed”:

 

Windows Desktop OS with active Software Assurance (option 1) and Windows Virtual Desktop Access (option 2) are the licensing options required when accessing a Microsoft desktop operating system in a Virtual Machine (like a VDI). Windows SA and Windows VDA are device based licenses, and under select Volume Licensing agreements available in a Per User license option. Essentially the Windows VDA license is for devices or users that do not qualify or do not have Windows SA; such as thin clients, 3rd party owned devices and any device without Windows SA.

 

To determine and know for sure which license solution would be most suited for your personal situation, I kindly advise you to contact your trusted software advisor, the software vendor or your reseller (LSP) to assist and advice you on this specific topic, both with regards to the Microsoft VDI Operating System license options as well as to the individual applications used in your personal VDI environment!

 

At the moment, the Snow platform is only able to manage “device based licenses” with regards to the Windows Desktop OS Software Assurance and Windows Virtual Desktop Access licenses.

 

In the screenshot below (picture 14) I’ve selected the Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise desktop operating system, and clicked on the compliance tab to hightlight the following.

 

Picture 14

 

Having the correct Snow Inventory Client installed on physical machines and in virtual computers like a VDI (Snow Inventory Client 3.7 or higher and for VDI the client must be configured with IsVDI=Yes), the Snow platform will be able to make a very important distinguish. As you can see in picture 14, the total number of unique installations of Windows 10 Enterprise is 842. The total number of Windows 10 Enterprise installed in VDI’s is 23, and is not taken into account.

 

It is important to understand that although the 23 installation of Windows 10 Enterprise are installed in the VDI environment. The installations must still be licensed with active software assurance (option 1) or VDA licenses (option 2). 

Also when looking at the application list of a single VDI, you’ll see the following remark in the “Remark column” (picture 15). The remark means that the operating system is installed on a virtual computer and of course will need to be licenses accordingly.

 

Picture 15

 

In the case that you have machines in your environment that are not being inventoried by the Snow Inventory Client, but do use your VDI’s, the following will take place in Snow License Manager. A couple of examples of machines that are not being inventoried could be a thin-client or a zero-client, but I could also be any third party device. In this case, when the Snow platform detects these types of machines it will automatically add the need for a Microsoft VDA license. Also when the Snow platform sees any inventoried machines that is covered with a Windows Desktop OS without active Software Assurance, it will automatically add the need for a Microsoft VDA license.

 

Using the report “All devices that have accessed a VDI” I will not only know exactly which physical machines has used a VDI, but I’ll also know which of these devices are not being inventoried, as you can see in picture 16. In this particular example, the report contain 10 unique machines that have run & accessed a VDI and that 1 of those 10 machines is not being inventoried.

 

Picture 16

 

With the use of picture 17 I can visualize what I meant to say, that the Snow platform will automatically add the need for a Microsoft VDA license. It is not actually an applications that is installed on any device, but it is added to the list of applications to highlight the necessity of the license right! In this way it will also show up in your Microsoft compliance summary.

 

Picture 17

 

Before, I actually start adding the necessary quantity of licenses, I would also want to analyse the installation of the actual Microsoft desktop operating system(s) we are using on our physical machines. In this example, I’ve gather information – which I would like to keep very keen and simple – that looks like this (picture 18).

 

Picture 18

 

I’ve been able to determine the total amount of unique Windows desktop operating systems that is installed in the VDI environment, but also on physical machines. As already mentioned and determined using the correct report, I know that 10 of these “so-called” installations are from VDI’s. These 10 installations still need to covered with licenses.

 

The next logical step would be to add the correct license entitlements owed by the company, which in the end should alter & update the Compliance Summary report with the correct facts and figures. From there, you should be able make the best next business decision.

 

The example in the screenshot (picture 19) below, shows that my company owns a total of 50 Microsoft VDA license based on devices. Hence, that you don’t forget to add the license subscription period.

 

Picture 19

 

The other licenses the company owns are Windows Desktop OS licenses with active Software Assurance. In this example shown in picture 20, these are Microsoft Windows 10 Enterprise Plan E3 licenses with active Software Assurance, that you need to activate in the second tab as demonstrated in picture 21. You can either add the actual period of the Software Assurance purchase or use the period of the agreement the license purchase itself is linked to!

 

Picture 20

 

Picture 21

 

Before I end this blog, there is still one vital remark and matter I wish to address. For the applications used from within each VDI session, you need to set the correct license setting in Snow License Manager. Of course, you’ll only need to do this for those applications that actually need a license. The correct metric that might apply, will depend on your personal business choice during the procurement of the licenses. Therefore, you’ll need to look-up the correct metric in your own purchase records, if not already stored in Snow License Manager. I would recon that the most common used metrics will be either per device or per user. In the screenshot (picture 22) below you can see how to alter the license metric for an application.

 

Picture 22

 

You first need to select the application that you want to edit. By clicking on “Edit application” you can select the second tab (picture 22) and then apply the correct metric; user or device!

 

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

 

 

My other blog about Windows Server Management

 

My other blog about SQL Server Management

 

My other blog about importing and tailoring a Microsoft License Statement (MLS)

 

My other blog about creating a digital contract management system in SLM

 

Dear reader,

 

In this blog post I would like to address the best possible ways to create a digital contract management system in Snow License Manager. As you might already know, Snow License Manager contains separate sections for storing agreement and license information. The questions raised many times are:

 

  • How do I obtain all this information
  • Where should I start first in Snow License Manager
  • Which types of agreements can and should I store in Snow License Manager
  • What type of data is mandatory or just nice to have
  • What are interesting reports to use for management.....

 

From a software optimization perspective – that contain different key competencies – it’s recommended to have a repository that shows information about all of your software purchases, including agreement information with the appropriate terms and condition, plus possible amendments that have been agreed upon between your company and the software vendor.

 

The main question here is: “how complete and accurate are our license entitlement records and what percentage of the procured license entitlements are actually recorded in a license entitlement inventory”?

 

The most common risks and implications of not having an agreement and license repository are:

 

  1. Risk of non-compliance and meeting other regulatory standards due to non-availability of proof of licensing documentation.
  2. Locally acquired licenses are not maintained in a centrally available license database.
  3. Risk of over- or underlicensing situations due to lack of global view for all procured licenses.
  4. Loss of bundling effects with regard to license purchases due to missing global overview over licensing situation.

 

Especially, global companies that - to a certain extent - allow subsidiaries to acquire licenses locally could end-up not seeing the big picture. For those companies that already have a centralized purchasing department and large volume license agreements that apply to most or all of the subsidiaries,  you still wish to periodically review the license entitlement data capture process, either form an optimization or a retirement perspective.

 

Before I actually show the possibilities from within the Snow License Manager, I think it’s vital to first discuss ways to obtain agreement and license information, so we get a better understanding of the possible percentage that we eventually are able or want to store in our digital Snow License Manager repository. Which steps could we take to increase the maturity (completeness and accuracy) of our license entitlement repository? Important information can be gathered from within your company, but also from the market. Besides, your quest to gather this information, you might also want to have a look at the current processes and tasks that lead up to a license purchase and what happens next.

 

My recommendations to increase the maturity of your current license entitlement inventory and gather the information you need, would be to:

 

  • Try to reach out to third parties to collect software purchase information. Third parties like large account resellers or value added resellers. Purchase information like; date, quantity, description, part/sku number, metric information, agreement number, maintenance period and maintenance rights, restrictions and other license rights that might be of interest!

 

  • Try to reach out directly to your Tier 1 vendors to request license summaries. Microsoft is well-known to share a Microsoft License Statement with their customers.

 

  • If your company went through joint-ventures or acquisitions, it’s highly recommended to specify what software records you still own or don’t own any more. When you acquired software this way, you need to make sure that you store details like:
    • actual proof of purchases
    • the approval of the transfer from the software vendor
    • the quantity purchased
    • license description, including, metric, edition and/or version
    • license only and not maintenance (many software vendors don’t allow maintenance to be transferred)

 

  • See if you have made any software purchases that are not based on a volume license agreement, like OEM software that is associated with your hardware purchases and other box-like-purchases. These types of purchases are usually not part of the purchase records kept by vendors. Either you have stored this somewhere in the company or your preferred reseller might assist you with this.

 

  • Review your existing purchase orders so that you might identify (large) software entitlement purchases and know which other entitlement documents you need to locate to complete each record.

 

  • Classify your software estate into Tier 1,2 or 3 vendors based on spend and risk. Tier 1 vendor usually come with a high risk, because of possible audits and account for most of your software spend. Tier 2 vendors have a mid-to- high risk for audits and account for an average of 20% of your software spend, and Tier 3 vendors usually have a low risk for audits and account for a maximum of 5% of your software spend.

 

  • Institute a policy that controls software purchases which need to go through approved procedures, before actually being installed or procured.

 

  • See if you can automate this process by offering a centralized self-service portal from where the business can only select what you offer them, including the appropriate authorization layer(s). This minimizes exceptions and maximizes the creation of license entitlement records and at the same time will prevent entitlement data to exist that does not contain proof of license data.

 

  • Try to validate the existence of entitlement records for the software that is actually deployed throughout your organisation. This way you can ensure which records you need to collect, if available. Due to the facts that Snow License Manager will show you a very large list of normalized software installations, you might also wish to separate that list into Tier 1,2 and 3 vendors.

 

Of course, you could decide to do this one software vendor at a time, with regards to gathering as much entitlement data as you possible can. The moment that you think that you have sufficient data that you wish to store in Snow License Manager, I do recommend to first analyse your deployment and inventory situation on these vendors. Regardless, which vendor you want to add agreements and licenses into Snow License Manager, first have a look at the application list in Snow License Manager to see what is already installed and especially check is the correct metric is applied! In the screenshot (picture 1) below you can see that you have different filter and grouping options to change the view.

 

Picture 1

 

Let’s say, I start with a particular software vendor and I filter on that vendor. I might get a list, that could contain installations of different applications from that vendor and the list might not contain any installations of entitlements I did purchase.

 

Here’s the challenge and the important things you should take into consideration and might need to do before you actually add a license of this software vendor. First focus on those applications that are actually discovered and inventoried in your estate. A simple example can been see in the screenshot below (picture 2).

 

Picture 2

 

In this example, I end up with 9 different applications that according to Snow License Manager require a license. If the metric is already correct, then I can continue and add the licenses. If my entitlement records tell me, that a different metric applies to one or more of these applications, then I need to adjust that metric, so that Snow License Manager is able to calculate the correct compliance delta. The thing is, that in Snow License Manager there are two places where you can adjust or set the metric that should apply! You can either select the metric that you want on the “application” and also on the “license”.

 

At this moment we are looking at a selection of the application list, because I’ve filter on a particular vendor. So, let’s first have a look at the options that are available when adjusting/changing the metric on application level, as you can in picture 3 below.

 

Picture 3

 

To be able to change the metric of an application, you need to select the application and then click on “edit application”. In the next view, you need to select the second tab called “License settings”. Here you have to following options:

 

  • No license required: check this box if you think the application doesn’t need to be licensed.

 

  • Installation: this means that the number of unique installations inventoried are counted and represents the license requirement value.

 

  • Custom compare values: use this option to determine the license requirement value yourself manually or even automatically this by setting up an import/export in the back-end.

 

  • Number of processors: select this metric when the number of processors of each asset is the metric that applies, with the options to even determine a minimum number of processors.

 

  • Number of processor cores: select this metric when the number of cores of each asset is the metric that applies, with the options to even determine a minimum number of cores.

 

  • Users: this will count the number of unique application users for a particular period – which you can determine – and the total sum of users represents the license requirement value.

 

  • Devices: this will count the number of unique devices that are using the application, regardless of the number of installations for a particular period - which you can determine - and the total sum of devices represents the license requirement value. This metric is usually used for Terminal server or Citrix environments.

 

  • Concurrent users: this will count the number of unique simultaneous application users for a particular period – which you can determine – and the total sum of simultaneous users represents the license requirement value. This metric is also usually used for Terminal server or Citrix environments.

 

  • Concurrent devices: this will count the number of unique simultaneous devices utilizing the applications for a particular period – which you can determine – and the total sum of simultaneous devices represents the license requirement value. This metric is also usually used for Terminal server or Citrix environments.

 

  • PVU: This metric is based on IBM PVU (Processor Value Unit) values of computers and we recommend to integrate with ILMT or BigFix, so that this metric is automatically set within your Snow platform. Please contact a Snow representative for more information on this matter.

 

  • CAL (Client Access License): The CAL metric is only a registration of the number of licenses. Select this metric if the license you have purchase is clearly is CAL. No compliance is calculated based on this metric, except when you apply the “custom compare value”

 

In the current application list I need to adjust only one application. After saving the change, the application will be update immediately as you can see in picture 4 and in picture 5.

 

Picture 4

 

Picture 5

 

What about possible entitlements that I might have within my purchase records, but are not displayed in the application list in Snow License Manager. This basically means that I have purchased a license, but we aren’t yet utilizing the application (it’s not installed and therefore not inventoried). In case you also need to adjust the metric on these applications or you wish to make sure the metric is correct, you have the options to search on applications that are “not” installed.

 

To do  this, you need to go to the “Applications” category in the top main menu and select “Search for applications”. There you need to select the correct search criteria to get the desired overview. In the screenshot (picture 6) below you can see that I have used the following two criteria to create a list of all applications available in the Software Recognition library, regardless if it’s installed or not.

 


Picture 6

 

  1. Criteria 1 = Manufacturer. I have entered the manufacturer exactly the way it exist in Snow.
  2. Criteria 2 = Also include not installed/used. Just make sure you set this to “Yes”.

 

The red arrow indicated, where you can add additional search criteria. As you can see, the total result is 209 items. The list also contains the 9 applications that are installed. I should be able to find the other applications in this list and if needed adjust the metric.

 

Now, that I’ve been able to gather all relevant entitlement and agreement details of the vendor(s) I want to store in Snow License Manager and I’ve also made sure that – as far as possible – the correct metrics are in place, I can finally start to add my entitlement data into Snow License Manager.


 

AGREEMENTS

If you actually have an agreement, I would also advise you to add them into Snow License Manager. If you don’t have an agreement or any details that you could use to create an agreement first in Snow License Manager, you could simple skip this step or decide to do add an agreement and use other details to store the agreement in Snow. Other details could be your invoice information, budget number details etc.

 

In Snow License Manager you can store the following agreement types straight out-of-the-box (picture 7):

 

Picture 7 – main category is “Agreements” & then select “Add agreement” -

 

The main difference between the type “Software agreement” and the rest of the agreements (except the Oracle agreement) is that you can attached computers/assets to those agreements, located in a specific business unit. An example of this is shown in the screenshot below (picture 8). If you wish to only select just a couple or specific computers/assets, you’ll first need to save the agreement (maintenance / support / purchase) and then go to the computer list, select those assets that you wish to attach and from the context menu select “edit computers”. In the next view you’ll be able to select the agreement that you wish to attach to those computer assets!

 

Picture 8

 

Regardless, which agreement type you select, you’ll always want to populate as many fields as possible located in the different tabs before you save your agreement.

 

  • Tab – General:
    • add the agreement number here (this number has to be unique in SLM)
    • add an appropriate name for your agreement; like “Microsoft Enterprise Agreement E351198”
    • subscription agreement = check this box if the agreement is a subscription
    • upgrade rights = check this box if all the entitlements in the agreement have upgrade rights
    • selectable after expiration = tick this box, if you wish to link licenses to the agreement, even if the agreement period is expired

 

  • Tab – Agreement periods: add the active period of the agreement here

 

  • Tab – Contact info: add contact details about the software vendor and your reseller here

 

  • Tab – Alerts: activate the alerts with three particular threshold so that you are notified in time when the agreement is about the expire. The amount of time you need to renew the agreement should be the minimum amount of time you wish to be notified in advance. I recommend to take more time then you might think you need. In the administration section of Snow License Manager (located under “Home”) you might always wish to active e-mail notification about agreements that will expire.

 

  • Tab – Description: add anything here that you might think be of  any interest to mentioned about the agreement

 

  • Tab – Documents: attached actual files here to the agreement or use a redirect link if you should have this available (a document management system like SharePoint)

 

  • Tab – Custom information: add additional fields created by your self here. To create a custom field you need to go to the administration section of Snow License Manager (located under “Home”).

 

  • Tab – Security: here can prevent other Snow user profiles or business units to see the agreement

 

Important note: The agreement type “Software agreement” is the only agreement that you can use to link software licenses to!

 

In the screenshot (picture 9) below you can see a possible final result of adding different agreements and types.

 

Picture 9

 

 

LICENSES

Once you have added the agreement(s) you want to be a part of the contract management repository in Snow License Manager, you’ll also need to add the most important part, which is the actual software entitlements. From the main top menu category “Licenses” you need to select “Add license”. This will bring you to the add license section where you’ll need to populate particular fields in different tabs. Let’s have a closer look at the most important ones (picture 10).

 

Picture 10

 

The first two tabs will require you to add most of the actual purchase details, like: the purchase date, purchase price, invoice reference and the maintenance period (picture 11).

 

Picture 11

 

You can decide to add a maintenance period or check the box if the period is exactly the same to the agreement the license is linked with.

 

What is rather important from a license rights perspective, is that you always add the correct version and edition of the application. Very recently purchased entitlement grant you the highest and latest version of the application, but always double check what applies each time you add a new license. You can use the application name or the SKU search to find the right applications (picture 10).

 

After selecting the correct application/license, in the drop-down box for Agreement you can link the license record to the agreement, you’ve created previously (picture 10).

 

The options available in the red rectangle (picture 10) all depend on the type of license you have purchased.

 

  • Downgrade rights: check this box if the license is purchased with downgrade rights
  • Upgrade license: check this box if the license is an upgrade license and then also make sure to establish the correct relation with the base license in the additional tab that will appear.
  • Cross edition rights: check this box if the license allows for coverage of applications within the family with the same or lower “edition” rights.
  • Cross platform rights: check this box if the license allows for coverage of applications within the family and the same edition, “regardless” of the operating system they are installed on.
  • License has a subscription period: check this box and enter the correct subscription period if the license is a subscription license.

 

Besides the settings and the information in the first two tabs, it is also vital that you determine if the correct metric is applied. As mentioned before, when you adjust a metric of an application, this will automatically be applied when you add the corresponding license for that application. For all other cases, you might wish to change the metric each time you add a new license record.

 

Picture 12

 

As you can see in the screenshot (picture 12) above, you do have some options to select from. Please note, that not all the metrics that you saw in an application are also available here. Some are not available and two new ones are available on the license. The first step is that you select the metric and then select the correct assignment type.

 

  • Example: if I wish to assign SQL core licenses to server, the metric should be “Number of processor cores” and the assignment type should be “Computer/datacenter”

 

  • Example: if I wish to assign a named user MSDN subscription license to an employee of my company, the metric should be “Installations” and the assignment type should be “User”

 

  • Example: if I wish to assign a Windows External Connector to a particular business unit, the metric should be “Installations” and the assignment type should be “Site”

 

  • Example: if I wish to assign a Windows Enterprise server 2008 to a server, the metric should be “Installations” and the assignment type should be “Computer/datacenter”

 

 

After you adjusted the metric and the assignment type or kept it default, you should always go to the third tab “Assignment” and based on the assignment type that you selected add the correct assets, e.g.; machine, user or business unit.

 

I recon the other tabs are self-explanatory, so I’ll skip them in this blog. I you should have any questions about one of the other tabs, just let me know in the comments below. In the following screenshot (picture 13) you can see how the end result can look like when you have many different kinds of licenses in Snow License Manager.

 

Picture 13

 

 

REPORTS

Now that we have added some  all or just one record and contract in Snow License Manager, it’s also nice to know that under the category “Reports” you can find some interesting out-of-the-box reports, you can use to create, store and share. If you select the two categories as shown in picture 14: Agreement- and License reports, you immediately get a list of all the reports available.

 

Picture 14

 

Especially, the reports available in the “Standard reports” group (picture 15) are very interesting to use to manage you whole software entitlement database.

 

Picture 15

 

Just to name a few, which I find very interesting and always discuss with my customers:

 

  • Incomplete licenses: If you have any incomplete licenses in the system, you definitely want to make sure these all become complete. Incomplete licenses are not taken into account when Snow License Manager calculates the compliance.

 

  • License compliance reports: it makes perfect sense, that you want to know what the impact is of adding all those licenses in Snow License Manager. With the compliance reports you can see the results straight away.

 

  • Maintenance and support overview: when you have active maintenance and support details with financial figures in Snow License Manager, this is the report to use and find out what your renewal cash flow is from year-to-year.

 

  • Potential software cost savings: this report is all based on software usage, and will inform you about application s that are unused in percentages, but it will also inform you about the compliance delta for those same applications. Imaging you are missing licenses for a particular applications and at the same the business is not consuming the application!

 

  • Unassigned licenses: use this report to see which licenses still need to be assigned to an asset (machine, user or business unit). Unassigned licenses are not taken into account when Snow License Manager calculates the compliance.

 

I hope this blog shines some light on the steps you need to take to fill your own contract and license repository in Snow License Manager. Don’t hesitate to comment on this blog post or reach out to me or any of your local Snow contacts for more assistance and guidance.

 

My other blog about Windows Server Management

My other blog about SQL Server Management

My other blog about importing and tailoring a Microsoft License Statement (MLS)

 

 

 

 

Dear reader,

 

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

 

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

  • determine and create different overviews of Windows Servers running in your own estate.
  • collect important information about these Windows Servers (version, edition, business allocation, resources used, if it’s a virtual server or not and more interesting information).
  • add Windows Server licenses in SLM and assign these licenses accordingly based on the correct metric and other important settings & findings.
  • create and save easy-to-use reports specifically for your Windows Server estate, including compliance information.

 

 

MICROSOFT WINDOWS SERVER APPLICATIONS

First I would like to focus on creating interesting views of Windows Servers running in your environment. Snow License Manager contains different kinds of ways to determine how many versions and editions are actually discovered and inventoried within your estate. Before you actually start assigning Windows Server license entitlements and create useful reports, you might first wish to have a total overview and understanding of every server that is actually running some kind of Windows Server operating system. My personal approach would be to:

 

  1. draw up a list that contains Windows Servers, which are all part of my production environment*.
  2. and separate that list into (1) clusters that contain information about the physical hosts and the virtual servers that have a Windows Server operating system installed vs (2) stand-alone physical servers that have a Windows Server operating system installed locally.

 

* In general, one might expect to see a commercial production environment and a separated test, development & acceptation environment. The latter would normally be licenses with MSDN subscriptions - instead of commercial licenses -. Because I wish to keep this blog post as general as possible, I will only focus on the production environment, that needs to be licensed with commercial Windows Server entitlements!

 

Let’s have a closer look at some views that shine some light on our Windows Server estate, starting with the application list.

 

Applications list

When you browse to the Applications category and select “List all application”, you should be able to create the overview shown below (picture 1). Please note that I’ve added three filters to generate this list of Windows Servers (red rectangle)

 

Picture 1

 

In my environment, this creates a list of different types of Windows Server operating systems and the total number of installations. As you can see in picture 1, the Snow Software Recognition Service populates the metric column with the correct metric. Although, this list is a nice overview of all the different types of Windows Servers discovered, it’s not quite good enough to know how I should allocate my entitlements based on most cost effective coverage.

 

 

Single Windows Server applications

Let us have a closer look at one of the applications in this list. For this example, I’ve deliberately selected the applications: Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard. The reason for this is the metric that applies to this particular application (the same applies for the cores metric by the way). I think it is important to understand how Snow License Manager creates the numbers mentioned under “Processors” [1073] and under “License requirement” [1292], when looking at the screenshot below (picture 2). If we first focus on the accumulated number of processors, this amount is the sum of every actual physical and virtual processor that is used in every server that has a Windows Server operating system installed.

 

Picture 2

 

An example of this can been seen in picture 3 below. Selecting a particular server – in this case a virtual server – will highlight the information of the hardware that is assigned to this virtual machine. As you can see, the number of v-processors is “3”. Snow License Manager will analyze every individual inventoried Windows Server and calculates the number of processors of each server and presents the sum as the total value for the metric that applies, which in this case is the total number of processors (it will do the same for the core metric).

 

Picture 3

 

The total sum that is presented as a “License requirement” value, is actually the total number of processers which is automatically updated with a minimum licenses requirement  adjustment. Microsoft states that Windows Server operating systems licensed with processor or cores licenses have a minimum requirement, regardless if the server actually has these hardware resources equipped.

 

Bottom line; this means that you always need to assign 2 processors or 16 cores as a minimum to each physical machine!

 

Each server that has less hardware resources, will be adjusted until the minimum is reached. In this case, each server that has only 1 processor installed, will be adjusted with +1. In the end, this results in 1073 + 219 = 1292.

 

 

Datacenters and clusters

When you browse to the Computers category and select “Datacenters and cluster”, you should see the result of the integration with your hypervisor layer(s). The initial list will contain all of your Datacenters/Clusters, and after selecting one of them you should end up with the installation overview shown below (picture 4).

 

Picture 4

 

As you can in that screenshot I have selected the second tab and added a filter on "windows server", so that I can see all of the virtual servers running a Windows Server operating System. Although, I’m only looking at my virtual Windows Server estate in this way, I should already be able to distinguish between applying a Windows Sever Datacenter or Standard entitlement (based on the number of virtual server use rights). This would mean, that I need to analyze all of my Datacenters/Clusters one by one, and look for a separate overview of my physical stand-alone servers.

 

Important: please make sure that all of the virtual servers running in each of your cluster is actually inventoried by the Snow Inventory Client. In the screenshot (picture 5) below you can see that in this particular cluster a total of 33 virtual server are hosted, but 1 virtual server is not inventoried. This server might also contain a Windows Server operating system.

 

Picture 5

 

 

Application Family for Windows Server

Picture 6

 

In Snow License Manger each application that requires a license is a part of an application family. This is a very powerful section within Snow License Manager, that I wish to share with you all before we continue to the next topics. In order to find the application family for Windows Server, all you need to do is select one of the Windows Server applications from the List of all applications in your own environment. Then click on “Windows Server” as shown above in picture 6 (red rectangle).

 

This will bring you to the Microsoft Windows Server application family, as its presented in Snow License Manager. On this page you’ll find interesting information about:

 

Picture 7

 

  • [picture 7] the different kinds of Windows Server editions and versions.
  • [picture 7] the overall compliance status of your Windows Server estate (inventoried by Snow).
  • [picture 7] the total financial investment made on Windows Server entitlement (requires you to add financial purchase data).

 

Picture 8

 

  • the available Windows Server licenses in Snow License Manager, including quantity and active maintenance (SA).
  • [picture 8] each individual machines that has a Windows operating system installed, including hardware resource data.

 

Although, I personally would still rather use a Snow report to determine the best assignment of my Windows Server entitlements, I have to address that the last tab shown here in picture 8 does contain almost every information detail I need to create a compliance  delta for my whole Windows Server estate. The only thing I might not have in this particular view, is the distinction between the production environment vs the test, development & acceptation environment.

 

Nevertheless, I can determine the number of clusters (1), the total physical hosts in each cluster (2), each virtual server running on a particular hosts (3) and the physical hardware recourses used by each physical layer – either each individual host or as a total within each cluster (4). If I would scroll down in this view, I would eventually end up with all the physical stand-alone servers, which also need to be license accordingly.

 

 

MICROSOFT WINDOWS SERVER REPORTS

Up until now we have seen that we are able to gather lots of interesting information about our Windows Server estate looking at different applications views. However, my main goal is to assign my Windows Server licenses the best way possible, so that I’m able to create reports that will assist and guide me to easily spot compliance risks and possible optimization. Therefore, I would always use the reporting section in Snow License Manager as a starting point to create, store, export and share this information.

 

Focusing on Windows Server installations, the following reports (in the category "Reports" from the main top menu) are available to assist you with this -  please keep in mind, that many of these reports show information that you could use for creating a final compliance report for your Windows Server environment -:

 

  1. Physical and virtual servers per datacenter
  2. Applications installed on virtual machines in a datacenter
  3. Compliance summary (by application family)
  4. All applications
  5. All computers
  6. Applications per computer
  7. Hardware comparison for processor/core based applications
  8. Operating systems

 

The reports all mentioned above, might need some additional criteria or columns to present the information that you need. My advice would be to open each report and see for yourself, if it contains the information that you are looking for.

 

I’ve saved the best report for last, and I would like to specifically focus on this report with some examples. I’m talking about the report that is called “License tracking per computer”. This report is located in the group called Standard reports.

 

The beauty of this report is, that it will show you a compliance delta on machine level. I’ll try to explain and demonstrate this with two different examples. In the first example, I want to get a better picture of the large clusters that contain many virtual servers, so that I can license these areas with the Windows Datacenter licenses, because I want to capitalize on maximum virtualisation rights. Before I can analyse each cluster, I first need to add two report criteria to get the search results I need. Below you can which two criteria (picture 9) I have applied before I clicked the “show report” button.

 

Picture 9

 

I have decided to remove and add particular columns for a better overview of the Microsoft Windows Server installations on cluster level.

 

Removed columns:

  • Organisation (which you could consider to keep in the report, if you need to know the business unit the Microsoft Windows Server belongs to).
  • Manufacturer (because I already know that in this case I’m focused on Microsoft only)

 

Added columns:

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

 

To start analysing each cluster, I can double click on the header called “Datacenter name” or add something in the field like I’ve decided to do, which you can see in picture 10. In my estate, each cluster has its own number, so I can easily add this as a filter to view them one by one.

 

Picture 10

 

Currently, there are no Windows Server entitlements in Snow License Manager, which means that I’m 100% incompliant on this application family. As you can see, the reports clearly tells me that cluster “VMware Datacenter 2” contains two physical host servers and a total of 16 virtual servers. The metric in this case is based on the information about the Windows Server edition that is installed in each individual virtual server. Because, I've not yet added any licenses in Snow License Manager and also did not assign any licenses, the "assignement type" column it totally empty.

 

As long as I apply the correct Windows Datacenter license edition and quantity, this cluster and every single virtual server will become compliant. I’ll pick this up, in the next topic. For now, I’ve saved this report in a new group and called it “Windows server Cluster License assignments and compliance report”.

 

For the second example, I wish to create an overview of all the stand-alone servers that have a Windows Server operating system installed. In the screenshot below (picture 11) you can see that I’ve used the same report as before (with the same criteria and column set-up). I want to focus on the columns that contains a server that is not a part of a large cluster / datacenter!

 

Picture 11

 

As you can see in picture 11, I’ve been able to drill this down into two separate kinds of stand-alone servers;

  • the physical server marked with “A” is a single host running 2 virtual Windows Servers, but is not a part of a cluster.
  • and the rest of the list marked with “B” are all single stand-alone servers running different versions and editions of a Windows Server operating system.

 

The compliance column informs me how many licenses I need based on the metric that applies to each installation, with a possible adjustment based on a minimum requirement. With this information, I can now assign the appropriate Windows Server licenses to each individual stand-alone server. I’ve saved this report in the same group as before and called it “Windows server Stand-alone License assignments and compliance report”.

 

 

MICROSOFT WINDOWS SERVER LICENSES (ASSIGNMENT)

With these two saved reports, I can now start assigning the Windows Server licenses our company owns. Going through numerous Microsoft Volume License Agreements, I’ve been able to gather the following list of Windows Server entitlements my company owns:

 

  • 2 Windows Server Standard 2016 licenses (8 core-pack = 16 cores in SLM)
  • 6 Windows Server Standard 2012 R2 licenses (2 processor-pack = 12 processors in SLM)
  • 8 Windows Server Datacenter 2012 R2 licenses (2 processor-pack = 16 processors in SLM)
  • 2 Windows Server Enterprise 2008 R2 licenses (metric = based on installations)

 

When I look at my current compliance summary for Microsoft Windows Server, I get the following list of Windows Server application and the compliance delta for each application (picture 12):

 

Picture 12 – taking from the report: Compliance summary with criteria set on Microsoft as manufacturer and Windows Server on application family -

 

I now need to add all my available Microsoft Windows Server licenses one-by-one and regardless of the license metric, assign each license to the correct machine. With this last remark, I mean that I advise you to also assign Windows Server licenses that might have the metric “based on installation”.

 

When you add a Windows Server license into Snow License Manager that has either a Processor or Core metric, it is mandatory that you assign them to a computer or datacenter. This is not the case, when the metric is set to “based on installation”. You’ll need to change the assignment type from “organisation” to “computer/datacenter”.  Before I demonstrate a couple of different examples of adding and assigning licenses, I need to address the following first:

 

“I strongly recommend that when it comes to adding and managing licenses in Snow License Manager, that this is carried out by persons with adequate knowledge and experience. Not only do you need to understand how Snow License Manager works from a compliance perspective, but that you also need to have some understanding how - in this case - Microsoft licensing works. You might wish to contact your Microsoft trusted advisor, reseller (LSP) or SAM partner to assist and advice you with this matter”

 

The first licenses that I want to add into Snow License Manager, will be my Windows Datacenter licenses. These types of licenses are meant to be assign to physical hosts that run lots of virtual machines. To maximize on my investment, I will assign the available Windows Datacenter licenses to “VMware Datacenter 2”. By clicking on “Add license”, I get the following view and fields I need to populate (picture 13):

 

Picture 13

 

When I search for the application – either by name or by SKU – and select the correct license, the metric will be defined automatically. I need to add the correct quantity, which basically means that I always need to double the quantity that I have actually purchased; I have bought 8 Windows Datacenter Licenses, which equals a total of 16 processors. I need to activate the downgrade rights and the cross edition rights. The reason behind this, is that I will eventually assign the licenses to a cluster that contains physical hosts running different kinds of virtualized Windows Server edition and versions.

 

The downgrade rights will cover older versions than 2012 R2 and cross edition will make sure that other edition are also covered! Editions like; Web, Standard or Enterprise that might be installed in your virtual servers.

 

I you have active maintenance (Software Assurance), be sure to add this accordingly in the second tab! Before I can save this license, I need to assign the right amount of processors first with the correct virtualization rights. To do this, I need to go to the assignment tab and:

 

Picture 14

 

  • A [picture 14] Click the add button, so that I can search for the correct asset
  • B [picture 14] Use the search options to find the asset (cluster) and select it
  • C [picture 14] Click the lower add button, to add the asset into the license

 

Picture 15

 

  • D [picture 15] Change the VM use rights, by clicking on the “Change button”
  • E [picture 15] In this case select the second option, because unlimited virtual machines rights applies

 

Picture 16

 

  • F [picture 16] Add the correct – even – number of processors. In my example the cluster contains two physical hosts, which combined have a total of 5 physical processors installed. This means, I need to assign 3 Windows Server Datacenter licenses, which is the equivalent of 6 processors.

 

I now also need to do the same for all of my stand-alone physical server. Lets first do this for the physical server (SERVER374) hosting two virtual Windows Servers. For the assignment, I could use any of the Windows licenses I have left, but I’ve decided to use one of the Windows Server Standard 2012 R2 licenses. For this example, I’m jumping straight to the assignment tab. The purchase tab is identical to the example already shown above, except that I’m now adding a Windows Server Standard license!

 

Picture 17

 

It is very important that I again change the VM use rights as shown in the screenshot above (picture 17). I need to set the quantity to “2” and also assign the correct number of processors, which in this case is also “2”. Now I can save the license, and continue doing the same for the rest of the stand-alone servers. I will use the same license to assign them to other servers. I can simple edit the licenses and add the servers in the assignment tab, as shown below (picture 18).

 

Picture 18

 

SERVER374 is the only server that is hosting two virtual servers, so in this case Snow License Manger will automatically cover these virtual installations. The rest of the servers all have local installations of Windows Server operating systems.

 

These are all stand-alone physical server without any virtual servers being hosted, as you can see in the column called “VMs (Inventoried)”. In this case the locally installed operating system will become complaint and the VM use rights are just there as a given. Please beware, that you need to assign the minimum number of processors for each server, which is 2 in my example.

 

All I have to do now is add the rest of my license entitlement to the rest of the servers, so I can see the end result and decide what to do next. With regards to the Windows Server Enterprise licenses, I do want address that you also assign them to the correct assets. This means, that you’ll need to adjust the “assignment type” as shown below in picture 19. Just change it into “Computer/datacenter” and then go to the assignment tab and add the servers accordingly.

 

Picture 19

 

For the latest Windows Server 2016 licenses with the core metric, I’ve added an example below (picture 20). With this screenshot I want to highlight the fact, that adding these types of licenses is exactly the same as before. Snow License Manager will automatically adjust the correct metric settings. You just have to make sure that you add the correct “core” quantity and activate downgrade rights. Also activate cross edition rights when assigning the licenses to a host.

 

Picture 20

 

What is important to point out is the assignment tab for these types of licenses. As you can see in the screenshot below (picture 21), Snow License Manager will automatically adjust the VM use rights and set it to “Fixed”. This basically means, that each license grant one virtual machine coverage rights. Because you need to assign a minimum of two licenses, you eventually end up with two virtual machine rights. One licenses represents a pack of 8 cores, which is the total sum of 16 cores.

 

Picture 21

 

Although, in the example shown above the server has only 1 physical core, I still need to assign 16 cores to the server. This is something that you need to do manually, as also done in the previous examples.

 

Now that I have finished assigning all my available licenses, I should be able to see the results:

 

  • in the compliance summary report (picture 22)
  • and also in my saved license tracking reports (picture 23 & 24)

 

I don’t have any more Windows Server entitlements left, so I could investigate if I have Windows Server installations running outside my production environment, that I might licenses by other means. If not, then I know I have a compliance issues I need to fix and keep managing 

 

Picture 22

 

Picture 23

 

The screenshot above (picture 23) is the result of assigning Windows Datacenter licenses to one cluster, in this case “VMware Datacenter 2”. In the last three columns you can see the reasons why each individual installations is considered to  be compliant. The very last column on the right even highlights the compliance for each asset. If for some reason my company would expand this cluster and add one more physical host server, I would see the results in this report! The assignment of the license to this cluster, also resulted in populating the "Assignment type" column,

 

Picture 24

 

I hope this blog post helps you out with getting a better grip on your Microsoft Windows Server landscape and the possible views you can create to analyze this. And also how to add your Microsoft Windows Server licenses the right way and create your own easy to use reports, so that you can track compliance on machine level or on company level.

 

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

 

My other blog about SQL Server Management

My other blog about importing and tailoring a Microsoft License Statement (MLS)

Dear reader,

 

Based on the previous questions asked about how to efficiently import a Microsoft License Statement (MLS) and also manage Microsoft volume license purchases after the import, I’ve decided to write a blog post about this specific matter. In this blog post, I’ll try to explain and show how you can import a MLS file and also make sure which steps you need to make to have quality and trustworthy  data.  

 

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

  • Understand what a MLS is and how to get hold of a MLS
  • Understand what sets of  data are imported form a MLS and at the same time know what data is not available in a MLS
  • How to import a MLS in Snow License Manager
  • And where you should do some quality assurance in Snow License Manager

 

 

MICROSOFT LICENSE STATEMENT

Before we get started with importing a MLS, lets first have a look at what this document exactly is, why you might need it and how you can get your hands on a MLS. If you wish to create a complete view of your Microsoft license investments, you’ll need an inventory of all your Microsoft agreements and licenses. This is what Microsoft calls a MLS; this spreadsheet document is a comprehensive effort by Microsoft to basically inventory every license transaction made by your company. A MLS could contain transactions going back 10 to 15 years. The MLS is a good starting point for creating a digital contract management system in Snow License Manager for all of your Microsoft agreements and licenses, but be aware that a MLS can be overwhelming to digest and can come across as a confusing and difficult document.

 

It is recommended that the MLS import is done by persons with adequate knowledge and experience. For this reason, I strongly advise you to contact your Microsoft trusted advisor, reseller (LSP) or SAM partner to assist and advice you. The MLS follows a narrow interpretation of the Microsoft licensing rules, that might not fully cover the reality of your company’s license position. The MLS spreadsheet might contain errors or might not contain all of your purchase history - a mistake or wrong interpretation in one field of the spreadsheet can easily create a waterfall effect.

 

In order to get a MLS, I would recommend you to get in contact with your current Licensing Solutions Provider (LSP). They should be able to request a MLS spreadsheet for you and assist you with the correct interpretation.

 

 

WHAT DO WE IMPORT FROM A MICROSOFT LICENSE STATEMENT

Before I demonstrate the actual importing of a MLS spreadsheet, I would like to first explain the sets of data which will eventually be imported into Snow License Manager. Although, a MLS file contain many tabs with useful information, during the import in Snow License Manager only the License Agreements and Transaction Data is imported via the MLS import function. Below an example of both tabs:

  • Picture 1: the license agreements tab
  • Picture 2: the transaction data tab

 

Picture 1

 

Picture 2

 

All of the imported licenses – from the transaction data tab –  will be mapped to applications in Snow License Manager using the SKU numbers (in the MLS this column is usually called Part Number). The MLS import will eventually results in importing all of the active and expired volume license agreements and all of the licenses attached to those agreements.

 

It is Important to know, that a MLS file doesn't contain entitlement data about Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) purchases, Full Packaged Product (FPP) purchases and Independent Software Vendor (ISV) licenses. Although, the MLS file could contain a separate “MPSA” tab, please note that also these entitlement will not be a part of the import. MPSA related agreements and licenses will need to added or imported separately into Snow License Manager!

 

 

IMPORTING A MICROSOFT LICENSE STATEMENT

Now that we have a recent copy of the company’s MLS, we can import the file straight form within Snow License Manager or via the Snow Management and Configuration Center (SMACC). Please note, that doing an import of any document via the SMACC will bypass the web portal services (IIS) and would basically speed up your import. Loading will eventually take some what longer, when you do the import straight from Snow License Manger. For your convenience, I’ve uploaded two screenshots that show the import page from the SMACC (picture 3) and from Snow License Manager (picture 4)

 

Picture 3

 

Picture 4

 

In case you’re unable to either select the “import data” option from the drop-down menu or select the MLS import from within Snow License Manager, this means that your Snow account lacks the correct privileges and I would recommend to have the correct person update your Snow License Manager account (either your local Snow admin or your Snow partner in case you’re using the hosted solution)

 

By selecting the “MLS import”, you’ll enter the import wizard for importing the MLS file. The import itself takes a total of 5 steps and I will mainly focus on the most important parts. The first step is selecting the MLS file that you want to import. The second step is where you can change three import settings (picture 5), which are rather important:

 

(1) Use organisation alias for agreements and (2) use organisation alias for licenses will only work if your organisation structure – created in the SMACC – contains the alias as mentioned in the MLS file. This will usually not be the case! I personally recommend you to deselect them both. All agreements and licenses will be allocated to the ROOT organisation (the top company in your organisation structure). This means, that you need to assign the agreements and licenses from within Snow License Manager after the import. Alternatively, you could update the MLS with the organisation names as they are applied in Snow (SMACC => organisation structure). This will need to be updated in both tabs of the MLS, in the “Customer Name on Agreement” column.

 

The third import setting lets you select the option to (3) import incomplete licenses or not. I do recommend to import incomplete licenses for the completeness of you license legacy. If you would like to only have the latest active volume license agreement in Snow License Manager, it would not be a smart idea to do a MLS import, but rather just import that agreement(s) via the agreement import, and use the agreement import template to get started. The main idea behind importing a MLS file, is to get all of your volume license purchases into Snow License Manager, including Software Assurance licenses, Upgrade licenses and / or Step-up licenses. These are all good examples of an incomplete licenses, after the import is done.

 

Picture 5

 

During step 3 en step 4 you will be asked to verify the agreements and licenses that will be imported. Especially in step 4 (picture 6) – verification of the licenses – you might see different kinds of error messages. Regardless of these messages, you will always be able to import all the data into Snow License Manager, and during both steps you may also export different excel sheets for your quality assurance checks. These exports contain explanations  for each error messages.

 

Picture 6

 

The final step should show a positive result and how many rows have been imported. Now that the MLS has been imported, you might need to carry out some additional quality assurance.

 

 

QUALITY ASSURANCE AFTER THE IMPORT

Because not all MLS imports are the same for each one of you, it’s hard to determine which specific assets need your attention after the import is done. If you have imported an unaltered MLS, all the licenses and agreements will be allocated to the ROOT, as shown in picture 7. This means, that you might need to change and assign them to the correct organisations (business units).

 

Picture 7

 

For the licenses, you first need to focus on the set of incomplete licenses, if any. Luckily, you can easily filter on all incomplete licenses in Snow License Manager (picture 8). The reason for each incomplete license might differ for your specific situation, but will always be one of the following:

 

  1. The license imported is a Software Assurance only purchase
  2. The license imported is an Upgrade Advantage purchase
  3. The license imported is a Competitive Upgrade purchase
  4. The license imported is an Upgrade license
  5. The license imported is a Step-Up license
  6. The SKU of the license in the MLS did not match with the Snow SRS databases

 

Picture 8

 

“A to E” will basically require you to link the incomplete license with a base license – the initial purchase – in order to make it a complete license. For “E” the mismatch will result in the license missing many important details. The result of a license missing after a MLS import can also been seen in picture 8, looking at the red numbers 1 to 4. As you can see, the purchase / license record will be imported, but most of the license details are missing.

 

For creating the correct relation between an incomplete license and the corresponding base license, you will need to analyse each individual license or license product family, in order to establish the correct upgrade paths. The screenshot below (picture 9) shows an example of an incomplete license, because this license was a Software Assurance only purchase.

 

Picture 9

 

You should be able to link the correct licenses together straight from within Snow License Manager, but you might also wish to analyse the purchase legacy in the MLS itself. Below you can see an example of the license purchase of Exchange Server Enterprise (picture 10).

 

Picture 10

 

I’ve added some filters to get the overview as shown above. Selecting the appropriate metric that applies removes the CAL licenses and by searching for all “Microsoft Exchange servers” in the application column, I should be able to link all purchases together.

 

In this particular example “1a” is the initial purchase of the Microsoft Exchange Enterprise edition. Followed by a Software Assurance only purchase, which is “1b”. This would mean I need to link 1b to 1a. The most recent purchase in this case is “1c”, which again is a Software Assurance only purchase that I need to link to 1b. In the end this will result in three purchase records (three complete licenses) and one license entitlement  of Microsoft Exchange Enterprise Server 2007 with Software Assurance for a particular period. As mentioned before in this blog, you might wish to pick this up with your trusted advisor, either your Snow partner or via Snow Software.

 

The last thing I would like to mentioned, which is also very important to take into account, it the quantity of licenses that you need to adjust when it comes to the following metrics:

  • Processors
  • Cores

 

The reason for this is that the MLS import will copy the quantity for each license purchase straight form the “transaction quantity” column located in the transaction data tab. If you look closer to a license purchase that has a processor or core metric, you’ll see that these purchase come in packs of two. The initial result of the MLS import in Snow License Manager is that you’ll need to double each license quantity. Below you can see an example of how the license purchase looks like in the MLS (picture 11) and eventually how this looks like in Snow License Manager (picture 12).

 

Picture 11

 

Picture 12

 

From an entitlement perspective you own 4 SQL Server Standard 2014 licenses, that come in separate packs of two. This is the equivalent of 8 SQL Server Standard 2014 Cores. This also applies to the processor core pack for products like BizTalk Server or Windows Server, and of course also the Windows Server based on the core metric. Please keep this in mind, before you start assigning these expensive licenses to the correct assets, that you multiple the quantity by two.

 

I would like to close this blog post, by saying that I strongly advice you to conduct a MLS import only once! After you have imported your company’s MLS, you should have a solid Microsoft agreement and license base from which you can start to maintain and update additional purchases separately by either adding these manually or by using the other import options available for agreements and licenses.

 

I hope this blog post helps you out by explaining what it means to import a MLS, how not only to do the import, but especially what you need to do after the import.

 

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

 

My other blog about SQL Server Management

 

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.

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.