Interlink Cloud Blog


Matt Scherocman

The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit – Don’t Purchase Windows Server Twice

microsoft azure hybrid use benefit

One of the primary reason companies move their software to the cloud is because of the cost savings, but there are still ramp-up expenses to consider even if it’s not a capital expense anymore. As companies undergo the transition to the cloud, whether it be a hybrid solution or all in the cloud, every little bit of savings counts.

Until now, many organizations have owned Windows Server licensing through a licensing agreement and then purchased access to Windows Server again when they setup a new virtual machine on Azure. Many clients were paying for the same functionality twice!

The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit has changed all of that. As of February 1, 2016, the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit lets those owning Windows Server Licenses with Software Assurance to use that existing license on Azure, which saves money. For each Windows Server 2 processor license with Software Assurance, customers may run two virtual machines with up to 8 cores each or one virtual machine with up to 16 cores.

Azure hybrid use benefit savings chart

Savings based on a D2 instance in US East 2 Region, operating at the full time hourly rate, and including the cost of Software Assurance. (source)

Next Steps

The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit is Microsoft’s effort to help you get the most value from licenses, on-premises and in the cloud. But first find out…

  • Do You Qualify? The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit is currently available for customers with Windows Server licenses covered with Software Assurance.
  • What Next? The Azure Hybrid Use Benefit is applied by creating a Windows virtual machine through PowerShell and setting the new license Type property for each virtual machine. Windows virtual machines with the new property are billed at the base compute rate, with a specific notation in the bill that the benefit has been applied.

Do you want to save with this new Azure Hybrid Use Benefit? Check out the FAQ here and contact us to learn more!

* Base compute rate is described in the FAQ.

Matt Scherocman

Important Notice About Certificate Expiration for Exchange 2013 Hybrid Customers

Attention customers running Exchange in hybrid mode

Microsoft is making a change on April 15th that will possibly break mail flow from your on-premises environment to the Office 365 platform.  

This will have no impact on you if you are not running Exchange in hybrid mode. Please see the full details below on who will be affected. 

Our team is standing by to assist you with this change if needed to ensure mail flow is not interrupted.  

If you’re running Exchange 2013 and you’ve configured a hybrid deployment with Office 365, this post contains important information that might impact you. Please evaluate this information and take any necessary action before April 15, 2016. 

On April 15, 2016, the Office 365 TLS certificate will be renewed. This certificate is used by Office 365 to provide TLS encryption between Office 365 and external SMTP servers. The new certificate, which will help improve the security of mail sent to and from Office 365, will be issued by a new Certificate Authority and it will have a new Issuer and Subject.

This change has the potential to stop hybrid mailflow between Office 365 and your on-premises Exchange servers if one of the following conditions applies to you:

  • Your on-premises Exchange servers are running Exchange 2013 Cumulative Update 8 (CU8) or lower.
  • You’ve upgraded the Exchange 2013 servers that handle hybrid mailflow to Exchange 2013 CU9 or higher. However, since upgrading to CU9, you HAVE NOT re-run the Hybrid Configuration wizard (either from the Exchange Admin Center or via the direct download link).

If one of the previous conditions applies to your organization, hybrid mailflow between Office 365 and your organization will stop working after April 15, 2016 unless you complete the steps below.

Note: This only affects hybrid mailflow. Regular mailflow and TLS encryption is NOT affected.

How to keep hybrid mail flowing (MUST be completed before 4/15/2016)

Let the new Hybrid Configuration wizard do it for you

You can use the latest Hybrid Configuration wizard (HCW) to configure your Exchange 2013 servers to work with the new TLS certificate. Just follow these steps:

  1. If the Exchange 2013 servers handling hybrid mailflow are running Exchange 2013 CU8 or lower, follow the instructions in Updates for Exchange 2013 to install the latest cumulative update on at least one server.
  2. After you install the latest cumulative update, download the new HCW application and run the wizard following the instructions here.

Note: For information on which releases of Exchange are supported with Office 365, see Hybrid deployment prerequisites.

Manual update

If you can’t upgrade Exchange 2013 to latest cumulative update right now (although we would like to remind you of our support policy), you can manually configure your servers to work with the new TLS certificate. On each Exchange 2013 server that’s used for hybrid mailflow, open the Exchange Management Shell, and run the following commands:

$rc=Get-ReceiveConnector |where {$_.TlsDomainCapabilities -like "**"}

Set-ReceiveConnector -Identity $rc.Identity -TlsDomainCapabilities "

View original article...

Matt Scherocman

The End of SQL Server 2005 Support is Near - Does Your Database Need an Upgrade?

sql server end of life interlink

Databases can sometimes be forgotten - hidden behind the applications that they support. Yet, if you find yourself without support and your datis left exposed – even temporarily, you may be putting your organization at risk.

For those organizations still running SQL Server 2005, it may be time to seriously start evaluating an upgrade. On April 12, 2016, after ten years of going strong, extended support for all versions of SQL Server 2005 is coming to an endThe good news is, over the last decade, Microsoft has continued to invest in this technology and SQL Server has evolved to be an enterprise-class solution to support the growing business needs of organizations - large and smallUpgrading is not just a maintenance task, but an opportunity to provide new value to your business. 

With April 12th right around the cornerthere's no better time to start the evaluation process. 

Depending on the type of application, the migration destination, the scale of the move and resources allocated, migrations can take several months, and without extended support you will no longer get security updates and may also experience:

  • Higher maintenance costs

  • Potential compliance issues 

Watch this short video Is It Time To Upgrade You Database? to help you determine if it’s the right time to migrate and begin achieving breakthrough performance with a move to SQL Server 2014 and/or Azure SQL Database.

In addition to deciding if it’s the right time for you to upgrade, you'll need to weigh all your migration options. 

  1. SQL Server 2014 (On-Premise Server) 
    SQL Server 2014 can provide very fast performance with built-in technology to speed up applications compared to older versions of SQL Server. In fact, SQL Server 2014 benchmarked 13x faster than SQL Server 2005 and 5.5x faster than SQL Server 2008. Reduced downtime, increased mission-critical uptime, fast failover, improved manageability, and better use of hardware resources are just some of the benefits that users report after leveraging SQL Server 2014

  2. SQL Azure (Cloud)
    With SQL Server 2014 available on Azure, you can prioritize cost savings and minimal administration.There are currently two options for hosting: SQL Server workloads in the cloud through Azure SQL Database (Software-as-a-Service/ SaaS) or SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (Infrastructure as a Service/ IaaS).  We can walk you through which options make the most sense for you.  
  1. Hybrid Approach: On-Premise Server + Cloud
    Microsoft has added several hybrid cloud options to SQL Server 2014 that is showing real value, even for those who continue to run on premise. The hybrid cloud options don’t require you to move your entire SQL Server databases to the cloud. Instead, you can extend to on premise SQL Server instances to the cloud where it makes sense for your business. With enhancements to SQL Server 2014’s Backup, AlwaysOn Replicas, and SQL Server Data Files, these hybrid options can cover all the bases of a complete and secure SQL Server setup. 

  2. Disaster Recovery As A Service – DRAAS
    Allows on premise database to sync out to the cloud for backup and disaster recovery. This can be the best of both world while it allows for fast on LAN speeds and full operation ability in the cloud.  


What is the best path for you?

Utilizing Microsoft-based funding, Interlink is currently offering a detailed SQL Modernization Assessment along with a Proof of Concept for SQL Server 2014 and SQL AzureThrough both the assessment and POC, our team can help you determine the right approach, technologies and tools for data platform modernization for SQL Server 2014 and/or SQL Azure Database. The scope, activities, and deliverables for each will vary based on your unique objectives, ultimately tailoring the right fit for your organization the first time.

SQL Assessment

Matt Scherocman

Office 365 - Pros and Cons of a Consolidated Tenant with Global User Dispersion

Office 365 Pros Cons Consolidated Tenant Global User Dispersion

A single Office 365 tenant may not be sufficient for some organizations. In certain cases, a company may need to provision mailboxes or manage end users in more than one tenant.

Below is a detailed breakdown and summary of a single global Office 365 tenant versus multiple tenants. This assumes that there are two or more agreements in place.

As it exists today, a single Enterprise Agreement cannot have licenses allocated to multiple tenants without an exemption and Microsoft intervention to allow it. However, agreements made underneath that entity, such as a second Enterprise Agreement for a sub-company in another country or division of the organization can have its own tenant.

Single Global Tenant

The Pros

  • Single name space support.
    Example: is shared across the organization and everyone needs it as the primary email address. In this scenario, there is no way to provide a unified email address alias without all users existing in the same tenant.
  • Single point of control and management - The proper implementation of Role Based Access Control allows for flexible controls to be put in place to manage licensing, users, and services such as Exchange.
  • Branding controls for portal pages and SharePoint sites is unified.
  • Tenant location is nearest to the primary company listed as the contact location for Office 365. In some cases this is beneficial where the largest set of users exist in a specific office. Retail would commonly see this as a benefit, for example, where the corporate office contains most of the information workers.
  • Perfect solution when a single directory for the entire company is leveraged for user, group, and device management.

The Cons

  • No flexibility in the location of the services today. All services such as Exchange, Skype for Business, and SharePoint are provisioned in the nearest datacenter to where the company's contact listing.
  • Role Management is very cumbersome - even with groups.
  • One directory and its trusted relationships can be synchronized, a third party tool must be used if the company has multiple directories and no trusts in place.
  • Can be very complex when you are leveraging multiple AD forests and Trusts - Overlapping contacts and sync errors are common.
  • Services can be very slow when global access is enabled. An example is Skype, which has a low tolerance for latency and is impacted significantly for users outside of the country where the tenant is provisioned.
  • Global instances of Yammer and SharePoint can cause companies to rethink putting all collaboration sites in the cloud.

Multiple Tenant

The Pros

  • Primary benefit is autonomy and control of your own portal and services underneath it.
  • Performance on a per company / agreement basis is markedly better due to the location being closer to the sub-company.
  • Provides less complexity about managing admin roles on a large scale and can be less cumbersome.
  • In scenarios where the company is global and large sets of users are distributed, this provides the best performance on a per agreement basis.
  • Managing licenses is much easier and based intimately on the way each company operates.

The Cons

  • No single namespace and consolidated company domain support exists today.
  • Global policy adherence is very difficult to achieve since the policy setting company doesn't have a view into the settings.
  • Multiple locations to manage licensing can have limitations if only a single Microsoft licensing agreement exists.
  • Security of company information is in the hands of each company managing its own portal.
  • Compliance configurations are hard to regulate and enforce on an individual and consistent level.

If you have any addtional questions or would like to discuss, please contact us.

Stephanie Donahue

Microsoft SharePoint - Proving a Return on Investment

microsoft sharepoint proving roi

Every day I speak to clients about how we can solve their communication and content challenges with Microsoft SharePoint. However, no matter how obvious it is that SharePoint can solve their issues, we still run into scenarios where we hear, “We think your team is great and we love your ideas, but we just don’t have the budget this year.” What do you do when you don’t have a budget? You prove the return on investment of Microsoft SharePoint.

No Budget

The challenging thing -- okay one of the challenging things -- about SharePoint is that it too often starts out in the IT budget because it’s considered company-wide software that everyone uses. In addition to not being allocated as part of everyone’s budget, SharePoint also has the issue of being tough to measure in terms of return on investment (ROI). Those of us who have been around SharePoint long enough know the value of what SharePoint can do, but we struggle to communicate how that translates into real money saved. Being frustrated with the no budget answer, I’ve been racking my brain on what the answer is to showing SharePoint’s true ROI. So, I decided to run through a series of recent scenarios I’ve heard about from clients, friends, and even personal experiences. What has been obvious is that it all comes back to communication. Problems stem from communication issues, and conveniently, SharePoint (and Yammer) fix those communication issues.

The ROI Challenge

You can’t estimate SharePoint ROI, or any content management system, in terms of dollars gained during a more efficient process. People are not a manufacturing plant where stats are kept on how much content or value is derived from a single action from a single person. However, what you can measure is the cost of mistakes. People are human and while some mistakes can be contributed to inexperience or a lapse in judgment, it’s more often related to a lack of communication. In some cases, communication can even overcome inexperience and bad judgment.

Think back through the last time your organization lost money on a deal, a new partnership, or a new product. How would effective communication have changed the situation?

Communication Issues Plague Organizations

Scenario 1: A client has a proposal sent out with unclear terms of engagement with a vendor. This client is now ‘on the hook’ for far more work than they should’ve been. Not to mention the initial projected time-frames for the work are now completely irrelevant. Had this proposal been put through a formal review process where the entire team knew about it (rather than it ‘hiding’ in email and file shares), the ambiguity could’ve been caught. Not simply because of a formal approval process being in place, but because of the visibility of the document to someone who may not be directly involved.

The cost: Extra time negotiating what can be accomplished in the contract, lower profit margin on the work, if there is a profit at all, and potential loss of client due to the possibility of expectations not being met.

Scenario 2: A survey was sent out to all users and the number one complaint was a lack of company-wide communication. Employees did not feel properly informed. This same client doesn’t have the budget for SharePoint this year. So they continue to use a home grown intranet application where a developer must provide announcement updates. This slows the time to share those updates and will likely prevent many from being shared in the first place.

The cost: Unlimited and depends on the organization

What is the cost of the lack of rapid communication across the organization?

  • What is the turnover cost of an employee who doesn’t feel engaged or informed and leaves the organization?
  • What is the cost of waiting on an email response only to find out after the person you’ve been waiting on for 3 days is the wrong person?
  • What is the cost of not properly communicating new safety procedures to field engineers on remote sites? Have you dealt with law suits this year?
  • What about health care benefits to those sitting at headquarters? How much time does HR spend explaining things that could be available in a forum or Q&A section?
  • What about new compliance policies to content managers? Have you been through a painful audit recently?

The visibility provided by the social communication channels provided in SharePoint (and also in Yammer) can transform the way an organization works. The speed at which information is communicated is directly tied to an organizations ability to adjust to rapid changes in the market, to the amount of income that can be generated with the same number of people, and most importantly tied to defining an efficient and effective corporate culture that spans many remote locations.

The next time you are faced with the ‘no budget for SharePoint’ problem, it may be time to start discussing the cost of poor communication. From there you should be able to start defining what your return on investment looks like.

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All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations or warranties regarding the information from our partners or other external sources.

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