Interlink Cloud Blog

Interlink Cloud Blog

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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.
Max Donaldson

Azure Pricing – How to Get Your Best Deal

azure-pricing

 Azure pricing can be confusing...

Paying for what you use is typically a great concept, but many companies are struggling to understand how to get their best deal when running Azure workloads. In this article, we’ll discuss the three major ways to get a programmatic discount on Azure. These include Windows Server Hybrid Use Benefit, SQL Server Hybrid Use Benefit and Reserved Instances.

About a year ago, Microsoft announced a price cut on Azure which made the licensing pricing between the various licensing vehicles all similar. Then they also gave guidance to their sales teams not to discount Azure until the customer commitment was in the millions. So, it is critical to take advantage of these programmatic discounts to get the best deal possible.

azure pricing 01

Windows Server Hybrid Use Benefit

Microsoft has a relatively unknown benefit called Hybrid Use Benefit (HUB). If you already own active Windows Servers with Software Assurance (SA), you can use that license to run workloads in Azure on Windows without paying for the Windows subscription costs in Azure. For those that license Windows Servers utilizing the Data Center version, you can continue to use that Windows Server to run on-premises workloads, as well as different workloads in Azure with the same license. This allows you to double the functionality of each Windows Server Data license. What you’re basically getting is free licensing for Azure. The benefit was built so that you could move workloads to Azure and reuse the licensing, but the Data Center option has no restriction on the workload. So, the same license can properly cover two totally unrelated workloads, as long as, one is running in Azure and one is still on premises!


Functionally, this means that customers utilizing this benefit will pay the base compute rate (Linux rate) for their Azure virtual machines. Through leveraging HUB, some clients are seeing savings of up to 50% off their virtual machine costs.


A Few Important Facts:

  • Both versions of Windows Server — Standard and Datacenter — license with Software Assurance are eligible for the Hybrid Use Benefit
  • A Windows Server Standard Edition license cannot be used simultaneously in on-premises deployments while utilizing Hybrid Use Benefit in Azure
  • Windows Server Datacenter licenses can utilize the Hybrid Use Benefit and continue to be deployed in parallel on-premises
  • The HUB benefit is only available in Azure, not AWS or any other hosted offering
  • Customer can create new virtual machines with the benefit, migrate existing machines, or upload custom virtual machines
  • Example: A Windows Server Licensing with 16 Cores Covered with SA, you could run either two virtual machines with up to 8 cores or one virtual machine with up to 16 cores

SQL Server Hybrid Use Benefit

Fundamentally, SQL Server HUB works in a similar way to the Windows Server benefit. Existing licensing still needs active Software Assurance. However, SQL does not have the long term dual usage rights like Windows Server Data Center Edition. With SQL, Microsoft does allow customers to use both licenses both on premises and in the cloud for up to 180 days to facilitate migration. The cool part is that you can use both benefits – Windows Server and SQL Server at the same time. Thus saving additional monies.

For Azure SQL Database:

  • If you have Standard edition per core licenses with active Software Assurance, you can get 1 vCore in the General Purpose service tier for every 1 license core you own on-premises
  • If you have Enterprise edition per core licenses with active Software Assurance, you can get 1 vCore in the Business Critical service tier for every 1 license core you own on-premises.
  • If you have highly-virtualized Enterprise edition per core licenses with active Software Assurance, you can get 4 vCores in the General Purpose service tier for every 1 license core you own on-premises. This is a unique virtualization benefit available only on Azure SQL Database.

For SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines:

  • If you have Enterprise edition per core licenses with active Software Assurance, you can get 1 core of SQL Server Enterprise edition in Azure Virtual Machines for every 1 license core you own on-premises
  • If you have Standard edition per core licenses with active Software Assurance, you can get 1 core of SQL Server Standard edition in Azure Virtual Machines for every 1 license core you own on-premises
  • If you don’t have Software Assurance on your Windows or SQL Servers, but still want the best price for Windows and SQL running in Azure, talk to us about CSP Server subscriptions

Reserved Instances:

The idea of Reserved Instances (RI) is simple-the longer you commit to running a virtual machine (VM) in Azure, the better price you will get for the compute portion of that VM. Microsoft claims that Reserved Instances can save up to 72% over the pay as you go model when reserving for three years. A VM in Azure is comprised of three things – the operating system, any application software, and the compute. Hybrid Use for Windows covers the OS (if Windows), SQL Hybrid Use can cover the database, and Reserved Instances offers discounta on the compute.


Often, the discount for your commitment is so great that it is less expensive to buy the Reserved Instance than it is to just run the VM for 3-6 months under the Pay as You Go model. So even if you have a short-term need, you should consider Reserved Instances for cost savings. Plus, by locking in the virtual machine cost, that makes budgeting easier.

AWS has offered reserved instances for some time now, but is relatively new to Microsoft Azure, but when you combine RI’s with HUB, that is where Microsoft separates itself.

A few important facts:

  • Reserved Instances are offered in 1 and 3-year terms, with 3 years offering a greater discount than a 1 year and a 1 year offering a greater discount than Pay as you go
  • Billed upfront for the term of your Reserved Instance — 1 or 3 years, but they don’t automatically co-term to your existing volume license agreement, so your RI’s may extend past your expiration date
  • You can also use a Reserved Instance as a way to get utilization out of your monetary commitment (if you have one on your Enterprise Agreement or Server and Cloud Enrollment Agreement) before it expires
  • Reserved Instances can be exchanged for a different size VM, both up and down, and from region to region, so you will be refunded the unused time of the original RI then charged for the new RI
  • You can cancel a Reserved Instance with a 12% cancellation fee
  • When combining Reserved Instances with Hybrid Use Benefit, you can save up to 80% over the pay as you go price

How can Interlink help?

Interlink can help companies cut down to some real big savings by understanding the nuances of Azure licensing and the different programs—Hybrid Use Benefits for Windows, SQL and reserved instances. In addition, we will help with sizing the workloads appropriately by utilizing our Path to Azure Assessment methodology. Plus, we will work hard to find programs at Microsoft that can cover or reduce the cost of these engagements.

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Ken Kruthaup

Power BI Licensing Options – What fits your needs best?

Power BI Licensing Options – What fits your needs best?

Power BI Desktop

This free version of Power BI is designed for the single user to create ad hoc reporting and data exploration. This software, unlike the other two options is installed directly to your local desktop. The dataset size is limited to 1GB per individual dataset and an overall storage quote of 10GB per user. With this option you also have the ability to review reports or dashboards that have been published in a Premium workspace (see below). While Power BI Desktop can create reports that the user can view, it lacks the ability to share with others. Plus there are gaps in functionality between the two, see the chart below for details.

Power BI Desktop is a great edition to get started with while there is no software investment cost. 

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Matt Scherocman

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) vs. Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Licensing Agreement: What's Best for You?

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) vs. Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) Licensing Agreement: What's Best for You?

EA VS. CSP

Choice is critical in business, but sometimes it’s difficult to determine the best decision for your specific organization. Such is the case when it comes to contracting services for Azure and your other Microsoft cloud applications. For many years, the best choice for larger organizations was signing up for an Enterprise Agreement (EA) directly with Microsoft. However, now there is a new option called Cloud Service Provider (CSP), a contract you can purchase from a certified Microsoft partner.

Both offer similar services and similar pricing. There are advantages and disadvantages to both depending on your size and type of business. So, how do you decide what’s the right choice for your organization? Below is a look at the two options in several key areas.

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Matt Scherocman

Comparing the Office 365 Enterprise Kiosk (K1) Plan vs. Enterprise (E1) Plan

Comparing the Office 365 Enterprise Kiosk (K1) Plan vs. Enterprise (E1) Plan

Many of our clients have been asking us about the differences between Microsoft’s Office 365 Enterprise Kiosk (K1) plan and Enterprise (E1) plans and have been confused about which plan is right for the users who do not need the higher end suites. This comparison is for clients who are considering either of these two plans and want to figure out which one is a better fit for their business. 

What is an Enterprise Kiosk (K1) plan? 

Essentially, the Kiosk plan is for those that are looking for inexpensive licenses for deskless workers - users who are often working away from a desk or using a shared PC and don’t need desktop versions of Office. 

What are the differences between the K1 and E1 plan?

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Matt Scherocman

Solve Your Licensing Conundrum with Microsoft’s New Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) Licensing Bundle

Solve Your Licensing Conundrum with Microsoft’s New Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) Licensing Bundle

Interview with Matt Scherocman – Licensing Wrangler and President of Interlink Cloud Advisors


Slashing through the dense thicket of software licensing often requires the wisdom of Solomon, the patience of Job, and an army of product experts. Understanding and sourcing your Microsoft licensing is like pouring over the Cheesecake Factory menu. But instead of deciding between hundreds of appetizers, lunch or dinner dishes, you must wade through pages of operating systems, applications, and security solutions.

“The entire licensing process has always been a problem for companies,” says Matt Scherocman, President of Interlink Cloud Advisors. “Thankfully Microsoft is doing something about it.”

That “something” is Microsoft’s new Secure Productive Enterprise (SPE) offering that may make licensing headaches a thing of the past. SPE is a secure, desktop licensing bundle that is sold by user. Before getting to this new, streamlined offering, however, Microsoft has taken us on a bit of winding branding and bundling journey.

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Welcome to the Interlink Cloud Blog

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.