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Microsoft Licensing

Purchasing Microsoft Azure Through Volume Licensing: What You Need to Know

By November 13, 2014No Comments

azure through volume licensingOn August 1, Microsoft started offering Azure subscriptions through their volume licensing programs. So, what is this new offer and how does it work?

First, some background for the uninitiated…

What is Azure all about? Basically, it is a subscription-based program that allows you to rent space and services from Microsoft-hosted servers. You can rent whole virtual servers, virtual desktops and other related solutions. Here is how Microsoft defines it in one of its Q&A documents:

What is Microsoft Azure?

Azure is an open and flexible platform that provides all the building blocks to quickly build, deploy, and manage cloud-based solutions. Azure offers a wide range of usage-based services across applications, compute, storage, and network. You can build applications using any language, tool, or framework. In addition, you can integrate your public cloud applications with your existing IT environment.

Microsoft suggests using Azure for backup solutions, apps deployment and website hosting. Check out all the Azure services that Microsoft offers and get pricing details.

How can you get it?

Two ways. The first being the old, boring way to get it is to buy it directly from Microsoft. You can do that by going to www.azure.microsoft.com or by using your Enterprise Agreement (EA).

… You do still have the login credentials to your EA, right? No? Oh, well. Most people don’t have an EA anyways, so let’s move on to the new option at your disposal:

The newest and coolest option is for you to purchase Azure through volume licensing by working with a value-added reseller like Mirazon. However, this is not your typical licensing scenario. (Why do I feel like I say that in every blog post?)

In a typical licensing scenario you would buy a specific license through a volume licensing program and then you would own that license forever. You might add Software Assurance (SA) which will expire in two or three years, but for the most part you know what you’re buying and you know what you are going to own at the end of the day.

However, “Azure in Open Volume Licensing” is different. Basically with this “product” you will be buying credits that you can then use to sign up for various Azure Services. So you may not know ahead of time exactly what you are going to use it for. A good analogy is buying a gift card to a retail store: once you have the card, you know you have X amount of dollars to spend at that store, but you may not know exactly what you are going to buy there. For example, you could buy $1,000 worth of Azure subscriptions through a volume licensing program, and then you can use that $1,000 credit to purchase a combination of website services, some temporary VMs and a some cloud storage.

How does it work?

First, you would request a quote from the amazing people at Mirazon (or another value-added reseller, if you must) and purchase a certain amount of “Azure in Open Monetary Credits.” You can buy them in $100 increments. Mirazon will then process the order and send you an “Online Service Activation Key” or — since we’re so fond of acronyms in the IT industry — an “OSA Key.”  Then you will plug that key into Microsoft’s Azure Management Portal and proceed to use it to pay for Azure services.

What’s the difference between this and buying it direct from Microsoft? For one thing, you are pre-paying for the service instead of paying as you go. This is beneficial for businesses who want to just pay one lump sum and forget about it for a year, instead of having to shell out one amount this month, a different amount the next month, and an even different amount in the third month because your usage of Azure services fluctuates. It’s predictable spending. This could streamline your budget approval since you only have to go to your boss once for a big lump sum, instead of having to get approval each month for a new amount.

Another difference is that with Azure in Open you can pull a value-added reseller (VAR) into the equation. A VAR like Mirazon can bring a level of expertise that your IT department may not possess on their own. By using volume licensing and purchasing from a VAR, instead of directly from Microsoft, you are pulling in a trusted adviser who will help you estimate how many Azure services you are going to need, tell you what it is going to cost you, and inform you if they know of a better way. Another benefit is that you can choose to let that VAR manage your Azure account instead of managing it yourself. To do this, you would make the VAR a co-administrator on the account.

The only catch is that you will need to use your credits within 12 months. The good news is that the clock doesn’t start ticking until you activate the license, so you could purchase the subscription and then sit on it for a few weeks or months without any penalty. Once you activate it, you have 12 months to use up the credits you purchased.  If you run out of credits before the 12 months are over, then you just purchase more. But if you get to the end of 12 months and you have not used them up, then you’re out of luck.

Microsoft has a “use it or lose it” policy through this program, so don’t buy more than what you know you’ll need.

There are a few Azure services, such as Azure RMS and Azure Active Directory Premium, that you will not be able to use your credits towards, but overall this provides you with an alternate way of getting the Azure services you need.

Want to learn more about how you can use Azure? Email us or give us a call at 502-240-0404 to talk to a licensing expert or a certified Microsoft engineer.