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  • SQL Server 2008 End Of Life - Backing Up to Azure

    sql support life azure

    Technology moves fast, so much so that the newest versions of software often become out of date in a matter of a few years. Older versions of Microsoft products can be daunting to manage from a support and licensing perspective. While 2008 versions of Microsoft products were innovative and new at the time, some of these products are now nearing the end of their support life. SQL Server 2008 is now several versions back so many clients are wondering what to do for their upgrades. Other SQL Server customers who still retain databases on the 2008 version may not even have decided on their precise upgrade plans. Here's the latest news from Microsoft which may assist with decisions regarding SQL Server 2008.

    Support Concerns

    Licensing and support for SQL Server 2008 was originally intended to last 10 years. We are now into that end-of-life support so what are the options for organizations still running databases on this now decade-old version?

    SQL Server 2008 brought a number of new innovations to the marketplace for databases. These new features were incredibly useful for database development at the time, so much so that many businesses have not needed to upgrade some of their databases to the newest versions. In fact, some of these clients still on the 2008 platform may not feel there is an immediate need to upgrade their databases. There may be other factors involved with such a decision such as budgetary concerns. Organizations may still be trying to determine how to upgrade their databases to the latest SQL server platform and may need more time to make all the decisions necessary.

    However, Microsoft does intend for support of SQL Server 2008 to end. This means that software and security updates will no longer be available after the support life for this product ends. While organizations are not necessarily caught flat-footed with this reality, actually completing the upgrades before the end of licensing support may well prove daunting to some organizations.

    Originally, Microsoft planned to deal with end-of-life support issues regarding products such as SQL Server 2008 with a Premium Assurance Program which was implemented last year. This program was intended to add six years of support licensing to the current ten-year limit. The intention was to provide continued compliance and security to existing databases though at an increased cost of five percent which would have maxed out at twelve percent over current licensing costs.

    Previously Existing Options

    But Microsoft has made a more recent change that affects even this Premium Assurance Program with a recent announcement. Previously, there were several options available for organizations choosing to continue using this older version of the SQL server platform. Options for SQL Server 2008 customers who wanted to remain on this version ranged from simply accepting that there would be no future security updates. The downside of this option is that databases may no longer be compliant in various industry requirements.

    Another available option has been to simply upgrade to a newer version of SQL though at some costs unless an organization already used a product assurance program. But with this option, businesses choosing to upgrade the 2008 version might face additional costs with licensing or further upgrade support while not being entirely prepared for such a change for some databases.

    The last option for current business and organizational clients of SQL Server 2008 has been to purchase a custom support license which can also be costly. This third option requires that companies provide a migration plan of some sort to Microsoft rather than keeping open-ended support available for an indeterminate amount of time when newer versions provide better solutions.

    The Latest Option: Cloud Migration with Free Security Support

    Since there are any number of detrimental effects from remaining on the 2008 SQL version, Microsoft has chosen to offer yet another option which many businesses may find extremely helpful. The recent announcement by Microsoft has been to allow product platforms like SQL Server 2008 to be migrated to Azure Cloud Services. Essentially, Microsoft is offering organizations the opportunity to remain under software support for the 2008 version until 2022 if the workload is migrated to Azure Cloud Services. The actual security support and updates are free of charge on the cloud platform and does not require that a company provide a migration or upgrade plan.

    The opportunity is quite useful for many businesses and organizations as this even allows them to use Azure stack which is Microsoft's version of the on-premise cloud system. This option is quite a flexible and useful offer for many businesses and a way for them to move into cloud computing even with this older SQL version. Microsoft is even allowing those customers who purchased the Premium Assurance Program to migrate into the Azure cloud platform on a grandfathered basis since this plan will be discontinued.

    Additional Benefits

    Now corporate and organizational customer can take advantage of Azure Cloud Services for older databases. All Azure features will be available that are relevant to SQL Server 2008. Security across the environment is consistent and provides telemetry for any intrusions. A myriad of backup features are additionally available which can also cut costs as customers look to upgrade these databases to newer versions. Workloads can be more easily managed and even scaled over the next several years while migration planning can continue.

    Additionally, the hardware for currently hosted SQL Server 2008 databases may be aging out of their lifecycles. Consequently, hardware replacement will create higher costs for new equipment, continued security and other business consistency concerns. Azure provides a less expensive way to maintain aging databases until they can be migrated to newer platform versions. Instead of struggling along with both hardware and software concerns, businesses now have the option of implementing Azure versions of their SQL databases where the hardware is no longer a concern since the cloud service keeps all of the instances up-to-date and secured. Business consistency is also addressed when migrating to Azure for this additional time period of support. Azure provides stable backup systems and support for additional security compliance needs.

    With all the additional benefits of Azure cloud services, SQL Server 2008 customers will find that implementing a workload migration to this new option can be highly beneficial as their decisions about upgrades are made over the next several years. Since the security support will remain free, there is an important savings already built into using Azure cloud services to host these older databases. Azure provides business consistency with less concern for hardware changes as well as a high level of cloud-based features which can be beneficial in assisting with upgrades to newer database platforms. Companies and organizations can easily find that their migration concerns are eased by shifting SQL Server 2008 workloads into the Azure cloud. Since Microsoft's cloud services through Azure are proven to already cut costs, Microsoft has generously offered a highly beneficial means of retaining security support for several years to come, one which is far less expensive compared to other immediate options and concerns.

    If you are currently running an outdated version of Microsoft SQL Server and want to explore options, you don't want to leave anything to chance. Contact the Microsoft licensing experts at Royal Discount - your source for all things MS SQL.


  • Azure Portal Changes - ARM - What You Need to Know

    Microsoft Azure Portal

    Azure Classic Portal Closes

    Azure portal has been in use for some time now with all new features available. Azure Classic Portal will no longer be available as of 1/8/2018 and, while users need not be concerned with their access to resources, there are new features available in the updated version of Azure Resource Manager. Find out what you can expect from the Azure portal change.

    First, Azure Classic Portal users shouldn't be concerned with the change. All services and resources will be retained in the new portal. All functions and features are improved as the closure of the previous version allows Microsoft to streamline portal management functions.

    New Portal, New Features

    The latest version of Azure Portal, also known as Azure Resource Manager, features several new features, allowing users to take advantage of resource management improvements over Azure Classic Portal:

    · Search features improve user resource management by finding objects with greater ease. Available from the navigation bar, productivity is much easier as users can find anything from resources, to documentation to services with a quick search.

    · New browsing for resources adds additional improvements for managing Azure components and assets. Using a variety of filters, you can now browse through resources for monitoring and management information whether by subscription, location or both.

    · Users can also execute actions on multiple Azure resources for quicker, easier management. For instance, one, or several VMs can be chosen for starting with just a few clicks.

    · Additionally, Azure resources can now be better managed with tags. Resources can now be grouped using these tag annotations to find them by customizable grouping such as applications or type. Tags are even available for review of billing information and multiple resources can be annotated or removed from tags at one time.

    · The ARM interface is now consistent for ease of use. Common overviews of VMs and other resources are displayed including metrics, available actions, resource information, core platform capabilities and much more. Appearance patterns are consistent across type of resource to reduce confusion during management functions.

    · Users can now customize the portal by views, observing what's most important for resource management needs in Azure. Customizations include items in the left navigation bar, 4 available themes, support for 18 languages, browse list columns, and the following…

    · A variety of dashboards provide visual information designed to afford users with timely, helpful monitoring information and access to resource management. Dashboards can be managed by dragging and dropping tiles or with programmatic controls, then shared with other Azure portal users. For example, these fully customizable dashboards could include Azure Resource Manager tiles for Data or Actions. Add a VM instance to these tiles to respectively see information or available commands.

    · The integrated console allows both GUI and command line control, the latter via use of Cloud Shell. Shift to either Bash or PowerShell with a click and gain authenticated, browser-based command-line functions.

    · Azure Resource Manager provides many resource management templates for improved control of automation in the Azure environment. With over 600 searchable templates, users can find batch commands and edit them for specific uses. Quick-start templates can be loaded and executed from the gallery, then saved to a library of customized templates. Additionally, templates applied to any resource or grouping is displayed in resource information along with code for running automations for even an entire group whether in CLI, PowerShell, .Net or Ruby

    · Azure Advisor displays essential information for cost and planning. Available in the left navigation pane, the advisor is a valuable tool for obtaining best recommendations for cost, security and planning and more for all subscriptions in an account.

    · The new Azure portal offers improved resource monitoring. The monitor is also available in the left Navigation Bar and uses the same UX patterns as discussed earlier for ease of use.

    · Additionally, the Azure portal allows for greater ease of resource cost optimization. Users can easily understand charges in the Azure portal with a single click to analyze billing and cost effectiveness.

    · Users now have access to needed resource information via the Azure Portal Mobile App, available anytime, anywhere. Connection and control of Azure resources are just a touch away after downloading the app to a mobile device.

    · The Azure portal also provides access to preview upcoming changes to the portal so that users can provide feedback before implementation of new features and updates. Clicking the Preview stamp allows you to engage with new features and send your feedback.

    The new Azure portal offers all the necessary features plus new ones with ease of use and flexibility that user's need. Find the portal and or explore other solutions like Azure Backup. To learn more about Microsoft Azure Portal accessibility and features, contact our experts at RoyalDiscount.com - Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.


  • 4 Secrets to Saving Big on Software Costs

    Tips When Buying Discount Software 

    As software has become increasingly more complicated over time, the need for the user to be conscious of their purchases has become increasingly important. Every smart enterprise is undoubtedly looking to save money, and this requires it to remain well-informed. There are indeed a lot of ways in which the uninformed user can be driven to overpay for their software, or driven to purchase a product that simply does not fit their needs, but fortunately, keeping just a few simple tips in mind can help every consumer make the best purchase possible:

    1. Work with a licensed Microsoft partner.

    Though software licensing agreements (SLA) may appear to be uniform for every user, they can actually be adapted and customized to meet the user’s particular needs. Many enterprises can save upwards of thousands of dollars by negotiating more flexible payment schedules, licensing swaps, and by restructuring the terms and agreements of their SLAs. In order to avoid confusion—or in some cases, outright scams—working with a licensed Microsoft partner can assure the most accurate information possible is provided. Only by engaging directly with their software provider can the user discover and negotiate their most workable solutions.

    Learn about Microsoft incentives and licensing factors.

    Many incentive and software licensing programs can be rather complicated, but, fortunately for users, there are many useful resources from which they can acquire information. Microsoft is one of the largest and most diverse software companies in the world, and there are many details of this company that often go unnoticed by its users. The Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) is a good place to begin learning about Microsoft’s intricate licensing program and begin dissecting these details. An organization’s specific licensing agreement will depend on a wide variety of factors, such as the specific number of computers it may use, its desire to enter a perpetual or non-perpetual agreement, its long-term goals, and many others. As a company of its size, Microsoft offers incentives in order to satisfy the niche needs of every user, and these incentives can each offer a tremendous amount of savings.

    3. Avoid questionable retailers.

    Unfortunately, in the modern world of software sales, there are many ways in which even the most cautious users can be harmed or deceived. When shopping for discounts on software—or anything digital, for that matter—it is absolutely vital for users to be conscious of the retailer they are dealing with. A good retailer is one that is willing to present information in an objective manner, assure that their customer’s information will remain protected, and offer continuous support throughout the entire purchase process. Most good retailers ought to have plenty of available reviews and information about themselves online, and if the company seems to be avoidant of consumer’s inquiries or have a generally bad reputation, it may be one that would be better off avoided.

     

    Discount Software Computer Error

    4. Look for holistic solutions and long term support.

    If any enterprise hopes to remain competitive and survive, it knows it cannot just be thinking about its particular needs in the status quo—it needs to be thinking about the future. With the purchase of any Microsoft software, the license holder is entitled to comprehensive support from the company, and this support can be crucial in the long run. Having support from a team of knowledgeable specialists can save a substantial amount of money over time due to the avoidance of unexpected costs associated with the alternative. Furthermore, holistically integrating all of an enterprise’s technology into a unifying source can avoid costs by avoiding redundant payments and avoiding multi-device incompatibility. The best solutions for any problem are the ones that are the most comprehensive, and holistic planning alongside long term support are necessary for creating real value.

    Ultimately, it seems that thinking with a “big picture” mindset is what will best enable the user to realize big savings. For more information on software licensing, or to speak to a member our staff with questions, contact us here.


  • How to Find Discount Software On Amazon

    Fraud Re-Sellers on Amazon Offer Software at Bargain Prices - At a Cost To You

    With the introduction of online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, it is no surprise that end users are looking for the best software deals, to help them save on their often costly business investments. The problem is, most buyers don't realize the inherent risks of buying from un-registered, un-verified third parties. The fact is, an overwhelming majority of discount software retailers on these online marketplaces are selling illegitimate copies of software that often leave the end user at risk for costly audits and downtime. When buying from a re-seller on Amazon or eBay, it is important to verify the legitimacy of the products being sold and to read the reviews to determine if the product is genuine and legal.

     

    Cheap Software Turned Our Fraud

    Deals That Are Too Good to Be True Usually Are: Don't Fall For Fraudulent Software

    If you find software that is listed well below list, or MSRP price, be wary. Most genuine retailers cannot afford to sell their products for rock bottom prices, and there's a reason for that: The margins on software are simply not that big. So if you find that killer deal on an expensive piece of software, it probably isn't a legitimate copy. Most of the time, if fraudulent, it's the wrong version, a compromised key, or made for a region outside of the U.S. - this means you will get software that might work for a few weeks, months, sometimes a year or more, but eventually you will be paying more to rectify these types of issues. Downtime, expensive audits, and lack of functionality can severely hinder businesses and become extremely costly in light of the up-front savings.

    Protect Yourself: Buy Genuine and Eliminate The Risk of An Audit

    Did you know a Microsoft Audit can cost businesses hundreds of thousands of dollars. All it takes is for one piece of software on your network to be out of compliance for Microsoft to initiate an Audit letter, placing your entire business and infrastructure under the microscope. Trying to save on that one piece of software just isn't worth it unless its certified genuine. For those trying to save a few bucks, Royal proudly offers some of the lowest prices in the business, with monthly promo codes and incentives to boot - We ONLY sell legitimate software, ensuring our clients are never put in harm's way.

    Have questions about a specific deal online? We can verify if it's legitimate or not. Contact us for more information or call our licensing department direct at 1-877-292-7712.


  • Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite Is Catching Up to Competitors

    Enterprise Mobility Suite Brings Device Management To Enterprises

    Organizations all around the world are finding it increasingly difficult to cope up with the phenomenon of BYOD (bring your own device). Employees are bringing in their own devices into the corporate network and store not just personal data but also work-related data on it.

    Managing such a variety of different devices and platforms becomes quite a challenge for any IT department. There is also the question of ensuring privacy, i.e. where do you draw the line in separating personal data from work-related.

    As a solution to this problem, software vendors have rolled out what are popularly known as MDM or mobile device management solutions. For example, Symantec, BlackBerry and IBM have such solutions. Likewise, Microsoft too has one, which goes by the name of Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite.

    This offering was announced in 2014 and leverages the capabilities of Windows Intune as well as Microsoft SCCM. It also utilizes certain Azure-based services behind the scenes. The tool's main purpose is to facilitate controlling the different portable devices that are deployed in a company network using a single administrative console. It also enables certain security scenarios such as being able to remotely lock a stolen device and reset / wipe its data as necessary.

    Enterprise Mobility Suite

    Most MDM solutions are licensed on a per-user model and Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite is no exception to it.

    Features of the EMS include for example, geo-location capabilities. The fragmentation and lack of a native management API in Android may also be a hurdle. Microsoft's sincerity to treat all of the different platforms similarly may be considered to be questionable by some vendors, because unlike competitors like Symantec and VMWare which have no mobile platform of their own, Microsoft does have one. Also, Microsoft is highly keen on presenting Windows as a unified platform across the PC, tablet and the phone, unlike how Apple clearly differentiates between OS X and iOS.

    For more information on EM+S or the new Microsoft 365 Packages, contact us direct at 1-877-292-7712.


  • Microsoft Open Licensing

    Big Business Tools At An Entry Level Price

    Microsoft Open Licensing is an entry-level volume licensing program for small to mid-sized companies with between 2 to 250 personal computers (although it can accommodate companies with up to 750 computers). Microsoft's latest service offering allows corporate, charitable, academic, or governmental organizations to obtain volume license schemes for Microsoft products. Microsoft Open Licensing is generally a better value when compared to traditional licensing methods (i.e. - retail, or individual license purchases). Open License provides a simple, yet flexible and cost-effective approach to buying the latest Microsoft technology, maintaining said technology, and standardizing licensing methods to meet your company’s needs and budget.

    The Microsoft Open Licensing Model Is Designed To Simplify

    • Open Value – Specifically designed to offer you simplified license management, lower software management costs, and greater control over your IT investment. This option includes Software Assurance, an improved maintenance program from Microsoft which provides you access to added benefits such as training, software upgrades, deployment planning, and product support. The Open Value program has 3 options: company-wide, non-company-wide and subscription; each designed to meet diverse business needs and applications.
    • Open Value is designed for companies that want to boost their up-front order or purchase amount in one-or-more product pools to take advantage of group s. These options use a system of product pools as well as product points to set up purchase minimums for discounted prices.
    • Open Business – Ideal for organizations looking to pay for Microsoft Software Licenses as they add resources. This program gives your company the flexibility to grow as your business licensing needs increase.

    Does Your Business Qualify?

    To qualify, the initial purchase is to be no less than five licenses (of any product combination); there are some exceptions whereby a single product qualifies (for instance SQL Core licenses and Visual Studio with an MSDN Subscription).

    Office 365 Through Open License

    If your business has met the initial eligibility requirements, the program will run for two consecutive years (further licenses can be added to this plan a-la-carte as desired). This offer does expire, albeit the licenses bought are perpetual and may be used repeatedly. Licenses include all commercially-available Microsoft software products; Check out the Microsoft Open License page and learn more!


  • Microsoft Pushes Emergency Patch for Internet Explorer Vulnerability

    A dangerous flaw in Internet Explorer has prompted Microsoft to issue an emergency out-of-band security update.

    In an advisory posted last Thursday, Microsoft informed the public about a newly detected security vulnerability in Internet Explorer. Here, they warned that the vulnerability affects all versions of Windows – from Windows 7 to Windows 10, including 8.1.

    According to the company, the vulnerability was already exploited and is rated as critical on client operating system and moderate on all server operating system.

    The advisory explains that the CVE-2105-2502 has the potential to hijack control of your computer via Internet Explorer. They also warned users that vulnerable computers can be exploited by simply visiting maliciously-crafted websites.

    Attempts would be made to redirect potential victims to booby-trapped websites by tricking them into opening an unsolicited email attachment or by using spammed out links.

    Once the computer has been compromised, it may grant the attacker administrator-level privileges on the target device. This kind of vulnerability may allow attackers to see personal information. The good news is, they won’t be able to choose what they see.

    If the user has administrative capabilities, the attacker would be able to take complete control of their device and do certain things such as install a program or modify a file. Attackers can do the same thing even if users do not have administrative privileges but may be slightly better off.

    Microsoft’s new browser, Edge, is not listed on the page and is not at risk through the vulnerability. However, since it also ships with a copy of Internet Explorer 11 installed, they included it in the update as well.

    Microsoft urged Windows users to update their machines as soon as possible to protect their devices from security vulnerabilities affecting Internet Explorer.

    For those that have an automatic updating turned on, Microsoft is delivering the update via its automatic Windows Update. For others, these patches are already available via Microsoft’s Download Center.


  • Windows 10 Privacy Settings You Need to Change Right Now

    You open your browser and noticed that all the banner ads have something to do with your favorite hobby. You search for a restaurant, looking for a nice place to celebrate your mom’s birthday and surprisingly, Bing already knows your location. What is going on?

    If you are currently using Windows 10 and have chosen to keep the default settings, Microsoft now has access to your purchase history, browsing history, your location and a lot more. These features can be convenient, but it can also raise privacy concerns.

    This week, we’ll teach you how to manage your privacy settings to prevent Windows 10 from collecting some of your personal information.

    Disable target ads

    In order to serve you with more targeted ads, Windows 10 has issued a unique advertising ID for you. While there is no option to get rid of the ID permanently, you can prevent 3rd party apps from accessing your data.

    Open the Start menu, choose Settings and then Privacy. From here, disable “Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps”.

    Exercise Cortana caution

    Cortana is the all-knowing digital personal assistant built into Windows 10. But she’ll need to know all sorts of information about you in order to function properly. This information includes anything from contacts, location, data from your text messages, emails, calendars etc.

    To take back a bit of privacy, open your Start menu and launch the Settings app. From here, select “Privacy” and then “Speech, inking and typing”. Then, click the “Stop Getting to Know Me” button.

    Disable Wifi sense

    The wifi sense is one of the most notorious sharing issues with Windows 10. This allows users to connect to protected wifi networks even without a password. The passwords are encrypted and those passwords are stored on a Microsoft server somewhere. This allows you to connect to a wireless network when you visit a friend’s house without the hassle of asking for their password.

    If you’d like to turn that off, just open your Start menu and launch the Settings app. Then, choose “Network and Internet” and click “Manage wifi settings”.


  • Mozilla Slams Microsoft on Default Browser Choice in Windows 10

    Browser maker Mozilla isn’t happy with Microsoft’s decision about resetting the default browser.

    A week ago, Mozilla CEO, Chris Beard, has taken his exasperation in public. He decided to write an open letter to Satya Nadella, chief executive of Microsoft, taking aim at the company’s policy on handling changes that were made to the default applications in Windows 10. He called it “disturbing” and slammed the tech giant for making an aggressive move of designating its Edge as a default browser.

    Beard was referring to the Windows 10 upgrade setup process. Here, users who simply clicked on the “Next” button in the express setup will automatically have Edge as their default browser even if they have previously used Google Chrome of Mozilla Firefox.

    This rubbed Beard the wrong way since most users will choose the express settings just because it’s easier. Although users are eventually given the chance to re-assign Firefox of Chrome as their default browser, many of whom will be unlikely to bother. This task would be difficult for majority of users and would just end up abandoning the process.

    Beard said in the letter, “I am writing to you about a very disturbing aspect of Windows 10. Specifically that the upgrade experience appears to have been designed to throw away the choice your customers have made about the Internet experience and they want, and replaced it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have.”

    Beard also said that his company has reached out to Microsoft to address this problem prior to Windows 10 release, but this attempt of opening communication lines has landed on deaf ears; hence this letter.

    To make it easier for users to change their default browser, Mozilla posted a tutorial which includes step-by-step instructions on how to restore Firefox as their default browser. The same instructions can also be used by users who wish to assign Chrome or Opera as their default.


  • Are Rumors of a Microsoft Surface Mini Too Little Too Late?

    While Microsoft prepared for the release of its Surface Pro 3, rumors started to circulate about a new Surface Mini tablet, with the reports citing material released by Microsoft itself. However, the Surface Pro 3 release has come and gone, and there is no sign that a mini tablet from Microsoft will appear any time soon. Continue reading