When looking towards consuming Azure, this first point to start is the “tenant”. This is basically what one would see as their Azure Active Directory, or for some “Office 365”. This is linked to a “Subscription”. The subscription is linked to certain contract type, which influences the billing model. Choosing a certain contact type will (strangely enough) have an impact for you. So today we’ll cover the various options with their (dis)advantages.
Basically, we can distinguish the following contract types ;
- Enterprise Agreement
- Cloud Solution Provider
In reality, there are a few more, though most Azure offers can be consolidated into the term “Online” I used earlier on. The above are the three most commonly used scenario’s, therefore I will limit the scope of the day to these.
These contracts are the ones you directly purchase from Microsoft online. Just sign-up, enter your credit card information, and you are good to go.
- Monthly billing
- Not much administrative overhead
- Most expensive
- Enterprise overview is lacking
Basically, if you have a rather modest deployment, then this is probably the best offer for you.
An enterprise agreement (EA) is a three-year contract where you commit to certain yearly usage. This usage is charged at the beginning of each contract year. If one would exceed the commit, then over-usage is charged per quarter or month depending on its relative size vs the commit.
- Most complete in term of enterprise features (f.e. StorSimple only possible with an Enterprise Agreement)
- Non-consumed commitment value is “lost”. This cannot be transferred to the next period.
This is the most commonly used contract out in the field for enterprises.
Cloud Solution Provider
Fairly new to most… The Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) enables a relationship between the partner and the organization it’s servicing. The contract is between the partner & the organization, where Microsoft acts as a their party (“OEM” vendor).
- Monthly billing
- Provides the ability for partners to have a deeper relationship with the customer
- Is burdened with service limits. (f.e. StorSimple and “the old portal”) are not available in this contract.
This is an upcoming contract type. Often used by Service Providers in combination with other service bundles.
Now one would say, let’s just pick one and change afterwards… then you are out of luck. Some directions are not possible. In short ;
- Movements between the same contract type is always possible. This makes it possible to transfer subscriptions between Enterprise Agreements, or change service providers with CSP.
- CSP can only receive subscriptions from CSP.
- Online can be migrated to an EA.
If your move does not fall in the above rule set, then you’ll need to migrate your systems… There are various ways of doing this, featuring ;
- Azure Site Recovery Services
- ASM-2-ARM migration tool
- Replication tools
- … and so on
Here I would suggest consulting an expert on the matter. As this becomes complex quite quickly.
General Advice : Do NOT use ASM…
When using Azure, I would -strongly- suggest not to use ASM! I repeat myself, do not start using ASM and do not put any new workloads in ASM.
ASM is what people often refer to as “the old portal”. Be aware that this portal is not under development anymore and the main focus is on ARM (“the ibiza/new portal”).
Azure is evolving at an enormous pace and you do not want to be stuck / invest in the part that will lag behind. Also be aware that CSP does not support ASM at all. Yes, it’s literally impossible to use ASM under a CSP contract…
So I repeat myself yet again ; Do NOT use ASM!
- Stop using ASM
- There are a lot of ways to buy Azure.
- EA is an upfront payment model, where “Online” and CSP are based upon a monthly consumption model.
- Migrating between contract types isn’t as easy as you would expect.
- Cloud seems easy on the outside, but always check with an expert when making new decisions. Some design choices may look small on the outside but might have a huge financial impact on the long-term.