Licensing Alert: Microsoft Discontinuing Mixed Commercial and GCC Environments

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Microsoft Discontinues Mixed GCC and Commercial Environments Hero

Publish Date

February 14, 2023

Tags

Commercial Cloud | GCC | Government Community Cloud | Microsoft | Microsoft Azure | Microsoft Licensing

Microsoft recently made a change to its cloud-based products and service licensing, regarding tenant environments, that has caused some inconveniences among its users. The change in question is the discontinuation of mixed Commercial and Government Community Cloud (GCC) environments within Microsoft tenants. Let’s take a closer look at what this change means, why Microsoft made this decision, and what the implications are for users with mixed licensing.

What is the difference between Microsoft Commercial and GCC tenants?

The two most common types of tenants for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, the Power Platform and Azure: commercial tenants and GCC tenants.

Commercial tenants are the standard tenants used by most businesses and organizations that use Microsoft cloud products and services. They provide access to all of the services included with the licensing and are subject to Microsoft’s standard Commercial terms and conditions.

GCC tenants, on the other hand, are designed specifically for government organizations and their contractors. They offer most of the same services as Commercial tenants but provide additional compliance features. GCC tenants are subject to different terms and conditions, including those set by the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP).

Why did Microsoft discontinue mixed Commercial and GCC environments in tenants?

The discontinuation of mixed Commercial and GCC licensing for tenants is a result of Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring the security and privacy of its users’ data. Mixed environments, where Commercial and GCC products are housed within the same infrastructure, can create security vulnerabilities that can put sensitive information at risk.

By separating the Commercial and GCC environments into separate tenants, Microsoft can maintain a higher level of security and privacy for its GCC tenants. The company is also able to better ensure compliance with government regulations and industry standards.

Until recently, select Dynamics 365 applications were not available in the GCC (such as Finance), so some government organizations utilizing Microsoft business applications had a necessity for licensing in both the Commercial cloud and the GCC.

What are the implications of this change for Microsoft 365, Dynamics 365, Power Platform, and Azure users?

For most Microsoft cloud product and service users, the discontinuation of mixed environments will not have a significant impact. Commercial tenants will continue to have access to all of the services they have come to rely on, and GCC tenants will continue to have access to the same services with enhanced security and privacy features.

However, for organizations using mixed environments, the change may require additional planning and preparation. For now, these organizations will be allowed to maintain their mixed environments but will need to partner with an experienced Microsoft Partner, like Arctic IT, who can assist with the increasingly complex licensing renewals.

One way to avoid the headache altogether is to move all data and licensing to a fully Commercial tenant or fully GCC tenant. This process may require significant effort and resources, as well as careful consideration of the security and privacy implications of the move.

It is also important for organizations to understand that, once the switch to GCC has been made, it is not possible to move data back to a Commercial tenant. Therefore, it is essential for organizations to carefully evaluate their options and choose the tenant environment that best meets their needs.

What steps can organizations take to prepare for this change?

For organizations that have been using mixed environments, the first step is to understand the implications of the change and evaluate their options. They will need to decide whether to switch to a Commercial tenant or move their data to a GCC tenant.

Once the decision has been made, the next step is to begin the process of migrating data to the new tenant environment. This process may require significant effort and resources, and it is important to work with a trusted Microsoft Partner to ensure that the migration is completed smoothly and securely.

In addition to migrating data, organizations may also need to consider other factors, such as the potential impact on their users and their operations, the cost of the migration, and the security and privacy implications of the move.

The discontinuation of mixed environments for Commercial and GCC tenants is a change that is likely to have significant implications for some Microsoft cloud users. While the change is primarily intended to enhance the security and privacy of data stored in Microsoft’s cloud-based services, it may require some organizations to make significant changes to their IT infrastructure.

While the discontinuation of mixed environments may seem like a significant change, it is important to remember that it is a result of Microsoft’s commitment to ensuring the security and privacy of its users’ data. By separating Commercial and GCC tenants, Microsoft is able to better ensure that sensitive information is protected and that its users are able to take full advantage of its cloud-based services.

In closing…

The discontinuation of mixed Commercial and GCC environments in Microsoft tenants is an important change to understand. By taking the necessary steps to prepare for the switch, organizations can ensure that their data is secure and that they are able to take full advantage of Microsoft’s cloud-based services.

If your organization is struggling with what your next steps are in this process, contact a Microsoft Partner that can guide you through the process. Arctic IT is a Microsoft Gold Partner with experience in supporting clients with mixed Commercial and GCC environments. Contact Arctic IT today for more information.

 
By Phillip Jackson, CIO at Arctic IT