Ahh, SPLA reporting. We’ve heard the line, the only sure thing in life is
death and taxes. The only thing certain for a service provider is that
Microsoft will change the licensing rules (frequently) and SPLA reporting.
There’s not much we can do about Microsoft changing the licensing rules, but
alas, there is something you can do about SPLA reporting.
I’ve written this on several occasions, but it’s worth repeating. The
biggest mistake a service provider will make is believing that SPLA reporting
is a requirement by Microsoft. Yes, it is a requirement by Microsoft, but that
is not the only reason you should track licensing. Let me provide an example,
HostingRUs has one man managing their SPLA reporting. He runs a “foolproof”
script that will identify everything in their environment. He reports all the
licenses installed and looks at invoices to know the number of users to report.
He submits it to his reseller.
There is nothing wrong with that strategy except for one thing – nowhere in
the reporting process is anyone tracking licensing rules, updates,
optimization, and, more importantly, billing. So in the above example, yes,
HostingRUs is reporting licenses to Microsoft, but they should consider so many
Here’s another example. A member of my site (Mscloudlicensing.com) wrote me,
saying, “Microsoft is really Sh*tting on me.” He has an application
that requires Office Excel; his customer already owns Office 365. He wants to
use the O365 license that his customer already purchased to be installed in his datacenter.
Obviously, that is not possible without the QMTH addendum.
That’s when he got a
bit crabby and threatened an anti-trust lawsuit with Microsoft. (Good luck, my
friend, but my money is on the company with a trillion dollars in the bank).
What the service provider failed to do in this example is look at his
datacenter environment from a perspective of what he can do, not what he can’t.
He didn’t know he could offer just Excel (instead of the entire suite). He also
didn’t consider using open office. He also had very little knowledge of who
accesses the application indirectly.
If you believe Microsoft changes the rules A LOT and SPLA reporting are
cumbersome; then maybe a tool is worth it.
I recommended Octopus Cloud
to the service provider in my example
above. Many service providers use Octopus to keep track of SPLA reporting, but
more are using it as a business intelligence tool to understand what is happening
inside their datacenter. Octopus helped him know what is installed versus what
is reported (a big miss for him was reporting Office Standard, but Office Pro
was installed – not only was he underreporting, but in reality, he just needed
Excel in the first place, a third of the cost of Office Standard!) Can you
imagine if he was audited? His customers just required Excel, but he was on the
hook for Office Pro just because his engineer thought it was convenient when he
So when I asked (in the title) should you use an SPLA tool or not? I would
argue you can’t afford not to. If you report 1,000 dollars a month or 100,000
dollars a month, don’t you want to make sure you got it right?
Thanks for reading,