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Did you receive this email: Subject: Microsoft Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) Review?

Many service providers have emailed us asking about an email sent out to partners titled “Microsoft Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) Review” What is it and what should you do?

As the email states, Microsoft does have the right to verify compliance. This is not an audit, but a quick check up on SPLA partners and their reporting habits. As we all know, Microsoft licensing is not the easiest to navigate, even Microsoft knows this. No one, is 100% compliant all the time, and this is just a way for Microsoft to verify it.

If you did receive this email, the first step is to breathe. Again, its not an audit and no one will shut down your business from Microsoft. What I would recommend is to spend a few minutes with SPLA Man (me) to walk you through the process. I did this the past two days with several hosters. Although no two service providers are the same, the one common theme from the last two days is they all receive zero (I mean zero) help from their SPLA Reseller.

That’s why we are launching a new program to assist service providers with the complexity of licensing and make it easier for you to get answers to your licensing questions and potential risks. Please reach out to us to learn more. Email me directly at info@splalicensing.com. If you have a licensing question, go to our sister site http://www.mscloudlicensing.com and leverage our forum.

No worries! A SPLA Review is not an audit 🙂

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on November 4, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

New CSP Direct Requirements Coming January!


As if 2020 wasn’t hard enough for service providers and MSPs, Microsoft is making new eligibility requirements for CSP Direct partners starting January, 2021. This was announced to all partners earlier this week.

What are the new eligibility requirements?

New revenue target of 300K (USD) in CSP sales during the preceding twelve months is one of the major changes. CSP partners will need to meet this new requirement at the anniversary date of their support plan. In other words, if you have a support plan coming up for renewal soon and do not meet this requirement, you must put on your selling shoes and get to work or look at other alternatives. Active support plan (Premiere Support as an example) is also another requirement.

I think it is important to understand your options. If you don’t meet the requirements you must move to the CSP Indirect program. If you are close to hitting your 300k in sales, start looking at CSP perpetual licenses as a new revenue stream. Open licensing is going away, maybe perpetual licenses could be an option?

If you are CSP Direct authorized for the QMTH program only, this change will be significant. As part of QMTH, you must be CSP Direct authorized.

If you have questions on how this change will impact you, please email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

CSP Man

 
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Posted by on October 29, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

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Join the new hosting community at mscloudlicensing.com

Our goal has always been to build a community of resources to help hosting providers and MSPs with their licensing. Our sister website, http://www.mscloudlicensing will be launching several new resources including our new podcast titled Fireside Chat with SPLA Man starting in November. Hope to see you there!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Does SPLA licensing exist for Microsoft 365?

This has taken over the spot for the #1 asked question by SPLA hosters. (For those curious, SPLA VDI was #1).

To answer this question specifically, the answer is no. There’s no option to license M365/O365/Windows 10/Azure through a SPLA agreement. That doesn’t mean you cannot offer it through other channel programs such as CSP. To understand more about CSP, please visit csplicensing.com

You cannot host M365 from your datacenter without a QMTH addendum or dedicated infrastructure. Word to the wise, do not try to be QMTH authorized without really understanding what it takes to do so. There’s a lot of investment and upfront capital to get the authorization and other metrics to achieve – not the least which being CSP Direct authorized.

To understand the different options and program eligibility, I encourage you to reach out to our team at info@splalicensing.com We have helped thousands of SPLA partners with their licensing optimization strategies.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 19, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

How to sell Microsoft software without SPLA

This is a follow up from our original post “Licensing CSP On Premise Products”

SPLA Man has gone mad! How can you sell Microsoft software without SPLA???!!! Sure, if you host the Microsoft software SPLA is still part of the equation, but if you want to sell outside of SPLA, here are a few ideas.

We’ve all heard of CSP, but most of us think of CSP as selling Office 365 or Azure. That’s true, but you can also sell CSP perpetually to your end users. I think this is a pretty big deal for both VAR partners and hosters.

Let’s say you have a customer who needs software for on premise. Maybe its a hospital or government agency who has strict policies against software as a service where they have to buy the licenses, not lease it. In the past, the only way a VAR or SPLA provider can offer their end customer Microsoft volume licensing is by partnering with an authorized reseller and they would be required to bill your end customer directly. Not their rule, but Microsoft. Fast forward to today, you can now buy CSP on premise perpetual software, add your own markup, and sell to your end customer. This is available through the CSP Indirect model which is ideal for partners.

The reason I feel this is important is because it gives you options. You can sell your customer almost the entire Microsoft catalog, offer different deployment options, and control your own margin. You can offer your customer SPLA, Microsoft cloud, on premise, or a combination of everything.

I know I wrote about this before, but I still get asked A LOT about reselling software outside of SPLA.

If you have questions on CSP and how this program can benefit you, please shoot us an email at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Microsoft SPLA Audit Support

As the shift from on premise/hosted solutions to the public cloud continues, so does the complexity of the licensing. As an example, in a recent engagement, a provider faced difficulty in determining which licenses his customers were eligible to migrate to a public cloud and which ones had to be relicensed. They were also under the pressure of a SPLA audit. Here’s what we uncovered:

  1. No proper way to track licenses. They did not have a tool or SAM process. SPLA reporting should be used as business intelligence into what is happening in your environment, not just a requirement by Microsoft.
  2. They had Office 365 license deployed on shared hardware.
  3. Software Assurance was not offered to their clients.
  4. They were paying a premium for their licenses over what others were paying based on reseller costs.
  5. They purchased Office 365 through the portal out of convenience.
  6. They owed over 2.4 million (USD) for licenses. We reduced to 150k (USD) based on licensing rules and reporting

Don’t be this provider!

If you are faced with an audit, it is important to not go through it alone.  Your plan should include ways to reduce your risk before it becomes a risk.  Our licensing experts will review your data, understand the risk, and put together a strategy to reduce exposure and path moving forward.

If you are going through an audit or want to reduce your SPLA reporting, please reach out to us to discuss our strategy.  We are independent and work for you, not the vendor. You can email info@splalicensing.com or directly at blaforge@splalciensing.com

Thanks for reading!

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

New Webinar Series: What is going on with SPLA?

How many times have you asked yourself that the past couple years? Join our partner, BeNimble IT to uncover the future of SPLA and what other service providers are doing in these challenging times. There’s A LOT of changes coming in the pipeline for CSP such as perpetual based licensing and incentives. Register here to learn more https://benimbleit.com/future-of-spla-register/

Thanks for reading!

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on September 21, 2020 in Uncategorized

 

Can I use CSP for Windows Server and not SPLA?

No.  How about that for a short answer?

We have been asked multiple times on this topic. It is not impossible, but not really viable either. Let me explain.

If you are CSP Direct authorized (or CSP Reseller), you could resell your end customer Windows and/or SQL Server subscriptions through CSP and host it in a dedicated infrastructure. I do not think it is really worth the time and effort just to host Windows and SQL. The cost in licensing is not that substantial from SPLA. If Microsoft allowed a service provider to host it on shared infrastructure than that would be a different story. You cannot purchase Windows through CSP and host it. Remember, Server Subscriptions for on premise deployments follow the Product Terms, which of course prohibits hosting.
If you are an ISV and want to host your application from your own datacenter, I would consider CSP Servers. Under the current Product Terms, Microsoft will allow Self-Hosted rights. I think this reduces your compliance risk since SPLA is tricky to license to begin with.

Isn’t licensing fun? We provide consulting services around these offerings. If you have questions, feel free to email us at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading.

SPLA Man

 

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What are your top 5 reasons for continuing with SPLA over CSP

Let us know!  Email info@splalicensing.com We are conducting a study to understand the hosting world better.

Here’s my top 5

  1. Cost.  Yes I can buy a Windows Server Subscription through CSP and save consumption costs by deploying through Azure, but my datacenter costs are consistent and can offer a fixed price point to my customers.
  2. Confusing.  I thought SPLA was confusing, CSP is just a complex.  Want CSP Windows Server on prem?  You cannot host if you do!  Want CSP Incentives?  You are better off reading the SPUR, it’s an easier read!  Want the new CSP perpetual license?  That’s fine, but don’t plan on hosting or having your customer transfer that license into your datacenter.  No Software Assurance equals no License Mobility
  3. Dedicated Infrastructure.  With Listed Provider rules, I can offer dedicated hosts and compete with larger hosting companies.
  4. Local Support.  My customers want their data local and with someone they know.
  5. You can do both.  We can offer E3 plans or Windows 10 to my end users through CSP, but use SPLA for infrastructure solutions  for my financial customer or ISV solutions.

What do you think?  Bad list?  Good list?  Anything additional?

Stay tuned for reasons to do CSP over SPLA in my next post.  Here’s a hint…compliance.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man.

 

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Licensing CSP On Premise Products

Recently, Microsoft announced a new offering for CSP Indirect providers who are also Microsoft Authorized Distributors for the Open License program.  In January 2021 (If he world is still around)  Microsoft will extend this to both CSP Direct bill partners, indirect providers, and indirect resellers.

The breakdown:

  1. It’s a perpetual license. Unlike other solutions through CSP, this is not a subscription.  It requires a single, upfront payment.
  2. No volume discounts.  There’s no minimum requirement and to no one’s surprise, no maximum either.
  3. Software Assurance (SA) is not available.  One key element, no SA benefits are included either such a license mobility.   With SPLA as an example, SA was not included but part of the program benefit was pay as you go.  CSP for on-premise, there is no such benefit.
  4. The use rights are outlined in the Product Terms, not the SPUR or Online Services Terms.

Available Products

  • Windows Desktop and Servers
    • Windows 10 Pro
    • Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC Upgrade
    • Windows STD and DC core licenses
    • Windows CALs and External Connector
    • RDS CALS and External Connector
    • RMS CALs and External Connector
  • SQL
    • Standard Server licenses and CALs
    • Standard and Enterprise Core licenses
  • Productivity Servers
    • Exchange Server and STD/Ent CALs
    • SharePoint Server and STD/Ent CALs
    • Skype for Business – Server and STD/ENT Plus CALs
    • Project Server 2019 Server and CALs
  • Office
    • Standard 2019 and Pro Plus 2019
    • Mac STD 2019
  • Project and Visio
    • Standard and Professional 2019
    • Visio Standard and Professional 2019

Deployment Options * See last paragraph for additional information

  • Physical or virtual environments
  • 90 days License reassignment

Upgrade Rights

  • No upgrade rights
  • Any prior version can be licensed.

Accessing Software Keys

Microsoft 365 Admin Center –  Like other CSP licenses, everything is deployed through the admin portal.  The current version and two previous versions are available.  If the customer has media from earlier versions, they can legally license it with their CSP on premise license.

If you are a SPLA Provider, you cannot license CSP on-premise and host.  The CSP for on-premise follows the Product Terms not the SPUR.   Secondly, you cannot have your end customers buy CSP for on-premise and host it on your shared infrastructure.  Last, because there’s no SA with these licenses, you cannot self-host (for ISVs) using this solution.   An alternative, would be to use Windows and SQL Server Subscriptions and host in Azure.

Confused yet?  Email info@splalicensing.com to learn more.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

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