In this article, we will discuss the licensing rules for service providers who would like to provide testing/development environments for their customers. We will break down MSDN, SQL Developer edition, and the terms and conditions found in your signed SPLA agreement. We will also provide a sneak peek into how AWS does it to stay to compliant.
MSDN Licensing for Hosting
A common question from hosting providers is “Can I host MSDN? The short answer is “probably not in the way you want to provide MSDN” that sounds a bit harsh, but the reality is MSDN is a customer owned subscription licenses (I guess at the end of the day, it’s a subscription – no one owns anything, but you get my point). If your customer wants to transfer their MSDN licenses into your datacenter, you must inform them that you must isolate (dedicate) the hardware for that customer only. Under no circumstance, can you host MSDN in a shared datacenter environment, MSDN is not license mobility eligible.
What you can do is license the components of MSDN (Visual Studio) through SPLA, and yes, that can be shared since it’s a SPLA license, not MSDN. All other components (Windows/SQL) would also have to be licensed via SPLA since it’s shared.
What about Azure? Azure is the only exception to this rule. Azure does allow MSDN licenses to be transferred over to their shared datacenter environment.
To summarize MSDN: No, you cannot host an end customers MSDN license from your shared environment. Yes, you can in Azure. Yes, you can license the components of MSDN in SPLA. Don’t shoot the messenger!
SQL Developer Edition
SQL Developer edition is not part of the SPLA program. The only SQL editions in SPLA are Web, Standard, and Enterprise. Since SQL Developer is not included in SPLA and is not license mobility eligible, it cannot be installed in shared cloud environments (Like MSDN – which SQL Developer is included).
We get asked if it’s possible to report SQL Standard in development. Yes, you can use SQL Standard for testing since it’s included in SPLA, but that does not have the same functionality as SQL Developer edition. If you want similar functionality, you would have to license SQL Enterprise. Please see the supported features here to learn more.
Evaluation/Testing Language in SPLA
As part of your signed SPLA agreement, you can test products for an evaluation period of 90 days. After 90 days, you must remove it or report it under SPLA. There is often confusion as to what Microsoft means by evaluation and testing.
Evaluation/testing and development are two different things. Testing/Evaluation is to ensure the solution works for your customers to perform internally before delivering on behalf of your customers. It could mean testing, maintenance, and administrative tasks to the server. Development is building or creating the solution.
How does Amazon license MSDN?
I wrote a white paper on this topic, but in short, AWS must play by the same rules that you do as a service provider. If you want to use your MSDN licenses in AWS, you must purchase a dedicated instance from AWS. I would check out their FAQ guide to learn more.
Thanks for reading,