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Windows Server Tips and Tricks

Windows Server is not complex, but if you are not educated on the recent price increases announced by Microsoft there could be some advantages you are unaware of.  Here’s the topic- If you are not reporting Windows 2016 – you need to do so now.   Email info@splalicensing.com and I can show you why that is the case.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

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Posted by on December 11, 2017 in Windows 2016

 

Microsoft SPLA Audit Notifications…

Tis’ the season to be merry!  To bring a little holiday cheer, Microsoft is gifting you an audit!  In this article, I will break down some of the tricks to stay ahead of the game when Mr. Audit comes knocking.  If you need help, please email us at info@splalicensing.com We have the resources and the expertise to help navigate through the process.

Do’s of an audit:

  1. Do a pre audit yourself.  This is best to engage a third-party to know what is in your environment and what the auditors will look for.  I like to think of it this way, if you pay your reseller 20k dollars a month (as an example) don’t you want to make sure you get it right?
  2. Use your own tool or method to collect the information.  We know (and so does Microsoft) that you may not be collecting everything that auditor’s will  look for but that’s one of the reasons why you should engage a third-party.  We can use your data but we will compare it against the licensing rights so we know the risk before it becomes a risk.
  3. Know and understand customer owned licenses.  Auditors will look at everything that is installed in your hosted environment.  You need to know what you should be reporting and what you can get away with not reporting.
  4. Engage with the publisher, not disengage.  Avoiding the notification will not solve anything and put you in a tricky situation.
  5. Keep calm.  Overreacting doesn’t help your cause.

Don’t’s of an audit:

  1. Similar to 4-5 mentioned above, don’t be a jerk.  Kind of like getting mad at another driver at a stoplight, it never solves anything.
  2. Hire a law firm to work with Microsoft on your behalf.  If that happens, the publisher will engage their legal and it becomes very black and white.  In this case, my bet is on the company with the billions of dollars in their bank account.  If you engage in a third-party, it’s best to work with the third-party directly with your organization, not the third-party work with the publisher.
  3. Give the auditors everything they ask.  Sometimes they ask for things that are not relevant to the situation.
  4. Throw in the towel.  Even organizations who never report SPLA but are hosting can find a way to negotiate.
  5. Rush to close it.  There are strategies that work out to your benefit if you hold off.  Another benefit is it may give you better financial options.

Happy Holidays!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2017 in Compliance, Uncategorized

 

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Testing Environments for Hosting Providers

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,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2017 in Testing and Development

 

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Azure Partner Shared Services

Microsoft recently announced a new Azure Partner Shared Services offer in CSP that will allow resellers and other MSP’s the ability to create a unique tenant within Partner Center to purchase and deploy Azure subscriptions for internal use.

Prior to this announcement, CSP’s would have multiple invoices from Microsoft – (1) for internal workloads and others for their customers.   This announcement is intended for existing CSP resellers and MSP’s.  It is not necessarily intended for ISV partners to join CSP to build their applications.  Microsoft recommends ISV’s purchase Azure through a reseller or even azure.com.   For existing CSP’s and MSP’s, this announcement does three things:

  1. Allows you to purchase and use Azure in Partner Center (same place you resell and manage your customer’s Azure environment)
  2. Allows MSP’s to  build test environments and deploy internal workloads
  3. Extend your environment to include multi-tenant solutions.

Some common FAQ’s for Azure Partner Shared Services

Are ther specific licensing restrictions for this type of solution?

It’s actually licensed by the CSP partner.  When you (the CSP partner) purchase the solution, you are the licensee and is governed by the end customer license terms since it is internal use as oppose to the Reseller terms which is for your end customers.

Is this available in Office 365?

No.  It is not available for other cloud services at this time.

Is this available through any other licensing program?

No. It is designed for CSP providers only.

How do i create the shared services tenant?

For complete details, I recommend going here to learn more.

Is this part of SPLA?

No. It’s part of the CSP Program.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

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Answers to Your Cloud Licensing Questions

Will Azure be part of the SPLA program?

I wouldn’t think so and wouldn’t know how they could incorporate the two.  Azure is Microsoft hosted and SPLA is partnered.   Microsoft will want to keep SPLA and Azure separate.

Is Azure Stack part of SPLA?

Azure Stack by itself is not part of SPLA.  What’s part of SPLA is the Windows licenses.  As a service provider, you could deploy Azure Stack, pay the base consumption rate, and use Windows licensing with SPLA.  In fact, I think it’s less expensive to do it this way.

If my customer wants to use their own Windows license on Azure Stack, do they also require CAL’s?

Yes.  You need to pay attention to the Product Terms to ensure compliance.  As an example, volume licensing prohibits hosting.  You cannot install your own Windows licenses through volume licensing and host using Azure Stack.

Does Office 365 qualify for the SAL for SA product in SPLA?

The only Office 365 product that is eligible for SAL for SA is Skype.

Is SPLA pricing going up?

Yes and will not be decreasing anytime soon.

Since AWS offers dedicated hardware, could I transfer my customer’s license to their datacenter without Software Assurance?

Yes.  If its dedicated hardware Software Assurance is not required.

What about Azure?

No, you would need Software Assurance.

Will Microsoft finally allow MSDN to be licensed in my datacenter?

Probably not.  Although if you use Azure, MSDN is eligible to be transferred.

If I sell CSP through 2-Tier distributor, can I sign the QMTH addendum?

No.  You must be CSP 1 – Tier to qualify for QMTH.

Can I outsource support for certain software through CSP?

Yes.  You an resell the solutions you can support and leverage another partner for support for other products.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2017 in Top 5 Licensing Questions

 

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More SPLA Questions…More Answers.

Here is a list of some of the questions we received this month.  Enjoy!

Why does Microsoft not allow a SPLA SQL VM to be installed in a public cloud?  I understand if you were licensing the physical layer, but if you want to install on a VM, you can easily allocate the number of cores and report accordingly.  Any ideas?

No.  Honestly there is no reason outside of it’s just prohibited.  You cannot license SPLA cores/processors in public clouds even if the VM is dedicated.

What can be installed in Azure through SPLA licensing?

Anything that is licensed by SAL can be moved to Azure.  For your end customers, anything that has Software Assurance and is license mobility eligible can be transferred including: Windows 10 E3  (QMTH), Office 365 Pro Plus (QMTH) and MSDN.  Your end customers can also leverage Azure HUB to get discounted pricing for the Windows Servers they purchased with SA.   Check out the Azure FAQ site https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/licensing-faq/

Is Microsoft going to discontinue SPLA?

Nah.  I bet it will be merged into a new program though.  Just a hunch.

I received a compliance notification the other day.  Am I in trouble?

Depends on the type of notification and if you are out of compliant :).  If you have questions, we can review it with you.  Just email info@splalicensing.com

Can I report Windows 2016 but run Windows 2012?

Yes.  No problem there.  What you cannot do is license Windows 2012 and run 2016.  Don’t do that.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2017 in Top 5 Licensing Questions

 

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SPLA Pricing Going Up? Not on my watch

I hate when other partners promote a SPLA price increase to gain business.  Yeah, no one can control what the publisher will ultimately do and pricing is never consistent (just look at your local gas pump) but that doesn’t mean you cannot leverage use rights and other factors to lower your SPLA bill.  In this article, we will look at how SPLA partners can lower their bill regardless what Microsoft may or may not do in the future.  Here are a quick (some easy, some not so easy) ways to accomplish this.

  1. SQL Server:  How confident are you that you are licensing the most expensive product in SPLA correctly?  Let me provide an example, reporting SQL Web because of price is not a sound strategy.  Auditors look at licensing historically, when you license incorrectly for a product like SQL Web and it should’ve been Standard, you will pay an astronomically higher price in the long run.  Pay attention to your given use rights to uncover cost savings, such as SQL Enterprise for unlimited virtualization, Standard SAL licenses for multiple VM’s and Servers, etc.
  2. Administration Access:  Why report administrators?  As part of your signed SPLA agreement, you are allowed 20 admins per datacenter without the need for SPLA.  Doing a demo for your customer?  Don’t report it.  Pay attention to the use rights in your SPLA agreement, not just the SPUR.
  3. SPLA Internal Use:  If you have more external users than internal users, perhaps you should use SPLA to cover both.  As an example, if you host Exchange for 10 users, you can use up to 5 internally.  Those licenses are not free, you would report a total of 15 on your SPLA moving forward.  This entitlement is called the 50% rule which states that you cannot license more than 50% of what you are hosting, internally.  I like this because it eliminates two things: 1) if a user leaves your company, you simply do not license the user the next month.  In Volume Licensing, you own the licenses which would force you to either reassign the license to another user internally or it goes unused.  2).  You would not be required to have separate hardware for this solution.  In traditional SPLA, you must have separate hardware from what you are hosting.  If using SPLA for internal consumption, it can be on the same hardware since it follows the same use rights.
  4. Leveraging Skype for Business through Office 365:  Yeah, in many cases O365 is the big bad wolf; in other cases, it’s your best friend.  If you want to host Skype, you can sell your customers who purchased Skype O365 licenses, host it from your datacenter environment, and leverage the SAL for SA SKU.  Skype USL (Office 365 licenses) is the only product that qualifies for SAL for SA in SPLA.  If your customer purchased Skype USL licenses and are unhappy with migrating it to Microsoft datacenter, you can tell the customer that you can host it for them for little cost.  It’s much cheaper than licensing/reporting the regular Skype for Business SAL.  On the flip side, let’s say your customer purchased Exchange Online USL license, they would just need to purchase the Exchange Server with Software Assurance to leverage license mobility.   Exchange Online does not qualify for SAL for SA.
  5. Private Cloud: When the public cloud is taking up all the headlines, maybe it’s time to differentiate and create a new headline.  No one gets ahead by doing the same thing others are doing.   If Azure offers public cloud, maybe you should start offering private cloud.  In this example, private cloud is fully dedicated, isolated hardware for each individual customer.  Here are three ways this could be beneficial:
    1. Dedicated hardware does not require Software Assurance.  Your customer owns SQL 2000 or still stuck on Windows 2003?  No problem, move it to your cloud.  Try doing the same in Azure or other fully public clouds, they would need SA for those licenses.
    2. Unlimited Virtualization.  Windows does not have mobility rights, but if you were to offer dedicated servers, an end customer can transfer their Windows licenses without issue.  More importantly, if they purchased Windows Datacenter because of virtualization (which they did), they can still have unlimited virtualization rights as if they were running it on premise (still dependent upon the size of the server).  Do the same in Azure HUB, and it doesn’t quite add up.
    3. No SPLA licenses, no VDI restrictions, no CSP requirement and ease of security concerns. Kind of speaks for itself.

I understand that in many situations transitioning to a private cloud is easier said than done, but it does have tremendous licensing advantages over public clouds.  Worried about SPLA price increases or CSP?  Private cloud might be your answer.

As always, have a question on SPLA pricing, licensing, or anything else that comes to mind, email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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