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SPLA Audits are on the rise…are you ready?

There are BIG changes in store for SPLA – some great, some bad, some indifferent.  Windows 2016, Windows 10 in Azure, Shared Computer Activation, etc.  I will write about the updates shortly.

With all this change, Microsoft and other publishers recognize the complexities in tracking all those licenses.  In short, they know many (if not all) service providers have a difficult time staying compliant.  That’s one reason they audit.  I always say, if you go on vacation for a week be careful; Microsoft just might change the licensing rules on you.  So where do you turn for audit support and assistance?  How do you know what auditors are collecting is accurate and how do you know what Microsoft and other publishers tell you is accurate?  I can promise you it not always is.

Some people can play piano with their eyes closed; others can speak multiple languages fluently; and yet others can mow the grass while guzzling a beer.  Net of it is we all have our specialities; mine just happens to be interpreting data, negotiating down audit costs, and understand the licensing rules inside and out.  Who else writes about SPLA in their free time?  (I really need to get out more).

You have enough to worry about with your business, the last thing you need is an audit.  Let us take that pressure off of you and put it on us.  (or the vendor)

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Everything you should know about SQL Licensing 2016

It’s amazing how confused the hosting community is with SQL.  (Myself included) Core factor; SQL BI (whatever that is); SQL Web – discontinued in VL but available in SPLA? Ugh…Hyper threading licensing; and SQL Enterprise virtualization.  In this article, let’s review these licensing conundrums and finally solve some of the licensing mysteries surrounding them.  There are a lot of good links in this article – check it out if you have time.  There’s also a training on the technical aspects of SQL presented by Microsoft’s Sara Barela.  I interviewed her some time ago when SQL 2014 was released.  Check it out here To register for the webinar see below:

Date and Time: June 16, 2016 at 10:00am PT. For non-registered Cloud Channel Network Members, please register for this live webcast at:

  • REGISTER HERE to attend at www.cloudchannelnetwork.com and select the SQL Session while signing up. Once you register you will receive reminders, and can also access the add to calendar below.

 

For registered Cloud Channel Network Members, you will not need to register and can access the event link or add to calendar below:

 

  • EVENT LINK: LOG IN HERE  to live webcast on Live date and time

SQL Licensing:

Core Factor

For those that were worried about how to calculate cores using the core factor; you can now sleep at night.  Microsoft discontinued this method.  In 2016 use rights, you calculate the number of cores on the physical server or the number of virtual cores on the VM.  You just need to report a minimum of 4 cores per VM/physical core.

SQL Web Only available under SPLA.  It is also only available if you are providing publicly accessible information.  If the data is not publicly accessible, you cannot license SQL Web.  Don’t just licesense SQL Web because it’s less expensive.  It can cost you.

SQL BI

SQL BI is discontinued as well.  For those five service providers that were reporting it this might come as a shock.  The bad news is there is now only (1) product in the SQL family that is licensed by user-SQL Standard.  Why is that bad news?  Keep reading.

SQL Enterprise

Nothing new from a licensing perspective with 2016.  That’s the ok news.  You can still license the physical cores on each host that will allow you to run unlimited virtual machines.  To me, it’s similar to Windows Datacenter but with cores (and yes, Windows 2016 is moving that direction to.  Check out my article here) From a product feature perspective, in my limited technical mind, I highlighted some features from other third-party articles  that I think service providers could benefit (that’s the better news).  Hey, you can leverage another datacenter, I can leverage other blogs right?

  • Always Encrypted: For those that have end customers that are very concerned about security (think law firms/healthcare in particular) This feature ensures your encrypted data remains encrypted even if the server itself is administered by a third-party.   Check out this article by my friend at MSDN to learn more.  I like this feature with license mobility.  With license mobility, the end customer must have software assurance on those licenses they wish to transfer over.  One other feature of software assurance is latest version rights.  In other words, they will have access to SQL 2016 already.   So if your sellers are talking to customers and license mobility comes up – be sure to mention this.
  • Better Performance: I think this goes without saying. I’d be shocked if a new product release didn’t have better performance.  Actually, who remembers Windows XP to Windows Vista?  Ouch.  For all new performance features please check out the data sheet from Microsoft https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server/
  • Stretch Database:  Sounds cool.  Check out my buddy at Redmond Mag He can explain this thing better than me.  I will say as a service provider, cost of storing data (purchasing a new SAN, etc) can be expensive, this feature will help eliminate some of those costs especially when leverage a third-party datacenter like Azure.  Check it out.

Hyper Threading Licensing

I think this often gets overlooked until you get audited.  When licensing the physical host only, hyper-threading doesn’t affect licensing.  When you license a VM, things change.  If you have hyper-threading enabled,  a core license is required for each thread supporting a virtual core.

There you have it.  Now let’s review some specific scenarios that have come up recently.

Scenario 1

A company develops an application and would like to leverage Azure to provide the application out as a service.  The application uses SQL Enterprise.  What do they need to do from a licensing perspective?

We all know Azure is  public cloud (code for multiple customer on the same server for licensing purposes).   We also know SQL Enterprise is licensed by core only…right?  C’mon, you just read about it!  When cores/processors are involved AND it’s a public cloud (not dedicated) the hoster (in this case the ISV) has to either purchase SQL from Azure OR use license mobility and leverage self-hosted.  In the latter example, they can use their own licenses because they own the application and SQL is self-hosted eligible.  So the ISV can purchase SQL with SA and transfer that instance over to Azure.  They would still be required to purchase Windows from Azure.

Why cant the ISV use SPLA?  I don’t always agree with this answer but the truth is you can’t.  You cannot license cores/processors via your SPLA and leverage a third-party datacenter public cloud.  You may be asking yourself “Joe’s Hosting does it!”  Well my readers, Joe’s Hosting is out of compliant.

Scenario 2

Exact same example but the 3rd party datacenter is not Azure but some other IaaS.  This IaaS provider offers dedicated hardware and dedicated VM’s.  Could the ISV leverage his own SPLA and license SQL Enterprise?  Yes, he can.  How?  It’s dedicated.  Which means all hardware running a MS OS has to be dedicated.  I don’t care about the SAN or LAN or any other “AN”  All hardware running a MS OS must be dedicated.

Scenario 3

Exact same scenario but ISV requires SQL Standard.  Can the ISV leverage their own SPLA and leverage Azure public cloud?  Yes.  How?  SQL Standard can be licensed by user (SAL).  He would not be able to license SQL Standard core and report it on his SPLA but he can license SAL’s.  Please see the Azure FAQ guide here.  Specifically:

If you are a Service Provider with a signed Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) using SQL Server, you can:

  • Obtain a SQL image from the Azure VM marketplace and pay the per-minute rate of SQL Server, or
  • Install or upload your SQL Server Standard image with Subscriber Access License (SAL) reported via your SPLA.

My tired eyes are starting to fail me.  Let’s review active/passive in another article.  I hope this helps.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

SPLA Audits

I’ve written a lot of articles on SPLA audits.  I work for a company that can help if you are going through an audit (official audit from Microsoft – KPMG, Deloitte, etc). If you fell victim to an audit recently and they are asking you to settle, email me and I can put you in touch with the right resources.  It’s a good way to save substantially on your audit report.

Thanks!

SPLA Man – info@splalicensing.com

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Sharing…good for kids…good for SPLA?

Every single day I have to tell the little girl next door and my daughter to share to avoid screaming at one another.  They are 3 and 4 years old but going on 13.  “You have to share.” I say calmly.  Two minutes later I repeat myself but in a louder voice, “You have to share!”  One min later I lose it because no one is sharing but everyone is screaming, including myself.  “Please…for the love of God, SHARE the **** sidewalk chalk!” Tears fall, someone runs in the other room, and then I get the look from my wife.  Ugh.

Some say I am not good at teaching kids to share (cough…my wife) but I am pretty good at shared servers.  Boy, really stretching here for some sort of tie in to the point of this article.

So shared servers, what is it and what does it mean for your business?   In general, its license mobility but only better.  The original definition of license mobility was around transferring a license to a third-party datacenter.  Microsoft removed third party but shared server remains.  The share server definition is not just the end customers licenses but yours as well.  Let me explain further.

If you are a hoster and you are an authorized mobility partner, you can essentially license mobility to yourself.   If you are an authorized mobility partner and have SA for your internal employees on an application like SharePoint, you can install SharePoint in your hosted environment, use the same hardware your external users,, and dedicate a VM for your employees and another VM for your customer.  Essentially you are “Sharing” the same server.  This could reduce your hardware costs.  Without shared servers, you would have to separate the hardware for your internal employees and separate hardware for your external.  Couple things to remember:

  1. You have to have signed the license mobility addendum
  2. You and your customer must have active Software Assurance.
  3. The product must be eligible.  You still cannot mix SPLA and VL.  What we are mixing is the hardware.

Here’s another example.  Let’s say you are an ISV with your own application and use the self-hosted use right.  You purchase SQL Enterprise with Software Assurance and would like to transfer that license to a third-party datacenter to host your application.  That is also a possibility with shared servers.  Let’s use Azure as an example.  For whatever reason your application requires SQL Enterprise but you would like to use Azure as your datacenter provider.  We all know that Azure is a public cloud right?   Well in order to license SQL (or any other product for that matter) under your own SPLA using a public cloud,  you must license by user.  Ugh.  SQL Enterprise is only licensed by core.  So what are your options?

  1. Purchase SQL with SA and transfer it to Azure (in this example you are an ISV and own the application.  Because of self-hosted, you can host using your own VL as long as all the products are self-hosted eligible – SQL is.  If you do not own the application, your end customers would have to buy SQL with SA and use license mobility)
  2. Buy SQL from Azure
  3. Cry

That’s shared servers 101.  I’ll write more about this in the coming weeks.  If you do have questions, please email me at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

PS – I actually am a good dad.  (I think)  Happy Father’s Day!

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Hybrid Use Benefit – HUB

Our friend Azure is at it again.  He’s offering Windows license mobility without calling it license mobility.  It’s called HUB – Hybrid Use Benefit.  And yes, it’s only available in Azure.

What is it exactly?  Well let’s say an organization purchased Windows Datacenter with Software Assurance.  Because they purchased the server with Software Assurance, Microsoft will allow them to run a separate instance in Azure and only pay the Linux VM rate.

This same customer can now deploy an image in Azure, pay a non Windows rate (in Azure), and still run an on premise server in their own datacenter to make a true hybrid scenario.  They can do this with Datacenter edition only, since Datacenter allows unlimited virtual instances.  They cannot run a true hybrid with Standard.  They must either run on premise or in Azure with Standard edition.  If you are on the fence about which version to purchase, Datacenter might just win out.

A couple of things to consider.  1) You have to pay attention to the number of licenses you purchased for you on premise servers.  If you purchased Datacenter that has two processor licenses, this will all you to run two instances up to 8 cores or 1 instance up to 16 cores in Azure.  In other words, you cannot exceed the number of licenses you purchased. 2) If you do decide to run Datacenter on premise as well as in Azure, you must maintain CALs for your on premise solution.  Azure does not require CALs, but that doesn’t mean your on premise CAL requirement goes away.

So there you have it.  Confused yet?  If not, wait until I write more about Office 365!  Questions?  Email me at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

SPLA Price REDUCTIONS

I know I sound like a used car salesman (no offense to used car salesmen), I just can’t write about ALL pricing and licensing  information on a public blog.  Sorry in advance for writing teaser posts. As you probably know, some of it is sensitive information. There are blogs that will tell you the licensing rules and copy and paste from the product terms.  That’s great. But that doesn’t do you any good if doesn’t reduce your costs.

This blog is different.  I like to highlight changes to the program and licensing updates as much as the next guy, but the real value and differentiator is that I want you to license the most economical way. If you want to know the ways to reduce your licensing costs, we have to review it offline.  info@splalicensing.com.  Some of the comments by others can verify that statement.

But yes, there’s a cost reduction.  That’s all I can really say about it.  Ugh…Used Car Salesman.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

 

Is it SPLA or Not?

Is it SPLA or not?  That is the question.  My conversations have changed throughout the years.  It used to be “How do I license Exchange?”  Fast forward to today, and it’s more about the overall solution.  Some customers develop their application; provide it as a service; but include Office as part of that solution.  Without question, this has to be SPLA.   Yet another customer develops an application; provides it as a service; and does not include Office.  Without question, this has to be SPLA.  What!  What about self-hosted?  The first customer hosts Office which is not self-hosted eligible, therefore the entire solution must be SPLA.  The second customer, although has all the criteria for self-hosted, did not include Software Assurance.  Without SA, it must be SPLA.  There’s a ton of stories, situations, and even debate over what constitutes a SPLA agreement and what doesn’t.   Let’s provide other examples to show how complex this can be.

Customer Not SPLA

Customer has an organization where end customers are buying insurance and other products directly from them.  External users are accessing, but nothing is provided as a service.  There’s no SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE in this model.  Therefore, SPLA is not needed.  Think of a e-commerce website, blog, etc.

Customer Not SPLA

Customer has an organization that has a website to publish and share information.     Not every one has access to the same information, but end users are downloading documents and viewing content.  Again, there’s no SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE.

Customer SPLA

Customer has an organization that  leases an application from a third party.  They do not own the application but provide it out as a service to non-employees to help manage their business.  Since they do not own the application; are providing it AS A SERVICE; it’s SPLA.

Customer SPLA

Customer has an organization that developed an application, provide it as a service, and host it using Windows and SQL.  They did not purchase Software Assurance.  Since they did not purchase Software Assurance, they must license it via SPLA.

Customer SPLA

Customer has a portal with a software package that enables customers to purchase and research different insurance companies.  This would be SPLA.  Why?  In this example, the brokering software is used to benefit the end user, not the customer hosting the application.

That’s just a few examples.  Here’s a quick summary:

  1. If you develop an application – Do you have active Software Assurance for those products used to run the application.
  2. If you lease an application and market it as your own, that does not qualify either.  You have to OWN the actual application.
  3. If the application is used to run or benefit the end user, that’s what Microsoft refers to “Software As A Service”

It gets more complicated with Datacenter Outsourcers (Azure), mixed environments, etc.

In conclusion, SPLA is complex, so is volume licensing, and so is determining which one really fits your environment.  Best advice I can provide, don’t work with someone that does not know these changes.  It will cost you.  Email me at info@splalicensing.com if you have questions.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

 
 
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