Office 365 Under SPLA

26 Feb

Article update: We created a new website called MSCloudlicensing to help SPLA and CSP partners understand the different program options and use rights available to them. The site is designed to be a collaborative platform,  which includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  It’s more in depth than a simple blog. 

Document Library: Easy to read white papers on licensing and best practices. What really happens in an audit? How are other service providers handling CSP and Azure? AWS licensing?
Forum: Experts always review and answer your licensing questions.
Articles: Most of the articles you are used to reading and many more on CSP, Azure, AWS, and other cloud providers.


With the release of Office 365, the Microsoft hosting community has been asking “What’s in it for us?”   At a glance, I would agree, especially when it comes to Office.   Office can be installed on up to 5 devices with Office 365, under SPLA, you have to install it on a server and have remote access into the server.  This would require not only Office, but RDS and Windows Server!  Microsoft did recently (January, 2014) announce RDS mobility rights. More details found here. I also wrote why Office needs to have mobility rights or else the entire “Office 365” type experience (from a licensing perspective) won’t work. Check it out here
If I was in the hosting business, I would not try to compete against Office 365 from a licensing perspective; I would embrace it.  The most successful service providers offer Office 365 as part of their solution.  For example, if you host SharePoint, like it or not the end customer is going to look at Office 365.  They will want to compare your solution to Microsoft’s. What differentiates your offering to Microsoft’s?  There’s the obvious – you are regional or local, you can offer customization, you can also offer dedicated or multitenant environments; but more importantly you can offer services. Customers want to move to the cloud, the question is “how do they get there?”  This is what you do.  This is what you are great at.  This is where you can increase your margins. Back to my SharePoint example, if you say to your customer – “here’s Microsoft’s SharePoint and here’s ours.  We will help you facilitate to Office 365 if you choose (become the partner of record) but here is what you will be missing.”  You are promoting your brand and not shunning Microsoft’s.  I like what FP Web is doing.  They are the SharePoint experts and are wiling to compare their solution to Microsoft’s on their website.  Check it out for yourself

From a SPLA licensing perspective, the only bundled SKU is the productivity suite.  This includes Lync Enterprise, SharePoint Standard, and Exchange Standard.  It does not include Windows, SQL, or Office. Windows processor licenses allows unlimited number of users to access, the more users, the less expensive it is. Eventually all you will be quoting is the Exchange license.  (if you are an Exchange only provider) That is how large service providers are able to hold down their costs.

Other option to Office 365 is to offer License Mobility.  License Mobility allows your end customers to purchase licenses (with Software Assurance) and bring it into your environment.  The advantage for the customer is volume discounts, and the advantage for the service provider is the ability to offer this in a multitenant hardware infrastructure.  The virtual instance has to be dedicated, but the hardware it resides on can be multitenant.  This is only if the customer has Software Assurance and the service provider signs the license mobility addendum.  Windows is not included and would have to be reported under SPLA.  I will write another blog on license mobility.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,



Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Office 365


Tags: , , , ,

22 responses to “Office 365 Under SPLA

  1. Niels

    March 8, 2013 at 3:34 am

    Do you by this mean that License mobility for office 365 for SPLA partners is allowed, also in virtual envos?

    • splaman

      March 8, 2013 at 9:42 pm

      License mobility and Office 365 are two separate programs. License Mobility allows certain applications (with software assurance) to be migrated into a service providers datacenter. Reason this is important for SPLA partners is they can host it in a multitenant hardware infrastructure; which reduces license costs, and provides a similar Office 365 type offering.

  2. Corrado

    July 2, 2013 at 8:55 am

    Nice and interesting article

  3. Richard

    August 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    Could you answer me a specific scenario, just so I can make sure I understand this?

    We have a customer using an RDS server on our multi-tenant hosting platform, could they do the following:

    Purchase Windows and RDS SALs through our SPLA agreement
    Purchase Office 365 M Plan (including Office 2013) through us (via distribution)
    Run Office 2013 on the hosted RDS using the M Plan licenses
    Remain legally licensed?



    • splaman

      August 19, 2013 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Richard. No, in a shared environment you cannot have customer owned licenses (outside of license mobility) even it’s just Office.

  4. Jan

    September 15, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    but hosting the office 365 together within an VM (VDI) not shared so no RDS will be legal?

    • splaman

      September 22, 2013 at 8:40 am

      Hello Jan,

      Sorry for the delay. I have been traveling this week. I am not completely sure I understand your question. Office 365 in short is Microsoft hosted, not partner hosted. You can offer a similar solution under SPLA. Similar but not exact. Office is the biggest differentiator in my opinion. Office is expensive under SPLA with no signs of going cheaper. VDI will never be allowed under SPLA unless your customer purchases VDA licenses via volume licensing and you host it for them in a 100% dedicated environment. Scenario just mentioned is not SPLA, but volume licensing in which your customer must purchase. No, you cannot purchase on their behalf either (unless you are an outsourcer…more on that later).

  5. Jan

    October 10, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Still it is strange. when a client will hire a few servers and make it their workstation with an VDA license, then if the client has their own office 365 then the company is not compliant? but i cannot validate or enforce this.

  6. Jan

    October 10, 2013 at 8:13 am

    as extra comment:
    the exchange part can or cant be on office 365
    perhaps the office license in spla as required?

  7. Francis

    December 13, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Hi SPLA Man, Excellent blog, i’ve learnt a lot from you and I hope to learn much more. I hope you can help with my query, we have installed office web apps on a server, but it is accessed on a read only basis by our users. Do I still need to allocate Office SALs for each users accessing the apps? Even if it is only “Read Only”?

    Thanks in advance,

    • splaman

      December 15, 2013 at 7:51 am

      Hi Francis. Thank you. Yes. Office Web apps requires Office. Do they need Office or will an open source Office work? Office is expensive to host. Office Components is also available. Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday Season to you.

  8. Brett

    September 9, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Hello SPLAMan

    Can you clarify one of the points above. I understand that Office 365 ProPlus cannot be hosted via RDP or any other method in a shared environment. What about in a dedicated environment?

    Here is the scenario, does this work in your opinion?

    Customer provides:
    Office 365 E4 w/ProPlus purchased via Open
    1 copy of Office Pro 2013 purchased via Open

    We provide:
    Dedicated hardware and virtual machines (nothing shared with existing clients)
    Underlying Windows and Management Licenses via SPLA
    RDP Licenses via SPLA

    Again, thank you for taking the time on this blog to answer these questions.

    • splaman

      September 15, 2014 at 12:09 pm

      Hello! My apologies for the delayed response. You have it correct. The end user would need to designate 1 of their 5 copies of Office (from Office 365) and you would need to dedicate it out for that customer only. To install, you would need to use 1 copy of volume licensing media of Office. O365 bits do not work in a server environment. Ugh.

      • Tommy

        February 25, 2015 at 11:04 am

        Hi SPLAman,

        The customer was able to install from O365 as per nov 2014 changes. Is anything changed regarding the licensing?

        This is how we are doing today;

        Customer provide O365 E3

        We provide SPLA for RDS SAL and 2008 windows server licenses. Everything is installed on a dedicated server that we provide.

        Are we in compliance? What licenses are we missing?

        Thank you for an awsome blog, wish I came here a tad earlier. =)

      • splaman

        February 27, 2015 at 6:03 am

        Hi Tommy, sure as long as everything is dedicated to that customer. Office does not have mobility rights.

  9. Mark

    January 13, 2015 at 10:04 pm

    Hi splaman, would the same apply as Brett described on a shared hardware environment with dedicated virtual machines Also is the same scenario possible with Office 365 w/ProPlus on dedicated Azure virtual machines that are managed by the hosting provider ie not subcribed by the customer?

    • splaman

      January 16, 2015 at 5:32 pm

      Hi Mark, no what you just described is license mobility. Office does not have mobility rights. BUT yes, it is possible through Azure. Just don’t shoot the messenger. Send me an email and I can provide further information. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.

  10. Mark

    April 13, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Hi splaman, Office 365 under a SPLA model is finally coming and also for Azure soon to follow I am told,resellers-to-get-office-365-on-monthly-billing-via-disties.aspx

    • splaman

      April 15, 2015 at 8:53 am

      It’s not a SPLA model Per se. Just allows the provider to resell MS solutions. It does compliment SPLA though.

  11. Giedrius

    April 23, 2015 at 10:21 am

    Hello Splaman. Thank you for the interesting and really useful blog. We have the following scenario in mind:
    Client wants to move Exchange and Lync functionality to O365, but wants to remain on RDS server on our multi-tenant hosting platform.
    * Client will purchase 0365 Business Essentials to get Exchange and Lync functionality.
    * They will Purchase Windows and RDS CALs through our SPLA agreement.
    * They will purchase Office 2013 Pro Plus CALs through our SPLA agreement.
    They will run the Office on RDS server and access Lync and Exchange running on MS platform.
    Is this legit? Thank you!

    • splaman

      June 3, 2015 at 4:33 pm

      Thank you for the kind words. Shoot me over an email and we can review it. Want to make sure I am reading this correctly.

  12. Said

    September 4, 2015 at 6:37 am

    Hello splaman. Thank you for your blog. I say fpweb site and they offer office365 ( isit SPLA or no. When I compare costs between office365 and spla offer per user (exchange, sharepoint, skype, office), spla offer is more expansive in licensing and what about hardware platform+internet connexion+sécurité+antivirus+HR+…
    I think Microsoft can give us a solution for that and we can give our customer a package with our spla offer
    Thank you in advance for your contribution.


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