Where’s it written in the SPUR??

10 Nov

How many times have you said that over the years?  If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky…you probably haven’t gone through an audit! (yet).

The Service Provider Use Rights (SPUR) is the document that explains how products can be used. What it does not provide is real life scenarios nor does it explain every situation.  Let me provide an example, nowhere in the SPUR (or your signed agreement) does it define what is dedicated and what is shared.  You have customer owned licenses that you install on a server in your data center.  In your mind, this is perfectly fair.  It’s your server, their license…why not? I agree..nothing is wrong…if it’s dedicated. Next question…where does it say what is dedicated and what is not? The truth; it doesn’t.

In the eyes of Microsoft, every server needs a license.  If one server has internal licensing that you purchased for your internal employees, you cannot use the same server to deploy SPLA licenses for external users.  It comes down to use rights.  Internal licensing prohibits commercial hosting.  If you don’t believe me, check out page 10 of the PUR (use rights for internal licensing).” The licensing construct of internal use doesn’t match that of SPLA and therefore needs to be kept separate.

There are two main points I want to be sure to communicate:

  1. Licenses belonging to the end customer cannot be shared among other customers of the service provider; this means that end customer owned licenses cannot be used in shared hosting environments (where more than one customer accesses a server) – they can only be used in dedicated environments (one server is dedicated to a particular end customer).  Unless the end customer uses license mobility (which is a software Assurance benefit).  Check out license mobility  If you are not on the list of authorized mobility partners – get on the list by signing the license mobility addendum (get this from your reseller)  This is the direction of the industry in my opinion.  Don’t want you to be left out!
  2. No mixing/matching of server/CALs on a product-by-product basis. This means that the end customer CALs for a particular product cannot be used to access servers deployed that particular product and which are licensed by the service provider under SPLA. It is ok for a service provider to rely on end customer owned licenses for one particular product (like SQL) but acquire licenses for a different product (like Windows) via their SPLA. (as long as it’s dedicated).  It also means that if an end customer has Servers/CALs for a particular product(s) and chooses to move to a hosted model with a service provider, they will need to acquire any additional licenses for that product(s) under their volume licensing agreement (i.e. if they increase the number of seats or require more servers for a built out for deployment or load balancing). It’s not ok for the service provider to acquire SALs under SPLA when the number of seats goes up for the end customer or when additional servers are required.  Be careful with customer owned licenses if you have SPLA and vol. licensing.  Unless you monitor closely and all your engineers know the use rights, you may accidentally mix licenses.

So…where is all this spelled out in the SPUR?  It’s not nor will it be in the foreseeable future.  If Microsoft allowed volume licensing to be installed in a shared environment, there would be no need for license mobility.  Secondly, think of all the deployment scenarios that come up in one of your sales calls.  The SPUR cannot address every scenario or else the document would be 1000 pages (as oppose to the 900 pages it is already)

In my opinion, I think Microsoft should be more clear on what is dedicated and what is shared.  I also think you need to work with a reseller that fully understands Software Assurance.  I am not 100% right all the time (ask Mrs. SPLA Man) but feel pretty confident the direction of the industry is the hybrid cloud.

Which licensing program offers the greatest discount? It’s the Enterprise Agreement (EA).  What is the main component of the Enterprise Agreement?  Software Assurance.  Which program are Microsoft reps talking to your customers about? You guessed it…The Enterprise Agreement.  That’s why it’s important to understand Software Assurance, the use rights associated with it, and work with a team that understands EA’s as well as SPLA. Your customers and your CEO will thank you later!

Thanks for reading,



Posted by on November 10, 2013 in Uncategorized


8 responses to “Where’s it written in the SPUR??

  1. Mark Hodges

    November 12, 2013 at 9:19 am

    To me the big question they need to address is…what to they mean by server? Are they strictly refering to hardware or a virtual machine. Both are servers in the eyes of IT, with different ownership.

    I have no problem giving a client a “Server…aka VM” in which they run their own License Mobility version of Exchange or SQL in and they license by the Processor or CAL”, since that VM is not shared among customers..its 100% dedicated to them and no one else. Hardware isn’t but the VM is.

    The other question is, If I am giving them a dedicated Server in which they are using their own licenses…can they connect through a common gateway service (say RDS Gateway). Since I don’t need to license the connections through the gateway with SAL’s and the Windows license is covered under the SPLA using datacenter rules have I just violated the Dedicated model?

    • splaman

      November 12, 2013 at 1:20 pm

      Great questions. The definition of a server is located in the SPUR “A server is a physical hardware system capable of running server software. A hardware partition or blade is considered to be a separate physical hardware system.” It goes on to mention “Virtual OSE means an OSE (see “Operating System Environment (OSE)”) that is configured to run on a virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system.” Not the best definition in the world, but I think it does the job.

      What you described in your first example is license mobility (shared hardware + dedicated VM). They will need SA for those licenses for the VMs and SPLA for Windows (as long as those products are license mobility eligible). If it’s not, you need to make sure the hardware + VM is 100% dedicated. It’s not ok to run a VM (dedicated) and hardware (shared) outside of license mobility. Otherwise, there would be no reason for license mobility in the first place.

      Secondly- In your other RDS example the “common” gateway service that you describe suggests this is not dedicated, but a shared environment. If the end users are using RDS to access the environment, RDS would need to be licensed. If your end customers purchased RDS you could use the licenses, only if this is 100% dedicated environment. If this is a shared environment, you would have to report RDS under SPLA. RDS for each user + Windows. Please ensure the licenses that your customers are bringing into your hosted solution are indeed license mobility eligible. If they qualify, it will be located in the PUR. This is very important. Secondly, be sure your company signs the license mobility addendum from your reseller. Reach out to me via LinkedIn if you want to chat about this more in detail. This can go in 100 directions.

      • splarookie

        November 15, 2013 at 8:08 am

        I unsure what you mean by “common” gateway. If a 100% dedicated VM has it’s own IP address for example, each customer would RDP independently from other customers (they have their own IP addresses for example).

      • splaman

        November 15, 2013 at 11:04 am

        Keep in mind that if a VM is dedicated, it does not mean the solution is dedicated. You have to consider the hardware as well. Unless the product is covered with license mobility, the server hardware and VM would need to be 100% dedicated in order for the end customer to bring their own licenses. One server + VM per customer. Believe me..I get it. From a technical perspective it makes sense. From a licensing perspective it’s as clear as mud.

  2. Meh.

    December 4, 2013 at 11:50 pm

    I’m currently trying to find out how I can move (in a license sense) a client on SPLA over to outright owning the software they use, since they have decided that over the years they will use the server, it will be cheaper to just own everything outright. Currently the hardware is ours, they pay us a monthly fee to use the hardware (dedicated solely to them), plus SPLA costs. In my mind, I saw them buying all the software outright on volume licensing plus the hardware. When I approached our SPLA reseller (mildly confusing since distributors are called resellers, and resellers are called customers but whatever), they told me that not only would my client have to purchase everything outright, but they would have to reinstall all the software. I know that MS provide ways to reset product keys, so couldn’t my client just do this once they purchase everything? That way they aren’t using my SPLA keys?

    I agree that MS licensing is confusing, but I seem to recall Balmer admitting it was designed that way.

    • splaman

      December 6, 2013 at 9:52 am

      SPLA is a non transferable license. It is also non perpetual (you don’t own the keys or the software). I agree with your distributor/reseller.

      • Meh

        December 15, 2013 at 8:50 pm

        Thanks for the reply splaman. As far as I can tell, the SPLA license is not getting transferred is it? The client goes and buys full volume licensing for everything they are currently using under SPLA, then stops paying for SPLA after the current month they are in. At no point has the client gained software they haven’t paid for, and at no point are they unlicensed. Are they?

      • splaman

        December 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm

        Meh, I can’t recommend doing it that way. Maybe “transfer” was not the right word. I’ve seen it in the past where a SPLA customer was forced to reinstall after switching to volume licensing. It was probably an isolated incident but be cognizant of that as you move forward. At the end of the day, SPLA media and volume licensing is the same, and there should not be issues from a technical perspective. Whatever you do, make sure the environment is 100% dedicated and the end customer purchases CALs + Server licenses. Keep all relevant information (agreement #, Reseller, etc.) to prove the licenses are not yours, but your customers. In my compliance example, the service provider did neither and was dinged pretty hard. Hit me up on LinkedIn and we can review options offline.


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