Monthly Archives: July 2014

Back to the basics

Now that Microsoft has wrapped up their fiscal year, I thought it would be a good time to take a step back and review the basics of the SPLA Program.  In this post I will highlight who uses SPLA, why SPLA, and who should not use SPLA.

Who should sign a SPLA agreement and why does it exist?

If you are hosting Microsoft software on behalf of a third-party; this is SPLA.  Let’s break this down a bit to try to make sense of this statement.

What does behalf of a third-party really mean?  Let’s say I own a company and want my employees to have email using Microsoft Exchange.  I don’t want to build a datacenter nor do I have the technical knowhow to administer a server.  So what do I do?  I contact a service provider who hosts  Exchange.  He/she informs me that I can pay a small monthly fee and my employees can have email.  As with every Microsoft licensing program, to access any server you will need a license.  The license to get access to a service provider’s server is called a SPLA license.   It’s non perpetual, non transferable, and in fact, being a customer I probably wouldn’t even know I am really paying for it.

So why couldn’t the service provider use his own licenses to host this solution?  Well for one, it’s part of the PUR (Product Use Rights) “No commercial hosting” but it’s really more than that.   Why would I want someone else accessing a server that I paid for?  Not only that, but using a volume licensing agreement (non subscription) is perpetual.  If you decide to buy Client Access Licenses (CAL’s) for all your customer’s, what happens if they leave?  You cannot return the licenses; you would be stuck with them.  Not only do you have to use SPLA from a compliance perspective, you really should use SPLA if you are indeed hosting software.  I wrote a blog about separate hardware and all that fun stuff here

Who Should Not Use SPLA

If you have external users just viewing information or if you created an e-commerce site to sell your own products; that’s not SPLA.  Yes, external users are accessing, but if you are not hosting software for another organization, volume licensing external connectors comes into play.  External Connector is defined by the following (page 7 of the PUR).

External Connector License means a license attached to a Server that permits access to the server software by External Users.

External Users means users that are not either your or your affiliates’ employees, or your or your affiliates’ on site contractors or onsite agents.

Let’s use  as an example. Why are they not under SPLA?   External users are accessing!  No one is hosting, it’s a site to promote our business. We set up a web server, users are accessing it.  This website is used to run our business, not someone else’s.  If we went to a hosting provider and asked them to host our website on our behalf, the service provider would charge us for this service.  Part of that charge would be a SPLA license.  Why? The service provider is hosting a server on behalf (there’s that word again) of our organization.

Here’s some useful links describing external users for some common products in which external users are accessing from TechNet and other bloggers.

Lync –

SharePoint – I found this blog helpful

Great article from my friend and colleague at around this topic in general.

More general terms for Client Access Licenses (CAL’s). I thought this would be helpful if you have customer’s that purchased their own licenses.


SPLA is not a bad program, in many ways it’s very practical.  Month-month, true up and true down easily, and you can terminate the agreement at any time.  One of the few programs that allows early termination I might add.  If you lose a customer, you are not out any money, since your only paying monthly.

Here’s my suggestion – I would partner with a reseller that understands the program.  Secondly, be sure to consider licensing impacts before implementation.  Too many times service providers will sell a solution and ask about the licensing later.  You need to do the opposite – ask about the licensing than worry about how to deploy.










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Posted by on July 22, 2014 in Uncategorized


How to reduce your SPLA reporting

It’s easier than you think.  ( and no, I am not saying you should be out of compliant).  The goal of this blog is to educate and help the service provider community with their licensing decisions.  Keep in mind that I do this as a hobby.  I also try not to solicit, as that can be frustrating to the reader. 

That being said, I do know the reseller channel well, I also know the agreement better than most lawyers.  If you are looking to potentially reduce your spend from a reporting perspective, reduce compliance risk, or just simply want to chat about a licensing scenario that can be unnerving, let me know.  Send me a message on LinkedIn or shoot over an email –

So how do you reduce your spend?  That’s a tough question without a quick answer.  I would have to review your report to understand exactly how you can potentially reduce costs.  Nonetheless, I’ll give her a try. Here’s my top 3 ways service providers can reduce their licensing costs –

1. Run multiple instances of SQL on the same VM.  A little blurb in the SPUR states “For each virtual OSE for which you have assigned the required number of licenses….you have the right to run any number of instances of the software in that virtual OSE”  (page 23 of the SPUR for your boredom).  Keep in mind, there’s a difference between running an “instance” and running a VM. 

2. License the Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS) to run Windows and System Center Servers.  If you are reporting System Center and Windows separately….STOP!  System Center needs Windows.  In other words, you have to report Windows regardless; might as well pay less. 

3. Do not report Windows Standard….report Windows Datacenter.  You have the option of running unlimited VM’s with Datacenter edition.  If you are reporting Windows Standard, that means you are not virtualized. Get virtualized.

One more for good measure…

4.  SAL for SA – I still don’t understand why service providers do not report this SKU.  It’s less expensive, your customer can still deploy on premise and in your cloud, and you will be unique.  (I’ve only seen it reported once). 

There are many more ways to reduce spend. (even outside of simply licensing/virtualizing, etc.) There’s too many scenarios to review on a blog post. How about this trade off – If I can reduce your spend, you owe me a beer at a hosting conference. (joke for the record). If I can’t, at least you know your reporting correctly.






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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in In My Opinion


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