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Monthly Archives: August 2014

Hybrid, Dedicated, and Shared Scenarios…

There are three deployment options for service providers – Hybrid (mix of on premise and cloud) Dedicated, and Shared.  In this article, we will break each one down to explain how they work and the options available.

Dedicated Scenario – (3 options available)

Option 1
Your customer decides to bring their own software (such as Exchange) and infrastructure (Windows) via their own volume licensing agreement. They do not have software assurance on the software. Can they do this?

Yes. Why? Everything is dedicated. Server, virtual machine all dedicated to one single organization. Software Assurance is NOT required.

Option 2
Your customer decides to bring the software but the hoster will provide the infrastructure in a dedicated environment. Again, customer does not need Software Assurance if it’s a dedicated environment. In this scenario, the hoster (you) will provide the Windows license via SPLA and not report the other applications the customer brings over since it is already covered via their own volume licensing agreement. This is applicable, it’s dedicated (VM and physical servers)

Option 3
Your customer is a healthcare company that needs a dedicated environment due to regulatory compliance. They do not own any software; they would need the hoster to supply the software licenses. Can they (the hoster) do this? Yes, the hoster would report everything under SPLA. The hoster (you) CANNOT use your own volume licensing agreement to provide the solution but you can certainly provide SPLA. Please be aware that if you own a volume licensing agreement, you cannot use the same hardware your volume licensing agreement resides as your hosted solution.

Also keep in mind that SPLA is non perpetual, when the customer leaves, they can no longer use the software they were accessing.

Summary of Dedicated –
Dedicated is applicable for both SPLA and end customer owned volume licensing. Dedicated also means dedicated hardware and dedicated VM’s. In dedicated environments, the end customer DOES NOT need software assurance. From a compliance perspective, it is defined as the following:

“Any hardware running an instance of Microsoft software (OS or application) must be dedicated to a single customer. For example, a SAN device that is not running any Microsoft software may be shared by more than one customer; since, a server or SAN device that runs Microsoft software may only be used by one customer.” (source: Microsoft VDA FAQ)

Hybrid Scenarios – 3 options available

Option 1
You decide to offer your customer a shared infrastructure but they want the same applications to run on premise. A good option would be to have the customer purchase the server applications (think Exchange, SharePoint, Lync) with software assurance (SA) and run them on premise. You (the service provider) would run the same applications in your shared environment BUT report the SAL for SA SKU. Much cheaper option than standard SPLA prices. I wrote about this here This also works well for Disaster Recovery options.

Option 2 (not really a hybrid but just go with it)
You can use license mobility. Microsoft likes to define this as a “hybrid option” but to me, hybrid insinuates the ability to run on premise and in your cloud. License mobility is a SA benefit for certain applications (SQL, CRM, SharePoint, Exchange, Lync) that allows customers to leverage their investment in SA and transfer those licenses into a hosters shared infrastructure. Reason why I don’t think this is truly a hybrid is the customer is TRANSFERRING licenses into your datacenter. This means that if a customer wants to move back to their own datacenter, they have to wait 90 days. (transfer license rule). With SAL for SA, nothing is being transferred. Windows does not have mobility rights, this will need to be reported under your own SPLA. I wrote about license mobility many times – here’s an article for your review – here You can also check out the Microsoft site for more of a definitive definition http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/software-assurance/license-mobility.aspx

Option 3
Good Ole’ SPLA. Customer can run their own servers on premise, you just report SPLA licensing in your shared environment. The new SPLA agreement even allows you to run SPLA software on customer owned hardware as long as you still manage it.

Shared Scenarios – 2 options

Option 1
License Mobility – see above

Option 2
SPLA. We all know what that is.

Summary

I hope this brings a bit more clarity. Sorry if some things are redundant but at the same time, some things are simply worth repeating. Here’s the takeaway – customer’s can always bring licenses into your datacenter. There is no law of the land that prohibits this. What is prohibited is the way you deploy the technology. There is only one option to install customer owned licenses in a shared environment and that is license mobility. Again, (here I go being repetitive) if Microsoft allowed customer owned licenses to be installed in shared environments than why would they create license mobility?

If you still have trouble comprehending all this, shoot me an email located at the top right of this page. One general rule of thumb – if it’s shared – 90% of the time SPLA is required.

Thanks for reading

SPLA Man

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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Compliance, License Mobility

 

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It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s VDI and SPLA!!!

We have all been there. You see an email come across in the subject line that you’ve seen before. You release a loud sigh, because you already know the response to the email before you even open it. How? Well you’ve been asked the same question before on numerous occcassions and give the same response. For me in particular, the subject in the email is “SPLA and VDI”  It’s not frustrating, it’s just I hate saying “no”  (just ask my son – a bit spoiled I admit)

I try to write about different topics, but I also like to give updates and understanding to various topics that really hit home; VDI is one of them. You can read my previous article here  In this post, I will break VDI into two parts: defining VDI and moving forward.

Definition

What is a virtual desktop in the licensing world? You should think about virtual desktop as a software assurance benefit. Like license mobility, software assurance is required. Unlike license mobility, there is no option to install in shared infrastructure. Let me repeat – no option to install in shared infrastructure. One more time…no option to install in shared infrastructure. What are the options?

Since VDI/VDA is a software assurance benefit, your customer must purchase their desktop OS with software assurance to have VDI rights. That means if they did not purchase with software assurance, there is no option for them to use virtual desktops from a true licensing perspective. What if the machine is a dummy terminal with no software assurance option available? The end-user would be required to purchase a VDA license for each device. VDA license is kind of like a device CAL, it just provides the user access to a virtual instance. If your customer has not purchased VDA or software assurance on the OS, they need to reconsider if they want a virtual desktop.

Some service providers are under the impression that they can sell a desktop OS perpetually to the customer and host it for them in a dedicated environment. They have the dedicated environment part right, but an OS sold to an end-user does not grant that end-user access to a virtual desktop without software assurance (SA). Secondly, you have to be an authorized reseller to sell perpetual licenses (non SPLA) to consumers. Third, you cannot buy a Windows desktop license yourself and host it to third parties. Anything you buy outside of SPLA is for your internal employees only. Last, not only should you not buy licenses and host, but do not install on servers that is also used for your internal use. That is a big compliance headache.  Where is it written that you cannot host on servers internal employees are also accessing?  It’s not.  That’s what makes it a headache.  Just don’t shoot the messenger!

So why can’t the end-user just go to Best Buy or some other retailer, purchase a retail copy, have you (the service provider) host it for them? That not only is a compliance risk, it is also not very economical. Download the FAQ guide here

Moving Forward

What are your options?  The good news is Azure, AWS, and all the others have the same rules.  They cannot offer desktop OS in the public cloud.  This is probably the best FAQ guide I’ve read around Azure and it applies really to all IaaS providers.  Check it out here

What you can do is offer Windows Server to emulate a desktop using RDS.  I get it, not the same thing but I think it is a more of a compelling solution from a cost perspective (and be compliant).  Dedicating a physical server and virtual server is not always the most profitable solution.  I’ve said this before, I think the bigger issue is Office.  RDS now has mobility rights, I think Office should too.

My Opinion

If I was a service provider, I would work with someone who is an expert in SPLA based licensing and an expert in software assurance benefits.  As you can see from my previous posts and with VDI, software assurance is a requirement for most cloud based licensing solutions.  In years past, SA (Software Assurance) was only leveraged for organizations that wanted the latest version on software and pay annually for the licenses under their agreement.  The “cloud” has changed that.  Fast forward to today and customers want to move to the cloud but leverage their existing licenses.  Have you been asked that before?  How do they accomplish that?  The answer is Software Assurance.  They need SA to use license mobility, they need SA for VDI, they need SA for hybrid scenarios such as the SAL for SA SKU’s, and they still  need SA for latest version rights and pay annually.  If I was a Microsoft shareholder, I would applaud that move.  It’s a way to add additional revenue on top of the licenses they purchased all the while giving customers the benefits they are after.

So if you ask, “why does Microsoft not allow VDI in a shared environment?”  My answer is “why would they?”

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
2 Comments

Posted by on August 13, 2014 in VDI

 

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Help me SAM!

I was on a call the other day and the customer was pleasantly surprised to learn about the SPLA program. Although I do not manage the program in its entirety like the old days, I will say this was a refreshing surprise. When you mention SPLA to a customer, account manager, or even Microsoft, more times than not you here a groan. ABS – Anything But SPLA! I am sure if there are resellers reading this, they would probably agree. Why no love for a program that is growing exponentially year/year? What are better alternatives…buy the licenses outright?

I don’t think the issue is with the program itself; after all, the ability to get started with zero upfront costs from a licensing perspective is pretty cool! I don’t even think the licensing is all that difficult once you get started. The pain point is understanding all the “gotcha’s” and the “in’s” as well as all the “outs” to make sure what you are doing is both compliant and cost-effective.  SPLA is an honor based system, but if you are found dishonest, it will cost you.

One of the biggest hurdles is tracking licenses. With the release of Azure, license mobility, and regular SPLA licenses, the ability to track licenses is becoming more complex.  End customers do not want to double pay for licenses already purchased and service providers don’t want to report SPLA if they don’t have to.  So what do you do?

That’s where my old friend named Sammy comes in. On premise customers have used SAM (Software Asset Management) for years as a mechanism to track licenses purchased and/or deployed.  This is not a one time snapshot, (although I guess it could be if you want it to be) but an ongoing strategy to make sure licenses are being consumed properly.  If they are not, at least they catch the problem before they get audited.

Service providers are different; very few have a SAM strategy.  Most service providers are taking part in license mobility and customer owned licenses more regularly. If you don’t believe me check out all the license mobility partners on Microsoft’s website.  If you thought SPLA is complex, try combining on premise licensing and SPLA and see what you have!

What does SAM really do? It’s a strategy. It will give you tools and a team of experts to help guide you through the ever-changing license use rights (SPUR or PUR for those playing at home).  In most cases, it provides you with the necessary resources to help protect you from vendor audits.  There are different levels of SAM to cater towards different types of environments.  Just like service providers, no two environments are the same.

Here’s my advice (if you are wondering) – if you are a service provider, get a SAM strategy in place.  There’s a saying I read somewhere ( I believe LinkedIn) that said if you think audit prevention is expensive, try being audited.  (paraphrased here but you get my point).

If you don’t have a SAM resource, email me, (blaforge@splalicensing.com) I can be your SPLA/SAM resource.  I guarantee I know the program better than most.  You can also check out our SAM services at SoftwareONE here

As always,  hope you find this helpful and gives you some ideas.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Compliance

 

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Datacenter Outsourcing

I’ve written before on how partnering with an established provider can save you money, especially as a short term solution to get your hosting business started.  What I haven’t really addressed is the licensing.

Data Center Outsourcing is essentially what the name applies.  “Data Center” and “Outsourcing”; you outsource your data center. Amazing how that works.  Microsoft definition is a bit more confusing – amazing how that works too. From the outsourcing guide:

  1. “A Data Center Provider is a Service Provider that provides Software Services, usually IaaS, to another Service Provider using Products licensed from Microsoft through its own SPLA..”

Microsoft Azure is a good example of a data center outsourcing company.  When you sign up for Azure, Windows will be included in the service.  They are essentially providing the infrastructure (Windows and/or SQL cores) and you provide the application licenses via your own SPLA.  When you leverage another service provider who provides the infrastructure, they must be providing the Windows licenses. Hmmm…here’s why.

Let’s say you have a signed SPLA agreement to offer Exchange to your clients and you decide to use Brett’s Hosting to provide the infrastructure.  Brett’s Hosting offers a public cloud environment (multiple customers sharing same resources).  Under this model, you will report Exchange licenses for each user that HAS access to the software and NOT report Windows under your own SPLA; Brett’s Hosting would report Windows via their own SPLA.  Why?  If it is a shared environment, there is no way Brett’s Hosting can allocate processors for you to report it.  SQL cores works the same way.  Still don’t believe me?  Check out the FAQ guide from Azure here. Notice under SQL it states you can purchase a VM or use SAL licenses.  Notice under Windows it states Windows is included with your agreement.

Here’s the bottom line, if you decide to outsource your data center to a public cloud provider, ask them how they manage the Windows OS.  If they say it is not included in the cost of the service and you should be providing the licenses, they are out of compliant.

Want more proof?  Download the outsourcing guide here

That being said, if you provide data center outsourcing services, I think you are in the right business. This is the fastest growing area within the hosting industry.  Windows is relatively inexpensive from a licensing perspective, especially as you add more VM’s and can capitalize on the Data Center edition.  (remember…unlimited VM’s).  SQL can get a bit more complex, but if you understand it I think that could be an added value over your competition.  Last, because you report Windows and SQL only and let the service provider control the user based licensing; it limits your compliance exposure.  (processors/cores are easier to track).

So are you a data center outsource or a service provider?  Do you work with someone to resell your solution or do it alone?  Would love to learn more about your offerings. If you need guidance or best practices or just want a second opinion from a licensing perspective you can email me at blaforge@splalicensing.com.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Data Center Outsourcing

 

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