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Monthly Archives: September 2014

Top Reporting Errors

Here’s a list of common mistakes service providers make when reporting SPLA.  Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

  1. Reporting only (1) 2 core pack (must report a minimum of 4 cores)
  2. Office without RDS
  3. CRM without SQL
  4. SharePoint without SQL
  5. Reporting SharePoint Enterprise without reporting Standard
  6. Miss combination of Windows and SQL
  7. Agreement without Windows Server
  8. Reporting SQL processors on a recently signed agreement
  9. Using SQL Web to support a line of business application
  10. Reporting less than $100 on a recently signed agreement.

I understand there are many more, but this is a list you can control month end and month out.  More difficult licensing errors to correct include: hosting SPLA on servers that are also consumed internally; installing SPLA software on hardware you don’t control or have access; and using System Center to manage both internal and external facing applications.

Correct it now before it’s too late.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2014 in Compliance

 

Why I write this blog…

Just a note to thank you for taking the time over the last year to read my ramblings on the Microsoft SPLA program. I’ve been asked from time to time as to why I write this blog.  I do it for two reasons –

1. I hear what service provider’s tell me, the questions you ask, and how you want to be compliant.  There’s A LOT of misinformation out there. VDI is a great example…and no, this is still not possible under SPLA :).  I’ve been doing this for what seems like decades – I know the licensing (not all of it…I am human) but I am an advocate. I want you to succeed.

2. I simply like to do it.  Odd right? I enjoy complex licensing scenarios and figuring out a solution.  (I also like easy scenarios too).

I am not perfect.  Mrs. SPLA Man would also agree. But I really appreciate all the kind words and feedback. Last, sorry for the ads. I don’t make a dime from them.  Guess it’s a WordPress thingy.  Maybe I can get a freebie if I give them licensing advice.  WordPress – who manages your SPLA?  Do you host using Windows?  Always selling…

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

SPLA Audit start to finish

Your business is doing great, your sellers and customers are happy, you are making money instead of spending money, when out of the blue….BAM…you receive an audit letter.  Sound familiar?

So what do you do?  Your first reaction is panic.  Your second reaction is to call a lawyer.  Your third reaction is to blame your reseller.  I think that about sums it up.  If you disagree, I’m not 100% sure you are being truthful with yourself.  If you do agree, I also think you are making a HUGE mistake.  Sounds a little odd doesn’t it?

First thing you need to understand is it’s not your fault.  It’s not as if you are purposely trying to be out of compliant.  Microsoft knows this as well.  SPLA is a difficult program and very hard to understand. As I pointed out in the “About” section of this blog, there is little information written about the SPLA program leaving service providers vulnerable.  The SPUR?  Forget about it. That’s why I created this blog in the first place.

I think that is why SPLA customers call a lawyer to help guide them.  This may help you sleep at night, but is it REALLY helping?  I will let you determine that after the dust settles.

What does happen during an audit? I don’t care if this is the first step or fourth step but at some point you will have to collect data.  Data that PROVES the reason you reported the way you did.  One of the biggest mistakes a SPLA provider can make is not reporting indirect access.  Again, not your fault.  Who has any idea of what “indirect” really means?  Think of indirect as Microsoft software that is used to run your other applications that you market to your customers.  You have an application that you developed that reports back to SQL using Excel.  Users have no idea they are using SQL, all they know is the application they use.  But since SQL is part of your hosted solution…it must be reported.  Make sense?  That’s also why Windows will always need to be reported.  Try running Exchange without a Windows OS.  Not going to happen.

Data can also mean the licenses that your customers own that they bring over to your environment.  How do you know who owns what?  Are there enough CAL’s?  One of the arguments service providers make is they can go after their customers if being audited.  There’s an easy conversation right?  Remember, you want to keep customers not lose them.

Some service providers have learned that their end customers install software on VM’s without informing them.  How do you know what is actually being installed?  So take a look at your datacenter; are your customers installing software you don’t know about?  Collecting this information after the fact is a difficult process.  This leaves auditors with no choice but to make a best guess.  Best guesses can cost you significantly.

So after all this data is analyzed by the audit team, it is then delivered to Microsoft.  That’s when you present your case.  They will take things into consideration, but understand that if you are missing information, it makes your argument that much more difficult.  Don’t blame your reseller, that doesn’t work.  Don’t rely on a lawyer, that doesn’t always work either.  Educate yourself.  That’s the best advice I can provide.  Just by taking the time to read this I think you are on the right path.

Happy to walk you through the process in greater detail.  I am one of the few that actually gets it. My email is at the top righthand side of this page.

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Compliance

 

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CRM Price Increases

For those that read my earlier post “Predicting the future” one intuition has already come true.  Microsoft announced price increases for Microsoft Dynamics CRM come January, 2015.

All 3 SPLA CRM SKU’s are effected  (Basic, Essentials, and Service Provider/PRO edition).  For complete breakdown I would suggest reaching out to your SPLA reseller.

So why the increase?  Microsoft stated “The CRM price change is intended to more closely align our online and on premises pricing.”  So there you have it.

Windows, Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS) and other Dynamics AX, NAV, GP will also see increases.  This was previously announced by Microsoft and communicated through the reseller channel.

Thanks

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in CRM

 

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Predicting the future…

Not an easy task.  When my kindergartener teacher asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I can promise you SPLA was not part of my vision.  (I should’ve worked harder to be a firefighter)

This post is 100% opinion based and would love the opportunity to hear/read yours. So here’s my take on SPLA and what’s next for the hosting industry.

Who will win the Amazon/Azure War? 

Contrary to popular opinion, I think Microsoft has already won this battle.  The reason might surprise you too as it has nothing to do with the service offerings or pricing; it has everything to do with who controls the licensing. I think we can all agree that Microsoft can make up their own rules to their own software.  What happens if Amazon spins up a Windows VM in their datacenter?  Amazon has to report it via SPLA.  Who ultimately get’s the SPLA revenue?  Microsoft.  What happens if Microsoft decides to offer fully hosted Windows 8 desktops using Azure or Office 365 but NOT authorize if for other service providers?  Yikes!!!  What happens if Microsoft authorizes MSDN mobility rights but not offer it for other service providers?  Oops…already happened.  What happens if they allow Office to be installed on 5 devices?  Oh man.

Will SPLA be replaced?

No.  Too  much revenue being generated for SPLA to just disappear.  SPLA produces recurring revenue for both Microsoft and the partner community.  Secondly, using SPLA does not mean that volume licensing is going away; Microsoft get’s the best of both worlds.  I do foresee volume licensing changing more rapidly than it already has.  I think that’s a good thing too.

Will VDI be allowed under SPLA in the foreseeable future?

No way.  This will never happen in my opinion. Let’s throw in the towel on this one.

Will the cloud industry expand or contract over the next decade?

Expand.  I think organizations will not only have hybrid/cloud environments but multi-cloud environments. As an example, I have multiple software vendors (such as Adobe for PDF’s, Symantec for Security, Microsoft for Office, etc) I believe organizations will use several vendors in “cloud” paving way for those service providers that have specialization and unique offerings to gain market share.  Yeah, they might not be the next Amazon, but they will be critical to the next phase of cloud. Specialization = Profitability.

Are all service providers going to be audited?

Yes.

Do I need to have a SAM practice?

Not if you don’t believe me in the previous question. Just don’t cry and say I didn’t warn you!

What will be the biggest driver to the cloud?

On premise compliance audits.  Once they get audited, they would rather have someone else worry about it; that someone else is you.

Will License Mobility be allowed for Windows?

No.  I don’t think there is a reason why it would.  Windows is cheap.  For those that have hosted for a while, remember the Windows Outsourcer/Non Outsourcer SKU’s?  Datacenter was over $200 a processor.  Standard was over $75 (US).

Will Microsoft raise rates?

Yes.

Will my hosting business succeed since I can’t compete against larger providers?

Yes.  You  need to change the way you promote your offering.  Think about this (and be honest with yourself) – what separates you from your competition?  If you were a customer looking for a hosted solution…why would “they”… choose “you”?  How can YOU… help ME (customer).  Is it to keep compliance?  Is it costs? Do your employees bring you new ideas or are they collecting pay checks?  Do you worry about being the lowest price or quality/uniqueness of your service?   Is it because you have an “in” and listen to SPLA Man?  If it’s the latter, you will win for sure.

Who’s the biggest threat to cloud providers present/future?

Governments

Will VDI be allowed under SPLA?

NOOOOO!!!!!  You asked this twice!  Come on! 🙂

Who will win the World Series in baseball?

Why…the St. Louis Cardinals of course!

Who will NOT win the Super Bowl this year?

St. Louis Rams – Ugh.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2014 in In My Opinion

 

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