Monthly Archives: March 2016

Is it SPLA or Not?

Is it SPLA or not?  That is the question.  My conversations have changed throughout the years.  It used to be “How do I license Exchange?”  Fast forward to today, and it’s more about the overall solution.  Some customers develop their application; provide it as a service; but include Office as part of that solution.  Without question, this has to be SPLA.   Yet another customer develops an application; provides it as a service; and does not include Office.  Without question, this has to be SPLA.  What!  What about self-hosted?  The first customer hosts Office which is not self-hosted eligible, therefore the entire solution must be SPLA.  The second customer, although has all the criteria for self-hosted, did not include Software Assurance.  Without SA, it must be SPLA.  There’s a ton of stories, situations, and even debate over what constitutes a SPLA agreement and what doesn’t.   Let’s provide other examples to show how complex this can be.

Customer Not SPLA

Customer has an organization where end customers are buying insurance and other products directly from them.  External users are accessing, but nothing is provided as a service.  There’s no SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE in this model.  Therefore, SPLA is not needed.  Think of a e-commerce website, blog, etc.

Customer Not SPLA

Customer has an organization that has a website to publish and share information.     Not every one has access to the same information, but end users are downloading documents and viewing content.  Again, there’s no SOFTWARE AS A SERVICE.

Customer SPLA

Customer has an organization that  leases an application from a third party.  They do not own the application but provide it out as a service to non-employees to help manage their business.  Since they do not own the application; are providing it AS A SERVICE; it’s SPLA.

Customer SPLA

Customer has an organization that developed an application, provide it as a service, and host it using Windows and SQL.  They did not purchase Software Assurance.  Since they did not purchase Software Assurance, they must license it via SPLA.

Customer SPLA

Customer has a portal with a software package that enables customers to purchase and research different insurance companies.  This would be SPLA.  Why?  In this example, the brokering software is used to benefit the end user, not the customer hosting the application.

That’s just a few examples.  Here’s a quick summary:

  1. If you develop an application – Do you have active Software Assurance for those products used to run the application.
  2. If you lease an application and market it as your own, that does not qualify either.  You have to OWN the actual application.
  3. If the application is used to run or benefit the end user, that’s what Microsoft refers to “Software As A Service”

It gets more complicated with Datacenter Outsourcers (Azure), mixed environments, etc.

In conclusion, SPLA is complex, so is volume licensing, and so is determining which one really fits your environment.  Best advice I can provide, don’t work with someone that does not know these changes.  It will cost you.  Email me at if you have questions.

Thanks for reading,





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Posted by on March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

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