Monthly Archives: January 2021

Questions Microsoft might ask a service provider and the feedback they would receive

As we venture into 2021 (see ya 2020!)  I thought I would put together a list of talking points from SPLA providers to Microsoft.   The response is from hundreds of calls, meetings, emails, etc., who directly or indirectly (kind of like a SAL 😊) voiced their opinion on SPLA and the feedback they would like to give to Microsoft.  If you would like to join the community to receive licensing advice, learn what others are doing, and learn/provide feedback, please email We would love for you to participate.  Here are the top 10 questions Microsoft is asking and the hosting community’s response.

  1. Why not move to Azure?  The response was not surprising and certainly repeated throughout the community.  It boils down to cost, customer service, and customer needs.  Cost:  A SPLA provider knows its price in running its datacenter.  They made the investments in hardware, know the storage/network costs, etc.   Azure is not as simple and can quickly increase (so there’s fear in that).   Customer Service: The reality is customers still want local and accessible business partners.  They know they can call their local rep and get an answer.  Customer needs:  In a way, Microsoft is a competitor when it comes to the datacenter.  End customers can just as quickly go to Azure themselves or go to an array of CSP partners or MSP providers.  Hosting companies want to hold onto their customer base.   Some customers want a private cloud.  Ironically, as many years SPLA has been in existence, they do not want it to go away.  They built their business on SPLA.  There is even a petition they would sign if it did go away. 
  2. Why are you with AWS?   ISVs moved to AWS didn’t do it because Microsoft was terrible; it just wasn’t available.  It takes time to move to the public cloud; many ISVs have been on the journey for quite some time.  They started using AWS for platform as a service:  to develop applications.  Once the application(s) was created, they leverage the same datacenter for hosting.   For traditional SPLA (non-ISV), many providers used AWS for infrastructure and continue to do so today.  Everyone talks about moving to the cloud; no one talks about moving away.   There is also the mindset that AWS is not Microsoft.   Using AWS allows them to use another vendor as opposed to putting all their eggs into one basket. 
  3. Why are you so pissed?   
  4. Silly question, but there is a bit of animosity when you look at Microsoft and the SPLA providers’ historical relationship.  For one, service providers very rarely spoke to Microsoft.  When there is a change, SPLA partners are the last to know.  Resellers do not care about SPLA, Microsoft does not (or at least in the past) care about SPLA, the only ones who cared about SPLA were/are the SPLA providers, and this idiot named SPLA Man.  Secondly, these price increases.   They are upset that pricing continues to go up, especially on the one product they must report: RDS. Let’s face it, in SPLA, there are only three products commonly licensed – RDS, SQL, and Windows.  Microsoft raised the pricing on all three throughout the years. 
  5. Why are you reporting Office when there’s Office 365?   Service providers state there’s a massive push for desktop as a service and VDI.  Again, not all customers want to move to Azure, and it’s easier to package everything under one umbrella. It’s also not compliant to license Office 365 out of their datacenter without QMTH.  The second reason has to do with multiplexing.  A lot of ISVs have Office as a component in their application.  As we all know, you run Excel; Excel must have a license.  
  6. Isn’t licensing getting easier?  Not really.  Yeah, it’s easier to license a USL than a SAL, but service providers face various challenges when it comes to licensing.  They have end customers who want to leverage their existing licenses (including Office 365), the CSP program. However, many indirect providers face challenges with on-premise licensing, cloud licensing, and hybrid.  They long for the days of just SPLA and License Mobility. 
  7. Should we discontinue SPLA?  This was answered briefly earlier; the short answer is absolutely not.  SPLA is not easy to remove, like the Open or EA programs.  SPLA provides flexibility.  Although the licensing challenges will always be there, at the end of the day, SPLA provides options for everyone.  Microsoft gets to have a competitive advantage over public cloud providers such as Google and AWS.  With Microsoft, you can have a private cloud (SPLA), public cloud (CSP), or on-premise (volume licensing).  It provides options for the customer, and it provides options for the hosters.  Why change it?
  8. Isn’t the Listed Provider use right helping?  No.  It is making it more challenging.  The service providers appreciate you did not extend the Listed Provider restriction for the entire SPLA community, but it does restrict them on their public cloud options.
  9. Should we remove individual SPLA Resellers?  Maybe that’s not a bad idea.  Why keep a SPLA Reseller who is not CSP Indirect authorized?  Service providers must work with multiple resellers: (1) for CSP Indirect business and (1) for SPLA. 
  10. Should we add partner benefits to SPLA?  Service providers would LOVE that.  Let SPLA attribute to their cloud competency and give rebates back to the SPLA hoster.  SPLA Man does not understand why Microsoft would not do this.  Yes, SPLA is a mature program, but provide us (the SPLA hoster) a reason to continue to develop our applications, host our applications, invest in resources, expand our business, and grow our mutual partnership?    Yes, you can achieve this through CSP, but there is so much business in the private cloud that Microsoft could and should take advantage of.

Again, if you are a service provider and would like us to help you with your challenges and maybe discuss all the different options available to you, please shoot us an email at

Thanks for reading,


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Posted by on January 15, 2021 in Uncategorized


Can SPLA go towards the 300k CSP requirement?

Many CSP Direct partners who also have an SPLA agreement have asked if their SPLA usage reporting will go towards the 300k requirement to remain CSP Direct authorized.  Unfortunately, they are two separate programs, and one does not affect the other. 

The other question we get asked is: Can CSP replace SPLA for Windows, RDS, and SQL?  The answer again is no.  You are not allowed to host CSP products from your datacenter.  You can; however, license CSP products on-premise for your customers or in Azure. 

Whenever you license CSP for on-premise deployments, the software will follow the Product Terms, which (A) Prohibits hosting, and (B) Requires CALs.   When you deploy in Azure, you can host to third-parties, and there’s no CAL requirement.     

What is a service provider to do?  If you already invested in a platform, services, and billing systems to enable CSP Direct sales and still feel nervous about achieving the 300k requirement, here’s a quick list of things you may want to consider.

  • Microsoft recently discontinued the Open licensing program.  In doing so, they added perpetual licensing to the CSP program.  Do not think of CSP as a cloud-only solution, rather an opportunity to maybe expand your sales to include on-premise licensing sales.  On-premise CSP sales will go towards your 300k number.
  • If you are only CSP Direct authorized to have the QMTH addendum, make a cost comparison of running the same solution in Azure versus investing in sales and other activities to reach the 300k mark.  Is it worth it, or can you forgo the CSP authorization and use Azure?
  • Lower your cost for certain CSP products.  You do not make money from the sale of CSP licensing anyway.  Stop thinking your Exchange Online price increase is going to grow your bottom line.  Lower your cost to win customers and raise it later.  You can add services such as migration and cloud support to increase margins.  The 300k will not be based on your margin; it is based on Microsoft’s revenue billed.

Those are only suggestions, and a lot of this requires a change in business strategy, not just licensing.  Many service providers have asked about the future of SPLA.  I recently wrote an article regarding the future of the SPLA program.  You can download it here  Some of the proceeds will go towards our charity, Mow Down Cancer, Inc. 

Thanks for reading,


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Posted by on January 15, 2021 in Uncategorized


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