To use a tool or not?
Ahh, SPLA reporting. We’ve heard the line, the only sure thing in life is death and taxes. The only thing certain for a service provider is that Microsoft will change the licensing rules (frequently) and SPLA reporting. There’s not much we can do about Microsoft changing the licensing rules, but alas, there is something you can do about SPLA reporting. I’ve written this on several occasions, but it’s worth repeating. The biggest mistake a service provider will make is believing that SPLA reporting is a requirement by Microsoft. Yes, it is a requirement by Microsoft, but that is not the only reason you should track licensing. Let me provide an example, HostingRUs has one man managing their SPLA reporting. He runs a “foolproof” script that will identify everything in their environment. He reports all the licenses installed and looks at invoices to know the number of users to report. He submits it to his reseller. There is nothing wrong with that strategy except for one thing – nowhere in the reporting process is anyone tracking licensing rules, updates, optimization, and, more importantly, billing. So in the above example, yes, HostingRUs is reporting licenses to Microsoft, but they should consider so many other areas. Here’s another example. A member of my site (Mscloudlicensing.com) wrote me, saying, “Microsoft is really Sh*tting on me.” He has an application that requires Office Excel; his customer already owns Office 365. He wants to use the O365 license that his customer already purchased to be installed in his datacenter. Obviously, that is not possible without the QMTH addendum. That’s when he got a bit crabby and threatened an anti-trust lawsuit with Microsoft. (Good luck, my friend, but my money is on the company with a trillion dollars in the bank). What the service provider failed to do in this example is look at his datacenter environment from a perspective of what he can do, not what he can’t. He didn’t know he could offer just Excel (instead of the entire suite). He also didn’t consider using open office. He also had very little knowledge of who accesses the application indirectly. If you believe Microsoft changes the rules A LOT and SPLA reporting are cumbersome; then maybe a tool is worth it. I recommended Octopus Cloud to the service provider in my example above. Many service providers use Octopus to keep track of SPLA reporting, but more are using it as a business intelligence tool to understand what is happening inside their datacenter. Octopus helped him know what is installed versus what is reported (a big miss for him was reporting Office Standard, but Office Pro was installed – not only was he underreporting, but in reality, he just needed Excel in the first place, a third of the cost of Office Standard!) Can you imagine if he was audited? His customers just required Excel, but he was on the hook for Office Pro just because his engineer thought it was convenient when he installed it! So when I asked (in the title) should you use an SPLA tool or not? I would argue you can’t afford not to. If you report 1,000 dollars a month or 100,000 dollars a month, don’t you want to make sure you got it right? Thanks for reading, SPLA Man