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Category Archives: Compliance

Self Hosted Rights and Office

The other day I was on a call with a customer who developed a financial application that takes a customer’s information and then reports it back from Excel.  The goal would be to have it deployed via a web browser, possibly using SharePoint.  Immediately I thought of Office Web App.  Browser based, users could not only read it but edit it as well, sounds like a perfect fit  What about the licensing?  Since this is their own Intellectual Property (IP) I thought of the self hosted rights for volume licensing.  SPLA might be too expensive since users could not be tracked. This is where we got stuck. 

Self hosted is a software assurance benefit. It allows volume licensing customers to host their application that runs on Microsoft technology to third parties. I included the terms and conditions directly from the Product Use Rights (PUR) at the bottom of this post (in case you are really bored) but in my opinion this will allow developers to continue to build their applications and utilize volume licensing that offers the greater discount.

As a SAM manager, I was engaged by the customer to review both past and current licensing.  Since this was a new offering, nothing was licensed or even deployed yet.   Whew…Rule #1 – before building a datacenter make sure the solution fits the licensing. Secondly, this is being provided as a service, not simply allowing external users to access.

What did we advise? In order for a solution to qualify as “self-hosted” all applications must be self hosted eligible. Unfortunately, Office does not qualify. Ugh. There goes that option. Now we must look at SPLA for everything (one unified solution as defined in the PUR). The problem with SPLA is you must license Office STD or PRO to enable Office Web Apps. To add more complexity, Office in a server environment is licensed by user (SPLA) Since user count is expected to be very high, this does not seem to be an economical solution. What I proposed was to get rid of Office. That’s right, I recommended they remove it from the solution and use Open Office. The solution worked and met the compliance guidelines set forth by Microsoft.

In conclusion, I hated my recommendation but went with it in order to be compliant. Microsoft Office is a superior product to “Open Office” If only Microsoft would allow Office to be self hosted eligible, I think it would benefit the service provider, Microsoft, and more importantly the end customer.

Bottom line- make sure if you have your OWN application (not license someone else’s) and you decide to use volume licensing to host, make sure all software is eligible or risk BIG compliance risk.

Thanks for reading.

SPLA Man

From the PUR
You must have the required Microsoft licenses and maintain Software Assurance coverage for:
• the Self-Hosted Applications run as part of the Unified Solution; and
• all access licenses used to make the Unified Solution available to external users (See Universal License Terms, Definitions).
All Microsoft software used to create and deliver the Unified Solution must:
• be licensed through a Volume Licensing program that is subject to these license terms (e.g., Enterprise Agreement, Select Plus Agreement, Open License Agreement) and not any other (e.g., Services Provider License Agreement, Independent Software Vendor Royalty License and Distribution Agreement); and
• be marked as ‘Yes’ for ‘Self Hosting of Applications Allowed’ in these license terms
Your software must:
• add significant and primary functionality to the Self-Hosted Applications that are part of the Unified Solution (dashboards, HTML editors, utilities, and similar technologies are not a primary service and/or application of a Unified Solution);
• be the principal service and/or application, and sole point of access, to the Unified Solution;
• be delivered over the Internet or a private network from your datacenter to end users. The Self-Hosted Applications component may not be loaded onto the end user’s device; and
• be owned, not licensed, by you, except that your software may include non-substantive third party software that is embedded in, and operates in support of, your software.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Compliance, Self Hosted

 

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Links to vendor websites and other blogs

Here’s a list of resources I think are worth checking out. Not all pertain to SPLA specifically, but in the world of IT – all licensing programs find a way to relate to one another. Check it out.

Microsoft SPLA Program
http://www.microsoft.com/hosting

Microsoft Marketing Campaigns
http://www.readytogomicrosoft.com

Great Microsoft Volume Licensing Blog
http://www.microsoftlicensereview.com/

TechNet
http://blogs.technet.com/b/volume-licensing/

SPLA Reseller (I work for them with SAM) There is a free compliance check where the team will review your order and ensure you are licensing correctly and the most cost effective way. http://www.softwareone.com/en-us/Licensing/Microsoft-SPLA/Pages/default.aspx

SPLA Reseller Email – SPLA.us@softwareone.com

VMware Service Provider Program
http://www.vmware.com/partners/service-provider.html

Citrix CSP Program
http://www.citrix.com/partner-programs/service-provider.html

Citrix Marketing Tools
http://www.citrix.com/csptoolkit.com

Citrix/Microsoft DaaS Whitepapers, etc.
http://www.Citrix.com/Microsoft

Hope this helps

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Compliance, In My Opinion

 

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Audit!!!

If you haven’t received an audit inventation, consider yourself lucky.  Publishers are auditing everyone, from volume licensing to SPLA, audits are happening and it’s best you be prepared.

I am often asked “What steps are entailed in an audit and how much is this going to cost me?”  Both questions have undetermined variables tied to them.  I said this before, but you must look at your datacenter from an auditors perspective.  What would they want to see if I am audited?   Here’s my advice, (& take it for what it’s worth), but if I knew audits were happening, I would want to keep track of all users that have access to the software and ensure those that do not have access truly do not have access! As an example, I’m hosting SharePoint to 10 users and only 5 of those users have access to Enterprise features – therefore I only need to report 5 right?  Maybe- but what happens in some weird way they could possibly access the Enterprise features?  You would true up all licensing not reported and probably have an additional fee on top of it!Secondly, if I was using SQL, I would double check and see if VMs can migrate to different hosts.  Third, I would get a record of end user agreements and ensure software assurance is active for whatever products they are using under “license mobility.”  Last, and probably the most important – be careful of using a third party for audit support.  It may look like they helped – but in the end …did they? Email me a blaforge@splalicensing.com and I can explain.

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 
4 Comments

Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Compliance

 

Answers to your Top 5 SPLA Hosting Questions!

1. Is there an auditing tool available for SPLA in the marketplace?  Not at the moment, but reach out to me via twitter or LinkedIn and we can discuss further.  I have a few ideas up my sleeve 🙂

2. How do I lower my monthly reporting costs?  No easy answer with this one.  You need to really take an inventory/snapshot of your environment.  How many VMs are really running?  Can I eliminate server sprawl by virtualizing more heavily?  Am I reporting users when I should really be reporting processor or cores?  A lot of service providers report the same thing every month out of convenience.  Don’t do that!  Furthermore, if you are outside the United States, I have a few ideas for you as well.  Reach out to me via LinkedIn or Twitter @SPLA_Man

3. With volume licensing there is a 1-2 ratio, meaning 1 license covers two processors with Windows 2012.  Does the same hold true for SPLA?  No.  You must license all the processors on the machine.  Check out my blog post https://splalicensing.com/category/windows-virtualization/

4. How do I compete with Office 365?  You need to provide a service outside of the product itself.  Check out my blog https://splalicensing.com/category/office-365/

5. My application that we developed outputs data out of an Excel file.  Why on Earth would I need to license Excel?  Simple…because it uses Excel.

There’s a reason why Bill Gates is one of the richest men in the world.  You install it…you have to license it!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2013 in Compliance, Office 365

 

How SAL Licenses Really Work

SAL (subscriber access licenses) can be complex and without question the number one underreported licenses under SPLA.  Why all the confusion stems from misinterpretation of the SPUR and/or bad advice.

When you report by user, you have to take in account each user that HAS access to the software, not who does.   Microsoft is not based on concurrent licensing.  I wrote about this prior, but thought it was worth repeating.  If you have 5 users that use the software, but 15 users can access at any given time, you must report all 15.  Seems ridiculous, but is 100% true.  Consider licensing by processor if user licenses become too difficult to track.

Read this section of the SPUR (use rights).  “You must acquire and assign a SAL to each user that is authorized to access your instances of the server software directly or indirectly, regardless of actual access of the server software.”  It’s the last part of that sentence that can get you in trouble “regardless of actual access of the server software” For a copy of the SPUR check out http://spur.microsoft.com/products.aspx

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 
6 Comments

Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Compliance

 

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Reporting SPLA Usage

Managing the SPLA program for as long as I have, I came to the conclusion that no one likes to report their SPLA.  For what it’s worth, Microsoft and resellers don’t like it either, but it’s the most important aspect of the SPLA program.  Here’s a list of reasons why you need to report on time.

  • It’s unlawful if you don’t report.  Think about this for a moment,  you did not pay for the licenses upfront, but you are charging customers for their access.  In some countries, that’s called stealing.
  • It is part of your signed North America SPLA agreement.   Page 11 section 11a –  “Customer must submit either a monthly use report or zero use report to its Reseller within 10 days after the last day of each month or on a date agreed to by the Customer and its Reseller.”
  • After the 10th, Microsoft runs audit checks.  This doesn’t mean you will automatically get audited, but it does mean Microsoft will be keeping a closer eye on what you report.
  • If you report on the 10th and your credit card has issues or you are on credit hold, the reseller cannot submit it to Microsoft.  That’s one reason you should report prior to the 10th to avoid any errors.
  • Make it routine – you pay your cable bill each month, you should pay your SPLA as well.
  • It’s the cost of doing business
  • Any way you slice it, you have to report something

I understand that no one likes to report.  In a lot of instances it’s your biggest cost as a company.  My advice is always report, the cost of your monthly licensing spend is a lot less than the cost of an audit!  Hope this helps.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Compliance, SPLA Reporting

 

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What’s Your Licensing Strategy?

I love the question “What’s your cloud strategy?” It’s the new ice breaker for salespeople around the globe. My thoughts? Why bother asking customers about their cloud strategy if it does not include licensing?  The BIGGEST mistake service providers (SPLA’s) make is selling a solution first and worrying about the licensing impact later. They build data centers, talk about virtualizing, even talk about the savings of cap ex vs. op ex, but never talk about the licensing until someone brings it up or they get audited. Just because the technology enables something, does not mean you can license that way.

VDI is a prime example of this. “You can host virtual desktops as a service right? Install the desktop OS on a server and stream it? Why not? The concept has been around for years. I ‘Googled’ VDI as a service and several companies are doing this…it must be right…right?” Wrong! Yes, technically speaking you can host virtual desktops using Windows 7/8. Licensing gurus and the product user rights and the audit team will disagree with you. Unfortunately there’s no way to do this under SPLA. Next question that comes up is “why?” Wish I knew the answer, perhaps Microsoft is looking out after the OEM manufactures, but then again they launched Surface.

Microsoft is auditing everyone. There are few guarantees in life, but one guarantee is not everyone under the SPLA program is licensing correctly. Just a word of advice, know the licensing before implementing a solution.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
 

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Why Timing is Everything

Whether you’re signing a new SPLA or renewing your old one, timing is everything.  When you sign an agreement, you are bound by the use rights at the time of sigining.  For example, if you sign a new SPLA in April, 2013 you will be bound by the SPUR (product use rights) for April 2013. 

Why is this important?  As with technology, licensing is always evolving.  As an example, with the release of SQL 2012, Microsoft switched from a processor based licensing structure to a core based licensing structure.  Since the 2013 SPUR only has core licensing (not processor), you will be forced to license by core when you sign a new SPLA regardless of which version you have installed. In other words, anyone (whether renewing or new) who signs an agreement after December 31st, 2012 will be forced to license by core. 

Windows 2012 is another change that can impact your usage reporting.  With the release of Windows 2012 last August, anyone who signs a new SPLA after August 31st, 2012 will be forced to license by the 2012 use rights.  You can run previous versions such as 2008, but you will need to license by the current SPUR. 

What happens if you sign a new SPLA in August before the license change?  You will have 3 years (SPLA is a 3 year agreement) to license the old way.  The catch? If you migrate any servers to the 2012 version you will have to license those servers by the 2012 use rights.  For example, if you are running SQL 2008 R2 Standard edition and decide to migrate to SQL 2012 Standard edition, the new server will need to be reported by the core not by processor!

Ask in advance for the licensing impact before renewing your SPLA agreement.  Better yet, follow this blog for the latest updates and you will be well prepared!

Thanks for reading-

SPLA Man

 
17 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Compliance, SPLA General

 

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What CAN I do with my SPLA Licenses?

When it comes to licensing, most of the time we discuss what you cannot do with the licenses.  Today I thought I would touch on what you CAN do with Microsoft licenses as it pertains to the SPLA program.   I came up with a list of ideas that you can take advantage of being a Microsoft hosting partner.

  • Use SPLA licenses internally.  There is a 50% rule with SPLA that states you can use 50% of what you are hosting for your internal employees.  Let’s say you are hosting 10 Exchange licenses externally, the terms of the agreement states you can use up to 5 licenses internally.  These licenses are not free, you would still need to report those 5 licenses on your monthly report (report a total of 15 licenses to your reseller).  One way of reducing your volume licensing count.
  • 60 Day Evaluation – This allows a service provider to host an application as a trial for up to 60 days per customer!  Trick is you cannot receive a fee during this period.
  • Customer Owned Licenses – Customers can bring their own licenses into your data center and you can host the software for them.  The issue: you must host it in a physical dedicated environment (nothing shared amongst other customers).
  • Install Servers on Customers Premise – As long as you own the hardware, you can locate the server at your customers location.
  • Receive the latest version. As new technology is released, you will have access. (check SPUR for availability)
  • Partner with another service providers to host the software.  This is especially important for customers looking to deploy a Dynamics solution but are not Dynamics authorized.

It’s refreshing to write about what you can do. Microsoft is not always the bad guy!

Thanks for reading!

SPLA Man

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Compliance

 

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SPLA Compliance Audit- How Not to be the Chosen One!

If you recently went through an audit or just nervous about being notified, I outlined ten steps that service providers can take to arm themselves more efficiently and be compliant.

  1. If you are running Microsoft software, you must license Windows.  All Microsoft software runs on a Windows OS.
  2. If you are licensing SharePoint- SharePoint requires SQL and Windows.
  3. Reporting SharePoint Enterprise you must license SharePoint Standard
  4. Installing Office on a server requires Remote Desktop (RDS) licenses.  Office and RDS licenses should match (cannot have more Office licenses than RDS licenses)
  5. If you have customers bringing licenses into your hosted environment you need to host it in a physical and dedicated environment.  (nothing shared among other customers)
  6. If you are reporting user licenses (SAL- Subscriber Access License) you need a license for each user that has access.  For example, if you have 10 totals users in the month of May and only 4 actually use or access that software, you must license all 10.  SPLA user licenses are similar to your cable bill; your cable provider is going to charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not.
  7. If you have customer owned licenses in your environment, you must keep all relevant documentation.  This includes enrollment information, start date, end date, and who they bought the licenses from.
  8. Renting out a PC make sure the PC has an OEM license preinstalled.
  9. No virtualizing/streaming Windows desktop OS from a datacenter.
  10. You can install your server on a customer premise, but do not install SPLA software on your customer’s server!

This is not bulletproof by any means.  Use this as a guide when looking at your own environment.  Look at it from the auditors eyes.  What information would they need to verify that I am compliant? The SPUR (Service Provider Use Rights) is the best reference when it comes to Microsoft SPLA.  You can download a copy here.  If you have trouble sleeping at night; this is a must read.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Compliance

 

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