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Category Archives: In My Opinion

SPLA Pricing Going Up? Not on my watch

I hate when other partners promote a SPLA price increase to gain business.  Yeah, no one can control what the publisher will ultimately do and pricing is never consistent (just look at your local gas pump) but that doesn’t mean you cannot leverage use rights and other factors to lower your SPLA bill.  In this article, we will look at how SPLA partners can lower their bill regardless what Microsoft may or may not do in the future.  Here are a quick (some easy, some not so easy) ways to accomplish this.

  1. SQL Server:  How confident are you that you are licensing the most expensive product in SPLA correctly?  Let me provide an example, reporting SQL Web because of price is not a sound strategy.  Auditors look at licensing historically, when you license incorrectly for a product like SQL Web and it should’ve been Standard, you will pay an astronomically higher price in the long run.  Pay attention to your given use rights to uncover cost savings, such as SQL Enterprise for unlimited virtualization, Standard SAL licenses for multiple VM’s and Servers, etc.
  2. Administration Access:  Why report administrators?  As part of your signed SPLA agreement, you are allowed 20 admins per datacenter without the need for SPLA.  Doing a demo for your customer?  Don’t report it.  Pay attention to the use rights in your SPLA agreement, not just the SPUR.
  3. SPLA Internal Use:  If you have more external users than internal users, perhaps you should use SPLA to cover both.  As an example, if you host Exchange for 10 users, you can use up to 5 internally.  Those licenses are not free, you would report a total of 15 on your SPLA moving forward.  This entitlement is called the 50% rule which states that you cannot license more than 50% of what you are hosting, internally.  I like this because it eliminates two things: 1) if a user leaves your company, you simply do not license the user the next month.  In Volume Licensing, you own the licenses which would force you to either reassign the license to another user internally or it goes unused.  2).  You would not be required to have separate hardware for this solution.  In traditional SPLA, you must have separate hardware from what you are hosting.  If using SPLA for internal consumption, it can be on the same hardware since it follows the same use rights.
  4. Leveraging Skype for Business through Office 365:  Yeah, in many cases O365 is the big bad wolf; in other cases, it’s your best friend.  If you want to host Skype, you can sell your customers who purchased Skype O365 licenses, host it from your datacenter environment, and leverage the SAL for SA SKU.  Skype USL (Office 365 licenses) is the only product that qualifies for SAL for SA in SPLA.  If your customer purchased Skype USL licenses and are unhappy with migrating it to Microsoft datacenter, you can tell the customer that you can host it for them for little cost.  It’s much cheaper than licensing/reporting the regular Skype for Business SAL.  On the flip side, let’s say your customer purchased Exchange Online USL license, they would just need to purchase the Exchange Server with Software Assurance to leverage license mobility.   Exchange Online does not qualify for SAL for SA.
  5. Private Cloud: When the public cloud is taking up all the headlines, maybe it’s time to differentiate and create a new headline.  No one gets ahead by doing the same thing others are doing.   If Azure offers public cloud, maybe you should start offering private cloud.  In this example, private cloud is fully dedicated, isolated hardware for each individual customer.  Here are three ways this could be beneficial:
    1. Dedicated hardware does not require Software Assurance.  Your customer owns SQL 2000 or still stuck on Windows 2003?  No problem, move it to your cloud.  Try doing the same in Azure or other fully public clouds, they would need SA for those licenses.
    2. Unlimited Virtualization.  Windows does not have mobility rights, but if you were to offer dedicated servers, an end customer can transfer their Windows licenses without issue.  More importantly, if they purchased Windows Datacenter because of virtualization (which they did), they can still have unlimited virtualization rights as if they were running it on premise (still dependent upon the size of the server).  Do the same in Azure HUB, and it doesn’t quite add up.
    3. No SPLA licenses, no VDI restrictions, no CSP requirement and ease of security concerns. Kind of speaks for itself.

I understand that in many situations transitioning to a private cloud is easier said than done, but it does have tremendous licensing advantages over public clouds.  Worried about SPLA price increases or CSP?  Private cloud might be your answer.

As always, have a question on SPLA pricing, licensing, or anything else that comes to mind, email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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Top News in September

Here’s the latest news of the month for all MSP’s and SPLA providers.  Enjoy!

SQL 2017

This month is a month we will remember for the rest of our lives.  That’s right, today SQL 2017 is available to run on…a non-Microsoft system?

From the licensing guide: “SQL Server 2017 now supports deployment on RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), Ubuntu, and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES). The SQL Server 2017 SKUs are platform agnostic, so customers can run the software on either Windows or Linux.” (check it out here)

What this means for those anti-Microsoft lovers is a customer who demands SQL can now install SQL 2017 on a Linux machine and not report Windows.  The machine cannot run any Windows guest VM’s for it not to be reported.  Pay attention to that last sentence as we get asked a lot about licensing individual VM’s instead of the actual host.  In Windows licensing, you license the physical host, not the VM’s.  If there are 100 Linux VM’s and only 1 Windows VM, you must license the host with Windows Datacenter to be in compliant.

Azure Stack Availability

The long await is over – Azure Stack is now shipping through the OEM channel (Dell, Lenovo, HPE)  You can read more about this announce here  From a licensing perspective, I think it is less expensive to license Windows through SPLA than pay as you use model.  It’s more of a predictable cost in my opinion.  This is one way Microsoft is attempting to extend Azure (public cloud) into your private cloud and have the best of both worlds.

“Hit Refresh”

Satya Nadella “Hit Refresh” book is available at a time when we are all in a strange way, hitting refresh.  The cloud transformation is only getting more complex – hybrid, dedicated, Google, AWS, Azure, every company is transforming to try and get the slightest edge over their competitors.  I look forward to reading it and every dollar goes to Microsoft charities.  Regardless of what you think of Microsoft, Satya seems like one of the good guys.  You can check out more about the book here

More to come –

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2017 in In My Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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Predicting the future of SPLA

The one thing consistent with Microsoft is change.  Attempting to predict what will happen tomorrow is just as difficult as predicting what will happen two years from now. That being said, Microsoft is giving hints as to what the landscape of SPLA and CSP will look like in the not so distance future.   Without further delay, here’s my predictions:

  • Microsoft will increase SPLA pricing at some point.  It’s inevitable.  See point number 2.
  • There will be a big push to move SPLA providers to CSP and it’s happening now.   CSP pricing is not going up any time soon.
  • CSP membership will be part of the requirement to join SPLA.  Going out on a limb here, but if the goal is to move SPLA to CSP, I think this would be a good way to do it.
  • CSP requirements will be more streamlined and easier to obtain.  See point number 2.
  • SPLA compliance will increase.  See point number 2.
  • SPLA Resellers will put more focus on CSP than SPLA.  See point number 2.

Good news?  I think it’s time for SPLAlicensing.com to get a facelift.  It’s been several years using the same format.  What features would you like to see?  What topics interest you?  What do you think will happen in SPLA?  Email info@splalicensing.com and would love any suggestions.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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Deep thoughts with SPLA Man

As we enter the new FY at Microsoft, I thought I would put together a list of topics that’s on everyone’s mind.

  • SPLA going away?  I don’t think so.  There’s too many SPLA partners to make an entire program disappear.  I also think this is one of the benefits Microsoft has over all it’s competitors.  If a customer wants to have an application hosted in one datacenter and use Azure for disaster recovery – Microsoft wins.  If Amazon is running Windows workloads (which they are) they must pay Microsoft for that usage through SPLA.  I also think SPLA is a way to move customers to Azure.  If you are a SPLA customer who just went through an audit, the SPLA customer might ask themselves why they continue to host at all?  Let’s use Azure and my compliance problems go away.  (they don’t but that’s for another article).
  • Is CSP/QMH really a must?   I guess the jury is still out (it hasn’t even launched yet for the partner community – September 2017).  There are a lot of restrictions to this program to consider – underlying Windows Pro licenses, becoming CSP direct authorized, not using CSP Indirect, RDS licenses when deploying VDI, etc.  If you decide to go down this route, pay close attention to what you can and cannot do.
  • Will SPLA pricing increase?  Yes.  No doubt about it.  Nothing stays the same for too long.
  • How can AWS win the cloud war?   Amazon has a revenue first, profit second mentality in my opinion.  Just look at their last earnings report (2017).  They can buy their way into the SaaS market at any cost.  They are not just a cloud company, they are an everything company.  They have the leverage to really get creative with their marketing and win businesses over.
  • How can Google beat AWS and Microsoft?  Google hasn’t scratched the surface with their footprint in the enterprise space.  One slip up by the other cloud powerhouses and Google becomes a very attractive offering.  Google has the power, the money, and the brand to make headway. Like AWS, they are not just a cloud/software company, they are an everything company.  I really think Google will surprise a lot of analyst in the near future with their cloud growth.
  • How can Microsoft beat them all?  Any organization that uses Microsoft software in a hosted environment must pay Microsoft for that luxury.  They already have a large footprint and very large customer base to move to Azure.  They also have 30k + SPLA partners (estimate) that are being used to sell their solution.
  • Will SPLA Man be able to afford a nice piece of jewelry for Mrs. SPLA Man?  For all the single women who read SPLAlicensing.com, don’t make the same mistake Mrs. SPLA Man made.  Poor Mrs. SPLA Man, when I first met her at the bar, she thought SPLA was something I created for the space station. Space Program Living Association.  S.P.L.A. – kind of like a home owner’s association but for space.  (I am not sure where she got that idea).  I do have a cool blog??!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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Why you need a plan B, C, D, and E.

The title seems obvious, if you are an entrepreneur, you should always be thinking about what’s next.  I read/follow Richard Branson, who wrote an article recently on focusing on the future, check it out here.  It’s all about looking forward to what’s next and dreaming big.  Very few organizations are as diversified as Virgin.  In a way, it might be too diversified, but the point is he does not settle for the status quo, if he doesn’t like it, he changes it.  Think of all the different industries under his portfolio: Entertainment, health, financial, technology, travel, and many more.  The company started out in the music industry!

What does this have to do with SPLA licensing?  Over the past week alone, how many different programs and licensing nuances did I write about? (too many to count). Those changes only had to do with Microsoft!  Think of all the other changes going on in the industry including security, data and backup, and development.   If you do not have a plan in place or to adapt change, you might be left in the dust.

In SPLA, way too many organizations report the exact same thing each month.  They even report the same quantities!  They have a few loyal customers in which their hosting business depends on.  My question to them –  What happens if the loyal customer is not so loyal?   If you are hosting, you have everyone and their brother trying to convince your customer to move to their cloud.  If you are a managed service provider, forget about it.  Not only are hosters your competition, everyone in the industry is your competition.  What are you going to do to stand out?

This blog is about licensing, and I like to think there are ways to be creative with your SPLA usage to diversify your business.  Don’t just report the same thing each month and not give it a second thought.  There are always ways to reduce or optimize what you license.  In a way, licensing can help expand your offering.  SAL for SA, as an example, can help build your DR business and lower your SPLA costs.  Check out my article here  Windows Datacenter, allows unlimited VM’s which can help build your IaaS platform.  Azure Stack, can help bring an Azure type offering from your own datacenter.   Qualified Hosting Addendum, will allow you to offer VDI from a shared environment.  My point being, don’t just settle for the same old usage report each month.  Licensing is a big headache even for a guy who spends his free time writing about it, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn to leverage licensing to your own advantage.  If you understand the licensing, you can start to look at ways to really get creative and expand your offering.   I’ll go back to SAL for SA.  If you did not know about SAL for SA, you would be telling your customers that they cannot leverage their investment in software assurance from both your datacenter and theirs.  You would probably tell them about license mobility which transfers a license over to your datacenter.  That’s a big miss in my opinion.

Learn the licensing, diversify your business, and I promise your loyal customer will remain loyal.

Thanks for reading,

 

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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Breaking down Microsoft’s Q4 and what it means for your business.

Microsoft reported earnings last night that surpassed expectations and gave us insight into their cloud business. I am not a stock analysts, but I thought I would spend some time reviewing some of the highlights and my opinion for what’s next for the software (I mean cloud, actually, no -I meant Intelligent Cloud) giant.

Azure – Microsoft did not provide specific revenue numbers for Azure, but did say revenue grew 97% y/y.  Although exact numbers for Azure revenue is not specified, Azure is part of the all-important commercial space, which includes Dynamics 365, Azure, and a little program called Office 365.  That revenue number combined was over 18B which more than doubled last year’s number.

Office/Dynamics and Competition – Office 365 subscription business just surpassed the traditional Office model with revenue up 43%.  When was the last time you went to a box retailer and purchased software?  That’s a telling sign that more and more organizations prefer subscription pricing over box products.   Dynamics 365 was up 74%, probably because Dynamics in SPLA is about as complex as it can possibly get.  Need help with a Dynamics licensing question?  Ask your reseller.  The reseller will ask Microsoft – and then it goes into a big, dark, black hole until someone loses their mind.  Nothing happens.  Microsoft also revamped Dynamics in SPLA to make it very difficult to compete.  The same can be said for Office.  Where I see concern for Microsoft is with Google, who is just getting their foot in the door in the enterprise space.  If they make traction (and they will) it will be interesting to see the two giants go at it.  Google’s cloud platform is growing exponentially as well.

Surface Sales – I guess you can say is one of the low points of the conference call.  Surface revenue dropped 2%.  Xbox sales also dropped and became less profitable with price drops and competition.  That’s the bad news – the good news?  Maybe with the new CSP Windows 10 thing Microsoft will include Surface as part of the program to those not already a Surface Authorized Distributor, or make Surface authorization available to every CSP Direct partner.

LinkedIN – Only Microsoft can spend over 26B for an acquisition and investors are still wondering what it is they bought; and more importantly, not hurt their quarterly earnings.  Yeah, they can tie it in for Dynamics and Yammer/Teams with all those users.   They also have a pretty impressive data list of users to sell additional collaboration products and services to.  I guess the jury is still out on this.

Opinion – Microsoft recently announced a major change in their sales organization. Their sales teams that were focused on the enterprise need to focus more on solution type selling.  A lot of organizations in the industry are going through the same transformation.  It’s also not an easy thing to do.  Time will tell.

I wrote an entire article without mentioning Amazon, they report earnings next week.  It will be interesting to see how they compare to Microsoft and how much they grew year of year in comparison.  Lots of analysis say Microsoft will surpass AWS as the king of the cloud.  I still think Google is lurking in the background and might surprise some people as well.

What does all this mean for SPLA?  In my humble opinion, I think Microsoft better be careful with the way they are handling their third-party hosters.  Those numbers they threw out yesterday were great, but they can get even better.

Microsoft built a program for partners who have their own datacenters, relationships, and sales resources to promote Microsoft products and technology.   There are close to 30,000 SPLA partners (rough estimate) that have datacenters spread throughout the globe.  Nobody, can have the reach like your SPLA partners.  Google and Amazon do not have 30,000 datacenters, why disrupt it?  Don’t audit them, partner with them and help grow this business to build a true hybrid cloud ecosystem.  The strategy should be their cloud – our cloud, and customers will thank you.  Teaming with Walmart makes sense too.  Say what!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in In My Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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Exchange 2007 support ended. What does that mean for you?

This past weekend I was forced to buy new running shoes.  I run 3-4 times a week, and my philosophy had always been if not’s broke, don’t fix it.  Recently, my shoes started to feel heavy, my feet started to hurt, and I knew it was my body telling me to change (something).  After googling (sorry binging) different causes for running pain, one of the top results came up “change your running shoes.”  I then proceeded to look at my shoes more closely and noticed the bottoms were worn, the shoe itself was very flexible ( bends easily – a bad thing) and realized my shoes were no longer the shoes I once I loved.  It was time to upgrade.   In a strange way, my buying decision is similar to most IT departments.  If it’s not broke, don’t fix it until we absolutely have to.  For consumers running older versions of Exchange, that time is now.  This past week, Exchange 2007 support has gulp…ended.

One (of the many) reasons customers move to the cloud is outdated technology.   When something as critical as security updates, product updates, etc. are no longer available, customers start looking for other solutions.  In the case of Exchange, customers either upgrade on premise (which also means upgrading their hardware)  or finally start thinking about the cloud.  Now that can mean good news for you (if you are an Exchange hoster) or bad news if you haven’t started the conversations with your potential clients.  It’s also great news for Office 365.

I would  guess that Microsoft is looking at all end customers who purchased Exchange 2007 but haven’t upgraded to Exchange 2010.  Those customers  are all  prime for Office 365 conversations.   Every Office 365 distributor and reseller are also reaching out to these customers.  Check out Sherweb, Intermedia (one of Microsoft’s largest Exchange hosters), and Rackspace Every single one of them are not saying “go to our cloud” when exploring migration options, the top reason is “Migrate to Office 365”

If your company has not investigated getting into the CSP game or partnering, the time is now.  I’m not selling you on Office 365, I am selling you to watch out for the competition.  As mentioned above – SherWeb, Intermedia, and Rackspace are all hosting Exchange but they are also promoting Office 365 through product support life cycles.   One way to stay ahead of the competition, is to know when product life cycles end and which products are impacted.   For a list of product support updates and life cycles check out https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/search

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2017 in In My Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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