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Category Archives: In My Opinion

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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Azure Stack, SQL Stretch Database and the Hosting Summit

Last month, Microsoft held their annual Hosting Summit in Bellevue, WA. The good news is SPLA is not going away. Last quarter marked the 20th straight QTR of double digit growth for Microsoft SPLA. What is changing is the competitive landscape. Microsoft does not see SPLA partners as a competitor per se, they see SPLA as one of the biggest competitive advantages over other cloud offerings (IBM, AWS, Google, etc). They have over 30,000 SPLA partners worldwide, and they believe they can leverage those 30,000 partners to offer different cloud solutions.

Microsoft is betting big on what they define as “hybrid cloud” and that’s where they see service providers (SPLA) playing a significant part. Hybrid cloud is not just offloading workloads from on premise to another datacenter, it’s about leveraging different technologies to deliver solutions. As an example, late last year Microsoft offered solution called “Azure Stack” You can read about it here.

It’s the same APIs and same code as what Microsoft delivers through Azure. From a licensing perspective, Azure Stack is cheaper through SPLA (Windows) than it would be to pay through consumption. It will be available to offer this summer through the hardware manufacturers but you can download it now to test out.

The other big bet is SQL, and especially around the feature of stretch database. In laymen terms, it’s taking data that is not often consumed and offloading it to the cloud, reducing resources and consumption on servers locally.   You can read more about stretch database from our friends at MSDN

All said, it was good to meet old friends and say hello to new ones at this event.  If you were at the hosting summit and you did not have the chance to meet the infamous SPLA Man, email me at info@splalicensing.com.  Would love to learn more about your offerings and how we can work together to make licensing simple.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Azure, In My Opinion, SQL 2016

 

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SPLA Discontinued??

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Posted by on March 20, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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What Would I Do?

I get asked for advice on licensing and the different ways to go to market if I had my own hosted offering.  Knowing what I know now, I put together a small list of things that I would strongly consider if I signed a SPLA.

  • Understand that I signed a contractual agreement with one of the largest companies in the world.  It’s amazing how many service provider’s do not read the SPLA agreement.  I’ve seen SPLA contracts signed five minutes after sending to the customer.  I always chuckle because I know they didn’t bother to read it.  Don’t let the fact that there’s no upfront licensing cost fool you into thinking there’s no reason to read the contract.  Even if you did read the SPLA agreement thoroughly when you signed it, when was the last time you reviewed it?  There are things in there that are very important.  For example, the start date of your agreement dictates how you can license certain products.  Did you know that when you sign a SPLA, you are bound by the SPUR available at the time of signing?  Did you know your contract is in no way with your reseller, but with Microsoft?
  • Speaking of reseller, I would look long and hard at the company you report and purchase licenses through. Too many times I hear providers say they report because they purchased from them before.  Whatever you purchased before is no sign into how well they know SPLA.  I would want to work with a reseller that knows the licenses as well as the industry.  This would ultimately save me headaches and save me money.
  • Report usage on time. Again, going back to the SPLA agreement, it states “usage is due by the 10th” If I was a hosting company that reported late, guess who the vendor is going to look at first in terms of compliance?
  • I would try to avoid standard SAL licenses if possible.  How much time do you spend tracking users?  I would promote license mobility in all my accounts.  I would strongly promote RDS license mobility.  If my customers won’t purchase licenses with Software Assurance, I would find another customer.  I want to put the compliance risk on my customer, not me.
  • If I received an audit notification I would ask for advice from the guy looking back in the mirror.  Three reasons why – I am free, I’ve seen audits and the mistakes SPLA customer make, and I know the program extremely well.  Arrogant?  Maybe. Smart move on your part? Absolutely. info@splalicensing.com
  • Although I would try to avoid standard SAL licenses, I would promote SAL for SA with a vengeance.  Don’t know SAL for SA?  Reread point number two.
  • I would work with Microsoft not against.  Why work against a company with the biggest marketing engine on the planet?  How can Microsoft help my business?
  • I would consider Hyper V.  I know, drinking the Kool Aid a bit here right?  Hook up the hose, I’m going all in!  (bad joke) There are products under SPLA that can save you a significant amount of licensing costs if you move to Hyper V.  I bet if the project was large enough, Microsoft would consider promoting.
  • I would work with a guy named SPLA Man.  If he’s spending his free time writing about this stuff (there’s obviously some mental issues going on) he apparently knows it pretty well. If you emailed me in the past, how long did it take for me to respond?  How long did it take your reseller to respond to the same question?

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man –

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2015 in In My Opinion

 

Happy New Year! SPLA Predictions 2015

Happy New Year everyone!  Here’s to a healthy, happy, and prosperous 2015.  Thank you for reading my blog, it’s been a fun ride.

As we know, the world of SPLA is ever-changing.  Here’s a list of 5 SPLA predictions for 2015.  I will book this post, and see where we are at in 2016.

1.  IaaS providers will continue to flourish as customer’s and hoster’s have a better understanding of license mobility and the ways it can lower licensing costs.  Companies will leverage the Azure and Amazon momentum to offer their own unique offerings.

2. Compliance will be front and center.  Surprise!  Companies that are hosting but don’t know they are hosting will be the most impacted.

3. “Cloud Sprawl” will be the new term used by IT consultants and managed service providers.  As the cloud industry expands, there will be a push to consolidate vendors.

4. There will be new terms for hosting VDI. I don’t know what that means from a licensing perspective, but I can see Microsoft making a change in the ways VDI can be deployed for third-party hosters.  Perhaps good news in the works?  Again, just guessing here.

5. Like VDI, I can see a change in the way Office can be deployed.  In my opinion, too many ISV’s use Office as part of their application, it would make sense to make this more economical to host it.

What do you think will happen in 2015?  Will hosting expand, retract or stay the same?  Will VDI and Office use rights change?  Time will tell.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on January 2, 2015 in In My Opinion

 
 
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