Category Archives: Uncategorized

Microsoft Online Services Terms – What you need to pay attention to before signing your Azure agreement

There’s a lot of benefits to moving to Azure, I’ll let your Microsoft account team review them with you.  On this website, we are not that concerned about the benefits, all we care about is the licensing.  In this article, we will review the Microsoft Online Services Terms.

What is the Microsoft Online Services Terms?  First starters, it used to be called Microsoft Online Services Use Rights or MOLSUR for short (or long).   It is now called OST pronounced OAST when speaking to Microsoft.  Basically the OST defines how you may consume online services through Microsoft.  You can download a copy here.  Although your legal team should review the document in its entirety, below are some of the highlights I think you will find relevant and are often overlooked.

License Reassignment 

“Most, but not all, SLs may be reassigned. Except as permitted in this paragraph or in the Online Service-specific Terms, Customer may not reassign an SL on a short-term basis (i.e., within 90 days of the last assignment). Customer may reassign an SL on a short-term basis to cover a user’s absence or the unavailability of a device that is out of service. Reassignment of an SL for any other purpose must be permanent. When Customer reassigns an SL from one device or user to another, Customer must block access and remove any related software from the former device or from the former user’s device.” (April, 2017 OST)

What does this mean?

Most Microsoft products cannot be reassigned on a short-term basis, that’s why Microsoft has the use right called license mobility.  In short, pay attention to which users are assigned a license and if/when they no longer need the service.

Hosting Exception “Customer may create and maintain a Customer Solution and, despite anything to the contrary in Customer’s volume licensing agreement, combine Microsoft Azure Services with Customer Data owned or licensed by Customer or a third party, to create a Customer Solution using the Microsoft Azure Service and the Customer Data together. Customer may permit third parties to access and use the Microsoft Azure Services in connection with the use of that Customer Solution. Customer is responsible for that use and for ensuring that these terms and the terms and conditions of Customer’s volume licensing agreement are met by that use.” (April, 2017)

What does this mean?

It allows you (a service provider) the right to use Azure as a datacenter provider.  The last sentence is very important in the above definition “Customer is responsible for that use and for ensuring that these terms and the terms and conditions of Customer’s volume licensing agreement are met by that use.”  In the above definition,  “customer” is you.  If you use Azure as a datacenter provider, purchase Azure via your own volume licensing agreement, and use SPLA for user based products (e.g. RDS) you must follow the OST, Product Terms, and the SPUR!

Azure Services Limitations

Customer may not “Allow multiple users to directly or indirectly access any Microsoft Azure Service feature that is made available on a per user basis (e.g., Active Directory Premium). Specific reassignment terms applicable to a Microsoft Azure Service feature may be provided in supplemental documentation for that feature.” (April, 2017 OST)

What does this mean?

Sounds similar to a SAL license right? “Directly or Indirectly access any Microsoft Azure Service.”  Although if you are using Azure as your datacenter provider, the likelihood of you consuming user based licensing through Azure is not very high.


I encourage you to read the security measures and policy’s set forth by Microsoft for their online services.  You can read it here.  I included a breakdown of the difference compliance and security certifications below:

Microsoft Online Information Security Policy (as of April, 2017)

Online Service ISO 27001 ISO 27002

Code of Practice

ISO 27018

Code of Practice

SSAE 16 SOC 1 Type II SSAE 16 SOC 2 Type II
Office 365 Services Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Dynamics 365 Core Services Yes Yes Yes Yes* Yes*
Microsoft Azure Core Services Yes Yes Yes Varies** Varies**
Microsoft Cloud App Security Yes Yes Yes No No
Microsoft Intune Online Services Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Microsoft Power BI Services Yes Yes Yes No No


Last and certainly not least, I get asked A LOT about language that you should include as a service provider.  I would encourage you to create your own online services terms for your hosted offerings.  Too many providers do not have basic language around compliance, licensing, and overall use rights.  At a minimum, you should include a copy of the End User License Terms for SPLA.  If you do not have a copy, please contact your reseller.  If you forget to include licensing terms and conditions, you could be on the hook during an audit.  Don’t be on the hook.

Thanks for reading,


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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in 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

Thanks for reading,






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


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The Cloud Insider Times

Have a question or hot topic or would like to be added to “The Cloud Insider Times”Contact us at

Vuzion Cloud-  Microsoft CSP Incentive Reminder – Microsoft has announced that the CSP (Cloud Solution Provider) programme 4% EU Accelerator 

Acronis – 12 Frequently Asked Questions

ZDNet – Want to run Windows 10 desktops virtually on Azure? Now you can

GoogleCompare the management services that Amazon and Google provide in their respective cloud environments. 

V3 – Two-thirds of British business now use public cloud

Motley Fool4 Best Dividend Stocks in Cloud Computing

Citrix Through June 30, 2017, take advantage of limited-time Citrix Cloud promotions for customers

eFolder – Steve Riat, Director of Sales at Nex-Tech, shares his insights for MSPs looking to build a successful and scalable sales team

Xcentric – Top 10 Questions for Your IT Manager

Cloudflare – Our Response to the Senate Vote on FCC Privacy Rules

Connectwise – Stop Whining & Start Winning: 6 Reasons Marketing IS for You

Network World – Serverless computing is a new way of hosting applications on infrastructure that end users do not manage

MDSL12 months to prepare for the EU Benchmark Regulation – Is your firm ready?

IBM – 5 cloud predictions for 2017

Trend Micro – From Old To New: Server Security That Bridges The Hybrid Cloud

OneNet What is Cloud Computing?

Benzinga – Microsoft Turning Azure Cloud Service Skeptics Into Believers

Hosted Desktop UK – Operating in the Cloud offers huge benefits when disaster strikes


RackspaceProfessional Services — For Every Step Along Your Cloud Journey

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Posted by on April 6, 2017 in Uncategorized


Reseller Summit

Next month I will be attending the mother ship (Microsoft) to discuss licensing strategies and programs with all the US based SPLA Resellers. I would love to provide feedback to the Microsoft teams about your concerns, feedback, direction, or any other topics.

Let me hear it.

Thanks for reading,


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Posted by on February 23, 2017 in Uncategorized


What is the biggest challenge you face as a service provider?

This blog can only be relevant if the content is relevant.  So today, I thought I would ask…”what’s the biggest challenge you face as a service provider?”  Email me at  I am trying to see how I can be a better voice for the hosting community.  No…VDI is still not available!

Thank you for reading,



Posted by on October 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


SPLA Audits are on the rise…are you ready?

There are BIG changes in store for SPLA – some great, some bad, some indifferent.  Windows 2016, Windows 10 in Azure, Shared Computer Activation, etc.  I will write about the updates shortly.

With all this change, Microsoft and other publishers recognize the complexities in tracking all those licenses.  In short, they know many (if not all) service providers have a difficult time staying compliant.  That’s one reason they audit.  I always say, if you go on vacation for a week be careful; Microsoft just might change the licensing rules on you.  So where do you turn for audit support and assistance?  How do you know what auditors are collecting is accurate and how do you know what Microsoft and other publishers tell you is accurate?  I can promise you it not always is.

Some people can play piano with their eyes closed; others can speak multiple languages fluently; and yet others can mow the grass while guzzling a beer.  Net of it is we all have our specialities; mine just happens to be interpreting data, negotiating down audit costs, and understand the licensing rules inside and out.  Who else writes about SPLA in their free time?  (I really need to get out more).

You have enough to worry about with your business, the last thing you need is an audit.  Let us take that pressure off of you and put it on us.  (or the vendor)

Thanks for reading,


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Posted by on August 23, 2016 in Uncategorized


Everything you should know about SQL Licensing 2016

It’s amazing how confused the hosting community is with SQL.  (Myself included) Core factor; SQL BI (whatever that is); SQL Web – discontinued in VL but available in SPLA? Ugh…Hyper threading licensing; and SQL Enterprise virtualization.  In this article, let’s review these licensing conundrums and finally solve some of the licensing mysteries surrounding them.  There are a lot of good links in this article – check it out if you have time.  There’s also a training on the technical aspects of SQL presented by Microsoft’s Sara Barela.  I interviewed her some time ago when SQL 2014 was released.  Check it out here To register for the webinar see below:

Date and Time: June 16, 2016 at 10:00am PT. For non-registered Cloud Channel Network Members, please register for this live webcast at:

  • REGISTER HERE to attend at and select the SQL Session while signing up. Once you register you will receive reminders, and can also access the add to calendar below.


For registered Cloud Channel Network Members, you will not need to register and can access the event link or add to calendar below:


  • EVENT LINK: LOG IN HERE  to live webcast on Live date and time

SQL Licensing:

Core Factor

For those that were worried about how to calculate cores using the core factor; you can now sleep at night.  Microsoft discontinued this method.  In 2016 use rights, you calculate the number of cores on the physical server or the number of virtual cores on the VM.  You just need to report a minimum of 4 cores per VM/physical core.

SQL Web Only available under SPLA.  It is also only available if you are providing publicly accessible information.  If the data is not publicly accessible, you cannot license SQL Web.  Don’t just licesense SQL Web because it’s less expensive.  It can cost you.


SQL BI is discontinued as well.  For those five service providers that were reporting it this might come as a shock.  The bad news is there is now only (1) product in the SQL family that is licensed by user-SQL Standard.  Why is that bad news?  Keep reading.

SQL Enterprise

Nothing new from a licensing perspective with 2016.  That’s the ok news.  You can still license the physical cores on each host that will allow you to run unlimited virtual machines.  To me, it’s similar to Windows Datacenter but with cores (and yes, Windows 2016 is moving that direction to.  Check out my article here) From a product feature perspective, in my limited technical mind, I highlighted some features from other third-party articles  that I think service providers could benefit (that’s the better news).  Hey, you can leverage another datacenter, I can leverage other blogs right?

  • Always Encrypted: For those that have end customers that are very concerned about security (think law firms/healthcare in particular) This feature ensures your encrypted data remains encrypted even if the server itself is administered by a third-party.   Check out this article by my friend at MSDN to learn more.  I like this feature with license mobility.  With license mobility, the end customer must have software assurance on those licenses they wish to transfer over.  One other feature of software assurance is latest version rights.  In other words, they will have access to SQL 2016 already.   So if your sellers are talking to customers and license mobility comes up – be sure to mention this.
  • Better Performance: I think this goes without saying. I’d be shocked if a new product release didn’t have better performance.  Actually, who remembers Windows XP to Windows Vista?  Ouch.  For all new performance features please check out the data sheet from Microsoft
  • Stretch Database:  Sounds cool.  Check out my buddy at Redmond Mag He can explain this thing better than me.  I will say as a service provider, cost of storing data (purchasing a new SAN, etc) can be expensive, this feature will help eliminate some of those costs especially when leverage a third-party datacenter like Azure.  Check it out.

Hyper Threading Licensing

I think this often gets overlooked until you get audited.  When licensing the physical host only, hyper-threading doesn’t affect licensing.  When you license a VM, things change.  If you have hyper-threading enabled,  a core license is required for each thread supporting a virtual core.

There you have it.  Now let’s review some specific scenarios that have come up recently.

Scenario 1

A company develops an application and would like to leverage Azure to provide the application out as a service.  The application uses SQL Enterprise.  What do they need to do from a licensing perspective?

We all know Azure is  public cloud (code for multiple customer on the same server for licensing purposes).   We also know SQL Enterprise is licensed by core only…right?  C’mon, you just read about it!  When cores/processors are involved AND it’s a public cloud (not dedicated) the hoster (in this case the ISV) has to either purchase SQL from Azure OR use license mobility and leverage self-hosted.  In the latter example, they can use their own licenses because they own the application and SQL is self-hosted eligible.  So the ISV can purchase SQL with SA and transfer that instance over to Azure.  They would still be required to purchase Windows from Azure.

Why cant the ISV use SPLA?  I don’t always agree with this answer but the truth is you can’t.  You cannot license cores/processors via your SPLA and leverage a third-party datacenter public cloud.  You may be asking yourself “Joe’s Hosting does it!”  Well my readers, Joe’s Hosting is out of compliant.

Scenario 2

Exact same example but the 3rd party datacenter is not Azure but some other IaaS.  This IaaS provider offers dedicated hardware and dedicated VM’s.  Could the ISV leverage his own SPLA and license SQL Enterprise?  Yes, he can.  How?  It’s dedicated.  Which means all hardware running a MS OS has to be dedicated.  I don’t care about the SAN or LAN or any other “AN”  All hardware running a MS OS must be dedicated.

Scenario 3

Exact same scenario but ISV requires SQL Standard.  Can the ISV leverage their own SPLA and leverage Azure public cloud?  Yes.  How?  SQL Standard can be licensed by user (SAL).  He would not be able to license SQL Standard core and report it on his SPLA but he can license SAL’s.  Please see the Azure FAQ guide here.  Specifically:

If you are a Service Provider with a signed Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) using SQL Server, you can:

  • Obtain a SQL image from the Azure VM marketplace and pay the per-minute rate of SQL Server, or
  • Install or upload your SQL Server Standard image with Subscriber Access License (SAL) reported via your SPLA.

My tired eyes are starting to fail me.  Let’s review active/passive in another article.  I hope this helps.

Thanks for reading,






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Posted by on June 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

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