Category Archives: Uncategorized

Maximize Your Microsoft Agreement

Our team is launching a new services solution to help hosting companies maximize their hosting agreements with Microsoft.  This new service includes ways to reduce licensing, be compliant, and understand your risks before or during an audit.  Specifically this workshop includes:

  • Detailed analysis of your Microsoft Agreement(s)
  • Audit Support – Understand your risks before it becomes a risk.  We will coach and educate you throughout the entire engagement (even if it is zero hour) to reduce settlement costs.
  • Understand SPLA pricing to ensure you are getting the most value from your agreement.  Microsoft recently announced a SPLA price increase in January.  We need to review optimization strategies and hidden agreement language that can help reduce reporting.
  • Microsoft cloud strategy – what are ways you can purchase and manage Office 365 and Azure or leverage other third-party providers such as AWS.

To learn more, please email  Whether you are going through an audit, want to reduce your spend, or understand licensing, we can help.

Thanks for reading,



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Posted by on October 28, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Windows Server Subscription FAQ

More information can be found on 

What is it?

As part of the CSP program, Microsoft is offering Windows and SQL Server subscriptions through Azure.  It is offered as either a 1 year or 3 year subscription.

Is this available through SPLA?


Is there monthly billing like SPLA?

There is no monthly billing option.  It is only offered in 1 or 3 year subscription

Is SPLA going away?

No.  It is becoming more challenging from a licensing perspective.

Is RDS available?

No.  It is not available through CSP at this time.

So a SPLA provider can sign up through a CSP provider to offer Windows Subscriptions instead of reporting SPLA for Windows?

That is correct.

More information to come!  Check out our new website for more details and analysis.  Have a question?  Email

Thanks for reading,



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Posted by on September 14, 2018 in Uncategorized


Windows and SQL Server Subscription

Microsoft announced (July 2018) that Server Subscriptions will be available through the Microsoft Cloud Solution Provider Program (CSP). According to the July 2018 Product Terms the products available include:

SQL Server Enterprise Core

SQL Server Standard Core

Windows Server Standard

Windows Server CAL

Windows Server External Connector

Windows Right Management CAL

Windows Server AD Rights Management External Connector

Notice Windows Datacenter is not an option currently. The benefit of Windows Datacenter is the unlimited virtualization rights or maybe CSP is marketed to smaller organizations could be the reasoning why Datacenter is not included.

There are two deployment options available – On-Premise/Dedicated environments or Azure. Although Software Assurance is not included, there are certain SA type benefits that are included such as self-hosted rights, hybrid use rights, and latest version rights.

What is CSP?

CSP is Microsoft’s new channel program that allows partners to manage and provide Online Services to their end customers. There are two models: CSP Direct – Which the reseller has a direct relationship with Microsoft to resell Microsoft Online Services to their end users. CSP Indirect – A partner leverages another solution provider’s authorization to resell Microsoft Online Services. In both models, the Server Subscription Service is available.

Things to remember

Once you deploy in Azure, the Windows Server licenses may not be redeployed on premise for 90 days. Secondly, the base instance is covered but not any other Azure cost such as storage, compute, and I/O associated with its use of the services. (Source: July 2018 Product Terms)

What does this mean for SPLA?

I think it is a clear indication Microsoft wants every organization on CSP as oppose to SPLA. However, in a shared server environment SPLA is still the only option. Microsoft does allow organizations to use a third-party datacenter provider under the new CSP subscription program, but it must be 100% dedicated.

To learn more check out this new forum and document library at

Thanks for reading,


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Posted by on July 17, 2018 in Uncategorized


SPLA Licensing Teams Up with Mow Down Cancer…Helping Families One Lawn at a time.

Help a family going through cancer treatments all the while solving a global epidemic.  To find out what that epidemic is…check this out!!!

The mysterious SPLA Man is revealed (as well as his son)

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Posted by on June 20, 2018 in Uncategorized


Microsoft SPLA Audit Support

Article update: We created a new website called MSCloudlicensing to help SPLA and CSP partners understand the different program options and use rights available to them. The site is designed to be a collaborative platform,  which includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  It’s more in depth than a simple blog. Check it out, it’s free! 

Document Library: Easy to read whitepapers on licensing and best practices. What really happens in an audit? How are other service providers handling CSP and Azure? AWS licensing?

Forum: Experts always review and answer your licensing questions.

Articles: Most of the articles you are used to reading and many more on CSP, Azure, AWS, and other cloud providers.

It’s Microsoft’s fiscal year end, which means it’s time for the auditors to dust off their pens and pocket protectors to find out which SPLA partners are under licensed, over licensed (yeah right) or misunderstood (every SPLA customer that has ever signed a SPLA agreement) the license use rights.  If you need assistance, please let us know! and we can help you navigate the treacherous waters called Microsoft licensing.

Thanks for reading.


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Posted by on April 29, 2018 in Uncategorized


New VCPP Update for Service Providers

Article update: We created a new website called MSCloudlicensing to help SPLA and CSP partners understand the different program options and use rights available to them. The site is designed to be a collaborative platform,  which includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  It’s more in depth than a simple blog. Check it out, it’s free! 

VCPP Update:

Thought we would provide an update to the VCPP program for VMWare.  The five point bundle in VCPP has been discontinued April 15, 2018.  There is a 6 month grace period for current partners.  Important dates:

April 15 2018 –  End of availability for new providers

September 19, 2018 – End of general support for 5.5

October 31, 2018 – completely removed

How are you limiting new customers for 5.5 bundle?

Starting April usage reporting, the bundle will not be available for any new service providers.  It’s also in the product use guide for VCPP.  If you were already using it, have the signed contract, you can continue to use it for 6 months.

Hope this provide insight.   Questions?  Ask your VCCP reseller – SPLA man only knows SPLA and CSP 🙂



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Posted by on April 17, 2018 in Uncategorized


How’s your CSP business?

(1I guess the better question to ask Is the CSP program right for your business?   When Microsoft announced the QMTH program last year, I remember thinking – finally!  Microsoft is allowing hosting partners the ability to resell Windows 10 in a multitenant environment!  Let the flood gates open!  Well, the flood gates opened.  Fast forward to today and Microsoft is a bit of a pickle.  Authorizing a “partner”  for CSP Direct is one thing, making sure they are successful is another.

Has Microsoft helped or hurt your hosting practice?  On one hand, the ability to offer Windows 10 is great but on the other hand, is it worth the headache of CSP?  Are you sure you want to get in the licensing business or the reseller business?  From the conversations I have had with hosting providers, CSP has been a difficult sell.   There’s a lot of investment resources, support, and licensing to be able to educate your customers on a low margin transaction.  Signing up for CSP Direct to become QMTH authorized is probably not going to help long turn.  Maybe CSP Indirect is the way to go?

CSP Indirect allows you to partner with another reseller who can offer the licenses on your behalf.  I like to think of it as white labeling their authorization to your customers.  The reseller provides the support but you control the billing.  There are also resellers who get creative – they provide the licenses, you provide the support.  That may be the best route since managed services brings in a higher margin than software sales.  The drawback of CSP Indirect is you are no longer eligible for QMTH.

What’s ironic is Microsoft finally solved the VDI question hosting providers have been asking for over a decade but now unleashed an entire new problem in CSP.  Maybe some day this will all make sense.  In the meantime, thanks for reading.


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Posted by on April 9, 2018 in Uncategorized


SQL Developer Edition: Be very…very…careful

Article update: We created a new website called MSCloudlicensing to help SPLA and CSP partners understand the different program options and use rights available to them. The site is designed to be a collaborative platform,  which includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  It’s more in depth than a simple blog. Check it out, it’s free! 


Here’s a brief rundown with SQL Developer edition and what to be aware of if you decide to deploy it.

  • It’s free – you can download it for zero costs
  • It’s a compliance nightmare – When you deploy MAP tool in an audit, the scan typically will reveal a SQL Enterprise installation not SQL Developer edition.  Most features of Developer are found in Enterprise which brings on more confusion.  If you are audited, you must prove this license is for non-production environments.  Which brings us to the next bullet point.
  • What is a non production environment?  Any time you host Microsoft software it is defined as “production.”  Whether or not you charge for this access is irrelevant.  (Microsoft doesn’t care if you make money off of it).  If you do internal development, that’s non production.  If you host a dev environment for the benefit of your customer, now that is software as a service and would be considered production.
  •  Microsoft made SQL Development free in 2016.  For those that need prior versions, you would need to access them through Visual Studio subscriptions.   Again, for non-production environments.  Otherwise, you can report Visual Studio through SPLA; per user, per month.
  • To play it safe, isolate the hardware for any customer’s that want to transfer their free version of SQL Dev to your datacenter environment.

One might ask if it’s free, what’s the penalty if I am found out of compliant?  If you were deploying SQL Dev for production use and Microsoft finds out, you would have to true up using SQL Enterprise.  In other words, if you installed SQL Dev in 2014, get audited in 2017, Microsoft could force you to true up SQL Enterprise dating back to when you first installed Developer edition.  That’s not a very cheap solution!

Is this confusing?  Yes.  You have to make a decision of whether or not this is production or non-production environment.  Do not install SQL Developer because it’s free.  It may cost you in the long run.

Thank you for reading,



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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,





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


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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,


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


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