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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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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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What is a Service Provider?

The year 2017 has brought on A LOT of change for the hosting community.  A hosting company used to be an organization that hosted Exchange – fast forward to today and a service provider takes on a whole new meaning.  In this article, we will take a look at defining a service provider and how it applies to licensing.   Let’s play a little game called “Do they qualify”  Have a question?  Email info@splalicensing.com

An organization that provides or extends  litigation software (that they leased from the publisher) to law firms and other legal entities who are not wholly owned by the organization providing the solution. Does this organization qualify for SPLA?

Yes.  If you are an avid reader of splalciensing.com, you probably read my article on EMR Software The same holds true for any software (not just EMR) that runs on Microsoft technology that you do not own, but lease from a third-party.   Remember “AS”  If you are providing software AS a service that’s hosted from your datacenter environment,  SPLA must be part of the equation.  Why does this solution qualify for SPLA?

#1 they don’t own the software they are hosting

#2 they do not own the organization(s) who are consuming (using) the software for their benefit.

An organization who sells a product on a website to external users –   do they qualify for SPLA?

No.  Although they are selling something to consumers via the internet, the software used to deploy the solution benefits the e-commerce company, not the end-user.   Where SPLA does fit is if the web company decides to host a website on behalf of another organization.  The web company would fall under the SPLA rules.  Who benefits from the access is a key question to ask yourself.  Second question – is the access used to run their business or my own?

An organization who provides SharePoint to end users to share information.  Do they qualify?

No.  Simply sharing information does not qualify.  If the organization was hosting SharePoint on behalf of another organization, that’s SPLA.

A company hosts Exchange on behalf of another organization but does not charge for this access.  Does this qualify for SPLA?

Yes.  Microsoft doesn’t care how much money you make from the solution.  The question remains – are you providing this “as a service” for a third-party?

A company decides to use AWS as their datacenter provider to host an application they use internally.  Do they need SPLA?

No.  In this example, you are the end-user.  AWS has a SPLA to cover all infrastructure products they host on your behalf.  If you were to use AWS as a datacenter provider to host SharePoint to your end customers employees; you would pay AWS for Windows and SQL and report on your SPLA SharePoint SAL licenses.

 

I have 25 Linux machines that I host for my customers.   Do I need SPLA? 

No.  You have 25 Linux machines.  If you had 24 Linux machines and 1 Windows VM, you would have to license the host machine to cover that Windows VM through SPLA.

My reseller told me I didn’t need SPLA because the access qualifies for Self-Hosted.  The auditors told me it does not qualify.  Why?

All software used to deploy the solution has to be self-hosted eligible.  I bet you are running an application that does not qualify as part of your solution.  This would be SPLA.  Secondly, if you did not buy the software with software assurance, that is out of compliant.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Compliance, Uncategorized

 

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Why SPLA will not go away

Why I think SPLA will not go away:

  1. Service Providers can differentiate.  You are independent from the publisher and have unique set of offerings.  The hybrid cloud, dedicated cloud, local support are all compelling to the end user.
  2. Warren Buffett – “Price is what you pay…value is what you get.”  There’s a lot of truth in that when it comes to the hosting world. Other large providers and vendors may cut pricing, but is the price really worth it?
  3. You own your datacenter and no one can take that away.
  4. SPLA licensing rules are complex.  What’s even more complex is CSP.
  5. SPLA is a great revenue stream for the channel.  The hosting provider, Azure, and AWS all win.
  6. The world needs more SPLA.  Don’t hate the SPLA Man.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Epic Community Connect for Healthcare Organizations

In this article we will review how Epic Community Connect effects your Microsoft licensing position.  This is a follow up to my earlier post which can be found here

What’s the concern?

If you host/extend Epic (or any EMR software that you do not own) to outside clinics or other healthcare facilities SPLA must be licensed.

What’s an outside organization?

If your organization (who hosts Epic/EMR) does not have at least 51% ownership of the other entity, that would be considered an outside organization as it pertains to this solution.

I’m confused…big time.  Why would I license SPLA when I was told to license through my Enterprise Agreement?

The EA is for your own internal employees.  The Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) is for companies who host Microsoft software to third parties.

Wait.  I just went to your website and I am not an employee.  Are you saying you have a SPLA agreement?

No.  I don’t host an application or any server whatsoever.  I do pay a web company to host my website.  The web company is under a SPLA agreement if they use Windows Server.

What are my options now?  I already deployed Epic and I don’t have a SPLA.  

I would work with a SPLA Reseller who can walk you through the steps and how to be compliant.  You can email me at info@splalciensing.com if you have additional questions.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in EMR Software, Uncategorized

 

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

Article update (April, 2018 ) 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 new website is www.mscloudlicensing.com it’s designed to be a collaborative platform that includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  Check it out, it’s free. 

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.

Security

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,

SPLA Man

 
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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 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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