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Testing Environments for Hosting Providers

In this article, we will discuss the licensing rules for service providers who would like to provide testing/development environments for their customers.  We will break down MSDN, SQL Developer edition, and the terms and conditions found in your signed SPLA agreement.  We will also provide a sneak peek into how AWS does it to stay to compliant.

MSDN Licensing for Hosting

A common question from hosting providers is “Can I host MSDN?  The short answer is “probably not in the way you want to provide MSDN” that sounds a bit harsh, but the reality is MSDN is a customer owned subscription licenses (I guess at the end of the day, it’s a subscription – no one owns anything, but you get my point).  If your customer wants to transfer their MSDN licenses into your datacenter, you must inform them that you must isolate (dedicate) the hardware for that customer only.  Under no circumstance, can you host MSDN in a shared datacenter environment, MSDN is not license mobility eligible.

What you can do is license the components of MSDN (Visual Studio) through SPLA, and yes, that can be shared since it’s a SPLA license, not MSDN.  All other components (Windows/SQL) would also have to be licensed via SPLA since it’s shared.

What about Azure?  Azure is the only exception to this rule.  Azure does allow MSDN licenses to be transferred over to their shared datacenter environment.

To summarize MSDN: No, you cannot host an end customers MSDN license from your shared environment.  Yes, you can in Azure.  Yes, you can license the components of MSDN in SPLA.  Don’t shoot the messenger!

SQL Developer Edition

SQL Developer edition is not part of the SPLA program.  The only SQL editions in SPLA are Web, Standard, and Enterprise.  Since SQL Developer is not included in SPLA and is not license mobility eligible, it cannot be installed in shared cloud environments (Like MSDN – which SQL Developer is included).

We get asked if it’s possible to report SQL Standard in development.  Yes, you can use SQL Standard for testing since it’s included in SPLA, but that does not have the same functionality as SQL Developer edition.  If you want similar functionality, you would have to license SQL Enterprise.  Please see the supported features here to learn more.

Evaluation/Testing Language in SPLA

As part of your signed SPLA agreement, you can test products for an evaluation period of 90 days.  After 90 days, you must remove it or report it under SPLA. There is often confusion as to what Microsoft means by evaluation and testing.

Evaluation/testing and development are two different things.  Testing/Evaluation is to ensure the solution works for your customers to perform internally before delivering on behalf of your customers.  It could mean testing, maintenance, and administrative tasks to the server.   Development is building or creating the solution.

How does Amazon license MSDN?

I wrote a white paper on this topic, but in short, AWS must play by the same rules that you do as a service provider.  If you want to use your MSDN licenses in AWS, you must purchase a dedicated instance from AWS.  I would check out their FAQ guide to learn more.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

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Posted by on November 21, 2017 in Testing and Development

 

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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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The Cloud Insider News – Dynamics CRM

We read article after article, use rights after use rights, to provide you the best and accurate information.  Now it’s your turn.  The Cloud Insider News takes articles written by you to tell your story and help educate the community.  In this edition, we take a look at CRM.  Have a hot topic? Email info@splalicensing.com

The Register Microsoft plans summer CRM war opener against Salesforce

XRMCRM Online FAQ

Omnivue.net (white paper) – Is Your Business Ready for ERP?

SaaSPlaza – What’s all the hype about Microsoft Dynamics 365?

Wealthmanagement.com/Tamarac – Five Ways a Client Portal Can Transform Your Practice

WatServ – Dynamics 365 Pricing Plans and Migration Discount Announced at Dynamics 365 Tech Conference.

Channele2eMicrosoft Preps Partners for Dynamics 365, LinkedIN Integration

Cisco – Cisco Unified CallConnector for Microsoft Dynamics CRM

Caltech Dynamics 365 Enterprise Edition Customer Service

Tribridge Is it Time to Check the Vital Signs of Your Microsoft Dynamics CRM System?

Computer WorldAdobe continues to march to the cloud

IpipelineCustomer Centricity – Do you “CRM?”

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
 

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Dynamics 365 Licensing for SPLA

Over the past several weeks, I’ve received several inquiries around Dynamics 365 what it means for CRM SPLA partners.  In this article, we will review the changes and when the changes will take effect.

Dynamics 365 for SPLA

In today’s SPLA licensing model, there are three products available –  CRM Essential, CRM Basic, and CRM Professional.  All come with different functionality and all come with different price points.  Those products will remain up until your agreement expires.  As with other products, once your agreement expires, you should report or license the new products.  In some cases, you are allowed to downgrade and run previous versions, but you must report the latest and greatest.  As an example, SQL 2016 is the latest edition of SQL, but that doesn’t mean you have to deploy SQL 2016; you can run 2012 or 2014 or God forbid 2008.  However, once you sign a new SPLA, you must follow the terms in the SPUR at the time of signing.  In this example, even though you deployed 2008, doesn’t mean you can license SQL 2008 by processor, you must still report it by core.  Dynamics CRM works the same way.   With Dynamics, the new products are Dynamics 365 Sales, Customer Service, and Team Members.  All come with bells and whistles and all come with higher pricing.  If you have an active SPLA prior to the announcement (November, 2016) you can continue to report the old products up until your agreement expires.  Once you sign a new agreement, you must report the higher priced products.

What are the options?

I’ve worked with a couple of Dynamics CRM hosters who had their agreement expire two months after Microsoft made this announcement.  In other words, Microsoft announced these changes in September (give or take – most widely known to resellers and partners in November) but their agreement expired in October.  The poor CRM providers are really in a pickle.  Microsoft dropped the bomb on them and two months later their pricing almost doubled!  What are they supposed to do?  Blame their reseller? Sure.  Everyone does.  Blame Microsoft?  Yes.  But that only gets you so far.  Cry?  Always.

Microsoft made some adjustments and offered “transition pricing”.  Transition pricing allows SPLA partners who have an active SPLA prior to November, 2016, the ability to report lower transition pricing up until their agreement expires.  The transition pricing is lower than new pricing but still doesn’t offer much of a discount.  When your agreement does expire, Microsoft will force you to license the under the new licensing and pricing model.

My Opinion

In my opinion, CRM provider are the old Exchange provider.   When Office 365/BPOS came about, small Exchange providers found it very difficult to compete.  It wasn’t just from a licensing perspective but also managing and deploying Exchange became too costly.  What happened?  Smaller Exchange providers are now CSP or out of business.  Dynamics CRM is now the old Exchange.  Microsoft is not going to lower SPLA pricing for Dynamics CRM.  It is not in their best interest to do so.  Harsh reality?  Yes.

Allow me to put on my Microsoft hat. What do you do?  There’s a couple of ways to think about it.  On one hand, Dynamics 365 isn’t all that bad.  I do think Microsoft rushed to market with the product.  I also think there are ways to up sell customers into the latest product.  There are opportunities to offer Dynamics CRM and deploy CRM and manage CRM.  For many organizations, CRM is the lifeblood of their sales.  CRM goes down, it’s bad for their business.  In speaking to a colleague, the LinkedIN acquisition makes Dynamics 365 an interesting proposition.  If you are able to seamlessly host Dynamics 365 on your platform and integrate their LinkedIN contacts as well, there could be a compelling reason to transition to the latest and greatest.

Ok, now my Microsoft hat is off.  I think Microsoft should be more patient and lengthen the transition pricing to make it more compelling for CRM hosters and to their customers.  I think service providers are the bread and butter to Microsoft hosted offerings.  SPLA is the one program that differentiates Microsoft v. Amazon v. Google.  Thirty thousand service providers worldwide who are willing to host Microsoft technology.  You don’t want to abruptly interrupt their business.  After all, no matter if they get Dynamics from a Microsoft datacenter or from a partner, Microsoft wins.  Amazon can’t say the same thing.

Would love to hear comments.  You can email me at info@splalicensing.com or leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Dynamics 365

 

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The Cloud Insider Times

In this edition of The Cloud Insider Times, you will find articles on the likes of Google, Amazon, IBM, Veeam, and the infamous Shared Computer Activation (among others) If your company would like to be included in future articles, please email info@splalicensing.com
Computer Business Review – Three Private Cloud Myths Busted!
 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in The Cloud Insider Times

 

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Datacenter Outsourcing

I’ve written before on how partnering with an established provider can save you money, especially as a short term solution to get your hosting business started.  What I haven’t really addressed is the licensing.

Data Center Outsourcing is essentially what the name applies.  “Data Center” and “Outsourcing”; you outsource your data center. Amazing how that works.  Microsoft definition is a bit more confusing – amazing how that works too. From the outsourcing guide:

  1. “A Data Center Provider is a Service Provider that provides Software Services, usually IaaS, to another Service Provider using Products licensed from Microsoft through its own SPLA..”

Microsoft Azure is a good example of a data center outsourcing company.  When you sign up for Azure, Windows will be included in the service.  They are essentially providing the infrastructure (Windows and/or SQL cores) and you provide the application licenses via your own SPLA.  When you leverage another service provider who provides the infrastructure, they must be providing the Windows licenses. Hmmm…here’s why.

Let’s say you have a signed SPLA agreement to offer Exchange to your clients and you decide to use Brett’s Hosting to provide the infrastructure.  Brett’s Hosting offers a public cloud environment (multiple customers sharing same resources).  Under this model, you will report Exchange licenses for each user that HAS access to the software and NOT report Windows under your own SPLA; Brett’s Hosting would report Windows via their own SPLA.  Why?  If it is a shared environment, there is no way Brett’s Hosting can allocate processors for you to report it.  SQL cores works the same way.  Still don’t believe me?  Check out the FAQ guide from Azure here. Notice under SQL it states you can purchase a VM or use SAL licenses.  Notice under Windows it states Windows is included with your agreement.

Here’s the bottom line, if you decide to outsource your data center to a public cloud provider, ask them how they manage the Windows OS.  If they say it is not included in the cost of the service and you should be providing the licenses, they are out of compliant.

Want more proof?  Download the outsourcing guide here

That being said, if you provide data center outsourcing services, I think you are in the right business. This is the fastest growing area within the hosting industry.  Windows is relatively inexpensive from a licensing perspective, especially as you add more VM’s and can capitalize on the Data Center edition.  (remember…unlimited VM’s).  SQL can get a bit more complex, but if you understand it I think that could be an added value over your competition.  Last, because you report Windows and SQL only and let the service provider control the user based licensing; it limits your compliance exposure.  (processors/cores are easier to track).

So are you a data center outsource or a service provider?  Do you work with someone to resell your solution or do it alone?  Would love to learn more about your offerings. If you need guidance or best practices or just want a second opinion from a licensing perspective you can email me at blaforge@splalicensing.com.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Data Center Outsourcing

 

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