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What is SAM in 2018?

Software Asset Management (SAM) has been around since Microsoft first published their Product Use Rights.  With every product introduced came an enormous amount of licensing complexity.   Unless you hold a PHD in Microsoft licensing rules, most organizations would quickly find themselves in a licensing conundrum they never saw coming.  In walks in our friend SAM.  SAM will help you with your audit, SAM will make sure things are running smoothly, and SAM will be your new best friend.  But where does  SAM fit in if your customers move to the cloud?  Do they even need SAM anymore?  Poor SAM might be pushed aside like he is a box of Windows Vista.

Not so fast my friend.  SAM is needed more now than it was even two years ago.  Why?  Regardless of what any publisher may tell you, moving to the cloud doesn’t lower licensing complexities, if anything it enhances it.  Sure if you are a new organization  and do not own any licensing, moving to the cloud is easy, but if you are like 99.9% of all other organizations, you have licenses you may want to leverage instead of buying them all over again. How do you do that?  If you are a service provider, how do you ensure your customer’s are compliant?

Most of my conversations have moved away from “How to license Windows Server” to “How can my customers leverage SQL in my datacenter environment if I am also reporting SQL on my SPLA” or “I want to use AWS using my SPLA licenses, can I do that?”  And recently, “I signed a CSP Direct agreement to leverage QMTH, but now what?”

SAM is no longer about audits.  Sure, you might get audited, and we can certainly help, but more importantly,  what are you going to do about your licensing once your audit is completed?  How much time do you spend making sure your licenses or your customer licenses are compliant?  How do you know if you report 10k a month, that it’s right?  Most service providers are concerned about under reporting SPLA, I would argue the bigger concern is over reporting.  Here’s what a good SAM engagement should provide:

  1. Licensing Costs – how much are you paying for licenses as compared to other organizations?
  2. Use Rights – What use rights are available that you might know exist.  (there are plenty)
  3. How to ensure your customers are compliant and what language should you include to eliminate compliance risk in all your agreements.
  4. Help identify which licensing program is best for your organization and your customers.  Wouldn’t it be great if you worked with a company that can also reduce your clients licensing costs? This would include CSP, License Mobility, Outsourcing (AWS/Azure/Google, etc).
  5. Compliance:  How to ensure you are not only compliant, but licensing the most cost-effective way possible.
  6. Audit Support – Yes, if the audit police come knocking, you should be in good shape to handle based on your SAM partner expertise.
  7. Roadmap (I hate that term) but it’s important.  What is on the radar that you should be aware of?  As an example, CSP is an annual term, are there plans to make it 3 year like other licensing programs?  Pricing is locked, but can I negotiate at the end of my renewal for CSP?   What happens if I true down?  (Good luck with that by the way).

There are plenty other examples but I think you get the point, cloud licensing is about as complex as on premise licensing.  SAM in 2018 should help you tackle these areas and not just handle audit support.  Any company that promotes audit support is not a business partner, they are the One and Done’s of software licensing.

If you have a question please email info@splalicensing.com.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

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Posted by on January 17, 2018 in Uncategorized

 

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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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Answers to Your Cloud Licensing Questions

Will Azure be part of the SPLA program?

I wouldn’t think so and wouldn’t know how they could incorporate the two.  Azure is Microsoft hosted and SPLA is partnered.   Microsoft will want to keep SPLA and Azure separate.

Is Azure Stack part of SPLA?

Azure Stack by itself is not part of SPLA.  What’s part of SPLA is the Windows licenses.  As a service provider, you could deploy Azure Stack, pay the base consumption rate, and use Windows licensing with SPLA.  In fact, I think it’s less expensive to do it this way.

If my customer wants to use their own Windows license on Azure Stack, do they also require CAL’s?

Yes.  You need to pay attention to the Product Terms to ensure compliance.  As an example, volume licensing prohibits hosting.  You cannot install your own Windows licenses through volume licensing and host using Azure Stack.

Does Office 365 qualify for the SAL for SA product in SPLA?

The only Office 365 product that is eligible for SAL for SA is Skype.

Is SPLA pricing going up?

Yes and will not be decreasing anytime soon.

Since AWS offers dedicated hardware, could I transfer my customer’s license to their datacenter without Software Assurance?

Yes.  If its dedicated hardware Software Assurance is not required.

What about Azure?

No, you would need Software Assurance.

Will Microsoft finally allow MSDN to be licensed in my datacenter?

Probably not.  Although if you use Azure, MSDN is eligible to be transferred.

If I sell CSP through 2-Tier distributor, can I sign the QMTH addendum?

No.  You must be CSP 1 – Tier to qualify for QMTH.

Can I outsource support for certain software through CSP?

Yes.  You an resell the solutions you can support and leverage another partner for support for other products.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2017 in Top 5 Licensing Questions

 

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SPLA Pricing Going Up? Not on my watch

I hate when other partners promote a SPLA price increase to gain business.  Yeah, no one can control what the publisher will ultimately do and pricing is never consistent (just look at your local gas pump) but that doesn’t mean you cannot leverage use rights and other factors to lower your SPLA bill.  In this article, we will look at how SPLA partners can lower their bill regardless what Microsoft may or may not do in the future.  Here are a quick (some easy, some not so easy) ways to accomplish this.

  1. SQL Server:  How confident are you that you are licensing the most expensive product in SPLA correctly?  Let me provide an example, reporting SQL Web because of price is not a sound strategy.  Auditors look at licensing historically, when you license incorrectly for a product like SQL Web and it should’ve been Standard, you will pay an astronomically higher price in the long run.  Pay attention to your given use rights to uncover cost savings, such as SQL Enterprise for unlimited virtualization, Standard SAL licenses for multiple VM’s and Servers, etc.
  2. Administration Access:  Why report administrators?  As part of your signed SPLA agreement, you are allowed 20 admins per datacenter without the need for SPLA.  Doing a demo for your customer?  Don’t report it.  Pay attention to the use rights in your SPLA agreement, not just the SPUR.
  3. SPLA Internal Use:  If you have more external users than internal users, perhaps you should use SPLA to cover both.  As an example, if you host Exchange for 10 users, you can use up to 5 internally.  Those licenses are not free, you would report a total of 15 on your SPLA moving forward.  This entitlement is called the 50% rule which states that you cannot license more than 50% of what you are hosting, internally.  I like this because it eliminates two things: 1) if a user leaves your company, you simply do not license the user the next month.  In Volume Licensing, you own the licenses which would force you to either reassign the license to another user internally or it goes unused.  2).  You would not be required to have separate hardware for this solution.  In traditional SPLA, you must have separate hardware from what you are hosting.  If using SPLA for internal consumption, it can be on the same hardware since it follows the same use rights.
  4. Leveraging Skype for Business through Office 365:  Yeah, in many cases O365 is the big bad wolf; in other cases, it’s your best friend.  If you want to host Skype, you can sell your customers who purchased Skype O365 licenses, host it from your datacenter environment, and leverage the SAL for SA SKU.  Skype USL (Office 365 licenses) is the only product that qualifies for SAL for SA in SPLA.  If your customer purchased Skype USL licenses and are unhappy with migrating it to Microsoft datacenter, you can tell the customer that you can host it for them for little cost.  It’s much cheaper than licensing/reporting the regular Skype for Business SAL.  On the flip side, let’s say your customer purchased Exchange Online USL license, they would just need to purchase the Exchange Server with Software Assurance to leverage license mobility.   Exchange Online does not qualify for SAL for SA.
  5. Private Cloud: When the public cloud is taking up all the headlines, maybe it’s time to differentiate and create a new headline.  No one gets ahead by doing the same thing others are doing.   If Azure offers public cloud, maybe you should start offering private cloud.  In this example, private cloud is fully dedicated, isolated hardware for each individual customer.  Here are three ways this could be beneficial:
    1. Dedicated hardware does not require Software Assurance.  Your customer owns SQL 2000 or still stuck on Windows 2003?  No problem, move it to your cloud.  Try doing the same in Azure or other fully public clouds, they would need SA for those licenses.
    2. Unlimited Virtualization.  Windows does not have mobility rights, but if you were to offer dedicated servers, an end customer can transfer their Windows licenses without issue.  More importantly, if they purchased Windows Datacenter because of virtualization (which they did), they can still have unlimited virtualization rights as if they were running it on premise (still dependent upon the size of the server).  Do the same in Azure HUB, and it doesn’t quite add up.
    3. No SPLA licenses, no VDI restrictions, no CSP requirement and ease of security concerns. Kind of speaks for itself.

I understand that in many situations transitioning to a private cloud is easier said than done, but it does have tremendous licensing advantages over public clouds.  Worried about SPLA price increases or CSP?  Private cloud might be your answer.

As always, have a question on SPLA pricing, licensing, or anything else that comes to mind, email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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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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Top 5 Licensing questions…Answered

  1. If a customer has 4 x SQL Server Standard (8 cores), does that mean I will also need to have 4 x SQL-SAL?

There’s no server + CAL model in SPLA.  You license either per core or per user depending on the product.  Remember, SAL is not licensed per server, but for each user that has access to that server.  Your question indicates you might believe a SAL is licensed per server which is not true.

2.  Is MSDN available through SPLA?  Is it through Azure?

MSDN is not available in SPLA, but you can license the individual components through SPLA.   If an end-user would like to bring their MSDN license over to your datacenter, you must dedicate the solution for your customer.  Yes, Amazon must play by the same rules.  Oddly enough, Azure (which is shared) does allow MSDN to be transferred over to their datacenter.

3. I received an audit notification.  Should I respond?

Yes. But don’t work on their time, work on yours.

4.  If I signed the SCA addendum, do I need to sign the new QMTH addendum?

Unless you are planning on hosting Windows 10 you do not need to sign the new addendum.

5.  If I buy from a CSP indirect partner, do I qualify for QMTH?

No.  Your company must be CSP 1 tier authorized in order to qualify.

Thanks  for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2017 in Top 5 Licensing Questions

 

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Details of the Qualified Multitenant Addendum

There’s been a lot of talk as of late about the new QMTH addendum.  I’ve written a couple of articles on the topic here  In this article, we will summarize what is written in the addendum so there’s no surprises.  I listed some (not all) of terms and conditions to ensure you are up to speed on the latest developments.

  • CSP Membership – You (or affiliates) must be a Direct CSP partner.  This means you cannot leverage an Indirect CSP partner for this program.  In other words, if you receive CSP licensing from Ingram Micro or SherWeb (as an example) your partnership with those distributors/partner does not qualify for QMTH.  Your organization must be CSP Direct authorized, not your partner.
  • Must meet the system requirements – System Requirements can be found here
  • Have an active SPLA agreement.
  • Reporting Requirements – You will always need to report underlying licenses in SPLA.  Those underlying licenses could be any software to deploy a VDI solution – (Windows Server and RDS).   In addition, you must report (by the last calendar day of each month) the Windows 10/O365 licenses deployed.  This is manual, meaning you will send an email to the QMTH alias for submission.  Once automated reporting is available, you must enable Microsoft’s automated reporting tool.  Microsoft will use the tool to collect your customer’s organization ID and tenant ID as well as the total number of users accessing the software.
  • As the provider, you must report to your SPLA Reseller the program administrative fee.  If you are currently in the SCA program, you will be familiar with this SKU.
  • As the provider, you must make all education materials publicly available.  You cannot just sign up for CSP, the education material should be like what’s on the QMH website.
  • For each per user subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise, the end-user can only access up to four (4) instances of Windows 10 either on Azure or you, the QMTH hoster.  This is like the SCA program in which the end user has five (5) instances of Office Pro Plus, Windows 10 works the same way.

Listed above is a summary.  I encourage you to reach out to your Microsoft rep for additional information.  I am happy to review it further, it’s a new program with pluses and minuses.  Be sure to understand the minuses first 🙂

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2017 in Office 365

 

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