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Tag Archives: Azure

Licensing Office Online for External Users

What happens if you have end customers who want to use Office Online for external users (non-employees of your organization).  Is that SPLA?  In this article, we will break down Office Online through three programs – SPLA, Volume Licensing, and CSP.

SPLA

If you are hosting Office for another organization SPLA definitely fits.  As an example, if you provide DaaS to your customers who are also licensed for Office, they can access Office Online.  In this model, you license SharePoint (requirement for Office Online) Office by user, RDS per user, and Windows + SQL Server.   Very expensive to simply offer a customer the ability to view and edit documents online.

Volume Licensing and Office 365

Office Online was added as a Software Assurance benefit for Office in 2016.  End customer’s who simply want to view documents can download it directly from the Volume Licensing Services Center (VLSC).  End customers that require document creation, edit/save functionality will be required to have an on-premises Office license with Software Assurance or an Office 365 ProPlus subscription. Any customer that purchased an Office 2016 suite through Volume Licensing before August 1, 2016 will not require SA through August 1, 2019.   After August 1, 2019 they must buy SA for any on-premise Office licenses.

According to the Product Terms (May 2016) “If Customer has a License for Office 365 Pro Plus, then Customer may use Office Online services.  Each of Customer’s Licensed Users of Office 365 Pro Plus may access Office Online services for viewing and editing documents, as long as they are also licensed for SharePoint Online or OneDrive for Business.”  It’s the last sentence that stings.  In other words, you want Office Online?  Better buy Office 365 E3.

Office Online for CSP

The same rules apply.  In this scenario, the hosting company could sell Office 365 E3 through CSP program to their end users.  In CSP, the end customer is paying month – month and paying for support.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2017 in Office 365

 

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Slaying the dragon and saving the princess – audit style

We all love stories—all of us. We love to hear about good overcoming evil – the prince saving the princess, the bad guy that the good guy captures.  In short, what we love are fairy tales.  The reality is we do not live in a world of fairy tales, and sometimes, yeah, the bad guys do win. The prince, admired by many, is not such a good prince after all.  We trust without knowing they can be trusted.  So, what does this have to do with audits?

Businesses are built based on one concept – to solve a customer’s problem.  You are their hero to save whatever pain they have or problem they can’t seem to overcome.  You are (as the story goes) their knight in shining armor.  Your customer needs someone to deliver a solution; you are just the good guy to do it.

Fast forward a couple of years, your business is booming, your customers are happy, and in walks every IT nightmare…the auditor.  Eyeglasses the size of saucers, a necktie tied just a shade too short, and a laugh that is about as annoying as a nail on a chalkboard; you succumb to a software audit.

How do you defend such evil?  The biggest mistake a hosting partner (or enterprises in general) often makes is fear.  They give the auditors everything they ask.  That’s not always bad, but if you don’t understand why they ask for certain things or feel they are painting you in a corner, take a step back.  Please don’t give in without understanding what they are asking and why.  Why do they want to know who your customers are?  Why do they ask about customer-owned licenses?  Software Assurance? Historical information?  If you can’t answer “why,” maybe you need help.  In walks SPLA Man.  Nah, in walks Mrs. SPLA Man, every auditor’s worst nightmare.  She put together the following list on how to better prepare yourself for the unexpected.

Mrs. SPLA Man’s List

Don’t be fearful – no matter what, it’s your business and YOUR customers.

Have a plan.  Know what’s in your customer agreements.  If you need to refresh your agreement language, do it.  Software licensing rules change daily; if you have not updated your contracts on license mobility or datacenter outsourcing, update it now.

Don’t bring unwanted attention to your organization.  Always report usage on time and pay on time.  80% of all delinquent reporting has nothing to do with the reseller or Microsoft.  It has everything to do with an SPLA partner’s account payable dept.

Don’t have one person manage your usage reporting.  In many cases, a person leaves a company who was the only one who worked with the reseller directly.  When that person leaves, who is responsible for reporting?

 
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Posted by on August 10, 2017 in Compliance

 

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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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Deep thoughts with SPLA Man

As we enter the new FY at Microsoft, I thought I would put together a list of topics that’s on everyone’s mind.

  • SPLA going away?  I don’t think so.  There’s too many SPLA partners to make an entire program disappear.  I also think this is one of the benefits Microsoft has over all it’s competitors.  If a customer wants to have an application hosted in one datacenter and use Azure for disaster recovery – Microsoft wins.  If Amazon is running Windows workloads (which they are) they must pay Microsoft for that usage through SPLA.  I also think SPLA is a way to move customers to Azure.  If you are a SPLA customer who just went through an audit, the SPLA customer might ask themselves why they continue to host at all?  Let’s use Azure and my compliance problems go away.  (they don’t but that’s for another article).
  • Is CSP/QMH really a must?   I guess the jury is still out (it hasn’t even launched yet for the partner community – September 2017).  There are a lot of restrictions to this program to consider – underlying Windows Pro licenses, becoming CSP direct authorized, not using CSP Indirect, RDS licenses when deploying VDI, etc.  If you decide to go down this route, pay close attention to what you can and cannot do.
  • Will SPLA pricing increase?  Yes.  No doubt about it.  Nothing stays the same for too long.
  • How can AWS win the cloud war?   Amazon has a revenue first, profit second mentality in my opinion.  Just look at their last earnings report (2017).  They can buy their way into the SaaS market at any cost.  They are not just a cloud company, they are an everything company.  They have the leverage to really get creative with their marketing and win businesses over.
  • How can Google beat AWS and Microsoft?  Google hasn’t scratched the surface with their footprint in the enterprise space.  One slip up by the other cloud powerhouses and Google becomes a very attractive offering.  Google has the power, the money, and the brand to make headway. Like AWS, they are not just a cloud/software company, they are an everything company.  I really think Google will surprise a lot of analyst in the near future with their cloud growth.
  • How can Microsoft beat them all?  Any organization that uses Microsoft software in a hosted environment must pay Microsoft for that luxury.  They already have a large footprint and very large customer base to move to Azure.  They also have 30k + SPLA partners (estimate) that are being used to sell their solution.
  • Will SPLA Man be able to afford a nice piece of jewelry for Mrs. SPLA Man?  For all the single women who read SPLAlicensing.com, don’t make the same mistake Mrs. SPLA Man made.  Poor Mrs. SPLA Man, when I first met her at the bar, she thought SPLA was something I created for the space station. Space Program Living Association.  S.P.L.A. – kind of like a home owner’s association but for space.  (I am not sure where she got that idea).  I do have a cool blog??!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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More insight into the new Qualified Multitenant Program for CSP and SPLA

Over the course of the past week in a half, a lot of misleading information came about as a result of Microsoft’s announcement of the new QMTH program for hosting providers.  In this article, I will try to set the record straight and answer questions you may have.  Keep in mind, this is still developing, and the addendum is not available yet.  Please use this article as a general understanding, not a replacement for the Microsoft terms and conditions.  More information to come!  You can always email at info@splalicensing.com as well.

How do you I grasp QMTH in the simplest terms possible for my sellers?

Shared Computer Activation has been out for a long time, if your sellers understand SCA, QMH works in a very similar way.

Similarities to SCA 

  • Must be under SPLA to qualify and have the addendum
  • Must be CSP Direct authorized – check out qualifications and SCA here
  • Do not have to purchase Windows 10 directly from the hoster (the CSP Direct partner) they can purchase Windows 10 E3/E5 from other CSP partners but host it from your datacenter (as long as you are QMTH authorized)
  • Install on up to 5 devices.

Is SCA replaced with QMTH?

Yes.

If I’m SCA authorized, am I automatically authorzied for QMTH?

Yes/No.  You will need to update your landing page and you will need to sign the new addendum.  You will already be CSP Direct authorized if you are SCA authorized, it makes it a lot easier to transition.

Do I have to sell Office 365 with Windows 10?

No.  You can sell Windows 10 as a standalone product.

Can I still offer Windows/RDS for SPLA?

Yes.  Windows and RDS in SPLA is still available.  I would make it clear to the customer that you are not offering full Windows desktop but Windows Server.  I always liked Windows Server + RDS.  Shared environments, unlimited virtualization, etc. etc.

How does the activation and the licensing work? 

The base license for Windows 10 Enterprise is Windows 10 Pro.  It’s per user licensing, but the underlying qualified device needs Windows Pro.  The Windows 10 Enterprise features/bits is included with the Windows 10 Pro installation.  In other words, you install Windows 10 Pro, the Enterprise features are automatically turned off.  When your end customer subscribes to Windows 10 Enterprise E3/E5, those features will turn on.  When they unsubscribe, you guessed it – they are automatically turned off and the user goes back to Windows 10 Pro.  Check out this post from the Microsoft team Windows 10 Enterprise E3 in CSP

What happens if I work in a hospital with a dummy terminal that has no underlying/qualified OS.  Are you saying I must buy a Windows Pro license even if I don’t need it?

No.  You can buy Windows 10 Enterprise with VDA.  (Virtual Desktop Access), it provides a user access to a VDI session on a device that cannot run a qualified OS.  If an end-user has a dummy terminal, that user can still access a virtual desktop through VDA.

Can I just sell the customer Windows 10 E3 without virtualization rights?  They don’t need a virtual desktop.  

Yes.  Windows 10 E3 can be purchased with or without VDI rights (with is more expensive than without).  If they have Windows E5 the virtual rights are included but that doesn’t mean they have to install it virtually.

What happens if I use Azure as my datacenter provider?  Do I still need the addendum?

You do not need to be QMTH authorized to use Azure.  QMTH just provides you the ability to host Windows 10 E3/E5 in a shared environment from your datacenter.

When is this available?

August 1, 2017 for Azure.  September 1, 2017 for third-party hosting providers.

I am sure you have more questions.  I am always looking to learn more and learn your specific scenario.  If you do have a specific question, let me know and I can update this post accordingly.  It’s also worth mentioning that this program isn’t available yet.  I am sure there will be more information and updates as we move along.

Other articles of interest

Windows BlogWindows virtualization rights coming to CSP…

ZDnet – Microsoft’ plan to move more small-business users to Windows 10…

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2017 in VDI

 

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Don’t be Jimbo

Jimbo had a small IT firm for which he provided backup, security, and hosting for two clients.  He also purchased Office 365 licenses for a handful of users directly from the Microsoft Office 365 website and would bill them accordingly.  Jimbo also had an application he tried to develop to help end users better communicate with one another. It was similar to SharePoint, but more seamless and had better integration with third-party applications.  He had a SPLA, and had one person who submitted their usage report to their reseller.  Unfortunately, that person got sick and passed away.  Jimbo was sad and so was the rest of the staff.

To put his mind at ease, he spent every waking hour improving his application.  He thought it was going to be the next best thing.  I experienced the application firsthand myself, and found it to be a powerful tool.  I even asked to invest in it, but without any money, (Mrs. SPLA Man spent it all at Target), I had nothing to invest with.

Fast forward a year later.  Jimbo is still working on improving the application, and he's still hosting.  One day, Jimbo received an email from Microsoft.  It was titled “Self-Audit”, Jimbo was getting audited.  One thing left unmentioned, Jimbo is the nicest guy on the planet. He replied to Microsoft and in the end, provided them with everything.  All his server information, customer name, and reporting history.  It was an auditor’s dream.

Several weeks later, Microsoft provided Jimbo with the findings.  He owed $450,000 in unreported licensing fees.  Why so high?  No usage was being reported since the lady who reported SPLA passed away.  When she was reporting, she reported the wrong thing.  Instead of licensing Windows Datacenter, she reported Standard.  Instead of reporting physical processors and/or cores, she reported per VM.  Everything was a mess.  Jimbo, who neglected his hosting practice for months to focus on his application, was left feeling very uncertain about his future.  He did not have the funds to pay for licenses.

It’s unfortunate, but Jimbo had to shut down his hosting business.  The application he built?  Stopped.  He tried to sell it, and last I heard very few were interested.

Why such a depressing story and was it true?  Yes, the story is true (although slightly embellished).  Why share it?  I am telling you the story because there are too many organizations doing the same thing.  They have one person who manages the licenses, one person who was in contact with the reseller, and one person who knew what they were reporting.  What happens if that person leaves?  Too many organizations are also buying Office 365, but not getting the best discount.

Licensing is challenging, and in the case of Jimbo, his love wasn’t reporting usage, it was developing an application.  He should have had allocated resources to help manage his SPLA, so he could focus on what he knows best, the technology.

I am always asked why I created splalicensing.com and what's so different about SPLA Man than other blogs.  I think the main difference is honesty.  I am your licensing Siri or Alexa.  I am SPLAlexa. (that was bad).  Don’t be Jimbo.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man/SPLAlexa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Compliance

 

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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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VDI Under SPLA? Maybe it’s possible after all – Multitenant Hosting Rights for Windows 10

Good news for those who have customers who want you to host Windows 10 in your shared cloud environment –  they might now have that as an option.  Microsoft recently announced “Multitenant Hosting Rights for Windows 10.  You can read the announcement here 

We also 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.

What is it?

Allows customers who purchased qualified Windows 10 licenses the ability transfer those licenses over to a Qualified Multi-Tenant Hoster shared datacenter environment.

Why is this important?

For years SPLA partners have asked for VDI in SPLA.  Although this is not technically VDI in SPLA, is does provide an avenue to implement a virtual desktop session from your shared server environment.  At the end of the day, it gives your end customers deployment options.

Can I still license Windows Desktop in SPLA?

No.  Windows desktop licenses were removed last year.  You can read/download the lease agreement that outlines the details here

What are the requirements?

To no surprise, the SPLA partner must be CSP Tier 1 authorized.  They must also sign the Qualified Multitenant Hoster addendum and have an active SPLA with Microsoft.  To get the QMH (another Microsoft acronym) you can contact info@splalicensing.com or your Microsoft Reseller.

What happens if I offer dedicated environments?  Do I still need the addendum?

No.  If it is 100% dedicated (isolated hardware) you can always transfer end customer  licenses over to your datacenter environment.  Whenever it is shared – VM or hardware, you must consider SPLA or in this case the QMH addendum)

When is it available?

Program will be available August 1, 2017 for VL and September 6, 2017 to transact in CSP.

Can I bundle my customers Office solution they purchased as well as Windows 10 to offer a complete VDI experience?

Yes.  This is a great way to bundle different desktop applications.

Conclusion 

If you provide IaaS to your customers, this is definitely something you should consider.  Any time you can offer your customers the ability to leverage existing investments the better.  Azure is not going away.  In fact, you don’t have to be QMTH authorized to leverage Azure as your datacenter provider.  Please review the announcement, there will be a lot more information on this in the coming days.  I will also write out several scenarios to make this more simple.  As always, you can email me at info@splalciensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 12, 2017 in Office 365

 

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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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