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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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Top 5 Compliance Trends for MSP’s and SPLA

There are so many license changes and gotchas with SPLA, Azure, AWS, and all the others that I thought I would highlight for you some of the trends we see when it comes to compliance.

  1. Licensing Office Standard when Office Professional is installed.  In many cases, an IT administrator will inadvertently install Office Pro, report Office Standard to their procurement team who in return reports it to the reseller.  The IT admin will leave the company, and the procurement team continues to report Standard not knowing Pro is installed until audit time.  In this situation, Microsoft will check when Office was installed, and take the delta of what was reported (STD) v. what should be reported (Pro).  Don’t make this mistake.  Many partners are only charging their customers for Standard pricing!
  2. Not reporting SPLA at all.  Sounds silly, but many providers focus on developing software and not on the licensing.  We have found instances in which the procurement manager (who was in charge of reporting SPLA) left the organization and no one else took over their responsibility.   The reseller continues to email the procurement manager but obviously the email goes unnoticed.  After many months, their SPLA will be terminated and all licenses will have to be trued up.  The problem with this scenario is not just unexpected licensing expense, but when your SPLA terminates, you must sign a new one.  When you sign a new SPLA, you must adhere to the latest SPUR use rights.  As an example, if you had a SPLA prior to the Windows core licensing change, you could continue to report processors.  If your SPLA terminates, you would be forced to license by core now instead of later when your previous agreement (that is now terminated) expired.
  3. Using a VL copy of Office to deploy Shared Computer Activation (SCA).   SCA is specific to Office 365.  If you install Office Pro Plus VL, it goes against the product use rights in which Office (without SCA) cannot be installed on shared hardware.  It takes a lot of negotiation power and time to prove you are SCA eligible, the customer purchased Office 365, and you inadvertently installed the wrong product.
  4. Using License Mobility without License Mobility.  This is by far the most popular compliance trend.  Many organizations do not know what is installed in their datacenter when it comes to customer owned licenses.  Be sure to have the right documentation, addendum, and licensing to ensure compliance.
  5. Leasing an application, hosting the application, and purchasing volume licensing agreement to offer software as a service.   A healthcare company may lease an EMR application, host the application to other healthcare organizations, and license the infrastructure through volume licensing.  If your organization does not own the application you are hosting, you must license it through SPLA.  Self-Hosted for ISV is only eligible for providers who develop and own the application.  This means the code, the rights, everything must be owned by the organization.  Leasing the application and using other plugins you may have developed does not qualify.

I hope this provides you a little insight into the world of compliance.  If you find yourself out of compliant, let us know and we can connect you to the right resource.  info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 5, 2017 in Compliance

 

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More Dynamics 365 Fun

Quick update for those interested in Dynamics 365 for SPLA and what you should remember when selling to your customers.

  1. No Enterprise Plans in SPLA
  2. No PowerApps in SPLA
  3. Transitions SKU’s are available in SPLA
  4. More differences found here

Not all bad news but not all good either.  You can read more about my opinion here

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on June 1, 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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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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Why Windows 10 in CSP stinks now but could be GREAT later

Microsoft made a pretty big announcement around Windows 10 and CSP.  Here’s a breakdown for those that are interested:

  1. Software Assurance is not included
  2. Windows 10 is available E3 and in CSP only
  3. Customers need a qualified OS license.  In other words, this is an upgrade license only.
  4. Not available under SPLA
  5. Not available in the shared computer activation model.
  6. Per user licensing with the ability to license on up to 5 devices per license.
  7. No minimum and surprise…no maximum either.
  8. Subscription is 1 year
  9. Pricing varies
  10. New use rights highlighted in the Product Terms

So why does this stink now but could be great later?  Pay attention to number 1, 4, and 5 in the list above.  That’s what stinks.   Think this will allow VDI?  Think again.

So why not?  Why the mystery around VDI and SPLA?  If I was Microsoft, I would go ahead and allow it but for only a select few SPLA providers.  Those providers are:

  1. Report on time.  Not one late payment/report during their agreement no matter what the excuse – “My reseller sucks” is not an excuse.  It’s a good reason to work with me though 🙂
  2. Deployed Hyper V (they must have some incentive to do this)
  3. Joined CSP program.

There you have it.  Microsoft wins big time – all that missed revenue from non reporters will get reported. Now you, the compliant service provider, will be allowed VDI in SPLA.

The likelihood of this happening is slim to none.  I do think Microsoft is missing out with the Windows 10/VDI restriction.  Ever since I started in SPLA, I’ve been asked about VDI (or the lack thereof).  That was 11 years ago.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2016 in VDI

 

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“I want VDI!!!!!”

You probably have said that a thousand times as a service provider.  The truth is it’s still not available in SPLA.  If I was a betting man (big if by the way for those that work for the IRS) I would wager they would allow VDI in SPLA.   Why not…right?  Everything else is changing why not this?  Before you get too carried away as to why Microsoft will not allow VDI in shared environments, let me ask…do you REALLY want VDI?  Just as SQL is complex in SPLA (and VL for that matter) so is VDI.  In this article I will review the licensing rules with VDI/VDA and what exactly needs to happen if you were to host this from your datacenter.

Let’s take scenario 1.  Bill has a PC that can run a qualified operating system but the PC itself has been running slow recently.  He get’s his email from Joe’s Hosting so logically he asked good ole’ Joe if he could host a virtual desktop as well.  Joe tells him  “Sure” but it MUST be dedicated and his cost will go up.  Bill tells him that’s not issue, his wife won the lottery recently.  You would think the last thing Bill would be worried about is a virtual desktop.  Just buy a new computer Billy and head to the beach!  Nonetheless, Bill wants VDI and wants it now.  Joe’s Hosting tells him to go to the store, buy a Windows 10 license, and bring that disc over to their datacenter.  Joe will host it on a server solely dedicated to Bill.  Problem solved.  Joe is happy he just won over a customer, Bill is happy he gets his virtual desktop.  The compliance police call, Joe is in trouble.  Why?

In order to host VDI 3 things must happen.

  1. The PC must have VDI use rights. This means the desktop license itself (Windows 10 as an example) must be Enterprise and have active Software Assurance (SA).  Think of VDI as a Software Assurance benefit.  Without SA, no chance of having VDI.  In order to buy Software Assurance, I would need a volume licensing agreement; not a retail version.
  2. The service provider must indeed host it in a dedicated infrastructure.  This means the hardware, not just the VM.
  3. If the PC is incapable of running a full version of Windows 10 (such as a tablet) the customer must purchase a VDA license.  VDA is a use right that allows the end user the right to access a virtual desktop from a server environment.

The 3 items mentioned above is really just the beginning of the licensing roller coaster.  You must also license Windows Server, RDS, and any other applications by your SPLA or be purchased by your end customer.  If they are purchased by the end customer, they would transfer that license into your datacenter, which means they can no longer run it on premise.

Now I ask you this question – is VDI worth it?  Some say “yes” as this is what the customer wants and mean old Microsoft licensing rules just keep getting in the way.  Most complain about dedicated environments, but as mentioned earlier, dedicated environments is just the beginning.  Last, you may say the licensing of the VDI environment is not your problem, it’s your customers.  You have it hosted in a dedicated environment.  As far as SPLA is concerned, you are covered.  Or are you?

Maybe I’ve been doing this too long and I am just an old fogey.  But if I was a customer and my service provider (you) told me I could receive my VDI dedicated infrastructure and all I need was a desktop OS license, I would be all in.  Fast forward a couple years and you tell me you are going through an audit and apparently I (not you) had licensed VDI incorrectly and it’s my fault; I think I would be a little upset.  Yeah I would ditch you faster than that girl in 9th grade who ditched me at the dance (apparently when I told her my future involved SPLA licensing it turned her off…what a fool) but I would also make sure if any other organizations were looking at you as a service provider, I would tell them to stay away.  As any marketing organization would tell you, recommendations and word of mouth is the best way to advertise.

Moral of this story?  Like all the rest, know the licensing first, sell it second.  Stay tuned for scenario 2.  Your customers will thank you.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2016 in VDI

 

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Office…good, bad, ugly.

One of the biggest roadblocks hoster’s have is around Office.  Want to provide a integrated SharePoint solution?  Must include Office.  Have an application that reports back through Excel?  Must use Office.  Want to provide users the ability to create, edit, and view a Word document?  Must include Office.  In this article I focus on what’s happening around Office including the good, the bad, and possibly the ugly.

Let’s start with the ugly and bad.  I hate bad news, so let’s get this out of the way.  I think the ugly is Office under Office 365.  Surprise! We all know about installing on up to 5 devices and installing on RDS right/shared computer activation..right?  You can learn more about it here http://blogs.technet.com/b/uspartner_ts2team/archive/2014/09/03/office-365-shared-computer-activation.aspx

Pay attention to what is happening with Azure.  There’s a lot of changes in the way in which Office will be deployed in this environment.   More to come.

So there’s the ugly.  The bad is just the overall cost of deploying Office in a shared environment.  Office is expensive.  You not only have to report Office, but RDS and Windows as well and with currently no option for mobility, service providers have few options.  Remember, if you are providing Office remotely, your RDS licenses should match.  Last, if you think using Office Web apps is a good alternative you may have to think again.  To fully use Office Web Apps a copy of Office must also be licensed.

Here’s some good links around this topic including RDS, Azure and Office 365, as well as my own blog post “SPLA and Office 365”

Azure and RDS – http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn782858(v=office.15).aspx

Overview of Azure/Office 365 from my friends at Code Magazine http://www.codemag.com/Article/1108021

SPLA and Office 365 https://splalicensing.com/category/office-365/

Now it’s time for the good.  Did you know you know you can report the Office components instead of the entire suite?  Did you know Office is a user based license which means if not all users need Office Pro, by all means do not report all users with Office Pro. SPLA Man needs Office Pro but SPLA Girl only needs the features of Office Standard, make sure to report us accordingly.  Here is a good link that compares the features within Office as well as the features of Office Pro and Office 365.

http://office.microsoft.com/en-001/buy/compare-microsoft-office-products-FX102898564.aspx

There’s a lot of information to digest in these links.  To summarize my point, you must get creative and you must pay attention to updates (especially Office 365)  Your customers will ask.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2014 in Office 365

 

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CRM Price Increases

For those that read my earlier post “Predicting the future” one intuition has already come true.  Microsoft announced price increases for Microsoft Dynamics CRM come January, 2015.

All 3 SPLA CRM SKU’s are effected  (Basic, Essentials, and Service Provider/PRO edition).  For complete breakdown I would suggest reaching out to your SPLA reseller.

So why the increase?  Microsoft stated “The CRM price change is intended to more closely align our online and on premises pricing.”  So there you have it.

Windows, Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS) and other Dynamics AX, NAV, GP will also see increases.  This was previously announced by Microsoft and communicated through the reseller channel.

Thanks

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in CRM

 

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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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