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Reporting SPLA Usage

Managing the SPLA program for as long as I have, I came to the conclusion that no one likes to report their SPLA.  For what it’s worth, Microsoft and resellers don’t like it either, but it’s the most important aspect of the SPLA program.  Here’s a list of reasons why you need to report on time.

  • It’s unlawful if you don’t report.  Think about this for a moment,  you did not pay for the licenses upfront, but you are charging customers for their access.  In some countries, that’s called stealing.
  • It is part of your signed North America SPLA agreement.   Page 11 section 11a –  “Customer must submit either a monthly use report or zero use report to its Reseller within 10 days after the last day of each month or on a date agreed to by the Customer and its Reseller.”
  • After the 10th, Microsoft runs audit checks.  This doesn’t mean you will automatically get audited, but it does mean Microsoft will be keeping a closer eye on what you report.
  • If you report on the 10th and your credit card has issues or you are on credit hold, the reseller cannot submit it to Microsoft.  That’s one reason you should report prior to the 10th to avoid any errors.
  • Make it routine – you pay your cable bill each month, you should pay your SPLA as well.
  • It’s the cost of doing business
  • Any way you slice it, you have to report something

I understand that no one likes to report.  In a lot of instances it’s your biggest cost as a company.  My advice is always report, the cost of your monthly licensing spend is a lot less than the cost of an audit!  Hope this helps.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

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4 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Compliance, SPLA Reporting

 

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What’s Your Licensing Strategy?

I love the question “What’s your cloud strategy?” It’s the new ice breaker for salespeople around the globe. My thoughts? Why bother asking customers about their cloud strategy if it does not include licensing?  The BIGGEST mistake service providers (SPLA’s) make is selling a solution first and worrying about the licensing impact later. They build data centers, talk about virtualizing, even talk about the savings of cap ex vs. op ex, but never talk about the licensing until someone brings it up or they get audited. Just because the technology enables something, does not mean you can license that way.

VDI is a prime example of this. “You can host virtual desktops as a service right? Install the desktop OS on a server and stream it? Why not? The concept has been around for years. I ‘Googled’ VDI as a service and several companies are doing this…it must be right…right?” Wrong! Yes, technically speaking you can host virtual desktops using Windows 7/8. Licensing gurus and the product user rights and the audit team will disagree with you. Unfortunately there’s no way to do this under SPLA. Next question that comes up is “why?” Wish I knew the answer, perhaps Microsoft is looking out after the OEM manufactures, but then again they launched Surface.

Microsoft is auditing everyone. There are few guarantees in life, but one guarantee is not everyone under the SPLA program is licensing correctly. Just a word of advice, know the licensing before implementing a solution.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
 

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Tips & Tricks of SQL 2012

“What’s the least favorite licensing topic at Microsoft?” If you answered SQL, you would probably be correct. It’s not overly complex, but can be very confusing; especially as it pertains to virtualization. To add to the confusion, Microsoft changed the licensing terms with the release of SQL 2012 and discontinued several products altogether. For service providers, this confusion can escalate to over/under licensing and ultimately compliance risk. Here’s a list of common mistakes service providers make with licensing SQL.

1. They have Vmotion set up in which virtual machines are moving from host to host simultaneously. Be careful! Check out license mobility rights in the SPUR and read my previous blog license mobility Virtual Machines can move from host to host but it cannot be active on two separate hosts at the same time.

2. They have a customer bring SQL into their environment (end customer owns SQL via a separate volume licensing agreement) and the service provider dedicates the virtual machine to the customer but not the physical hardware (hardware is shared). The end customer would need to have software assurance for SQL in order to take advantage of license mobility and the service provider would need to report Windows under SPLA. This is called License Mobility with Software Assurance.

3. Sign a new SPLA agreement after December 31, 2012 and continue to license SQL by processor. Once you sign a new or renew your old SPLA agreement, you are forced to license by the core, not processor. Check out my blog Why Timing Is Everything

4. They license (1) 2 core pack of SQL 2012. The minimum you need to license/report is (2) 2 core packs or 4 cores per processor. Under no circumstance can you report only two cores.

5. They don’t report SQL at all. I hear this all the time. “My customer does not directly access SQL and therefore I do not need to report it.” Wrong. If customers indirectly access any application it must be licensed. Ask yourself, “If I remove this product from my hosted solution, would it still work the same?” If you answer “no’ it needs a SPLA license.

6. Report SQL Web to support a line of business application.  SQL Web is designed for websites/web applications, not line of business applications.

Just thought I would try to answer common questions around SQL. Hope this was helpful.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
3 Comments

Posted by on June 11, 2013 in SQL 2012

 

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SPLA Compliance Audit- How Not to be the Chosen One!

If you recently went through an audit or just nervous about being notified, I outlined ten steps that service providers can take to arm themselves more efficiently and be compliant.

  1. If you are running Microsoft software, you must license Windows.  All Microsoft software runs on a Windows OS.
  2. If you are licensing SharePoint- SharePoint requires SQL and Windows.
  3. Reporting SharePoint Enterprise you must license SharePoint Standard
  4. Installing Office on a server requires Remote Desktop (RDS) licenses.  Office and RDS licenses should match (cannot have more Office licenses than RDS licenses)
  5. If you have customers bringing licenses into your hosted environment you need to host it in a physical and dedicated environment.  (nothing shared among other customers)
  6. If you are reporting user licenses (SAL- Subscriber Access License) you need a license for each user that has access.  For example, if you have 10 totals users in the month of May and only 4 actually use or access that software, you must license all 10.  SPLA user licenses are similar to your cable bill; your cable provider is going to charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not.
  7. If you have customer owned licenses in your environment, you must keep all relevant documentation.  This includes enrollment information, start date, end date, and who they bought the licenses from.
  8. Renting out a PC make sure the PC has an OEM license preinstalled.
  9. No virtualizing/streaming Windows desktop OS from a datacenter.
  10. You can install your server on a customer premise, but do not install SPLA software on your customer’s server!

This is not bulletproof by any means.  Use this as a guide when looking at your own environment.  Look at it from the auditors eyes.  What information would they need to verify that I am compliant? The SPUR (Service Provider Use Rights) is the best reference when it comes to Microsoft SPLA.  You can download a copy here.  If you have trouble sleeping at night; this is a must read.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 5, 2013 in Compliance

 

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