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300 Level SPLA Licensing

Now it’s time to get into the fun part; the licensing scenarios that can literally drive you NUTS because if interpreted wrong, it can cost you and your company money.  Based on experience, here’s a list of the top confusing scenarios….simplified.

Customer Owned Licenses

Let’s say you have a customer that would like to bring their license into your datacenter.  You first ask them if the licenses are legit and if they have software assurance for those licenses.  Why ask if they have software assurance (SA).  If they have SA on certain software applications, they could be eligible for license mobility (shared hardware, dedicated VM).  If they do not have software assurance, now you have to consider dedicating (see dedicated v shared in this post) a server and VM for that customer and that customer only.  Without software assurance, they do not qualify for license mobility.  So keep this in mind – no software assurance = 100% dedicated hosting.

Now let’s say the end customer owns 100 Exchange licenses (CAL) without SA and they would like you to host Exchange for them using these licenses. No problem, you just dedicate a server for those users. But what happens if they hire 50 more employees that need Exchange?  Do you simply add those additional 50 users via SPLA or do they have to buy those additional 50 licenses from their volume licensing agreement?  If you picked the latter, you would be correct.

You cannot mix server/CALs on a product-by-product basis. This means the end customer CAL’s for a particular product cannot be used to access servers deployed with that product and which are licensed by the service provider under SPLA. It is ok for a service provider to rely on end customer owned licenses for one particular product (like SQL) but acquire licenses for a different product (like Windows) via their SPLA as long as they dedicate the server.  It also means that if an end customer has Servers/CALs for a particular product(s) and chooses to move to a hosted model with a service provider, they will need to acquire any additional licenses for that product(s) under their volume licensing agreement (i.e. if they increase the number of seats or need more servers for deployment or load balancing). It’s not ok for the service provider to acquire SAL’s under SPLA when the number of seats goes up for the end customer or when additional servers is required. This is because the licensing construct of internal use doesn’t match that of SPLA ,and therefore needs to be separate.

Dedicated v Shared

So what does “dedicated” and what is “shared mean?”  In short, it means one customer per server/VM for dedicated, and multiple customers using the same server/VM for shared.  But what about the other components of a hosted offering?  You have a SAN, does that need to be dedicated?  No, according to this document it doesn’t (download it  here)

“Any hardware running an instance of Microsoft software (OS or application) must be dedicated to a single customer. For example, a SAN device that is not running any Microsoft software may be shared by more than one customer; whereas, a server or SAN device that runs Microsoft software may only be used by one customer.”

So ask yourself “is this running Microsoft software on this device?”

SQL Virtualization

SQL virtualization boils down to five options

1) License per virtual machine (if nothing is running physical)

2) License the physical cores on the host and report SQL Enterprise. (allows you to run unlimited VMs)

3) License both physical and virtual (if reporting Standard or Web and it’s running both physically and virtually)

4) Report SQL Business Intelligence (BI) which is licensed per user and can access multiple servers (physical and virtual)

5) Report SQL Standard per user.  Same story as BI.

Don’t forget about license mobility within server farms.  A server farm by Microsoft’s definition consists up to two datacenter located within 4 hours of each other.  So if you have a datacenter in Seattle and another datacenter in New Jersey; that does not qualify.  Likewise if you are in Europe; the datacenter must be “within the European Union (EU) and/or European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

One benefit of license mobility within server farms is it will allow a qualified VM to migrate from one host to the next within the same server farm without adding additional licensing costs.  You have to license the machine with the most processors or cores to be compliant.  In the Service Provider Use Rights (SPUR) it shows you if the product is license mobility within server farms eligible.  Pay attention to this use right; there’s a lot of service providers who are reporting license mobility without license mobility.

Hope this brings some clarity.  If  you have additional questions contact me at blaforge@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
9 Comments

Posted by on June 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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SPLA Audit Support

If you are facing a SPLA audit or concerned you are underreporting or perhaps even overpaying for licenses, please reach out to blaforge@splalicensing.com.  I am happy to make suggestions or review your report. This is not a solicitation,  I do this as a hobby. (Some people take up golf, for some reason I took up SPLA). 

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Links to vendor websites and other blogs

Here’s a list of resources I think are worth checking out. Not all pertain to SPLA specifically, but in the world of IT – all licensing programs find a way to relate to one another. Check it out.

Microsoft SPLA Program
http://www.microsoft.com/hosting

Microsoft Marketing Campaigns
http://www.readytogomicrosoft.com

Great Microsoft Volume Licensing Blog
http://www.microsoftlicensereview.com/

TechNet
http://blogs.technet.com/b/volume-licensing/

SPLA Reseller (I work for them with SAM) There is a free compliance check where the team will review your order and ensure you are licensing correctly and the most cost effective way. http://www.softwareone.com/en-us/Licensing/Microsoft-SPLA/Pages/default.aspx

SPLA Reseller Email – SPLA.us@softwareone.com

VMware Service Provider Program
http://www.vmware.com/partners/service-provider.html

Citrix CSP Program
http://www.citrix.com/partner-programs/service-provider.html

Citrix Marketing Tools
http://www.citrix.com/csptoolkit.com

Citrix/Microsoft DaaS Whitepapers, etc.
http://www.Citrix.com/Microsoft

Hope this helps

SPLA Man

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 17, 2014 in Compliance, In My Opinion

 

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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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How to License Exchange

Article update: We created a new website called MSCloudlicensing to help SPLA and CSP partners understand the different program options and use rights available to them. The site is designed to be a collaborative platform,  which includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  It’s more in depth than a simple blog. Check it out, it’s free!  www.mscloudlicensing.com 

 

 

 

In my years of managing the SPLA program, I came to the conclusion that no one likes to babysit an Exchange server.  Organizations do not have the resources or the time to constantly monitor a server, and hosters (if that’s a word) feel the pressure of managing a mission critical application such as email.  If it goes down, not only can you lose a customer, but the customer might lose business as well!

For those hosters that feel up to the challenge, Exchange can be a very profitable opportunity.  Whenever there is complexity, along comes value…which every hoster needs to run a business. What’s the downside? As always, there’s a concern over licensing.

Exchange for SPLA partners (hosters) comes in five flavors: Exchange Basic, Standard, Standard Plus, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus. Each comes with different functionality as well as price. From experience, 90% of what is being reported is the Exchange Standard SKU. The breakdown of each SKU is as follows:

Exchange Basic – Think of OWA/POP Mail only
Exchange Standard – Features of Exchange Basic as well as shared calendaring and mobile device synchronization
Exchange Standard Plus – Features of Exchange Standard plus the full Outlook client
Exchange Enterprise – Includes all the features of Exchange Standard as well as unified messaging and anti virus/spam features
Exchange Enterprise Plus – All the features listed above plus the full Outlook client

The list above is just an overview, for a full feature list check out the SPUR (user section). The way you license Exchange is by user. Every user that HAS access to the software will need a license; not who does access. Think of your cable company, they will charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not. User licenses works the same way.

In my opinion, the key to a successful Exchange launch is to offer a multi-tenant (shared) environment. If you license Windows by processor (Exchange runs on a Windows OS) and Exchange by user, the more users you have on that particular server the less expensive it is for the user. Eventually all you are charging is the cost of the Exchange license. That’s how large service providers are able to seemingly charge less. They have thousands of users accessing a limited number of servers in a shared environment.

If a customer wants a dedicated environment (one server hosting one client) the end customer can bring their licenses to you and you host it for them, or provide the licenses via SPLA, but the cost per user is going to be higher (unless it’s a large enterprise).

Once you offer Exchange, it makes it easier to offer other collaboration applications as well; such as SharePoint, CRM, and Lync. Who knows, you might become the next Amazon or Rackspace.

Thanks for reading!

SPLA Man

 
14 Comments

Posted by on May 4, 2013 in Exchange

 

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What CAN I do with my SPLA Licenses?

When it comes to licensing, most of the time we discuss what you cannot do with the licenses.  Today I thought I would touch on what you CAN do with Microsoft licenses as it pertains to the SPLA program.   I came up with a list of ideas that you can take advantage of being a Microsoft hosting partner.

  • Use SPLA licenses internally.  There is a 50% rule with SPLA that states you can use 50% of what you are hosting for your internal employees.  Let’s say you are hosting 10 Exchange licenses externally, the terms of the agreement states you can use up to 5 licenses internally.  These licenses are not free, you would still need to report those 5 licenses on your monthly report (report a total of 15 licenses to your reseller).  One way of reducing your volume licensing count.
  • 60 Day Evaluation – This allows a service provider to host an application as a trial for up to 60 days per customer!  Trick is you cannot receive a fee during this period.
  • Customer Owned Licenses – Customers can bring their own licenses into your data center and you can host the software for them.  The issue: you must host it in a physical dedicated environment (nothing shared amongst other customers).
  • Install Servers on Customers Premise – As long as you own the hardware, you can locate the server at your customers location.
  • Receive the latest version. As new technology is released, you will have access. (check SPUR for availability)
  • Partner with another service providers to host the software.  This is especially important for customers looking to deploy a Dynamics solution but are not Dynamics authorized.

It’s refreshing to write about what you can do. Microsoft is not always the bad guy!

Thanks for reading!

SPLA Man

 
7 Comments

Posted by on April 4, 2013 in Compliance

 

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Windows Virtualization for SPLA Partners

If you were to ask me “What’s the number one question I receive day in and day out in managing the SPLA program?” Without hesitation my answer would be “Windows virtualization.” Windows is not overwhelming complex, but it is the most reported/licensed SKU in the program. All Microsoft software runs on a Windows operating system and is required to be licensed!

With the release of Windows 2012, there are only two SKUs that allow virtualization; Windows Datacenter and the ever so popular Windows Standard. With Windows, you must license each physical processor (not core) on the host machine that will allow “x” number of virtual instances. For example,if you have a (2)processor box with (1) virtual instance licensing Windows Standard; how many processors do you need to report? The answer is (2). Another example, let’s say you are running the same server (2 processors) with (2) VMs. How many do you need to report? The answer is (4). The SPUR (Service Provider Use Rights) for Windows Standard edition states you must license each physical processor that allows (1) virtual instance. If you run a second instance, you must license each processor on the host machine again. This can add up pretty quickly!

What happens if you are licensing Windows Datacenter on a (2) processor box with (4) virtual instances? You would only need to report (2). Windows Datacenter allows unlimited virtual instances. You must license each physical processor on the host machine (regardless which virtual technology you are running. i.e. VM Ware or Hyper V) that will allow you to run unlimited virtual instances. This by far is the less complicated way to go and in a lot of ways, the most cost effective. Most service providers are virtualizing to lower hardware costs, this is one way of reducing your overall licensing spend as well.

Hope this helps and thank you for reading!

SPLA Man

 
15 Comments

Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Windows Virtualization

 

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