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Tag Archives: Microsoft

Dynamics 365 Licensing for SPLA

Over the past several weeks, I’ve received several inquiries around Dynamics 365 what it means for CRM SPLA partners.  In this article, we will review the changes and when the changes will take effect.

Dynamics 365 for SPLA

In today’s SPLA licensing model, there are three products available –  CRM Essential, CRM Basic, and CRM Professional.  All come with different functionality and all come with different price points.  Those products will remain up until your agreement expires.  As with other products, once your agreement expires, you should report or license the new products.  In some cases, you are allowed to downgrade and run previous versions, but you must report the latest and greatest.  As an example, SQL 2016 is the latest edition of SQL, but that doesn’t mean you have to deploy SQL 2016; you can run 2012 or 2014 or God forbid 2008.  However, once you sign a new SPLA, you must follow the terms in the SPUR at the time of signing.  In this example, even though you deployed 2008, doesn’t mean you can license SQL 2008 by processor, you must still report it by core.  Dynamics CRM works the same way.   With Dynamics, the new products are Dynamics 365 Sales, Customer Service, and Team Members.  All come with bells and whistles and all come with higher pricing.  If you have an active SPLA prior to the announcement (November, 2016) you can continue to report the old products up until your agreement expires.  Once you sign a new agreement, you must report the higher priced products.

What are the options?

I’ve worked with a couple of Dynamics CRM hosters who had their agreement expire two months after Microsoft made this announcement.  In other words, Microsoft announced these changes in September (give or take – most widely known to resellers and partners in November) but their agreement expired in October.  The poor CRM providers are really in a pickle.  Microsoft dropped the bomb on them and two months later their pricing almost doubled!  What are they supposed to do?  Blame their reseller? Sure.  Everyone does.  Blame Microsoft?  Yes.  But that only gets you so far.  Cry?  Always.

Microsoft made some adjustments and offered “transition pricing”.  Transition pricing allows SPLA partners who have an active SPLA prior to November, 2016, the ability to report lower transition pricing up until their agreement expires.  The transition pricing is lower than new pricing but still doesn’t offer much of a discount.  When your agreement does expire, Microsoft will force you to license the under the new licensing and pricing model.

My Opinion

In my opinion, CRM provider are the old Exchange provider.   When Office 365/BPOS came about, small Exchange providers found it very difficult to compete.  It wasn’t just from a licensing perspective but also managing and deploying Exchange became too costly.  What happened?  Smaller Exchange providers are now CSP or out of business.  Dynamics CRM is now the old Exchange.  Microsoft is not going to lower SPLA pricing for Dynamics CRM.  It is not in their best interest to do so.  Harsh reality?  Yes.

Allow me to put on my Microsoft hat. What do you do?  There’s a couple of ways to think about it.  On one hand, Dynamics 365 isn’t all that bad.  I do think Microsoft rushed to market with the product.  I also think there are ways to up sell customers into the latest product.  There are opportunities to offer Dynamics CRM and deploy CRM and manage CRM.  For many organizations, CRM is the lifeblood of their sales.  CRM goes down, it’s bad for their business.  In speaking to a colleague, the LinkedIN acquisition makes Dynamics 365 an interesting proposition.  If you are able to seamlessly host Dynamics 365 on your platform and integrate their LinkedIN contacts as well, there could be a compelling reason to transition to the latest and greatest.

Ok, now my Microsoft hat is off.  I think Microsoft should be more patient and lengthen the transition pricing to make it more compelling for CRM hosters and to their customers.  I think service providers are the bread and butter to Microsoft hosted offerings.  SPLA is the one program that differentiates Microsoft v. Amazon v. Google.  Thirty thousand service providers worldwide who are willing to host Microsoft technology.  You don’t want to abruptly interrupt their business.  After all, no matter if they get Dynamics from a Microsoft datacenter or from a partner, Microsoft wins.  Amazon can’t say the same thing.

Would love to hear comments.  You can email me at info@splalicensing.com or leave a comment below.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 
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Posted by on May 9, 2017 in Dynamics 365

 

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Steps to take to limit SPLA audit exposure

It’s the fourth quarter at Microsoft, this means audits are in full swing.  One of the easiest ways to collect large upfront payments are through SPLA audits.  Knowing this, what steps can you take to limit your audit exposure?

  1. Inventory – Although you submit a SPLA usage report each month, licenses are missed inadvertently.  When collecting inventory of what you should and should not report, be sure to include customer owned licenses.  If ANY customers are bringing licenses into your datacenter, they must have software assurance if it’s a shared environment.  Secondly, make sure to take a hard look at SQL.  To no one’s surprise, SQL is very expensive.  If you miss license SQL, it can add up really quickly.
  2. Agreements – Which MBSA agreement did you sign?  Don’t know what a MBSA agreement is?  Please ask your reseller for a copy.  Every SPLA customer has a signed Master Agreement.  This is the umbrella that ties all your Microsoft agreements together including SPLA.  There’s specific language in the agreement that goes over audits and the timeframe in which they are able to audit historically. Look closely at your agreements with your customer.  Did you mention they are responsible for licenses they bring into your datacenter?  Did you send them a license verification form for license mobility?  Do you have language that states they are responsible for anything under their Microsoft agreement but you are only responsible for yours?  Do you make the end user license terms (part of your signed SPLA) available to all customers?  Don’t know what an end user license terms agreement is?  Ask your reseller.
  3. Check AD closely.  Do you have administrative accounts that you are reporting?  What about test accounts?  Read your Microsoft SPLA agreement around testing, developing, and administrative access.
  4. Label server names appropriately – Label if a server is “passive” and label a server if it’s “development”.  This can save you time with the auditors.
  5. Check server install dates – If a server was active June, 2013 but nothing was reported on that server until June, 2015; Microsoft is going to ask A) what that server is doing and B) Why haven’t you reported it.  If it’s doing nothing, than shut it down before the audit.
  6. Check SAL licenses –  Do all users who potentially HAVE access are being reported?
  7. Check Office licenses – Do all users need access to Office Pro Plus?  Can they get away with Standard?  Did your engineers inadvertently publish Visio to every user when it only needs to go to a handful of end users?
  8. Double check server versions – Did your engineers accidentally install SQL Enterprise when it should be Standard?
  9. Are you taking advantage of all the use rights available?  As a SPLA, are you aware you can provide demonstrations to your customers at no charge?  Are you aware of the admin rights?  Are you aware you can run 50% of what you are hosting externally – internally?  (must actually report it all under SPLA – they are not free).
  10. Virtualization rights – Are you reporting SQL Enterprise to run unlimited VM’s? Are you running Windows Datacenter?  Remember, you do not license the individual VMs for Windows Server.  (You count physical cores which allows 1 VM for Standard or unlimited for Datacenter).
  11. MSDN, VDI, and other restrictions – No, you cannot host VDI and MSDN in a shared environment.  If you are, dedicate the servers immediately.  If you are hosting from the same hardware you are running internally, this also must be separated.
  12. Hiring Experts – Are they really experts or just advertise as such?

Hope this helps.  Any questions email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Compliance

 

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Top 5 Questions…Answered

Where can I get my license keys for CRM?  My Microsoft contact can’t seem to find the answer and my reseller doesn’t know either.  Any ideas?

For CRM and D365 you can download them directly from the VLSC website.  All other Dynamics products need to go through the License Key Creator Tool.

If I am a CSP Tier 1/direct provider, can I sell CSP to another CSP Tier 1 provider? 

Yes. There are no limitations as to who you can sell to.  Good luck!

Is CSP replacing SPLA?

Not entirely.  I am not Microsoft but I can see the similarities.  In the end, they are both Microsoft programs, how they consume it doesn’t really matter.  The only drawback to SPLA (In Microsoft’s eyes) is the service provider has the option of offering other software outside of Microsoft.  Exchange as an example, could technically be replaced with Zimbra.  If they use Office 365, the customer is using Office 365.

I offer desktop as a service.  When can we expect VDI to be available in SPLA?

Never.

Will I get audited?

Yes.  Make sure to read the MBSA agreement that you signed.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Top 5 Licensing Questions

 

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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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Core Licensing for Windows and SQL

In today’s article, we will review Per Core licensing in SPLA for Windows and SQL Server.

What products are licensed by core?

Application – SQL Server 2016

Per Core (OS) – Windows Server Standard 2016;Windows Server Datacenter 2016; Core Infrastructure Datacenter 2016; and Core Infrastructure Standard 2016.

How is it licensed for SQL 2016?

Physical Core – Removed the core factor table with the release of SQL 2016.  The number of licenses required equals the number of physical cores on the Server with a minimum of 4 cores per physical processor.  For Enterprise, you can run unlimited number of instances on the physical or virtual OSE’s (In other words, unlimited virtualization rights with SQL Enterprise).   For other editions, you can run unlimited instances on the physical server (not virtual).

Individual OSE (individual VM’s)  4 cores per minimum virtual OSE.  (license the number of cores you assign to a VM with a 4 core minimum) You are allowed to run unlimited instances on the virtual OSE provided that each virtual OSE is properly licensed.

SQL is sold in packs of two cores.  Again, you cannot license 1 – 2 core pack of SQL.  You would be found out of compliant pretty easily since the licensing rules state you must report a minimum of 4 cores not 2.

How is per core license with Windows?

Licensing is very similar to the old model, just licensed by physical core instead of each physical processor (minor change).

The number of licenses required equals the number of physical cores on the host machine.  It does not matter if it’s ESX host or Hyper-V.  Unlike SQL, there is a 8 core minimum per physical processor.  As with previous editions, Datacenter will allow unlimited VM’s and Standard will allow 1.  If you have more than 7 VM’s on a host machine, Datacenter edition is more economical.  With Standard edition, you have to license each physical core but it will only allow 1 VM.  If you have a second VM on that host, you must license each physical core a second time (Stack licenses to get more VM’s).  Like SQL, it is priced/sold in packs of two cores.

Other items to remember with Windows 2016:

Containers 

Container is a technology, not a license definition.  It means an isolated place where an application can run without affecting the rest of the system.  It helps eliminate application delay and density.  Stuck watching an application icon spin for eternity because of volume?  Containers might be your answer.  There are two types of containers:

Windows Server Container – shares a kernel (not popcorn) with the container host and all containers running on the host.  It’s part of the operating system, which is why both Datacenter and Standard edition allow for unlimited Windows containers.

Hyper-V Containers –  are completely isolated virtual machines.  That’s why Datacenter is the only edition to allow unlimited Hyper-V-containers.  Each Hyper-V container has its own copy of the Windows kernel and have memory assigned directly to them.  In short, you can think of a Hyper-V container as a separate VM.

Nano Server Option –  This is not a separate license model, just a deployment option.  In volume licensing, it is a software assurance benefit.  In SPLA, it is included.

Other things to note

Hyper-Threading

This is also a technology, not a licensing term.  It splits the physical core into two separate threads of power.  When hyper-threading is turned on, it creates two hardware threads for each physical core.  From a licensing perspective, you must license one core for one thread.  Since hyper-threading is for virtual cores, no need to worry about it when licensing by the physical core option only.

Fail-Over- When an end customer uses a license mobility right (transfers a license over to a third party’s dedicated VM) they can also move their failover rights that come with software assurance.  They cannot use the datacenter provider as the failover only.  In other words, they cannot install SQL with software assurance on premise and extend the fail-over to a third-party datacenter.  The end customer would have to transfer via license mobility to the datacenter provider in order for failover rights to be applicable in an outsourcer scenario.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

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The Cloud Insider Times

We created The Cloud Insider Times as a way to provide valuable content to the splalicensing.com reader.  Each week our team will search the web for relevant information as it relates to SPLA and other cloud related technologies and solutions.  Have a question or hot topic or would like to be added to “The Cloud Insider Times” Contact me at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2017 in The Cloud Insider Times

 

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Epic Community Connect and SPLA

The healthcare community has increased concerns with the way they have deployed (and licensed) their electronic medical record (EMR) software such as Epic Community Connect and others.  As a reader of this blog, you know that when you deploy software for the benefit of a third party (non employee) SPLA must be part of the conversation.  The only exception to this rule is if you actually own the code to the software you are hosting.  In other words, if you developed the software, you can use your own volume licenses to host your software.  If you host a third party software (such as Epic) you must license this in SPLA.   In most cases, many healthcare companies do not own the application, but lease it from the EMR vendor.

Rewind a few years and let’s pretend you are a large hospital who partnered with Epic to provide best in class patient record management for your clients, doctors, and other clinics. Your Epic deployment resides on a Windows Server, SQL Server, and RDS.  As the IT director, you purchased several server licenses and hundreds of Client Access Licenses (CAL) to cover all the external users.  You think you are covered; no one mentions you need to license this via SPLA.  Your reseller didn’t tell you, Microsoft didn’t tell you, and for that matter the vendor didn’t tell you.  You think all is well based off the information you received.  Fast forward 3 years and your volume licensing agreement is up for renewal.  Someone on the licensing side informs you that you shouldn’t true-up licenses or renew your agreement under volume licensing, you need to license SPLA.  You think that’s fine, if you must license under a different program who are you to argue. But what about all those license you already purchased and own?  Unfortunately, you cannot return them, you must allocate those internally.  You think to yourself that’s fine, except for one minor detail…. you purchased hundreds of CALs and you do not have hundreds of employees; those license you own are essentially worthless.  On top of everything else, you just received an audit notification.

Why would they receive an audit notification?  Once a vendor recognizes you have been under-licensed, the vendor might want to dig in deeper to see how long you have been out of compliant and if you purchased enough licenses to cover all the users.  In 90% of all audits, the customer is under-licensed.  Now you own licenses you don’t need, but should’ve purchased more because you don’t own enough licenses to cover all external users initially.  The vendor will want you to pay the delta of what you should’ve paid under SPLA and what you purchased under volume licensing (plus an audit fee).

If you are a healthcare provider and have been notified by Microsoft or any other vendor, please contact us.  We have found that in many cases the licenses report is not always 100% accurate.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2016 in Compliance, EMR Software, Self Hosted

 

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