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How service providers can use Azure Stack in their datacenter environment

Azure stack is what Microsoft describes as an “extension of Microsoft Azure…”  to on premise (or partner hosted) datacenter environments.  In this article, we will review what it takes to deploy Azure Stack and best practices for partner hosted scenarios.

How a Service Provider Acquires Azure Stack

Azure Stack is available through the Cloud Solution Program (CSP) for service providers. Just like any other CSP relationship, the service provider will ultimately own the billing, the support (if Direct/Tier 1) or through your authorized distributor who will manage the support (Indirect/Tier 2).  Usage can be purchased through CSP or through the Azure hosting exception leveraging your existing Enterprise Agreement.  One thing to note is the actual Windows license.  In my humble opinion Windows Server in SPLA is less expensive and has the flexibility of month/month licensing.  Let’s use a couple examples to illustrate this further:

Scenario 1:  Bill sells Jennifer Azure Stack services through CSP.  Bill is Direct authorized and has a SPLA agreement in place.

  • Bill will purchase Azure Stack from an authorized hardware vendor.
  • Bill licenses Windows Server via his own SPLA agreement.
  • Jennifer will pay Bill for her consumption through CSP at a lower rate because Bill is already providing the Windows Licenses.
  • Bill is responsible for all the support and billing because he is CSP Direct authorized.

Scenario 2 – Bill sells Jennifer Azure Stack services through CSP.  Jennifer decides to transfer her Windows Server licenses through her own Enterprise Agreement.  

  • Bill will purchase Azure Stack from an authorized hardware vendor.
  • Bill would have to completely isolate the hardware for Jennifer if she wants to transfer her existing licenses to Bill’s datacenter environment.  As with other hosting scenarios, Windows is not license mobility eligible and therefore the Windows licenses must be deployed in a 100% dedicated cloud environment.
  • Bill will sell the consumption via his CSP Direct agreement.  Since she is using Windows licenses that were already purchased, he will only pay the base consumption rate.
  • Bill will provide the support since he is providing this as a service to Jennifer as part of the CSP program.

Scenario 3 – Bill deployed Azure Stack in his datacenter.  He’s running Jennifer’s SQL Server she purchased with SA from her Open agreement.  She will also pay Bill for the Azure Stack consumption through Bill’s indirect CSP agreement.

  • Bill will purchase Azure Stack from an authorized hardware vendor.
  • Bill will have an agreement with his authorized Indirect distributor to resell Azure Stack through CSP.  (Bill is not Direct authorized, he must use a distributor to enable him to resell CSP to his end customers.  The distributor will provide all the support and billing platform).
  • Jennifer will transfer her SQL Server licenses and CAL’s she purchased with Software Assurance over to Bill’s shared cloud environment through license mobility.

Conclusion

These are all hypothetical scenarios used to illustrate the different licensing options available to SPLA partners.  As you can see, the licensing can be complex as you are crossing multiple licensing programs – CSP, Enterprise Agreement, and SPLA.  I am always interested in different scenarios.  Have one?  Email me at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Azure, Uncategorized

 

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CAL’s, SAL’s and Multiplexing. 101 Licensing for on premise and cloud environments

 

In this article, we will take a closer look at CAL’s and SAL’s…what they are and how to license them.  We will also look at the User Subscription License (USL) for Microsoft Online Services.

Client Access License 

A Client Access License (CAL) provides the right to access a server.  Depending on the environment and product licensed, a CAL can either be a user or a device.   Many resellers, consultants, and even Microsoft, make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be.  The biggest trick to CAL licensing is remembering it is just a “right” not a technical requirement to access the server.  In other words, you can spin up a server, users can access it (in most cases with or without a CAL) and away they go.  Sounds great, but it’s not compliant, and I would argue that is the #1 reason customer’s fall victim to compliance.

SQL is a great example of this.  When I go to my SharePoint site, I pull reports, store information, share information, and perform many other tasks.  What I don’t know is SQL is used in the background to provide access to this information.  Did I log into a SQL Server?  No.  Did I “use” SQL?  Yes.  This is where multiplexing come into play. Multiplexing uses hardware and/or software to pool connections.  The best way to know if a user needs a license (and I’ve said this before) is to ask yourself “If I remove this from my hosted solution would it still work the same as it did prior?” If you answer “no” you need a license.  If your SQL Server is licensed in the Server/CAL model, you’re required to have CALs for any User or Device that accesses that application directly or indirectly. Very few users in an organization have credentials to a SQL Server.  One way to eliminate some of the risk with SQL is to license by core.  Cores allow unlimited number of users to access the server.  If they use the server or not, they are covered.

SAL Licensing

Under SPLA there is a Subscriber Access License (SAL).  SAL’s are licensed by user only (there are very few exceptions such as desktop applications and System Center).  Like a client access license, a SAL license is not concurrent.  This is important, since other vendors are based on concurrent licensing.  SAL is like your cable bill, your provider is going to charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not, SAL licensing works the same way.  I’ve written about this before but it’s worth repeating – SAL is for any person that HAS access not who does access.  Unlike CAL’s, there is no need to purchase a server license in SPLA.

Online Services

To add a bit more complexity, let’s review Microsoft Online Services.  If you license Exchange Online or an Office 365 Suite, you will purchase a User Subscription License (USL).  A USL provides a user access to the online solution.  Unlike a CAL and like a SAL (that’s a mouthful) you do not need a server license to access the solution if it’s online.  If you want to run anything on premise or in another third-party datacenter, you would require a server license.  In other words, if you have SharePoint Online, the USL license will provide on-premises rights (essentially CALs) in addition to their online rights. This allows for the ability to migrate over time and have hybrid environments without incurring additional cost.  Keep in mind, when you run hybrid, you do require a server license on premise.

Additionally, if you to purchase an online suite (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype) you can run pieces of the suite on premise. For example, maybe you want to keep SharePoint on-premises but move Exchange to the cloud. An Office 365 Suite includes both online and on-premises rights for each product in the suite, which means you don’t have to pay for the E Suite and then buy Exchange CALs separately.   Just remember the server license!

Summary

It is very important to understand the licensing rules before purchasing any software.  There has and always will be a difference in the way in which technology can be deployed and the way it must be licensed.  Don’t waste money, time, and effort planning a cloud solution without considering the license impact.  I was on a call recently where a customer wanted to leverage their Windows Server with Software Assurance in a shared public cloud.  Unfortunately, Windows is not license mobility eligible.  They worked with a consultant or “expert” who told them one thing, but the rules state otherwise.  Yes, maybe they can take advantage of Windows HUB, but Azure unfortunately was not the right fit.  Pay attention to the license rules, it can save you.  Question?  Email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Office 365, SPLA General

 

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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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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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