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Don’t be Jimbo

Jimbo had a small IT firm for which he provided backup, security, and hosting for two clients.  He also purchased Office 365 licenses for a handful of users directly from the Microsoft Office 365 website and would bill them accordingly.  Jimbo also had an application he tried to develop to help end users better communicate with one another. It was similar to SharePoint, but more seamless and had better integration with third-party applications.  He had a SPLA, and had one person who submitted their usage report to their reseller.  Unfortunately, that person got sick and passed away.  Jimbo was sad and so was the rest of the staff.

To put his mind at ease, he spent every waking hour improving his application.  He thought it was going to be the next best thing.  I experienced the application firsthand myself, and found it to be a powerful tool.  I even asked to invest in it, but without any money, (Mrs. SPLA Man spent it all at Target), I had nothing to invest with.

Fast forward a year later.  Jimbo is still working on improving the application, and he's still hosting.  One day, Jimbo received an email from Microsoft.  It was titled “Self-Audit”, Jimbo was getting audited.  One thing left unmentioned, Jimbo is the nicest guy on the planet. He replied to Microsoft and in the end, provided them with everything.  All his server information, customer name, and reporting history.  It was an auditor’s dream.

Several weeks later, Microsoft provided Jimbo with the findings.  He owed $450,000 in unreported licensing fees.  Why so high?  No usage was being reported since the lady who reported SPLA passed away.  When she was reporting, she reported the wrong thing.  Instead of licensing Windows Datacenter, she reported Standard.  Instead of reporting physical processors and/or cores, she reported per VM.  Everything was a mess.  Jimbo, who neglected his hosting practice for months to focus on his application, was left feeling very uncertain about his future.  He did not have the funds to pay for licenses.

It’s unfortunate, but Jimbo had to shut down his hosting business.  The application he built?  Stopped.  He tried to sell it, and last I heard very few were interested.

Why such a depressing story and was it true?  Yes, the story is true (although slightly embellished).  Why share it?  I am telling you the story because there are too many organizations doing the same thing.  They have one person who manages the licenses, one person who was in contact with the reseller, and one person who knew what they were reporting.  What happens if that person leaves?  Too many organizations are also buying Office 365, but not getting the best discount.

Licensing is challenging, and in the case of Jimbo, his love wasn’t reporting usage, it was developing an application.  He should have had allocated resources to help manage his SPLA, so he could focus on what he knows best, the technology.

I am always asked why I created splalicensing.com and what's so different about SPLA Man than other blogs.  I think the main difference is honesty.  I am your licensing Siri or Alexa.  I am SPLAlexa. (that was bad).  Don’t be Jimbo.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man/SPLAlexa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 24, 2017 in Compliance

 

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Breaking down Microsoft’s Q4 and what it means for your business.

Microsoft reported earnings last night that surpassed expectations and gave us insight into their cloud business. I am not a stock analysts, but I thought I would spend some time reviewing some of the highlights and my opinion for what’s next for the software (I mean cloud, actually, no -I meant Intelligent Cloud) giant.

Azure – Microsoft did not provide specific revenue numbers for Azure, but did say revenue grew 97% y/y.  Although exact numbers for Azure revenue is not specified, Azure is part of the all-important commercial space, which includes Dynamics 365, Azure, and a little program called Office 365.  That revenue number combined was over 18B which more than doubled last year’s number.

Office/Dynamics and Competition – Office 365 subscription business just surpassed the traditional Office model with revenue up 43%.  When was the last time you went to a box retailer and purchased software?  That’s a telling sign that more and more organizations prefer subscription pricing over box products.   Dynamics 365 was up 74%, probably because Dynamics in SPLA is about as complex as it can possibly get.  Need help with a Dynamics licensing question?  Ask your reseller.  The reseller will ask Microsoft – and then it goes into a big, dark, black hole until someone loses their mind.  Nothing happens.  Microsoft also revamped Dynamics in SPLA to make it very difficult to compete.  The same can be said for Office.  Where I see concern for Microsoft is with Google, who is just getting their foot in the door in the enterprise space.  If they make traction (and they will) it will be interesting to see the two giants go at it.  Google’s cloud platform is growing exponentially as well.

Surface Sales – I guess you can say is one of the low points of the conference call.  Surface revenue dropped 2%.  Xbox sales also dropped and became less profitable with price drops and competition.  That’s the bad news – the good news?  Maybe with the new CSP Windows 10 thing Microsoft will include Surface as part of the program.  Rental PC in SPLA is yesterday’s news.  Customer’s want the latest and greatest but don’t have the resources to upgrade the hardware.  Adding Surface to the subscription model makes sense.  Although the new CSP Qualified Multitenant Hosting addendum is great, not everyone wants VDI.  Give end customers, partners, and your Surface sales a boost by adding it to subscription services.   I think making Surface part of CSP would make sense.  What do I know?

LinkedIN – Only Microsoft can spend over 26B for an acquisition and investors are still wondering what it is they bought; and more importantly, not hurt their quarterly earnings.  Yeah, they can tie it in for Dynamics and Yammer/Teams with all those users.   They also have a pretty impressive data list of users to sell additional collaboration products and services to.  I guess the jury is still out on this.

Opinion – Microsoft recently announced a major change in their sales organization. Their sales teams that were focused on the enterprise need to focus more on solution type selling.  A lot of organizations in the industry are going through the same transformation.  It’s also not an easy thing to do.  Time will tell.

I wrote an entire article without mentioning Amazon, they report earnings next week.  It will be interesting to see how they compare to Microsoft and how much they grew year of year in comparison.  Lots of analysis say Microsoft will surpass AWS as the king of the cloud.  I still think Google is lurking in the background and might surprise some people as well.

What does all this mean for SPLA?  In my humble opinion, I think Microsoft better be careful with the way they are handling their third-party hosters.  Those numbers they threw out yesterday were great, but they can get even better.

Microsoft built a program for partners who have their own datacenters, relationships, and sales resources to promote Microsoft products and technology.   There are close to 30,000 SPLA partners (rough estimate) that have datacenters spread throughout the globe.  Nobody, can have the reach like your SPLA partners.  Google and Amazon do not have 30,000 datacenters, why disrupt it?  Don’t audit them, partner with them and help grow this business to build a true hybrid cloud ecosystem.  The strategy should be their cloud – our cloud, and customers will thank you.  Teaming with Walmart makes sense too.  Say what!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 21, 2017 in In My Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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Top 5 CSP Questions….Answered!

  1. Is the SCA addendum removed now that Microsoft announced the Qualified Multitenant Hoster addendum?  Yes.  SCA has been removed and replaced with the QMH addendum.
  2. If I have a CSP Indirect/Tier 1 authorization, can I resell Azure Stack but license Windows Server through SPLA?  Yes.  You will pay the base consumption rate because you A) Purchased the hardware through an authorized dealer and 2) paid for the Windows license through SPLA.
  3. If I am not authorized for CSP, can I still sell Office 365 to my end users?  Not in the general sense.  What you can do is resell CSP through a distributor or authorized CSP Indirect/Tier 2 partner. You can also partner with a CSP Direct partner to offer the solution.  They would resell the actual license but you can provide services on top of it.
  4. I am a SPLA partner who wants to resell Office to my end users.  What are my options?  You can sell Office through SPLA and include RDS and Windows.  You can become CSP Direct authorized and use the QMH addendum mentioned above.  You can also use end customer owned Office licenses and host it in a dedicated environment.
  5. Will Microsoft offer QMH for Indirect partners as well?  Not at this time.  You must be CSP Direct to qualify, not Indirect.

Lots more on this.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 17, 2017 in Office 365

 

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How to Report SPLA Usage to be Compliant

The biggest benefit to SPLA is the month-month licensing rules.   The biggest downfall to SPLA (and CSP for that matter)  is its month-month licensing rules.  What’s a benefit to some is a nightmare for others.  In this article, we will review the tips and tricks to properly report Microsoft SPLA usage on a monthly basis and break it down using a fictitious scenario using my friend Joe Hosting.

Scenario  – The under licensing but also over paying SPLA reporter.

Joe’s Hosting  reports to his Reseller SharePoint Standard, Exchange Standard, Windows Standard, and SQL Standard every month.  They installed Exchange Enterprise and Windows Standard.    For simplicity, let’s say he has 8 VM’s on a host, and licenses SQL per instance on a VM, they also have 100 mailboxes he supports.

The Problem

Each month Joe had (key word) his employee Julie place their SPLA order each month to the Reseller.  One day, Joe accidentally backed his Porsche 911 into Julie’s car.  Furious, Joe yelled at Julie for parking near his precious Porsche and blamed her for the damage.  Julie got upset, and quit on the spot.

Julie was a dedicated employee.  Each month she would report to the Reseller almost the exact same thing (with minor fluctuations) – 100 Exchange Standard licenses, 16 Windows Standard processor licenses, 100 SharePoint Standard licenses, and 40 cores of SQL Standard.  Sometimes, she would change the counts based on customer’s coming and going but for the most part the report was stagnant.  The Reseller, happily placed the order without ever asking about their business.   Now that she left, what will Joe do?

Joe is a busy man.  He would never make time or the effort to learn how to submit SPLA usage or understand the licensing rules.   Once Julie left, his workload increased ten fold because not only did Julie report SPLA, but she was responsible for HR, scheduling, customer satisfaction, and making sure the annual company picnic went on without a glitch.  Joe was busy to say the least.  To make matters worse, Julie was the only person in the company to interact with their SPLA Reseller.

Several months went by and no usage was being submitted.  Sure the Reseller would send reminder emails to Julie, but there was no response.  Finally, Microsoft took notice, and started digging into Joe’s reporting.  Now Joe’s problems suddenly took a turn for the worse.

The Audit

It was a cold, rainy Monday, and Joe was really upset – not only did he have a ton of email to go through from the weekend, but his Porsche was getting wet.  He kept staring out his office window at his precious fire engine red baby; soaking wet, with streaks down the windshield.  The site made him sick,  he couldn’t bare to watch anymore.  He took to his email and noticed immediately – Microsoft Self-Audit Review in the subject line.  Joe opened it without hesitation.

The email thanked Joe for his partnership, but informed him that from time to time Microsoft will provide a self-audit compliance check to ensure accurate reporting.  From the email, Joe was to download the MAP toolkit (Check it out here) and provide the data back to Microsoft within 10 business days.  Joe surprisingly cancelled all his meetings that day and proceeded to download the tool.   Once the data was collected, he was to send the data to Microsoft and set up a call to review.  What happened next shocked even the Microsoft compliance guy.

Conference Call with Microsoft

Microsoft:  Good Morning Joe, after some analysis I have a few questions about the data you sent over.

Joe:  Absolutely Mr. Softy.  

Microsoft:  Umm…Say again?

Joe: C’mon man.  Mr. Softy…Microsoft???

Microsoft:  Whatever.  Let’s get to the data, ok?  In my analysis, I noticed you haven’t reported usage in 3 months.  Why?  Are you not providing commercial hosted services?  Your website indicates you are.  Just wondering why you haven’t reported?

Joe:  We had an employee leave the company who was responsible for reporting.  We did everything we can to retain her but she was simply out of control.  

Microsoft:  I don’t really care about why she left, but more concerned about why you didn’t report after she left. 

Joe: Sorry.  I don’t have an answer for that.  I was busy and forgot.

Microsoft:  I noticed you reported essentially the same thing every month which tells me you did not grow or shrink your business.  I did see on your website a press release that mentioned how excited you were to host email for Oil Tankers Inc, one of the largest Oil transportation services company’s in the US.  

Joe:  Yes. It was one of my finest sales calls.  

Microsoft:  I’m sure it was.  That being said, I noticed in the data you sent that over 5,000 users have access to Exchange Server but you were only reporting 100.  Why?

Joe:  I wish I knew.  That darn admin had no idea what she was doing.  I am sorry.  

Microsoft:  Apology accepted.  Now, back to Exchange.  You have 5,000 active users but you only report 100.  There is a license gap of 4,900 licenses.  It looks like they were active six months ago.  That total comes to roughly $50,000 in underreporting.

Joe:  Chuckles.  Yes, but I just sold them the licenses last month.  So really, I only have 1 month of underreporting.  Besides, Exchange is licensed per mailbox. 

Microsoft:  Try again. I just said they were active six months ago.  In addition, I find it hard to believe you just sold the licenses last month when your very own press release matches this date as well.  Last, Exchange is licensed per user, not per mailbox.  Even if it was, the mailbox number and actual users are almost the same.  

Joe:  Ok.  Well sorry.  I will correct it moving forward.

Microsoft:  (Ignores Joes’ comment).  Let’s move on to Windows Server.  You have an ESX host with two processors each.  You are running 8 VM’s on that host.  You are actually over reporting here sir.  Why are you not reporting Datacenter?

Joe:  Because Standard is installed. 

Microsoft:  Actually, you can report the higher edition.  What you cannot do is install Datacenter and report Standard.  Datacenter allows unlimited virtualization.  You could of saved money here.

Joe:  Wow. I had no idea.  I can run Standard but report Datacenter?

Microsoft:  Sighs.  That is exactly what I just said.  Let’s move on to SQL.  You are reporting 40 cores but only have one VM of SQL Server running.  Why so many cores?

Joe:  Because we have over 10 instances running on that VM.  We report 4 cores per instance running on that VM.  

Microsoft:  Yes, but you can run unlimited instances on a VM.  You should really be reporting 4 cores, not 40.

Joe: What!  I am looking at a BIG pay day from Microsoft.

Microsoft:  (Again, ignores the comment).  Let’s move on to SharePoint.  SharePoint, it looks like you have Enterprise installed.  From the data you sent over, it also looks like you provide only Standard features to your clients.  Is that accurate?

Joe:  Yep. Only Standard.

Microsoft:  I can’t believe it.  You are actually reporting SharePoint correct.  Did you know SharePoint and Exchange is licensed by the features accessed not what is actually installed?  

Joe:  No I did not.  The darn admin should’ve told me that.  When can I expect my check from Microsoft for the over reporting of SQL and Windows?

Microsoft:  Well.  Let me think about that.  Never.  

Joe:  Fine!

Conclusion

Throughout my twelve years of managing SPLA, I have had similar conversations and heard scenarios similar to the fictitious story mentioned.  In a lot of compliance situations, a SPLA customer has one person who reports usage.  If that person leaves the company without telling anybody how to report usage or what data is used to collect it, the organization can quickly get of compliance.

In reading the above, you might think that ole Joe came out ahead.  Yes, he did not report accurately or in the most cost effective manner, but he did come out of the audit unscathed.  I would argue that he wasted more money, should have invested in the right resources, and ultimately could have saved his customers money by licensing in the right  manner.  I highlighted below some of the ways Joe could’ve licensed to reduce his exposure and reduce his monthly spend.

  1. Report Windows Datacenter.  If you have more than 7 VM’s on a host, it is more economical to license Datacenter than Standard.
  2. Report the Productivity Suite which bundles Exchange Standard and SharePoint Standard.
  3. SQL Instances – you can run unlimited instances on a VM as long as the VM is properly licensed.
  4. Report USERS not mailboxes when it comes to Exchange
  5. Remember with Exchange and SharePoint, you report the features they have access to not what is technically installed.  Most hosters install Exchange Enterprise (Standard only supports a small number of mailboxes) but report Standard because users only have access to the Standard features.
  6. Reporting usage and stopping will get flagged for compliance.
  7. Stagnant reporting will get you flagged for compliance.
  8. Not reporting what you are advertising.  “I don’t host anymore” when your website says your are is difficult fact to overcome.
  9. Self-audits are exactly what it means “Self”  and “Audit”  The vendor is dependent on the data you provide them.
  10. If you report usage, build a team to make sure it gets reported correctly.  Most compliance gaps happen when an employee leaves the company.  Don’t be dependent on one employee.  If you are dependent on one employee, treat them right!  Poor Julie!
  11. Report on time.  The SPLA agreement says you must report by the 10th for the previous months usage.

Have a question?  Contact info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2017 in Compliance

 

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Epic Community Connect for Healthcare Organizations

In this article we will review how Epic Community Connect effects your Microsoft licensing position.  This is a follow up to my earlier post which can be found here

What’s the concern?

If you host/extend Epic (or any EMR software that you do not own) to outside clinics or other healthcare facilities SPLA must be licensed.

What’s an outside organization?

If your organization (who hosts Epic/EMR) does not have at least 51% ownership of the other entity, that would be considered an outside organization as it pertains to this solution.

I’m confused…big time.  Why would I license SPLA when I was told to license through my Enterprise Agreement?

The EA is for your own internal employees.  The Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) is for companies who host Microsoft software to third parties.

Wait.  I just went to your website and I am not an employee.  Are you saying you have a SPLA agreement?

No.  I don’t host an application or any server whatsoever.  I do pay a web company to host my website.  The web company is under a SPLA agreement if they use Windows Server.

What are my options now?  I already deployed Epic and I don’t have a SPLA.  

I would work with a SPLA Reseller who can walk you through the steps and how to be compliant.  You can email me at info@splalciensing.com if you have additional questions.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2017 in EMR Software, 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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The Cloud Insider Times – Hosted Email Edition

We read article after article, use rights after use rights, to provide you the best and accurate information.  The Cloud Insider News takes articles written by you and others to tell your story and help educate the community.  In this edition, we take a look at Hosted Email.  Have a hot topic? Email info@splalicensing.com

Intermedia.Net New Intermedia Email Protection platform delivers multi-layer security

Vaultastic– I am already using Office 365 on the cloud, do I still need a separate email archiving solution?

Wired – Google Just Made Email a Heckuva Lot Easier to Deal With

CRN.Com – RapidScale Acquires Vonage’s Hosted Infra Business For Expanded Desktop-As-A-Service Portfolio

1 &1  – Phishing & Spam – how to identify fake customer communication via e-mail

military-technologies.net – ISPs or MSPs providing email services based on MailEnable, Zimbra and cPanel can now also sell Email Archiving services based on Vaultastic

MSPMentor.Net/SherwebWhy Time is Running Out on Hosted Exchange

Zimbra.Org-  Pluggins that extend the collaboration suite

Microsoft – How the City of Golden simplifies email management with the cloud

gcn.com – Is on-premises being killed by the cloud? Not necessarily.

Forbes The 10 Email Commandments You’re Breaking Every Day

Abovethelaw.com Do This Before You Send An Angry, Emotional Email That You’ll Regret

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
 

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