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SPLA Audit start to finish

Your business is doing great, your sellers and customers are happy, you are making money instead of spending money, when out of the blue….BAM…you receive an audit letter.  Sound familiar?

So what do you do?  Your first reaction is panic.  Your second reaction is to call a lawyer.  Your third reaction is to blame your reseller.  I think that about sums it up.  If you disagree, I’m not 100% sure you are being truthful with yourself.  If you do agree, I also think you are making a HUGE mistake.  Sounds a little odd doesn’t it?

First thing you need to understand is it’s not your fault.  It’s not as if you are purposely trying to be out of compliant.  Microsoft knows this as well.  SPLA is a difficult program and very hard to understand. As I pointed out in the “About” section of this blog, there is little information written about the SPLA program leaving service providers vulnerable.  The SPUR?  Forget about it. That’s why I created this blog in the first place.

I think that is why SPLA customers call a lawyer to help guide them.  This may help you sleep at night, but is it REALLY helping?  I will let you determine that after the dust settles.

What does happen during an audit? I don’t care if this is the first step or fourth step but at some point you will have to collect data.  Data that PROVES the reason you reported the way you did.  One of the biggest mistakes a SPLA provider can make is not reporting indirect access.  Again, not your fault.  Who has any idea of what “indirect” really means?  Think of indirect as Microsoft software that is used to run your other applications that you market to your customers.  You have an application that you developed that reports back to SQL using Excel.  Users have no idea they are using SQL, all they know is the application they use.  But since SQL is part of your hosted solution…it must be reported.  Make sense?  That’s also why Windows will always need to be reported.  Try running Exchange without a Windows OS.  Not going to happen.

Data can also mean the licenses that your customers own that they bring over to your environment.  How do you know who owns what?  Are there enough CAL’s?  One of the arguments service providers make is they can go after their customers if being audited.  There’s an easy conversation right?  Remember, you want to keep customers not lose them.

Some service providers have learned that their end customers install software on VM’s without informing them.  How do you know what is actually being installed?  So take a look at your datacenter; are your customers installing software you don’t know about?  Collecting this information after the fact is a difficult process.  This leaves auditors with no choice but to make a best guess.  Best guesses can cost you significantly.

So after all this data is analyzed by the audit team, it is then delivered to Microsoft.  That’s when you present your case.  They will take things into consideration, but understand that if you are missing information, it makes your argument that much more difficult.  Don’t blame your reseller, that doesn’t work.  Don’t rely on a lawyer, that doesn’t always work either.  Educate yourself.  That’s the best advice I can provide.  Just by taking the time to read this I think you are on the right path.

Happy to walk you through the process in greater detail.  I am one of the few that actually gets it. My email is at the top righthand side of this page.

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 

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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Compliance

 

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More SQL 2012 Questions…..ANSWERED

Q. “When am I supposed to report SQL core licenses?”

A. When you sign a new SPLA or you deploy SQL 2012 you will be forced to license by cores

Q. “If we leverage SQL Server Enterprise, are we able to launch multiple VM instances of database across the enterprise?”

A. SQL 2012 Enterprise allows unlimited virtual instances.  In order to this with the 2008 version you would of had to license Datacenter edition.  (way expensive btw).  SQL 2012 does allow license mobility within server farms as well.  Check out the SPUR for details.

Q. “Does SQL 2012 Enterprise edition allow for downgrade rights?  In other words, can I have 2008 SQL servers and 2012 SQL servers running virtualized on the same host?”

A. Yes, as long as you are reporting SQL 2012 cores, you can run 2008 and prior.  Keep in mind, it has to match version.  For example, if you license Standard, you cannot run Enterprise.  If you license Enterprise, you can run Enterprise or Standard. 

Q. Can I just license the virtual, not the physical machine?

Yes. SQL does allow you to license just the virtual machines.  You would report the number of cores you assign to the server. (minimum of 4 cores). 

Q.  Can I license SQL Enterprise by user?

A.  No. Unfortunately SQL Enterprise can only be licensed by core.  SQL Standard and SQL Business Intelligence SKU can be licensed by user.

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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

 

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