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Tag Archives: SAL for SA

SPLA Pricing Going Up? Not on my watch

I hate when other partners promote a SPLA price increase to gain business.  Yeah, no one can control what the publisher will ultimately do and pricing is never consistent (just look at your local gas pump) but that doesn’t mean you cannot leverage use rights and other factors to lower your SPLA bill.  In this article, we will look at how SPLA partners can lower their bill regardless what Microsoft may or may not do in the future.  Here are a quick (some easy, some not so easy) ways to accomplish this.

  1. SQL Server:  How confident are you that you are licensing the most expensive product in SPLA correctly?  Let me provide an example, reporting SQL Web because of price is not a sound strategy.  Auditors look at licensing historically, when you license incorrectly for a product like SQL Web and it should’ve been Standard, you will pay an astronomically higher price in the long run.  Pay attention to your given use rights to uncover cost savings, such as SQL Enterprise for unlimited virtualization, Standard SAL licenses for multiple VM’s and Servers, etc.
  2. Administration Access:  Why report administrators?  As part of your signed SPLA agreement, you are allowed 20 admins per datacenter without the need for SPLA.  Doing a demo for your customer?  Don’t report it.  Pay attention to the use rights in your SPLA agreement, not just the SPUR.
  3. SPLA Internal Use:  If you have more external users than internal users, perhaps you should use SPLA to cover both.  As an example, if you host Exchange for 10 users, you can use up to 5 internally.  Those licenses are not free, you would report a total of 15 on your SPLA moving forward.  This entitlement is called the 50% rule which states that you cannot license more than 50% of what you are hosting, internally.  I like this because it eliminates two things: 1) if a user leaves your company, you simply do not license the user the next month.  In Volume Licensing, you own the licenses which would force you to either reassign the license to another user internally or it goes unused.  2).  You would not be required to have separate hardware for this solution.  In traditional SPLA, you must have separate hardware from what you are hosting.  If using SPLA for internal consumption, it can be on the same hardware since it follows the same use rights.
  4. Leveraging Skype for Business through Office 365:  Yeah, in many cases O365 is the big bad wolf; in other cases, it’s your best friend.  If you want to host Skype, you can sell your customers who purchased Skype O365 licenses, host it from your datacenter environment, and leverage the SAL for SA SKU.  Skype USL (Office 365 licenses) is the only product that qualifies for SAL for SA in SPLA.  If your customer purchased Skype USL licenses and are unhappy with migrating it to Microsoft datacenter, you can tell the customer that you can host it for them for little cost.  It’s much cheaper than licensing/reporting the regular Skype for Business SAL.  On the flip side, let’s say your customer purchased Exchange Online USL license, they would just need to purchase the Exchange Server with Software Assurance to leverage license mobility.   Exchange Online does not qualify for SAL for SA.
  5. Private Cloud: When the public cloud is taking up all the headlines, maybe it’s time to differentiate and create a new headline.  No one gets ahead by doing the same thing others are doing.   If Azure offers public cloud, maybe you should start offering private cloud.  In this example, private cloud is fully dedicated, isolated hardware for each individual customer.  Here are three ways this could be beneficial:
    1. Dedicated hardware does not require Software Assurance.  Your customer owns SQL 2000 or still stuck on Windows 2003?  No problem, move it to your cloud.  Try doing the same in Azure or other fully public clouds, they would need SA for those licenses.
    2. Unlimited Virtualization.  Windows does not have mobility rights, but if you were to offer dedicated servers, an end customer can transfer their Windows licenses without issue.  More importantly, if they purchased Windows Datacenter because of virtualization (which they did), they can still have unlimited virtualization rights as if they were running it on premise (still dependent upon the size of the server).  Do the same in Azure HUB, and it doesn’t quite add up.
    3. No SPLA licenses, no VDI restrictions, no CSP requirement and ease of security concerns. Kind of speaks for itself.

I understand that in many situations transitioning to a private cloud is easier said than done, but it does have tremendous licensing advantages over public clouds.  Worried about SPLA price increases or CSP?  Private cloud might be your answer.

As always, have a question on SPLA pricing, licensing, or anything else that comes to mind, email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

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Posted by on October 5, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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Why you need a plan B, C, D, and E.

The title seems obvious, if you are an entrepreneur, you should always be thinking about what’s next.  I read/follow Richard Branson, who wrote an article recently on focusing on the future, check it out here.  It’s all about looking forward to what’s next and dreaming big.  Very few organizations are as diversified as Virgin.  In a way, it might be too diversified, but the point is he does not settle for the status quo, if he doesn’t like it, he changes it.  Think of all the different industries under his portfolio: Entertainment, health, financial, technology, travel, and many more.  The company started out in the music industry!

What does this have to do with SPLA licensing?  Over the past week alone, how many different programs and licensing nuances did I write about? (too many to count). Those changes only had to do with Microsoft!  Think of all the other changes going on in the industry including security, data and backup, and development.   If you do not have a plan in place or to adapt change, you might be left in the dust.

In SPLA, way too many organizations report the exact same thing each month.  They even report the same quantities!  They have a few loyal customers in which their hosting business depends on.  My question to them –  What happens if the loyal customer is not so loyal?   If you are hosting, you have everyone and their brother trying to convince your customer to move to their cloud.  If you are a managed service provider, forget about it.  Not only are hosters your competition, everyone in the industry is your competition.  What are you going to do to stand out?

This blog is about licensing, and I like to think there are ways to be creative with your SPLA usage to diversify your business.  Don’t just report the same thing each month and not give it a second thought.  There are always ways to reduce or optimize what you license.  In a way, licensing can help expand your offering.  SAL for SA, as an example, can help build your DR business and lower your SPLA costs.  Check out my article here  Windows Datacenter, allows unlimited VM’s which can help build your IaaS platform.  Azure Stack, can help bring an Azure type offering from your own datacenter.   Qualified Hosting Addendum, will allow you to offer VDI from a shared environment.  My point being, don’t just settle for the same old usage report each month.  Licensing is a big headache even for a guy who spends his free time writing about it, but that doesn’t mean you cannot learn to leverage licensing to your own advantage.  If you understand the licensing, you can start to look at ways to really get creative and expand your offering.   I’ll go back to SAL for SA.  If you did not know about SAL for SA, you would be telling your customers that they cannot leverage their investment in software assurance from both your datacenter and theirs.  You would probably tell them about license mobility which transfers a license over to your datacenter.  That’s a big miss in my opinion.

Learn the licensing, diversify your business, and I promise your loyal customer will remain loyal.

Thanks for reading,

 

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2017 in In My Opinion

 

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Disaster Recovery Rights and License Mobility

 April 2015 PUR

Fail-over server rights do not apply in the case of software moved to shared third party servers under License Mobility through Software Assurance.

Example

Let’s say an end customer purchased a license with software assurance that qualifies for license mobility.  Since SA allows failover rights, most service providers (if not all) are under the impression they would get the same benefit in their datacenter as they would on premise.  In this example, the end customer transfers a SQL license over to the hoster, the hoster spins up a secondary SQL fail-over server.  Given the statement above from the PUR, If they are enabling SQL fail-over they would need a second license under SPLA.

 Why is this important?

For starters, compliance.  If that secondary server is not properly licensed or your under the assumption that if it exists on premise it must also exist in the cloud you are mistaken.

What about Cold DR?

Doesn’t exist anymore.

What about SQL Failover for SPLA specifically?

SQL SPLA licenses have fail-over rights.  Read the SPUR

What about other products for disaster recovery?

The SPUR has specific language around DR, how long the server can be active (non-production), when Windows would need to be reported, etc.

Any workarounds?

SAL for SA – I think this would fit well for DR.  Customer can still run the software on premise and spin up a second server in the cloud.

Normal SALs- 1 user SAL license can access multiple servers.  Could be another option if the customer is against license mobility.

In the words of a famous hoster “it’s not how you license…it’s how long can you get away with not licensing that really matters”  He was audited immediately following that statement.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2015 in Disaster Recovery

 

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Hybrid, Dedicated, and Shared Scenarios…

There are three deployment options for service providers – Hybrid (mix of on premise and cloud) Dedicated, and Shared.  In this article, we will break each one down to explain how they work and the options available.

Dedicated Scenario – (3 options available)

Option 1
Your customer decides to bring their own software (such as Exchange) and infrastructure (Windows) via their own volume licensing agreement. They do not have software assurance on the software. Can they do this?

Yes. Why? Everything is dedicated. Server, virtual machine all dedicated to one single organization. Software Assurance is NOT required.

Option 2
Your customer decides to bring the software but the hoster will provide the infrastructure in a dedicated environment. Again, customer does not need Software Assurance if it’s a dedicated environment. In this scenario, the hoster (you) will provide the Windows license via SPLA and not report the other applications the customer brings over since it is already covered via their own volume licensing agreement. This is applicable, it’s dedicated (VM and physical servers)

Option 3
Your customer is a healthcare company that needs a dedicated environment due to regulatory compliance. They do not own any software; they would need the hoster to supply the software licenses. Can they (the hoster) do this? Yes, the hoster would report everything under SPLA. The hoster (you) CANNOT use your own volume licensing agreement to provide the solution but you can certainly provide SPLA. Please be aware that if you own a volume licensing agreement, you cannot use the same hardware your volume licensing agreement resides as your hosted solution.

Also keep in mind that SPLA is non perpetual, when the customer leaves, they can no longer use the software they were accessing.

Summary of Dedicated –
Dedicated is applicable for both SPLA and end customer owned volume licensing. Dedicated also means dedicated hardware and dedicated VM’s. In dedicated environments, the end customer DOES NOT need software assurance. From a compliance perspective, it is defined as the following:

“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; since, a server or SAN device that runs Microsoft software may only be used by one customer.” (source: Microsoft VDA FAQ)

Hybrid Scenarios – 3 options available

Option 1
You decide to offer your customer a shared infrastructure but they want the same applications to run on premise. A good option would be to have the customer purchase the server applications (think Exchange, SharePoint, Lync) with software assurance (SA) and run them on premise. You (the service provider) would run the same applications in your shared environment BUT report the SAL for SA SKU. Much cheaper option than standard SPLA prices. I wrote about this here This also works well for Disaster Recovery options.

Option 2 (not really a hybrid but just go with it)
You can use license mobility. Microsoft likes to define this as a “hybrid option” but to me, hybrid insinuates the ability to run on premise and in your cloud. License mobility is a SA benefit for certain applications (SQL, CRM, SharePoint, Exchange, Lync) that allows customers to leverage their investment in SA and transfer those licenses into a hosters shared infrastructure. Reason why I don’t think this is truly a hybrid is the customer is TRANSFERRING licenses into your datacenter. This means that if a customer wants to move back to their own datacenter, they have to wait 90 days. (transfer license rule). With SAL for SA, nothing is being transferred. Windows does not have mobility rights, this will need to be reported under your own SPLA. I wrote about license mobility many times – here’s an article for your review – here You can also check out the Microsoft site for more of a definitive definition http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/software-assurance/license-mobility.aspx

Option 3
Good Ole’ SPLA. Customer can run their own servers on premise, you just report SPLA licensing in your shared environment. The new SPLA agreement even allows you to run SPLA software on customer owned hardware as long as you still manage it.

Shared Scenarios – 2 options

Option 1
License Mobility – see above

Option 2
SPLA. We all know what that is.

Summary

I hope this brings a bit more clarity. Sorry if some things are redundant but at the same time, some things are simply worth repeating. Here’s the takeaway – customer’s can always bring licenses into your datacenter. There is no law of the land that prohibits this. What is prohibited is the way you deploy the technology. There is only one option to install customer owned licenses in a shared environment and that is license mobility. Again, (here I go being repetitive) if Microsoft allowed customer owned licenses to be installed in shared environments than why would they create license mobility?

If you still have trouble comprehending all this, shoot me an email located at the top right of this page. One general rule of thumb – if it’s shared – 90% of the time SPLA is required.

Thanks for reading

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 27, 2014 in Compliance, License Mobility

 

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It’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s VDI and SPLA!!!

We have all been there. You see an email come across in the subject line that you’ve seen before. You release a loud sigh, because you already know the response to the email before you even open it. How? Well you’ve been asked the same question before on numerous occcassions and give the same response. For me in particular, the subject in the email is “SPLA and VDI”  It’s not frustrating, it’s just I hate saying “no”  (just ask my son – a bit spoiled I admit)

I try to write about different topics, but I also like to give updates and understanding to various topics that really hit home; VDI is one of them. You can read my previous article here  In this post, I will break VDI into two parts: defining VDI and moving forward.

Definition

What is a virtual desktop in the licensing world? You should think about virtual desktop as a software assurance benefit. Like license mobility, software assurance is required. Unlike license mobility, there is no option to install in shared infrastructure. Let me repeat – no option to install in shared infrastructure. One more time…no option to install in shared infrastructure. What are the options?

Since VDI/VDA is a software assurance benefit, your customer must purchase their desktop OS with software assurance to have VDI rights. That means if they did not purchase with software assurance, there is no option for them to use virtual desktops from a true licensing perspective. What if the machine is a dummy terminal with no software assurance option available? The end-user would be required to purchase a VDA license for each device. VDA license is kind of like a device CAL, it just provides the user access to a virtual instance. If your customer has not purchased VDA or software assurance on the OS, they need to reconsider if they want a virtual desktop.

Some service providers are under the impression that they can sell a desktop OS perpetually to the customer and host it for them in a dedicated environment. They have the dedicated environment part right, but an OS sold to an end-user does not grant that end-user access to a virtual desktop without software assurance (SA). Secondly, you have to be an authorized reseller to sell perpetual licenses (non SPLA) to consumers. Third, you cannot buy a Windows desktop license yourself and host it to third parties. Anything you buy outside of SPLA is for your internal employees only. Last, not only should you not buy licenses and host, but do not install on servers that is also used for your internal use. That is a big compliance headache.  Where is it written that you cannot host on servers internal employees are also accessing?  It’s not.  That’s what makes it a headache.  Just don’t shoot the messenger!

So why can’t the end-user just go to Best Buy or some other retailer, purchase a retail copy, have you (the service provider) host it for them? That not only is a compliance risk, it is also not very economical. Download the FAQ guide here

Moving Forward

What are your options?  The good news is Azure, AWS, and all the others have the same rules.  They cannot offer desktop OS in the public cloud.  This is probably the best FAQ guide I’ve read around Azure and it applies really to all IaaS providers.  Check it out here

What you can do is offer Windows Server to emulate a desktop using RDS.  I get it, not the same thing but I think it is a more of a compelling solution from a cost perspective (and be compliant).  Dedicating a physical server and virtual server is not always the most profitable solution.  I’ve said this before, I think the bigger issue is Office.  RDS now has mobility rights, I think Office should too.

My Opinion

If I was a service provider, I would work with someone who is an expert in SPLA based licensing and an expert in software assurance benefits.  As you can see from my previous posts and with VDI, software assurance is a requirement for most cloud based licensing solutions.  In years past, SA (Software Assurance) was only leveraged for organizations that wanted the latest version on software and pay annually for the licenses under their agreement.  The “cloud” has changed that.  Fast forward to today and customers want to move to the cloud but leverage their existing licenses.  Have you been asked that before?  How do they accomplish that?  The answer is Software Assurance.  They need SA to use license mobility, they need SA for VDI, they need SA for hybrid scenarios such as the SAL for SA SKU’s, and they still  need SA for latest version rights and pay annually.  If I was a Microsoft shareholder, I would applaud that move.  It’s a way to add additional revenue on top of the licenses they purchased all the while giving customers the benefits they are after.

So if you ask, “why does Microsoft not allow VDI in a shared environment?”  My answer is “why would they?”

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in VDI

 

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How to reduce your SPLA reporting

It’s easier than you think.  ( and no, I am not saying you should be out of compliant).  The goal of this blog is to educate and help the service provider community with their licensing decisions.  Keep in mind that I do this as a hobby.  I also try not to solicit, as that can be frustrating to the reader. 

That being said, I do know the reseller channel well, I also know the agreement better than most lawyers.  If you are looking to potentially reduce your spend from a reporting perspective, reduce compliance risk, or just simply want to chat about a licensing scenario that can be unnerving, let me know.  Send me a message on LinkedIn or shoot over an email – blaforge@splalicensing.com

So how do you reduce your spend?  That’s a tough question without a quick answer.  I would have to review your report to understand exactly how you can potentially reduce costs.  Nonetheless, I’ll give her a try. Here’s my top 3 ways service providers can reduce their licensing costs –

1. Run multiple instances of SQL on the same VM.  A little blurb in the SPUR states “For each virtual OSE for which you have assigned the required number of licenses….you have the right to run any number of instances of the software in that virtual OSE”  (page 23 of the SPUR for your boredom).  Keep in mind, there’s a difference between running an “instance” and running a VM. 

2. License the Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS) to run Windows and System Center Servers.  If you are reporting System Center and Windows separately….STOP!  System Center needs Windows.  In other words, you have to report Windows regardless; might as well pay less. 

3. Do not report Windows Standard….report Windows Datacenter.  You have the option of running unlimited VM’s with Datacenter edition.  If you are reporting Windows Standard, that means you are not virtualized. Get virtualized.

One more for good measure…

4.  SAL for SA – I still don’t understand why service providers do not report this SKU.  It’s less expensive, your customer can still deploy on premise and in your cloud, and you will be unique.  (I’ve only seen it reported once). 

There are many more ways to reduce spend. (even outside of simply licensing/virtualizing, etc.) There’s too many scenarios to review on a blog post. How about this trade off – If I can reduce your spend, you owe me a beer at a hosting conference. (joke for the record). If I can’t, at least you know your reporting correctly.

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 9, 2014 in In My Opinion

 

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License Mobility With Software Assurance – the facts

Here’s another post on license mobility.  I am not purposely trying to be redundant, but majority of compliance issues come from customer owned licenses.  It’s important that you, your sellers, and more importantly your customers understand this program in its entirety. So here we go!

License Mobility, in its simplest terms, is a software assurance benefit that allows customers to migrate their existing licenses to a third-party data center.  Third party data center is a service provider.  (Amazon, Azure, Joe’s Hosting, etc).  Primarily this applies to application servers – Lync, Exchange, SharePoint, and CRM.  It also will include products such as System Center, SQL, and Remote Desktop Services.  I encourage you to check out the Microsoft website http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/software-assurance/license-mobility.aspx for more information.  Since this website is dedicated to the service provider community, I thought I would put together some common mistakes service providers make when deploying license mobility.  Fasten your seat belt, there might be a few surprises in this list.

Fact #1

License Mobility is an addendum to your SPLA.  This is NOT automatically granted.  If your company is not on this list, make sure you sign the addendum!  Download the list here  At a hosting summit several years ago, Microsoft announced this program to a room full of service providers.  You should have seen the look on everyone’s face as they made the announcement; almost hear the thoughts running through their minds “Wait a minute, this wasn’t legal before this announcement!!, We were doing this for years!”  That’s right, if you are hosting customer owned licenses in a shared hardware infrastructure/dedicated VM, make sure the products are license mobility eligible (see the SPUR) and make sure you sign the addendum!  I said this before, if Microsoft allowed all products to be installed on a shared hardware infrastructure, why would they have license mobility?  If you have customers that are bringing licenses into your data center and are not mobility eligible, make sure it’s dedicated.  (VM and hardware)

Fact #2

You need to make sure your end customer submits the verification form.  Why?  It’s a requirement by Microsoft.   Essentially there are three times your end customer should complete and submit a License Verification form:  (This is from the verification form guide).

1. “When you deploy eligible licenses with an Authorized Mobility Partner. A new form is required each time you deploy additional licenses.”

2.” When you renew your Software Assurance.”

3.” When you renew your Volume Licensing Agreement.”

“The form can include multiple enrollments or license numbers under a single agreement, provided that they are supported by the same channel partner. However, you should complete a License Verification form for each agreement under which you are using License Mobility (for example, an Enterprise Agreement and a Select Plus agreement).”

How many verification’s forms have been completed?  Very few if any.  Since this is not completed, you (the service provider) can be on the hook.  If anything else, please make sure you make this mobility guide available to your customer to review.  Check it out here

Fact #3

When end customer use license mobility, they are transferring the licenses into your data center.  When you transfer licenses, they can only transfer the licenses away from your data center once every 90 days.  Good news – you keep the customer for a minimum of 90 days!  So let’s say they decide to go back to their own data center; same story – once every 90 days.  From the License Mobility FAQ Guide.

“Customers must assign licenses for a minimum of 90 days, after which they may move their licensed software from a service provider’s shared servers back to their local servers or to another service provider’s shared servers.  Instances run under a particular license must be run in a single server farm and can be moved to another server farm, but not on a short-term basis (90 days or less). A server farm includes up to two data centers each physically located either in a time zone that is within four hours of the local time zone of the other [Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and not Daylight Savings Time (DST)], and/or within the European Union (EU) and/or European Free Trade Association (EFTA).”

Fact #4

You need to include educational materials to your customers during the purchasing process.  I did not make this up, it’s part of the addendum you need to sign to take part in the program.  Azure does this via their website http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/pricing/license-mobility.  Amazon does this as well http://aws.amazon.com/windows/mslicensemobility/ Very few on the partner list makes this readily available on their website.  In fact, out of 10 random selected partners on the list, none have a written statement on mobility.  Perhaps you make this as part of your agreement with your customer; but not sure why you wouldn’t make this as part of your marketing strategy.  If you look up “authorized mobility partners” why wouldn’t you want them directed to your site? To prove my point  I looked up “authorized mobility partners” and only a handful of actual hosters show up in the top searches.  Make it your company.

Fact #5

I’ll make this one short; Windows does not have mobility rights.  You need to report Windows server via SPLA.

I know I am beating a dead horse with license mobility.  I just feel this is a big miss by providers and customers.  The bigger miss is SAL for SA  – check out my old post here

I hope you find these articles helpful.  Have any concerns, questions, or just want a second opinion – feel free to email me at blaforge@splalicensing.com

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2014 in License Mobility

 

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