Tag Archives: Service Provider Licensing Agreement

Why Windows 10 in CSP stinks now but could be GREAT later

Microsoft made a pretty big announcement around Windows 10 and CSP.  Here’s a breakdown for those that are interested:

  1. Software Assurance is not included
  2. Windows 10 is available E3 and in CSP only
  3. Customers need a qualified OS license.  In other words, this is an upgrade license only.
  4. Not available under SPLA
  5. Not available in the shared computer activation model.
  6. Per user licensing with the ability to license on up to 5 devices per license.
  7. No minimum and surprise…no maximum either.
  8. Subscription is 1 year
  9. Pricing varies
  10. New use rights highlighted in the Product Terms

So why does this stink now but could be great later?  Pay attention to number 1, 4, and 5 in the list above.  That’s what stinks.   Think this will allow VDI?  Think again.

So why not?  Why the mystery around VDI and SPLA?  If I was Microsoft, I would go ahead and allow it but for only a select few SPLA providers.  Those providers are:

  1. Report on time.  Not one late payment/report during their agreement no matter what the excuse – “My reseller sucks” is not an excuse.  It’s a good reason to work with me though 🙂
  2. Deployed Hyper V (they must have some incentive to do this)
  3. Joined CSP program.

There you have it.  Microsoft wins big time – all that missed revenue from non reporters will get reported. Now you, the compliant service provider, will be allowed VDI in SPLA.

The likelihood of this happening is slim to none.  I do think Microsoft is missing out with the Windows 10/VDI restriction.  Ever since I started in SPLA, I’ve been asked about VDI (or the lack thereof).  That was 11 years ago.

Thanks for reading,





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Posted by on September 29, 2016 in VDI


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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.




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Posted by on September 18, 2014 in Compliance


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CRM Price Increases

For those that read my earlier post “Predicting the future” one intuition has already come true.  Microsoft announced price increases for Microsoft Dynamics CRM come January, 2015.

All 3 SPLA CRM SKU’s are effected  (Basic, Essentials, and Service Provider/PRO edition).  For complete breakdown I would suggest reaching out to your SPLA reseller.

So why the increase?  Microsoft stated “The CRM price change is intended to more closely align our online and on premises pricing.”  So there you have it.

Windows, Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS) and other Dynamics AX, NAV, GP will also see increases.  This was previously announced by Microsoft and communicated through the reseller channel.



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Posted by on September 9, 2014 in CRM


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In most articles I reviewed best practices, updates, and licensing guidance as it pertains to the SPLA program.  As cloud solutions evolve, the licensing becomes more complex.  That’s why I thought we should take a step back and take a moment to review the basics of the program.  I am a big believer in order to fully understand a licensing program, you really should start at the beginning.  Too many times we jump headfirst and start worrying about “how do we license SQL in a virtual environment” or “why no VDI darn it!”  So let’s all take a deep breath, relax, and let’s understand what it is we are actually trying to accomplish. 

What is a license?

I think we can all make a reasonable assumption to the answer to this question.  Again, we are starting at the basics and moving up from there.  The SPLA Man definition of a license is essentially your right to use something.  You buy a book, you need to purchase the right to consume the author’s material.  You buy a software license, this gives you the right to install it and use it.  In the case of Microsoft, you did not write the code for Microsoft Exchange, so you need a license to use Exchange/email.  There’s all sort of examples of a license, but I think you get my point. 

So if you buy a license, who get’s to use it?  In most instances, it’s you.  Why buy something and give someone else the right to use it?  If you buy a computer from HP and the PC comes with a copy of Office and Windows 8, the Office and Windows 8 gives that device a license.  Those license come preinstalled live and die with the machine – this is called Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM for those taking notes).  If you read the little booklet that comes with your computer it will define this not so clearly.  That booklet is called a EULA (End user licensing agreement). 

Volume Licensing

Now let’s say you’re an owner of a company and have 50 employees.  You set up a CRM server to deploy to your 50 employees.  In this model, they would need a server (CRM Server License) plus 50 client access license to access that server.  Since it’s for internal employees, you would use volume licensing.  (greater discount than going to a retail shop and purchasing the licenses one at a time)


Let’s say you lost the instruction booklet on ‘how to deploy CRM” and frustrated because you already purchased the licenses.  You need help.  Not only did you lose the instructional booklet you don’t have the budget to purchase the hardware to run CRM nor the bandwidth to manage anymore.  You look at third party options.  You call Brett’s Hosting who can deploy CRM on your behalf while leveraging your license purchases.  If you purchased the licenses with software assurance those licenses could potentially qualify for license mobility (CRM does).  The service provider can dedicate a VM for CRM and host the VM on shared hardware. Windows would still need to be reported under SPLA (since Windows is not part of license mobility) This can be more cost effective for both parties.  If you did not purchase those licenses with software assurance, you can still bring those licenses into your datacenter BUT Brett’s Hosting would have to dedicate the hardware and the VM to one customer.  What’s dedicated?  Microsoft defines dedicated as “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; whereas, a server or SAN device that runs Microsoft software may only be used by one customer.” (source: Microsoft Desktop Virtualization Guide – Check it out here)

Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA)

This leads to the last option and the entire point of this blog – SPLA.  Why would a service provider use or need SPLA licenses?  You know those 50 CRM licenses you purchased for your internal employees?  You guessed it, those can only be used for internal employees.  Why?  There’s a little blurb in the Product Use Rights (PUR) that states “No Commercial Hosting” If you have a customer that does not own the licenses, but they want to access your server – That’s SPLA.  Anytime your hosting Microsoft software on BEHALF of a third party, that’s SPLA.  Let’s say you have a website in which you sell products out to the entire world;  Would you need SPLA?  Short answer…no.  Why?  You have a website that you deploy in your own datacenter that you use to run your business, not someone else’s.  If you went to a third party and asked them to host a website for you that will allow your customers to access, the service provider would use SPLA.  Clear as mud?  Exchange might be a better example.  If you don’t have the bandwidth to manage Exchange in house anymore, you can go to companies such as Rackspace to provide email for you.  They will charge you “X” amount of dollars for email per month.  To access Rackspace’s Exchange server you would need a license.  That license is called SPLA.  All service providers that host Exchange, would require SPLA (unless you bring your own licenses such as the outsourcing example above).

That’s licensing 101 in a nutshell. Stay tuned for licensing 200.  Ugh.







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Posted by on May 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


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