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Help me SAM!

I was on a call the other day and the customer was pleasantly surprised to learn about the SPLA program. Although I do not manage the program in its entirety like the old days, I will say this was a refreshing surprise. When you mention SPLA to a customer, account manager, or even Microsoft, more times than not you here a groan. ABS – Anything But SPLA! I am sure if there are resellers reading this, they would probably agree. Why no love for a program that is growing exponentially year/year? What are better alternatives…buy the licenses outright?

I don’t think the issue is with the program itself; after all, the ability to get started with zero upfront costs from a licensing perspective is pretty cool! I don’t even think the licensing is all that difficult once you get started. The pain point is understanding all the “gotcha’s” and the “in’s” as well as all the “outs” to make sure what you are doing is both compliant and cost-effective.  SPLA is an honor based system, but if you are found dishonest, it will cost you.

One of the biggest hurdles is tracking licenses. With the release of Azure, license mobility, and regular SPLA licenses, the ability to track licenses is becoming more complex.  End customers do not want to double pay for licenses already purchased and service providers don’t want to report SPLA if they don’t have to.  So what do you do?

That’s where my old friend named Sammy comes in. On premise customers have used SAM (Software Asset Management) for years as a mechanism to track licenses purchased and/or deployed.  This is not a one time snapshot, (although I guess it could be if you want it to be) but an ongoing strategy to make sure licenses are being consumed properly.  If they are not, at least they catch the problem before they get audited.

Service providers are different; very few have a SAM strategy.  Most service providers are taking part in license mobility and customer owned licenses more regularly. If you don’t believe me check out all the license mobility partners on Microsoft’s website.  If you thought SPLA is complex, try combining on premise licensing and SPLA and see what you have!

What does SAM really do? It’s a strategy. It will give you tools and a team of experts to help guide you through the ever-changing license use rights (SPUR or PUR for those playing at home).  In most cases, it provides you with the necessary resources to help protect you from vendor audits.  There are different levels of SAM to cater towards different types of environments.  Just like service providers, no two environments are the same.

Here’s my advice (if you are wondering) – if you are a service provider, get a SAM strategy in place.  There’s a saying I read somewhere ( I believe LinkedIn) that said if you think audit prevention is expensive, try being audited.  (paraphrased here but you get my point).

If you don’t have a SAM resource, email me, (blaforge@splalicensing.com) I can be your SPLA/SAM resource.  I guarantee I know the program better than most.  You can also check out our SAM services at SoftwareONE here

As always,  hope you find this helpful and gives you some ideas.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in Compliance

 

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Your Cloud…My Terms

“Oh Cloud” Steve Ballmer once shouted vociferously to an enthusiastic croud at the Microsoft’s World Partner Conference a few years ago. He was later quoted as saying “the cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities” This may sound generic, but feel he’s absolutely right.

I think for vendors such as Microsoft, the opportunity exists to better align themselves with a platform that is more adaptable to the cloud. (Just look at System Center, Office 365, and Azure as examples). I think for the Enterprise space, it means the opportunity to leverage their mission critical applications in a cloud environment with the end result being cost savings. Finally, I think for cloud hosters it means both (opportunity and responsibility). How can they differentiate themselves to end customers so they will be “all in” (another Ballmer line) their cloud and not someone elses, while ensuring their customer can sleep well at night knowing their information is secure?

At the Microsoft Hosting Summit this past spring, one of the presenters discussed ways in which hosters can increase confidence with customers and truly differentiate themselves in a competitive market. They concluded that customers will go to the cloud when they are in control. Things such as security, location of data, and disaster recovery were top of their list. That shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise, but do feel cloud providers must be prepared to address these concerns if they are to grow.

Managing the SPLA program in particular, I regularly hear cloud providers concerned over Office 365 and what other service providers are advertising. I understand, if I was in the hosting business I’d be concerned as well. We may not like it, but we must somehow acknowledge it. Office 365 is not going away, neither is Azure and neither are the other 8,000 SPLA partners. So what are you to do?

I agree with the presenter at the Hosting Summit. I feel customers want to outsource the headache of managing an infrastructure, but still want a sense of control over their data. I read a statistic that showed over 65% of companies would rather have a private and public cloud than hosting everything in-house. Their main concern as to why they do not do it today is security. I strongly believe that if you can create a brand that acknowledges end-user control, keeping the cloud on their terms instead of yours, and have strong (even public) SLA’s that customers can easily read (no small print) it will make switching from an on premise solution to the cloud that much more compelling.

I understand I am not writing something that you haven’t heard or read before, but do feel it is often overlooked. Even in searching the largest of the large providers on the web, I cannot easily find an SLA on their site. If knowing security is a concern, advertise how you address this issue and listen what your customers want. They will thank you later.

Thanks for reading.

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2013 in In My Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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