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, (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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,