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Tag Archives: Software Assurance

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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Yikes…how to move from one cloud to the next.

The latest buzz word in this crazy IT world in which we live is not “Cloud” it’s “Hybrid Cloud”.   Even the definition of hybrid cloud has evolved throughout its short existence. Having a mix of on premise workloads and cloud workloads has transformed into having workloads spread throughout different cloud vendors as well.  “Cloud Sprawl” is born and guessing is here to stay.

In this article, we will review how the licensing works to move a customer’s workload from one cloud to another; customer’s owned licenses back to on premise; and customers on premise licenses back to your cloud.  As the title of this article states..Yikes!

Moving away from your cloud to another cloud

So, your sales rep “accidentally” promised the world to your customer that he/she could not deliver.  Unfortunately, they now want to move to another provider.  First thing to do is fire the sales rep.  Second thing to do is read your SPLA agreement.

When you sign a SPLA agreement (or any Microsoft agreement) your license keys are your license keys.   The data is not yours, but the keys are (at least while you have an active agreement – remember, SPLA is non-perpetual license). License keys are not to be transferred, resold, etc. over to another datacenter provider.   Where does it say that?

In section 6C, page 5, of the 2017 SPLA Indirect Agreement “Copying and distribution of Products and Software documentation” states: “customer may distribute original media or software contains products only to outsourcing company and affiliates.”  Another cloud provider is not your affiliate or outsourcing company, they are your competitor.  The section continues: “Customer may distribute original media or software containing client software and/or redistribution software to its end users.”

What that statement is saying is the service provider can provide the image to their client but not to another service provider.  If they do this, Microsoft requires the license keys to be removed first.  Remember, your keys are your keys, not theirs. As mentioned, the data is not yours either.  An end customer has the right to transfer their data from your datacenter to another provider.  You can also transfer the media to your customer, but not to another service provider as the statement suggests.

Over the years, the transfer of data, transferring images, and using outsourcing companies has made it difficult to track which media/keys belong to which company.  My recommendation is to have language in your agreement that is like the one in your SPLA to protect you.  Is this a gray area?  Absolutely.  My other recommendation is that no matter which keys belong to which organization – be sure to license the environment correctly; in the end, that’s the most important part.

Customer’s owned licenses back to on premise 

The same sales rep screwed up again.  They promised the customer that by moving to your cloud environment they would never be audited again.  Guess what?   They got audited.  Now they are upset and want to move back to on premise.  How does the licensing work?

In this situation, let’s assume the customer is moving workloads that have software assurance (SA) and are using license mobility. (even if they didn’t, same rules would apply.  I just like using license mobility because it’s more common).   Whenever an end customer transfers their own licenses (not SPLA) it’s important to read the Product Terms, not just the SPUR.  The Product Terms is for volume licensing, which applies to customer owned licenses.  The SPUR, as we all know is for SPLA.  Two different programs, two different use rights.

Page 84 (good Lord this is a massive document) of the 2017 Product Terms states “Customer (your end customer) may move its licensed software from shared servers (license mobility) back to its Licensed Servers or to another party’s shared servers, but not on a short-term basis (not within 90 days of the last assignment).

When you buy a license through volume licensing (VL), you assign that license to a server.  That’s one of the reasons you cannot mix SPLA and VL on the same server (different use rights).  When you assign that server to a different server farm (another datacenter provider) that server license cannot move within 90 days of assignment.  If your end customer gets upset and demands you transfer their licenses back to their premise, you can pull out this little blurb in the Product Terms.  I would recommend having language in your agreement that states the same.

You might be wondering – “isn’t the benefit of Software Assurance the ability to move workloads freely without worrying about the 90-day rule?”  That’s true and I’m glad you brought that up.  If it’s within the same server farm, workloads can move freely.  Pay attention to page 84 of the Product Terms as well as the definition of a server farm.

One of the best lines in the Product Terms happens to be on the same page (84).  “Customer (again, customer in this example is your end customer) agrees that it will be responsible for third-parties’ actions about software deployed and managed on its behalf” I would definitely include that statement with your customers.

Moving back to your cloud

You gave your sales rep an ultimatum, win the customer back or lose your job!  Your sales rep won the customer back.  Now your customer can move back to your cloud, but make sure you follow the license mobility use rights as mentioned above.  Remember the 90 day rule.  Once a customer assigns a license back to their premise, they have to wait 90 days to move it back.  Secondly, if they do not have SA, you must dedicate the entire infrastructure for your customer.  Dedicated means the hardware used to support the solution.

The moral of this story?  Make sure you have a good sales rep!  Secondly, read the SPUR, Product Terms, SPLALicensing.com, and have language written in your agreement to protect yourself.  Lots of talk about moving to the cloud, moving away from it is just as important.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on August 3, 2017 in Compliance

 

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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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How service providers can use Azure Stack in their datacenter environment

Azure stack is what Microsoft describes as an “extension of Microsoft Azure…”  to on premise (or partner hosted) datacenter environments.  In this article, we will review what it takes to deploy Azure Stack and best practices for partner hosted scenarios.

How a Service Provider Acquires Azure Stack

Azure Stack is available through the Cloud Solution Program (CSP) for service providers. Just like any other CSP relationship, the service provider will ultimately own the billing, the support (if Direct/Tier 1) or through your authorized distributor who will manage the support (Indirect/Tier 2).  Usage can be purchased through CSP or through the Azure hosting exception leveraging your existing Enterprise Agreement.  One thing to note is the actual Windows license.  In my humble opinion Windows Server in SPLA is less expensive and has the flexibility of month/month licensing.  Let’s use a couple examples to illustrate this further:

Scenario 1:  Bill sells Jennifer Azure Stack services through CSP.  Bill is Direct authorized and has a SPLA agreement in place.

  • Bill will purchase Azure Stack from an authorized hardware vendor.
  • Bill licenses Windows Server via his own SPLA agreement.
  • Jennifer will pay Bill for her consumption through CSP at a lower rate because Bill is already providing the Windows Licenses.
  • Bill is responsible for all the support and billing because he is CSP Direct authorized.

Scenario 2 – Bill sells Jennifer Azure Stack services through CSP.  Jennifer decides to transfer her Windows Server licenses through her own Enterprise Agreement.  

  • Bill will purchase Azure Stack from an authorized hardware vendor.
  • Bill would have to completely isolate the hardware for Jennifer if she wants to transfer her existing licenses to Bill’s datacenter environment.  As with other hosting scenarios, Windows is not license mobility eligible and therefore the Windows licenses must be deployed in a 100% dedicated cloud environment.
  • Bill will sell the consumption via his CSP Direct agreement.  Since she is using Windows licenses that were already purchased, he will only pay the base consumption rate.
  • Bill will provide the support since he is providing this as a service to Jennifer as part of the CSP program.

Scenario 3 – Bill deployed Azure Stack in his datacenter.  He’s running Jennifer’s SQL Server she purchased with SA from her Open agreement.  She will also pay Bill for the Azure Stack consumption through Bill’s indirect CSP agreement.

  • Bill will purchase Azure Stack from an authorized hardware vendor.
  • Bill will have an agreement with his authorized Indirect distributor to resell Azure Stack through CSP.  (Bill is not Direct authorized, he must use a distributor to enable him to resell CSP to his end customers.  The distributor will provide all the support and billing platform).
  • Jennifer will transfer her SQL Server licenses and CAL’s she purchased with Software Assurance over to Bill’s shared cloud environment through license mobility.

Conclusion

These are all hypothetical scenarios used to illustrate the different licensing options available to SPLA partners.  As you can see, the licensing can be complex as you are crossing multiple licensing programs – CSP, Enterprise Agreement, and SPLA.  I am always interested in different scenarios.  Have one?  Email me at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on July 18, 2017 in Azure, Uncategorized

 

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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,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on September 29, 2016 in VDI

 

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Hybrid Use Benefit – HUB

Our friend Azure is at it again.  He’s offering Windows license mobility without calling it license mobility.  It’s called HUB – Hybrid Use Benefit.  And yes, it’s only available in Azure.

What is it exactly?  Well let’s say an organization purchased Windows Datacenter with Software Assurance.  Because they purchased the server with Software Assurance, Microsoft will allow them to run a separate instance in Azure and only pay the Linux VM rate.

This same customer can now deploy an image in Azure, pay a non Windows rate (in Azure), and still run an on premise server in their own datacenter to make a true hybrid scenario.  They can do this with Datacenter edition only, since Datacenter allows unlimited virtual instances.  They cannot run a true hybrid with Standard.  They must either run on premise or in Azure with Standard edition.  If you are on the fence about which version to purchase, Datacenter might just win out.

A couple of things to consider.  1) You have to pay attention to the number of licenses you purchased for your on premise servers.  If you purchased Datacenter that has two processor licenses, this will all you to run two instances up to 8 cores or 1 instance up to 16 cores in Azure.  In other words, you cannot exceed the number of licenses you purchased. 2) If you do decide to run Datacenter on premise as well as in Azure, you must maintain CALs for your on premise solution.  Azure does not require CALs, but that doesn’t mean your on premise CAL requirement goes away.

So there you have it.  Confused yet?  If not, wait until I write more about Office 365!  Questions?  Email me at info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2016 in Azure

 

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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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