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Tag Archives: Software Assurance

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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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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Disaster Recovery Rights for SPLA

Spring.  The time of year in which flowers bloom but storms loom. (I will not quit my day job by the way).  Those reading this article that live in the middle of the United States, you would probably agree with that statement.  Sometimes it may take a storm for organizations to start thinking about their own disaster recovery plans.  Maybe it’s time to get ahead of the storm; that’s why I thought I would spend time reviewing DR, industry best practices, and licensing scenarios.

In previous editions of the SPUR, you were allowed to temporarily run a backup instance on a server dedicated for DR with the following exceptions:  The server must be turned off except for limited testing and DR, may not be in the same cluster, and you may only run the backup instances and production instances at the same time only while recovering from a disaster.

I never understood the rule “the server must be turned off.”  If it’s turned off, how is backing up anything?  Secondly, what is meant by “limited testing?” How much time does it allow you test? Two days…a week…a month?

In the new SPUR, it brings clarity to some of those questions.  From the April SPUR:

“The disaster recovery server can run only during the following exception periods:

  • For brief periods of disaster recovery testing within one week every 90 days
  • During a disaster, while the production server being recovered is down
  • Around the time of a disaster, for a brief period, to assist in the transfer between the primary production server and the disaster recovery server

In order to use the software under disaster recovery rights, you must comply with the following terms:

  • The disaster recovery server must not be running at any other times except as above.
  • The disaster recovery server may not be in the same cluster as the production server.
  • Windows Server licenses are not required for the disaster recovery server if the following conditions are met:
  • The Hyper-V role within Windows Server is used to replicate virtual OSEs from the production server at a primary site to a disaster recovery server.
  • The disaster recovery server may be used only to
  • run hardware virtualization software, such as Hyper-V,
  • provide hardware virtualization services,
  • run software agents to manage the hardware virtualization software,
  • serve as a destination for replication,
  • receive replicated virtual OSEs, test failover, and
  • Await failover of the virtual OSEs.
  • run disaster recovery workloads as described above
  • The disaster recovery server may not be used as a production server.
  • Use of the software on the disaster recovery server should comply with the license terms for the software.
  • Once the disaster recovery process is complete and the production server is recovered, the disaster recovery server must not be running at any other times except those times allowed here.”

If I had a hosting company that specializes in DR solutions, I would have my customers purchase their licenses outright with Software Assurance from their reseller (like SoftwareONE).  I would make sure they deploy it on premise and I would set up a secondary server in my datacenter. Now comes the fun part – how to license the solution!

Let me provide an example.   Let’s say your customer is a law firm and email is extremely important to their business.  They cannot lose email for one minute, let a lone a day.    The customer would like the greatest discount long term but very concerned that if a disaster does happen, they won’t be prepared.  (this is when you come to the rescue).  You have a solution that will allow them to run their Exchange on premise by purchasing Exchange with Software Assurance from volume licensing (greater discount over SPLA long term), and you as the service provider can run Exchange in your datacenter using the SAL for SA SKU.  Never heard of the SAL for SA SKU?  You’re not alone.  This SKU is available for certain applications (Lync, SharePoint, Exchange – check SPUR for availability) and allows the service provider to host the application in a shared (virtual & physical) environment.  More importantly, the cost is extremely attractive AND your customer can still run it on premise.  This is NOT license mobility.  License mobility allows you to run it in a shared hardware but dedicated VM.  It also requires the customer to transfer those licenses out of your datacenter only (not on premise).

Here’s the criteria for reporting SAL for SA for those home gamers.

SALs for SA

“SALs for SA may be acquired and assigned to users who have also been assigned a qualifying Client Access License (“CAL”) with active Software Assurance (“SA”) acquired under a Microsoft Volume Licensing Program or who uses a device to which a qualifying Device CAL with active Software Assurance coverage has been assigned. You may not acquire SALs for SA for more than one user for any given qualifying CAL. Use rights for SALs for SA are identical to their corresponding SALs, as defined in this document. The right to assign a SAL for SA to a user or device expires when the Software Assurance coverage for the qualifying CAL expires.”

Be careful if you decide to go down this route. You have to ensure when reporting SAL for SA that the customer has active SA for the licenses you are reporting.  If they don’t, both you and your customer are out of compliant.  This comes up all the time during audits.  “I swear they own these licenses Mr. Auditor!”  Secondly, make sure the products are SAL for SA eligible when discussing with your client.

In summary, pay attention to the new DR rights mentioned above; consider SAL for SA as an alternative; and last but certainly not least, maybe reconsider your vacation to the Midwest until the Fall – flowers bloom, storms loom.  Hit me up at blaforge@splalicensing.com  if you want to learn more about SAL for SA or anything hosting related.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2014 in Disaster Recovery

 

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Self Hosted Rights and Office

The other day I was on a call with a customer who developed a financial application that takes a customer’s information and then reports it back from Excel.  The goal would be to have it deployed via a web browser, possibly using SharePoint.  Immediately I thought of Office Web App.  Browser based, users could not only read it but edit it as well, sounds like a perfect fit  What about the licensing?  Since this is their own Intellectual Property (IP) I thought of the self hosted rights for volume licensing.  SPLA might be too expensive since users could not be tracked. This is where we got stuck. 

Self hosted is a software assurance benefit. It allows volume licensing customers to host their application that runs on Microsoft technology to third parties. I included the terms and conditions directly from the Product Use Rights (PUR) at the bottom of this post (in case you are really bored) but in my opinion this will allow developers to continue to build their applications and utilize volume licensing that offers the greater discount.

As a SAM manager, I was engaged by the customer to review both past and current licensing.  Since this was a new offering, nothing was licensed or even deployed yet.   Whew…Rule #1 – before building a datacenter make sure the solution fits the licensing. Secondly, this is being provided as a service, not simply allowing external users to access.

What did we advise? In order for a solution to qualify as “self-hosted” all applications must be self hosted eligible. Unfortunately, Office does not qualify. Ugh. There goes that option. Now we must look at SPLA for everything (one unified solution as defined in the PUR). The problem with SPLA is you must license Office STD or PRO to enable Office Web Apps. To add more complexity, Office in a server environment is licensed by user (SPLA) Since user count is expected to be very high, this does not seem to be an economical solution. What I proposed was to get rid of Office. That’s right, I recommended they remove it from the solution and use Open Office. The solution worked and met the compliance guidelines set forth by Microsoft.

In conclusion, I hated my recommendation but went with it in order to be compliant. Microsoft Office is a superior product to “Open Office” If only Microsoft would allow Office to be self hosted eligible, I think it would benefit the service provider, Microsoft, and more importantly the end customer.

Bottom line- make sure if you have your OWN application (not license someone else’s) and you decide to use volume licensing to host, make sure all software is eligible or risk BIG compliance risk.

Thanks for reading.

SPLA Man

From the PUR
You must have the required Microsoft licenses and maintain Software Assurance coverage for:
• the Self-Hosted Applications run as part of the Unified Solution; and
• all access licenses used to make the Unified Solution available to external users (See Universal License Terms, Definitions).
All Microsoft software used to create and deliver the Unified Solution must:
• be licensed through a Volume Licensing program that is subject to these license terms (e.g., Enterprise Agreement, Select Plus Agreement, Open License Agreement) and not any other (e.g., Services Provider License Agreement, Independent Software Vendor Royalty License and Distribution Agreement); and
• be marked as ‘Yes’ for ‘Self Hosting of Applications Allowed’ in these license terms
Your software must:
• add significant and primary functionality to the Self-Hosted Applications that are part of the Unified Solution (dashboards, HTML editors, utilities, and similar technologies are not a primary service and/or application of a Unified Solution);
• be the principal service and/or application, and sole point of access, to the Unified Solution;
• be delivered over the Internet or a private network from your datacenter to end users. The Self-Hosted Applications component may not be loaded onto the end user’s device; and
• be owned, not licensed, by you, except that your software may include non-substantive third party software that is embedded in, and operates in support of, your software.

 
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Posted by on February 4, 2014 in Compliance, Self Hosted

 

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RDS now has mobility rights!

Great news for service providers, Microsoft announced this week that RDS will have Software Assurance (SA) mobility rights!  This is a great move, it will allow service providers to have shared hardware, but dedicated VM’s (just like others under the license mobility program). Customers can leverage their existing volume licensing agreements (with software assurance) to install RDS in your datacenter.

Pay attention to which products are eligible for license mobility.  The products that are allowed are located in the Product Use Rights (PUR) not the SPUR, as this is a volume licensing use right, not SPLA.  To download a copy click here Service providers would still be required to report Windows under their SPLA agreement. Last, make sure your customers have active software assurance for all licenses used for license mobility!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on December 12, 2013 in License Mobility, Office 365

 

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No More Cloud!

Private cloud, public cloud, hybrid cloud, ominous cloud, or whatever the cloud, maybe now is the time to create a new buzz word to describe your offering.  People  have their own opinion on what “cloud” really means, and this leads to even more confusion. I believe the term “cloud” was first used by Eric Schmidt with Google, who in conversation said “cloud.”  (Don’t quote me on that).

Regardless of the kind of cloud you market, what you are really saying is “I have a solution to your problem that I can help you with.” It used to be the cloud was synonymous with storage. According to a recent Gartner study, over 50% of enterprises will have some sort of applications hosted somewhere else.  I can guarantee not all of that is storage!

Successful companies that host information for other organizations do more than just provide a cloud environment, they provide a solution. Companies who consider themselves a trusted solution provider as oppose to just a cloud provider (or even a service provider) will win. “Trusted” is the key word.  The biggest obstacle remains security.  Can they trust you with their data?

The question you need to ask yourself is what differentiates your offering from the 8,500 other hosting companies? Keep in mind -everyone is 99.9% uptime (yeah right). The entire IT landscape makes up roughly $2 trillion dollars. According to the Microsoft site, Azure signs up over 1,000 customers (not users) a day and Office 365 claims that one in four enterprise customers use it. It’s not just Microsoft. Take a look at Amazon, VMWare, and Google. Everyone wants to be “Cloud.” Check out http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/news/cloud/index.html

In my article, “Office 365 Under SPLA” I expressed you need to embrace the big players, not compete. As an example, Amazon and Azure will not deploy RDS, you need to provide RDS via SPLA. Maybe that’s an opportunity. Check out the FAQ guide for Azure http://www.windowsazure.com/en-us/pricing/licensing-faq/ (especially under RDS) They provide the infrastructure, you provide the RDS licenses to the customer. Maybe the SAL for SA SKU is your route – (which I might add is NEVER reported). SAL for SA is simply a way for your customer who already made the investment in software assurance on the underlying software to pay less.  There’s also license mobility with software assurance to consider.

Here’s my point in all of this- if the IT industry is 2 trillion dollars, I want you to get a piece of that very large pie.  To do that, you have to go beyond “cloud.”  Question to consider -what are you doing to help customers with their hosted solutions that no one else is doing today? Answer that intelligently, you will win.  Maybe this is the “Solution Provider Licensing Agreement” after all.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2013 in In My Opinion

 

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