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Two heads are better than one!

We all know Amazon. What was once known as an online bookstore has transformed into an online behemoth of hosted services. What’s interesting about Amazon, like Microsoft and others, is they leverage strategic partnerships to grow their business. Microsoft does this through the partner channel (you, me, and others). Amazon, because they are in several industries, is a bit more unique. I read an article recently on how Amazon is going after consumer products. According to the Wall Street Journal, they established alliances with companies such as Proctor and Gamble to lower shipping costs, establish warehouses, and deliver goods to the end customer more quickly then doing it on their own. What they are doing is setting up shop inside Proctor and Gamble’s warehouses, thus reducing the cost of storing and transporting their goods. This program is called “Vendor Flex.” This is a great way to compete against the Wal-Mart’s of the world. Watch out grocery stores, Amazon is knocking on your customers door! (literally) In the end, Amazon recognizes where it is strong (e commerce) and utilizes partners where it lacks resources.

Microsoft is placing a big bet on hybrid cloud environments (big surprise..right?). They already have strategic partners with AT&T and the like to build out diverse scenarios, but they are also leveraging their biggest licensing program, the Enterprise Agreement (EA) to gain market share.  I won’t divulge into the Enterprise Agreement, you can read about it via the Microsoft website, but they are going after this group with a vengeance.  They took Office 365 and made it into a billion dollar business by leveraging partnerships and will do the same with Azure. They created incentives for system integrators to deploy it, had resellers promote it, and utilized their own licensing agreements to sell it.

I used to manage Office 365 (at the time BPOS) on the reseller side. I thought this was the perfect program for small companies that do not have the resources to manage an infrastructure. In a way that’s true, but I underestimated how larger companies can leverage hosted solutions. They utilize their existing volume licensing agreement and have certain departments off premise while others on premise. For companies that do not have the resources to configure it, they can use the partner channel to deploy it. Microsoft turned around Office 365, they will do the same with Azure, all the while leveraging their partners.

If players like Microsoft and Amazon have strategic alliances…shouldn’t you? Does your partner offer the resources you need to succeed or are they just less expensive? Do you have a white labeling program or consider white labeling yourself? How are you leveraging SPLA? Have you reached out to your vendors for support? How does your SPLA reseller help? If interested, you should attend the Microsoft Hosting Summit or attend Hosting Con, where resellers and partners connect. Check it out for yourself http://www.hostingcon.com. Reach out to me, I can help too! Maybe in the end I’m right, two heads can be better than one!

Thanks,

SPLA Man

 
2 Comments

Posted by on October 16, 2013 in In My Opinion

 

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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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Features of Lync

Here’s a little blurb on the features of Lync.  I think Call management/Lync is a HUGE opportunity for service providers.  Not a lot of companies host it today and organizations are not keen on deploying it in house.  Let me know if you are interested in learning more or hosting Lync today.   Love to hear about your offering.  

Lync can be used for license mobility and it there is an option for the SAL for SA option.  This is great if you have a multi-tenant (shared) infrastructure.  Below is directly from the SPUR.  New edition of the SPUR is at http://spur.microsoft.com/products.aspx

The available SAL types are:

  • Lync Server 2013 Standard SAL (User / Device)
  • Lync Server 2013 Enterprise SAL (User / Device)
  • Lync Server 2013 Plus SAL (User / Device)
  • Lync Server 2013 Enterprise Plus SAL (User / Device)
  • Productivity Suite SAL (User only)

You do not need SALs for any user or device that accesses your instances of the server software without being directly or indirectly authenticated by Active Directory, or Lync Server.

Standard SAL

 

Each user or device for whom you obtain a Standard SAL or Productivity Suite SAL (user only) may use the following features of the server software.

  • All Instant Messaging functionality
  • All Presence functionality
  • All Group Chat functionality
  • All PC-to-PC computer audio and video functionality
Enterprise SAL

 

Each user or device for whom you obtain an Enterprise SAL or Productivity Suite SAL (user only) may use the following features of the server software.

  • The features of the Standard SAL described above
  • All Audio, Video, and Web Conferencing functionality
  • All Desktop Sharing functionality
Plus SAL

 

Each user or device for whom you obtain a Plus SAL may use the following features of the server software.

  • The features of the Standard SAL described above
  • All Voice Telephony functionality
  • All Call Management functionality
Enterprise Plus SAL

 

Each user or device for whom you obtain an Enterprise Plus SAL may use the following features of the server software.

  • The features of the Standard SAL described above
  • All Audio, Video, and Web Conferencing functionality
  • All Desktop Sharing functionality
  • All Voice Telephony functionality
  • All Call Management functionality
 
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Posted by on October 2, 2013 in License Mobility, Lync

 

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How To Download SPLA Media and License Keys

You signed a SPLA agreement…now what?

When you sign a new SPLA, you will receive an acceptance notification from Microsoft via email.  This will be sent to the notices and/or primary contact on your agreement. The acceptance notification typically has the following in the subject line “Microsoft SPLA Acceptance Notice” It is sent from an unmanaged alias msvlop@microsoft.com.  You should receive a hardcopy of the SPLA agreement signed by Microsoft via courier .  Keep this for your records, it has your enrollment number and other relevant information.

All that being said, if you still have questions the good news is your browser/search engine directed you to the right place…this post!  To download media and license keys please go to https://licensing.microsoft.com.  This is the Volume Licensing Services Center (VLSC) website where everyone with a signed SPLA will have access.  You will need to log in with your email, follow the online steps, and you should be good to go.  One issue that comes up quite frequently is the person attempting to log in to the site does not have online administrative rights.  If you have this issue, please reach out to the primary contact on your agreement.  If you are the primary contact and do not have access, the odds are there’s an error somewhere in the system.  More times than not, the email address used on your agreement was inserted incorrectly.  Check your agreement to verify.  If this is the case, reach out to your reseller who can assist.  If everything checks out correctly and you still do not have access, please reach out to the VLSC directly either by email – VLSChelpa@microsoft.com or by phone 866-230-0560.  Please include your enrollment number. (found on your SPLA or ask your reseller).  I found this guide to be helpful.  (download VLSC guide) if you have questions.

If you are in the middle of completing an agreement, think about who in your organization you would like to be the online administrator (the one that has authorization and provides others in your organization access).  This will help eliminate future issues!

Keep in mind some products do not have license keys (keys will be embedded in the media) – Exchange, SQL, and CRM are examples.  RDS licenses will require you to enter your enrollment number, not a license key.

Hope this helps!

SPLA Man Read the rest of this entry »

 
 

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Reporting SPLA Usage

Managing the SPLA program for as long as I have, I came to the conclusion that no one likes to report their SPLA.  For what it’s worth, Microsoft and resellers don’t like it either, but it’s the most important aspect of the SPLA program.  Here’s a list of reasons why you need to report on time.

  • It’s unlawful if you don’t report.  Think about this for a moment,  you did not pay for the licenses upfront, but you are charging customers for their access.  In some countries, that’s called stealing.
  • It is part of your signed North America SPLA agreement.   Page 11 section 11a –  “Customer must submit either a monthly use report or zero use report to its Reseller within 10 days after the last day of each month or on a date agreed to by the Customer and its Reseller.”
  • After the 10th, Microsoft runs audit checks.  This doesn’t mean you will automatically get audited, but it does mean Microsoft will be keeping a closer eye on what you report.
  • If you report on the 10th and your credit card has issues or you are on credit hold, the reseller cannot submit it to Microsoft.  That’s one reason you should report prior to the 10th to avoid any errors.
  • Make it routine – you pay your cable bill each month, you should pay your SPLA as well.
  • It’s the cost of doing business
  • Any way you slice it, you have to report something

I understand that no one likes to report.  In a lot of instances it’s your biggest cost as a company.  My advice is always report, the cost of your monthly licensing spend is a lot less than the cost of an audit!  Hope this helps.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2013 in Compliance, SPLA Reporting

 

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RDS Licensing Explained

This article has been moved to our new platform:

RDS and other licensing related white papers: https://mscloudlicensing.com/document-library/

RDS licensing questions from the community

https://mscloudlicensing.com/forum/

RDS Blog Article

https://mscloudlicensing.com/blog-articles/

 
11 Comments

Posted by on July 7, 2013 in RDS

 

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What’s Your Licensing Strategy?

I love the question “What’s your cloud strategy?” It’s the new ice breaker for salespeople around the globe. My thoughts? Why bother asking customers about their cloud strategy if it does not include licensing?  The BIGGEST mistake service providers (SPLA’s) make is selling a solution first and worrying about the licensing impact later. They build data centers, talk about virtualizing, even talk about the savings of cap ex vs. op ex, but never talk about the licensing until someone brings it up or they get audited. Just because the technology enables something, does not mean you can license that way.

VDI is a prime example of this. “You can host virtual desktops as a service right? Install the desktop OS on a server and stream it? Why not? The concept has been around for years. I ‘Googled’ VDI as a service and several companies are doing this…it must be right…right?” Wrong! Yes, technically speaking you can host virtual desktops using Windows 7/8. Licensing gurus and the product user rights and the audit team will disagree with you. Unfortunately there’s no way to do this under SPLA. Next question that comes up is “why?” Wish I knew the answer, perhaps Microsoft is looking out after the OEM manufactures, but then again they launched Surface.

Microsoft is auditing everyone. There are few guarantees in life, but one guarantee is not everyone under the SPLA program is licensing correctly. Just a word of advice, know the licensing before implementing a solution.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
 

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Why Timing is Everything

Whether you’re signing a new SPLA or renewing your old one, timing is everything.  When you sign an agreement, you are bound by the use rights at the time of sigining.  For example, if you sign a new SPLA in April, 2013 you will be bound by the SPUR (product use rights) for April 2013. 

Why is this important?  As with technology, licensing is always evolving.  As an example, with the release of SQL 2012, Microsoft switched from a processor based licensing structure to a core based licensing structure.  Since the 2013 SPUR only has core licensing (not processor), you will be forced to license by core when you sign a new SPLA regardless of which version you have installed. In other words, anyone (whether renewing or new) who signs an agreement after December 31st, 2012 will be forced to license by core. 

Windows 2012 is another change that can impact your usage reporting.  With the release of Windows 2012 last August, anyone who signs a new SPLA after August 31st, 2012 will be forced to license by the 2012 use rights.  You can run previous versions such as 2008, but you will need to license by the current SPUR. 

What happens if you sign a new SPLA in August before the license change?  You will have 3 years (SPLA is a 3 year agreement) to license the old way.  The catch? If you migrate any servers to the 2012 version you will have to license those servers by the 2012 use rights.  For example, if you are running SQL 2008 R2 Standard edition and decide to migrate to SQL 2012 Standard edition, the new server will need to be reported by the core not by processor!

Ask in advance for the licensing impact before renewing your SPLA agreement.  Better yet, follow this blog for the latest updates and you will be well prepared!

Thanks for reading-

SPLA Man

 
17 Comments

Posted by on May 29, 2013 in Compliance, SPLA General

 

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Why I Love License Mobility (Farm Edition)

Life is full of little surprises, license mobility within server farms happens to be one of them. License mobility within server farms allows a service provider to take advantage of virtualization without the worry of over licensing or for that matter; under licensing.

Let’s say you have a host machine and that has (2) 6 core procs running 10 virtual machines. You want to run SQL Enterprise. You also have a second host, within the same server farm. The VMs on one machine can migrate to the other. You have to license both hosts right? Wrong! Here’s why.

The old licensing methodology would require you to license both hosts. The new methodology, would allow you to license 1. In the above example, you would need to license 12 cores of SQL Enterprise. You have to license the host with the most cores, but at least it is just the one host! What’ the caveat? You cannot have both hosts running VMs at the same time. If you do, you must license both hosts. Check out the SPUR. Not all products allow license mobility so be sure to check!

The definition of a server farm is as follows:

Assigning Licenses and Using Software within a Server Farm

You may determine the number of licenses you need, assign those licenses, and use the server software as provided in the General License Terms.  Alternatively, you may apply the use rights below.

Server Farm. A server farm consists of up to two data centers each physically located:

  • in a time zone that is within four hours of the local time zone of the other (Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) and not DST), and/or
  • within the European Union (EU) and/or European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

Each data center may be part of only one server farm. You may reassign a data center from one server farm to another, but not on a short-term basis (i.e., not within 30 days of the last assignment).

Please check out the products in the SPUR to ensure the mobility rights apply. Keep in mind, not all products are eligible.  For example, SQL Web does not have mobility rights, but SQL Enterprise does.  Be Careful!

In my opinion, this is a great way to take advantage of virtualization, reduce licensing costs, but more importantly…be compliant.  If an auditor were to come knocking on the door to your datacenter, there’s not much they can say if you take advantage of unlimited virtualization rights such as Windows Datacenter and SQL Enterprise 2012.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
2 Comments

Posted by on May 15, 2013 in License Mobility

 

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Office 365 Under SPLA

Article update: We created a new website called MSCloudlicensing to help SPLA and CSP partners understand the different program options and use rights available to them. The site is designed to be a collaborative platform,  which includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  It’s more in depth than a simple blog.  www.mscloudlicensing.com 

Document Library: Easy to read white papers on licensing and best practices. What really happens in an audit? How are other service providers handling CSP and Azure? AWS licensing? https://mscloudlicensing.com/document-library/
Forum: Experts always review and answer your licensing questions. https://mscloudlicensing.com/forum/
Articles: Most of the splalicensing.com articles you are used to reading and many more on CSP, Azure, AWS, and other cloud providers.
https://mscloudlicensing.com/subscription/

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With the release of Office 365, the Microsoft hosting community has been asking “What’s in it for us?”   At a glance, I would agree, especially when it comes to Office.   Office can be installed on up to 5 devices with Office 365, under SPLA, you have to install it on a server and have remote access into the server.  This would require not only Office, but RDS and Windows Server!  Microsoft did recently (January, 2014) announce RDS mobility rights. More details found here. I also wrote why Office needs to have mobility rights or else the entire “Office 365” type experience (from a licensing perspective) won’t work. Check it out here
If I was in the hosting business, I would not try to compete against Office 365 from a licensing perspective; I would embrace it.  The most successful service providers offer Office 365 as part of their solution.  For example, if you host SharePoint, like it or not the end customer is going to look at Office 365.  They will want to compare your solution to Microsoft’s. What differentiates your offering to Microsoft’s?  There’s the obvious – you are regional or local, you can offer customization, you can also offer dedicated or multitenant environments; but more importantly you can offer services. Customers want to move to the cloud, the question is “how do they get there?”  This is what you do.  This is what you are great at.  This is where you can increase your margins. Back to my SharePoint example, if you say to your customer – “here’s Microsoft’s SharePoint and here’s ours.  We will help you facilitate to Office 365 if you choose (become the partner of record) but here is what you will be missing.”  You are promoting your brand and not shunning Microsoft’s.  I like what FP Web is doing.  They are the SharePoint experts and are wiling to compare their solution to Microsoft’s on their website.  Check it out for yourself http://www.fpweb.net/why-us/compare-o365-fpweb/

From a SPLA licensing perspective, the only bundled SKU is the productivity suite.  This includes Lync Enterprise, SharePoint Standard, and Exchange Standard.  It does not include Windows, SQL, or Office. Windows processor licenses allows unlimited number of users to access, the more users, the less expensive it is. Eventually all you will be quoting is the Exchange license.  (if you are an Exchange only provider) That is how large service providers are able to hold down their costs.

Other option to Office 365 is to offer License Mobility.  License Mobility allows your end customers to purchase licenses (with Software Assurance) and bring it into your environment.  The advantage for the customer is volume discounts, and the advantage for the service provider is the ability to offer this in a multitenant hardware infrastructure.  The virtual instance has to be dedicated, but the hardware it resides on can be multitenant.  This is only if the customer has Software Assurance and the service provider signs the license mobility addendum.  Windows is not included and would have to be reported under SPLA.  I will write another blog on license mobility.  Stay tuned.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
22 Comments

Posted by on February 26, 2013 in Office 365

 

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