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Steps to take to limit SPLA audit exposure

It’s the fourth quarter at Microsoft, this means audits are in full swing.  One of the easiest ways to collect large upfront payments are through SPLA audits.  Knowing this, what steps can you take to limit your audit exposure?

  1. Inventory – Although you submit a SPLA usage report each month, licenses are missed inadvertently.  When collecting inventory of what you should and should not report, be sure to include customer owned licenses.  If ANY customers are bringing licenses into your datacenter, they must have software assurance if it’s a shared environment.  Secondly, make sure to take a hard look at SQL.  To no one’s surprise, SQL is very expensive.  If you miss license SQL, it can add up really quickly.
  2. Agreements – Which MBSA agreement did you sign?  Don’t know what a MBSA agreement is?  Please ask your reseller for a copy.  Every SPLA customer has a signed Master Agreement.  This is the umbrella that ties all your Microsoft agreements together including SPLA.  There’s specific language in the agreement that goes over audits and the timeframe in which they are able to audit historically. Look closely at your agreements with your customer.  Did you mention they are responsible for licenses they bring into your datacenter?  Did you send them a license verification form for license mobility?  Do you have language that states they are responsible for anything under their Microsoft agreement but you are only responsible for yours?  Do you make the end user license terms (part of your signed SPLA) available to all customers?  Don’t know what an end user license terms agreement is?  Ask your reseller.
  3. Check AD closely.  Do you have administrative accounts that you are reporting?  What about test accounts?  Read your Microsoft SPLA agreement around testing, developing, and administrative access.
  4. Label server names appropriately – Label if a server is “passive” and label a server if it’s “development”.  This can save you time with the auditors.
  5. Check server install dates – If a server was active June, 2013 but nothing was reported on that server until June, 2015; Microsoft is going to ask A) what that server is doing and B) Why haven’t you reported it.  If it’s doing nothing, than shut it down before the audit.
  6. Check SAL licenses –  Do all users who potentially HAVE access are being reported?
  7. Check Office licenses – Do all users need access to Office Pro Plus?  Can they get away with Standard?  Did your engineers inadvertently publish Visio to every user when it only needs to go to a handful of end users?
  8. Double check server versions – Did your engineers accidentally install SQL Enterprise when it should be Standard?
  9. Are you taking advantage of all the use rights available?  As a SPLA, are you aware you can provide demonstrations to your customers at no charge?  Are you aware of the admin rights?  Are you aware you can run 50% of what you are hosting externally – internally?  (must actually report it all under SPLA – they are not free).
  10. Virtualization rights – Are you reporting SQL Enterprise to run unlimited VM’s? Are you running Windows Datacenter?  Remember, you do not license the individual VMs for Windows Server.  (You count physical cores which allows 1 VM for Standard or unlimited for Datacenter).
  11. MSDN, VDI, and other restrictions – No, you cannot host VDI and MSDN in a shared environment.  If you are, dedicate the servers immediately.  If you are hosting from the same hardware you are running internally, this also must be separated.
  12. Hiring Experts – Are they really experts or just advertise as such?

Hope this helps.  Any questions email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2017 in Compliance

 

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Core Licensing for Windows and SQL

In today’s article, we will review Per Core licensing in SPLA for Windows and SQL Server.

What products are licensed by core?

Application – SQL Server 2016

Per Core (OS) – Windows Server Standard 2016;Windows Server Datacenter 2016; Core Infrastructure Datacenter 2016; and Core Infrastructure Standard 2016.

How is it licensed for SQL 2016?

Physical Core – Removed the core factor table with the release of SQL 2016.  The number of licenses required equals the number of physical cores on the Server with a minimum of 4 cores per physical processor.  For Enterprise, you can run unlimited number of instances on the physical or virtual OSE’s (In other words, unlimited virtualization rights with SQL Enterprise).   For other editions, you can run unlimited instances on the physical server (not virtual).

Individual OSE (individual VM’s)  4 cores per minimum virtual OSE.  (license the number of cores you assign to a VM with a 4 core minimum) You are allowed to run unlimited instances on the virtual OSE provided that each virtual OSE is properly licensed.

SQL is sold in packs of two cores.  Again, you cannot license 1 – 2 core pack of SQL.  You would be found out of compliant pretty easily since the licensing rules state you must report a minimum of 4 cores not 2.

How is per core license with Windows?

Licensing is very similar to the old model, just licensed by physical core instead of each physical processor (minor change).

The number of licenses required equals the number of physical cores on the host machine.  It does not matter if it’s ESX host or Hyper-V.  Unlike SQL, there is a 8 core minimum per physical processor.  As with previous editions, Datacenter will allow unlimited VM’s and Standard will allow 1.  If you have more than 7 VM’s on a host machine, Datacenter edition is more economical.  With Standard edition, you have to license each physical core but it will only allow 1 VM.  If you have a second VM on that host, you must license each physical core a second time (Stack licenses to get more VM’s).  Like SQL, it is priced/sold in packs of two cores.

Other items to remember with Windows 2016:

Containers 

Container is a technology, not a license definition.  It means an isolated place where an application can run without affecting the rest of the system.  It helps eliminate application delay and density.  Stuck watching an application icon spin for eternity because of volume?  Containers might be your answer.  There are two types of containers:

Windows Server Container – shares a kernel (not popcorn) with the container host and all containers running on the host.  It’s part of the operating system, which is why both Datacenter and Standard edition allow for unlimited Windows containers.

Hyper-V Containers –  are completely isolated virtual machines.  That’s why Datacenter is the only edition to allow unlimited Hyper-V-containers.  Each Hyper-V container has its own copy of the Windows kernel and have memory assigned directly to them.  In short, you can think of a Hyper-V container as a separate VM.

Nano Server Option –  This is not a separate license model, just a deployment option.  In volume licensing, it is a software assurance benefit.  In SPLA, it is included.

Other things to note

Hyper-Threading

This is also a technology, not a licensing term.  It splits the physical core into two separate threads of power.  When hyper-threading is turned on, it creates two hardware threads for each physical core.  From a licensing perspective, you must license one core for one thread.  Since hyper-threading is for virtual cores, no need to worry about it when licensing by the physical core option only.

Fail-Over- When an end customer uses a license mobility right (transfers a license over to a third party’s dedicated VM) they can also move their failover rights that come with software assurance.  They cannot use the datacenter provider as the failover only.  In other words, they cannot install SQL with software assurance on premise and extend the fail-over to a third-party datacenter.  The end customer would have to transfer via license mobility to the datacenter provider in order for failover rights to be applicable in an outsourcer scenario.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

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If you could change ONE thing in SPLA…What would it be?

If you were THE Microsoft SPLA MGR in charge of the entire program, what would you change to help grow the SPLA business? (more importantly, YOUR SPLA business)  If you have multiple that’s ok.

Here’s a list from a colleague to get you started:

  • Allow Windows Desktop OS to be included in the unlimited virtualization rights of Windows Server DC
  • Allow MSDN to have License Mobility Rights.
  • Remove the SharePoint Enterprise SALs additive requirement.  Just make Enterprise more expensive.
  • Create cores for Excel and Access for ISV’s.
  • Expand the Productivity Suite and have O365 equivalents to align with O365 pricing.
  • Bring back SQL Enterprise SALs.
  • Add Power BI as a product
  • Reduce Office SPLA pricing!
  • Have the resellers require an End Customer Enrollment for deploying customer owned hardware, and open it up to include Windows PC’s.
  • Bring better clarity to RDS licensing.
  • Create a better way for Microsoft field reps to get credit for SPLA consumption.

You can tweet me at @SPLA_man or send me an email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2017 in SPLA General

 

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IaaS Gotchas…

In this post I will highlight new (and not so new) compliance gotchas as it pertains to providing infrastructure as a service.

Let’s start with a common example and go from there.  You provide the infrastructure such as Windows/SQL, your customer provides the applications.  Sound familiar?  You license Windows Datacenter, SQL Enterprise in a shared (aka public cloud) environment under SPLA. You have no idea or really care what applications your customer’s are installing right?  You just provide the support of the infrastructure.  That’s not your concern.  It’s their application, why should you care?  Ahhh…but maybe you should.

Have you ever wondered how they’re accessing the applications?  Are all applications web-based?  I will answer that question for you…no.  So how are they accessing the applications?  Do they use Citrix?  Do they remote into the application somehow?  There’s that word…remote.

If you enable the Remote Desktop Services role within Windows Server – you guessed it…you need to report RDS licenses.  The number of IaaS providers who just report Windows and SQL is astronomical. The number of IaaS providers now reporting RDS is also rapidly growing.  Did they wake up one day and decide they should start reporting RDS?  Unfortunately no.  They were audited.  Shoot me over an email and I will forward the guide that explains RDS and when it applies. Remember when you license RDS, you need to license each user that HAS access to RDS – not who does access.

Let me provide an example of how easily you could be underreporting RDS.   Let’s say your customer has an application from another vendor (outside Microsoft) that’s hosted in your datacenter.  That same vendor provides support to the application.  You are not hosting the application for the vendor but for your customer, you just provide the vendor access to support the application via remote connection.  SPLA allows 20 users to provide support and administration per datacenter.  If you exceed that limit, you are going to have to report those additional users.  Yes, even if you are not charging them.

Other IaaS Gotchas –

While we’re on the topic of customer owned applications, do you have it written in your agreement with the customer that you are not responsible for the applications they install?  What would happen if they install applications that you are not aware of and they don’t have the appropriate licenses…who’s responsible you or the end customer?  Kind of a trick question, it’s both.  You will get audited, it’s installed in your datacenter, you are ultimately responsible.  You need to ensure you have it written in your agreement that you’re not responsible so you can have a nice chat with your customer.  All the big boys do it…you should too.

What about SQL?  Are you virtualizing?  Why aren’t you reporting SQL Enterprise?  Are you utilizing all the use rights that come with SQL Enterprise – unlimited virtualization, DR, mobility within server farms, etc?  What about smaller environments?  Have you considered licensing by user instead of by core for SQL Standard edition?

SQL Web is tempting isn’t it?  Less expensive option but no one really understands what it is.   Here’s a quick synopsis – if you do not host public facing websites, SQL Web is not an option.

How are you managing your datacenter? Do you have System Center installed?  You should report the Core Infrastructure Suite.  Running Hyper V with few VM’s, license CPS. Both products include Windows.  You need Windows to run System Center, so you kill two birds with one stone so to speak.

Ask your customers if they have Software Assurance.  It’s no longer about latest version rights and annual payments.  It’s about moving to the cloud.  Let’s make sure it’s your cloud and not someone else’s.

Conclusion –

I’ve been around this game of SPLA for a long time.  The best advice I can give is to listen to your customers and don’t be afraid to change.  Cloud is evolving, you should evolve too.  Don’t report out of convenience, look into ways you can optimize what you are reporting.  It’s competitive out there, let’s make sure you are getting the most value out of your agreement.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2015 in IaaS

 

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A Fireside Chat with a Microsoft SQL Technical Specialist…What’s new and how you can profit from Microsoft SQL Enterprise

I had the opportunity to sit down with Sarah Barela, SQL Server Technical Specialist at Microsoft. She’s very passionate in her role and without question a great resource. In this interview, it’s all about SQL. More importantly, it’s about SQL for the service provider community. Although this blog is about licensing, I focused more on the features of SQL.

Special thanks to Sarah and the US Microsoft Hosting team for accommodating!

SPLA Man – Hi Sarah, thank you for spending some time with me this morning to chat about one of your favorite topics…SQL.

Sarah – My pleasure!

SPLA Man – So tell me a little bit about yourself, where did this passion for SQL start?

Sarah – (Chuckles) I started working with SQL over 17 years ago; back in the day with SQL 6.5. (I might be dating myself here) I worked for (who at the time) a service provider called Maximum ASP. Our primary focus was working with the Microsoft developer community and my role was database management. My responsibilities grew to the point I was managing over 1k databases by myself! Needless to say I became a specialists in managing larger deployments which ultimately led me to Microsoft in 2013. Now my role is to help service providers deploy new SQL Server offers.

SPLA Man – What are some cool new features of 2014 that service providers can take advantage of?

Sarah – Biggest new feature is called in memory OLTP – stands for online transactional processing. From the most basic level it allows to you to put your tables in your database into RAM memory to make it very fast.   There’s also a lot of new hybrid features to move from on premise to public cloud to make the transition easier.

SPLA Man – So I talk to service provider’s all day long. One thing that always surprises me is although they have the right to use the latest version under SPLA, for one reason or another they still are running SQL 2008 and in some cases 2005. Why would now be a good time to upgrade?

Sarah – For one thing, it’s support. Both 2005 and 2008 is in extended support. I’ve found that cloud technologies and customers want more features more rapidly. Waiting to deploy newer versions is becoming less of an option, as your customers will be out of data. There are also more features added that applications want to take advantage of including the in memory feature within SQL 2014. There’s also minimal effort in deployment, but the impact in performance could significant.

SPLA Man – There’s a lot of talk about SQL Enterprise, what type of service provider’s do you see deploying Enterprise? Is there anything special they should consider?

Sarah – I think it really boils down to database needs over a specific market profile. Think of social media companies (as an example). They may have fewer employees, but consume parabyte’s of data. By any other standard, they would be considered a small business. I think that’s the biggest thing. All service providers use Enterprise on some level but I would say those service provider’s that consume a large amount of data and have high availability requirements would be a starting point.

SPLA Man – So speaking of data, one of the features in SQL Enterprise is something called data compression. Which is available in Enterprise, but not available in Standard. What is data compression?

Sarah – So what data compression does is it’s an algorithm used to compress data as it is stored on discs. So let’s take an example of a database that stores a consumer’s address. A person’s street address is fairly unique. But city, state, and zip code are more common; (there are only 50 states as an example), so what data compression does is it finds data and shrinks it down so it does not store duplicate information. So ultimately, this reduces the amount of disc space needed; especially in very large environments. If you are spending a large amount of money on storage and you can reduce that by (whatever amount that equates) than that saves actual money on hardware. That’s why it is so important.

SPLA Man –So data compression aside…what are other areas a service provider become more profitable by switching to SQL Enterprise over Standard? As an example, are tasks better performed with 1 instance of SQL Enterprise v. several instances of SQL Standard?

Sarah – One of the things that SQL Enterprise allows you to do is it has features in there that support multi-tenancy. The more customers you can have running on a single server, you can spread that cost over more customers; which can lower your cost as well as the overall cost per individual customer. Those features like the resource governor, allows a service provider to divide up resources within the SQL server. It prevents things such as (what we call) “the noisy neighbor” in other words, one customer can’t impact the processing of another. There are also features within Enterprise that allows for isolation; so one customer has no access to another customer’s database. So it is secure. From a licensing perspective, Enterprise does allow unlimited virtualization if you license by the physical core. This allows for more consolidation (including hardware). Although the price per core is higher than Standard, when you look at spinning up multiple VM’s it becomes much more cost-effective. So it all goes back to the idea of multi-tenancy. The more customers you can run on a single physical hardware or by using virtualization, you can spread the cost of Enterprise across different customers.

SPLA Man – What about SQL BI? I rarely see this being reported. Are service providers missing something? What’s a good differentiation between SQL Standard and SQL BI?

Sarah – Service providers are hosting applications that are used by multiple people. What I have found in BI Edition (which is SQL Standard plus additional data warehousing and Business Intelligence technologies in the SQL server stack) is that often times the number of users that are using those features conflicts with the way it’s licensed. SQL BI is licensed by SAL only (not by core), and it is often more cost-effective to use Enterprise in a hosted environment. (Large amount of end users) I also think there’s familiarity with Enterprise and/or Standard, so they stick with what they know. If you have smaller environments where users are connecting to that database, than BI is a good option.

SPLA Man – A ton of service providers license SQL Web because it’s cheap. Although SQL Web is less expensive, from a licensing perspective there are some limitations. Can you elaborate?

Sarah – When I started at Microsoft, I did not know that SQL Web Edition was just for public websites. When you read it you think it could be used for any website. One trick is it has to be public website and certainly cannot be used to support a line of business applications. One thing to consider, if a website has a log in; then it’s not public.

Side Note – from the SPUR page 26. Notice it states: “support public AND Internet accessible” Not public OR Internet accessible” There’s a big difference between “and” and “or”

The software may be used only to support public and Internet accessible

Web pages

Web sites

Web applications

Web services

It may not be used to support line of business applications (e.g., Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Management and other similar applications).

SPLA Man – One service provider told me that Oracle was better, simply because it wasn’t dependent on the platform that it runs on. How would you respond to that?

Sarah – Although true, Windows is universal and is highly available as well.

SPLA Man – Are there any promotions service providers can take advantage of?

Sarah – SPLA partners may want to check with their SPLA reseller from time to time to see if there are any upcoming promotions, new products, or licensing changes.

Side Note –  although there’s not a special promotion tied to SQL at this time, service providers can always offer free trials and product demonstrations to your end customers. This is part of the SPLA agreement.

SPLA Man – Where’s a good resource for more information?

Sarah – One of the resources I used the most when I was working at a service provider was the feature matrix, which shows what features are in each edition of SQL server. This is found at www.microsoft.com/SQL you can also check out http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/sql-server/default.aspx

SPLA Man – Well I think that covers it. Thank you again for taking the time.

Sarah – No problem! Great catching up with you.

So what are your thoughts?  How do you leverage SQL in a hosted environment?  Need help with licensing? Reach out to us and let’s review your options.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
4 Comments

Posted by on November 23, 2014 in Interviews, SQL 2014

 

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SQL Enterprise – it’s more than virtualization

I sat in on a webinar this afternoon and was really impressed with the different capabilities within SQL Enterprise.  I always sold SQL based off virtualization needs.  What a goof. Although important, there are several other factors that go into licensing SQL Enterprise as to Standard or Web.

Let’s first break the different components down to better understand the differences.

SQL Web – Basic SKU.  Designed for hosting web apps and websites.  Many hosting providers try to license SQL Web to support line of business applications. (which you cannot do by the way) Think of line of business applications as applications to run your business.  (very poetic by the way).

SQL Standard – The most common reported SKU in SPLA but also the one that gets service providers in trouble; especially as it pertains to virtualization and mobility within server farms.  Offers some high availability, although not as complete as Enterprise.  Database size is also an issue as it only supports up to 64GB.  Sounds like a lot, but ask a SQL admin how much that really is.  Newer editions offer mobility rights, and can be licensed on a per VM basis.  Not a bad thing.

SQL Enterprise – Ahh…SQL Enterprise.  This cost a lot doesn’t it?  Man, how can someone afford this month end and month out?  Ask your reseller what’s the difference between Enterprise and Standard and the first thing they will say is virtualization. (that’s what I did too for the record) Although true, there’s more to this than just virtualization.  For starters, the size alone is more than Standard.  (See chart below).  High availability with Enterprise is truly high availability.  It’s always on (Failover cluster instances and availability groups).  Although costs seem high, if data is lost, how much will that cost you?

SQL BI – The in between SKU, meaning its similar to Standard, but not as robust as Enterprise. In the SPLA world, it is licensed by user only.  This “Jan Brady” of SQL has…..you guessed it….BI features.  This SKU is very rarely reported.  If I had to guess, she will be merged or have licensing changes with future releases. No basis or knowledge, just an educated guess.

So back to SQL Enterprise.  I think the service provider community should listen to what other hosters have to say about SQL. Let’s look at the real IT wizards  (also known as ISV’s – those that develop applications) do with SQL Enterprise.  If you look at the chart below, this illustrates the features they use within Enterprise the most (Source: Microsoft)

Picture1

You can see (kind of unclearly) that scale and performance outweighs everything else. “Scale and Performance” means data compression, table partitioning, etc.  Over 23% say HA/DR is the most important feature. (always on).  I like to listen to these guys (ISV’s) since their business (their application) is only as good as the technology it resides on.  If they rely on a certain product over the other, I would like to better understand…why?  From the chart, it’s no surprise that performance ranks #1.  Imagine if performance was bad?  How good will their application look then?  So if they trust SQL Enterprise based off performance and HA…maybe you should give it a second glance.

From Microsoft, here’s the top 10 reasons hoster’s should consider Enterprise.  Oddly enough, virtualization wasn’t one of them.

1.More than 64GB memory

2.Online Re-Indexing

3.In-Memory OLTP

4.Always On Availability Groups

5.Partition Switching

6.Columnstore Indexes

7.Resource Governor

8.Change Data Capture

9.Transparent Database Encryption

10.Data Compression

Here are some good links on the topic below.  Feel free to check out.

SQL 2014 Overview

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sqlserver/dn135309.aspx

SQL under SPLA

https://splalicensing.com/category/sql-2012/

SQL throughout the years – downloadable documents

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/search/Results.aspx?q=sql&form=DLC

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on October 28, 2014 in SQL 2012

 

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