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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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11 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2015 in IaaS

 

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The Cloud Platform Suite (CPS)

The Cloud Platform Suite (CPS in Microsoft language) is a new SKU coming January, 2014 and will be in the next release of the SPUR.   (there’s a lot of acronyms in this post). CPS is a bit out of the norm for SPLA;  the licensing is by processor and by guest instance.  CPS combines Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 in one SKU (similar to the Core Infrastructure SKU (CIS)).  To add to the complexity, the core infrastructure suite is not going away. I wrote an overview recently that provides great details in licensing Windows, CIS, and CPS at “Licensing in a virtual world”

On the surface, CIS and CPS appear to be the same SKU, but there are significant differences.  To reiterate, the Core Infrastructure Suite is licensed by processor on the host and will allow you to run virtual instances depending on the SKU in which you report – Datacenter= unlimited VM’s/Standard= 1 VM.  CPS is licensed by processor on the host and by virtual instance.   CPS will allow the VM to move to different hosts, as long as the underlying host is licensed and you report the highest number of VMs.  The other caveat – you must RUN Windows 2012, System Center 2012 and HYPER V.  If you are not running Hyper V, you cannot license CPS.

Why would you report one over the other?  It really boils down to the number of VM’s deployed.  You need to calculate the total cost of the solution (both the number of hosts and VM’s), and whether or not you decide to install 2012.  If not, you cannot license CPS.

In my opinion, if you are virtualized, but not highly virtualized, CPS is your answer.  If you have high number of VMs, stick with Datacenter.  Remember, under CPS you have to license each guest separately.  (except if it’s Linux, no “guest” fee is charged for Linux VMs running on the Cloud Platform Suite “host”).  The cost is not astronomical per VM, but if you run 100’s of VMs, the cost can add up quickly.

Clear as mud?  Probably. It’s Microsoft licensing.  That being said, I think this is a good SKU for smaller environments and provides more options for service providers.  In Microsoft eyes, this SKU will encourage their customers and partners to deploy 2012R2.

Hope this helps and thanks for reading. There will be more insight on this as we get closer to January.  Stay tuned!

SPLA Man

 
5 Comments

Posted by on November 1, 2013 in Cloud Platform Suite

 

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Your Cloud…My Terms

“Oh Cloud” Steve Ballmer once shouted vociferously to an enthusiastic croud at the Microsoft’s World Partner Conference a few years ago. He was later quoted as saying “the cloud creates opportunities and responsibilities” This may sound generic, but feel he’s absolutely right.

I think for vendors such as Microsoft, the opportunity exists to better align themselves with a platform that is more adaptable to the cloud. (Just look at System Center, Office 365, and Azure as examples). I think for the Enterprise space, it means the opportunity to leverage their mission critical applications in a cloud environment with the end result being cost savings. Finally, I think for cloud hosters it means both (opportunity and responsibility). How can they differentiate themselves to end customers so they will be “all in” (another Ballmer line) their cloud and not someone elses, while ensuring their customer can sleep well at night knowing their information is secure?

At the Microsoft Hosting Summit this past spring, one of the presenters discussed ways in which hosters can increase confidence with customers and truly differentiate themselves in a competitive market. They concluded that customers will go to the cloud when they are in control. Things such as security, location of data, and disaster recovery were top of their list. That shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise, but do feel cloud providers must be prepared to address these concerns if they are to grow.

Managing the SPLA program in particular, I regularly hear cloud providers concerned over Office 365 and what other service providers are advertising. I understand, if I was in the hosting business I’d be concerned as well. We may not like it, but we must somehow acknowledge it. Office 365 is not going away, neither is Azure and neither are the other 8,000 SPLA partners. So what are you to do?

I agree with the presenter at the Hosting Summit. I feel customers want to outsource the headache of managing an infrastructure, but still want a sense of control over their data. I read a statistic that showed over 65% of companies would rather have a private and public cloud than hosting everything in-house. Their main concern as to why they do not do it today is security. I strongly believe that if you can create a brand that acknowledges end-user control, keeping the cloud on their terms instead of yours, and have strong (even public) SLA’s that customers can easily read (no small print) it will make switching from an on premise solution to the cloud that much more compelling.

I understand I am not writing something that you haven’t heard or read before, but do feel it is often overlooked. Even in searching the largest of the large providers on the web, I cannot easily find an SLA on their site. If knowing security is a concern, advertise how you address this issue and listen what your customers want. They will thank you later.

Thanks for reading.

SPLA Man

 
4 Comments

Posted by on July 26, 2013 in In My Opinion, Uncategorized

 

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