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Tag Archives: Windows Server

SPLA Pricing Going Up (again)

I recently wrote a summary on SPLA pricing and the reasons behind the increases. Still, I thought today I would share a real example of reducing SPLA reporting for a specific service provider, so the increase was not as impactful.  If you would like a summary of your particular scenario, feel free to email me at info@splalicensing.com.  I just helped over 30 hosters this week alone in this analysis.

Company Name: 

Hosting Delight

Summary: 

They are providing IaaS (primarily Windows Datacenter, RDS, SQL Enterprise).  Has license mobility for end customer dedicated VM environments.  He dabbles a bit in VDI but is so frustrated because it is NEVER allowed in SPLA the way they want to provide it. 

Current Price Structure

Hosting Delight reports over 30,000 (USD) a month in licensing reported to their Reseller.  Hosting Delight earns roughly 20% in the margin (including licensing costs and support).

2021 Price Structure

Without doing anything, his cost is going up on all Windows Server and RDS deployments, making up over half of their reported revenue.  Ultimately this is DECREASING his margin between 5-10% for each customer.

2022 Price Structure with SPLA Man

I sat down with Hosting Delight and did a quick summary.  It turned out they were paying more for his licenses than other providers.  Not all providers charge the same, which had some impact but did not paint the entire picture. 

 I also analyzed what they are reporting on a product-by-product basis.  I was able to save them 10% on their licensing.  This was great news; the price increase had little to no impact on their business. 

How was I able to save them?

First, I worked in the SPLA Reseller space for over 20 years and know how the pricing model works in SPLA and other programs.  Secondly, this provider (Hosting Delight) kept reporting the same thing month in and month out.  They had an Excel file, the engineer submitted what they thought was accurate to an office manager, and the office manager reported to the Reseller.   Sound familiar?  I thought so.

The problem with this strategy wasn’t necessarily compliance; the issue was no one was considering licensing optimization.  I hate the word “optimization,” but it is true.  (I also hate the word “transformation” for the record, but it is what it is).  Here is a brief of what we did.

  • We set up security rules for SAL-based RDS licensing – restricting user access to server workloads.  Remember, it is not who accesses but who HAS access.  So frustrating.
  • For SQL workloads, we noticed many servers were passive, yet they were paying for those passive instances.  We changed the server’s name to “passive” for easy trackability and to take advantage of active/passive use rights.
  • We consolidated VMs and Host machines and advised them to report SQL Enterprise instead.  Yes, SQL Enterprise is super expensive, but it allows unlimited VMs and is one of the few products NOT going up in price next year.
  • For Windows Server, we offered VDI through the Windows Server GUI instead of Windows 10.  This provided a VDI type offering, something they had been considering for a very long time.

It is easy for an organization to say, “we will save you money,” but NO ONE has a website dedicated specifically to SPLA Licensing.  I know how SPLA pricing works, how Resellers work, and how your competitors price their hosting environment. 

Please don’t wait for the price increase; let’s start having the conversation now.  You can email me at info@splalicensing.com or check out www.mscloudlicensing.com (SPLA Man sister website).  Let’s optimize your SPLA Reporting transformation. Ugh. There I go again!

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2021 in Uncategorized

 

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Transition SKU’s for CRM Hoster’s Available Thru October, 2019

For Dynamics hosters worried about all the changes with CRM have until October 31, 2019 to license the transition SKU’s in SPLA.

Although good news and provides some flexibility, the transition pricing is still higher than current CRM licenses.  As an example, Basic CRM SKU transition pricing for Customer Service is almost double!

Transition pricing is available to ease transition to the new Dynamics 365 pricing model.  It is also designed for current CRM customers, not new customers.  To learn more about Dynamics 365, please check out Dynamics 365 Licensing for SPLA

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

PS- Dont forget to license SQL and Windows with CRM!

 

 
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Posted by on May 15, 2017 in CRM, Dynamics 365

 

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Core Licensing for Windows and SQL

Article update (April, 2018 ) This article can be found at https://mscloudlicensing.com/2018/03/06/licensing-sql-2016-and-windows-2016/  We review best practices in reducing audit exposure, use rights and guidelines for SPLA licensing.

 

 

 
 

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Azure Stack, SQL Stretch Database and the Hosting Summit

Last month, Microsoft held their annual Hosting Summit in Bellevue, WA. The good news is SPLA is not going away. Last quarter marked the 20th straight QTR of double digit growth for Microsoft SPLA. What is changing is the competitive landscape. Microsoft does not see SPLA partners as a competitor per se, they see SPLA as one of the biggest competitive advantages over other cloud offerings (IBM, AWS, Google, etc). They have over 30,000 SPLA partners worldwide, and they believe they can leverage those 30,000 partners to offer different cloud solutions.

Microsoft is betting big on what they define as “hybrid cloud” and that’s where they see service providers (SPLA) playing a significant part. Hybrid cloud is not just offloading workloads from on premise to another datacenter, it’s about leveraging different technologies to deliver solutions. As an example, late last year Microsoft offered solution called “Azure Stack” You can read about it here.

It’s the same APIs and same code as what Microsoft delivers through Azure. From a licensing perspective, Azure Stack is cheaper through SPLA (Windows) than it would be to pay through consumption. It will be available to offer this summer through the hardware manufacturers but you can download it now to test out.

The other big bet is SQL, and especially around the feature of stretch database. In laymen terms, it’s taking data that is not often consumed and offloading it to the cloud, reducing resources and consumption on servers locally.   You can read more about stretch database from our friends at MSDN

All said, it was good to meet old friends and say hello to new ones at this event.  If you were at the hosting summit and you did not have the chance to meet the infamous SPLA Man, email me at info@splalicensing.com.  Would love to learn more about your offerings and how we can work together to make licensing simple.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in Azure, In My Opinion, SQL 2016

 

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Worried about Windows 2016 Cores?

Yes, it’s the talk of the town.  “Windows 2016!  Oh my!  It’s moving to cores!!!”  That part is true.  What is NOT true is even when Windows 2016 is released, it doesn’t mean you have to license by core – you can still license by processor for all 2012 and earlier editions.  The catch?  Once your agreement expires and you sign a new SPLA after October 1st (when Windows 2016 is released) you must license by core regardless which version you are running.

So what does this mean to you?  If I was a service provider that reports over 2k in Windows and SQL licenses,  I might readjust when my SPLA expires to extend processor based licensing.   Wait…What?   You can readjust when my SPLA agreement expires?  Sure.  I’m SPLA Man.  Anything is possible with SPLA Man.

Thanks for reading,

Windows 2016 Man

 
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Posted by on September 9, 2016 in Windows 2016

 

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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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“I want VDI!!!!!”

You probably have said that a thousand times as a service provider.  The truth is it’s still not available in SPLA.  If I was a betting man (big if by the way for those that work for the IRS) I would wager they would allow VDI in SPLA.   Why not…right?  Everything else is changing why not this?  Before you get too carried away as to why Microsoft will not allow VDI in shared environments, let me ask…do you REALLY want VDI?  Just as SQL is complex in SPLA (and VL for that matter) so is VDI.  In this article I will review the licensing rules with VDI/VDA and what exactly needs to happen if you were to host this from your datacenter.

Let’s take scenario 1.  Bill has a PC that can run a qualified operating system but the PC itself has been running slow recently.  He get’s his email from Joe’s Hosting so logically he asked good ole’ Joe if he could host a virtual desktop as well.  Joe tells him  “Sure” but it MUST be dedicated and his cost will go up.  Bill tells him that’s not issue, his wife won the lottery recently.  You would think the last thing Bill would be worried about is a virtual desktop.  Just buy a new computer Billy and head to the beach!  Nonetheless, Bill wants VDI and wants it now.  Joe’s Hosting tells him to go to the store, buy a Windows 10 license, and bring that disc over to their datacenter.  Joe will host it on a server solely dedicated to Bill.  Problem solved.  Joe is happy he just won over a customer, Bill is happy he gets his virtual desktop.  The compliance police call, Joe is in trouble.  Why?

In order to host VDI 3 things must happen.

  1. The PC must have VDI use rights. This means the desktop license itself (Windows 10 as an example) must be Enterprise and have active Software Assurance (SA).  Think of VDI as a Software Assurance benefit.  Without SA, no chance of having VDI.  In order to buy Software Assurance, I would need a volume licensing agreement; not a retail version.
  2. The service provider must indeed host it in a dedicated infrastructure.  This means the hardware, not just the VM.
  3. If the PC is incapable of running a full version of Windows 10 (such as a tablet) the customer must purchase a VDA license.  VDA is a use right that allows the end user the right to access a virtual desktop from a server environment.

The 3 items mentioned above is really just the beginning of the licensing roller coaster.  You must also license Windows Server, RDS, and any other applications by your SPLA or be purchased by your end customer.  If they are purchased by the end customer, they would transfer that license into your datacenter, which means they can no longer run it on premise.

Now I ask you this question – is VDI worth it?  Some say “yes” as this is what the customer wants and mean old Microsoft licensing rules just keep getting in the way.  Most complain about dedicated environments, but as mentioned earlier, dedicated environments is just the beginning.  Last, you may say the licensing of the VDI environment is not your problem, it’s your customers.  You have it hosted in a dedicated environment.  As far as SPLA is concerned, you are covered.  Or are you?

Maybe I’ve been doing this too long and I am just an old fogey.  But if I was a customer and my service provider (you) told me I could receive my VDI dedicated infrastructure and all I need was a desktop OS license, I would be all in.  Fast forward a couple years and you tell me you are going through an audit and apparently I (not you) had licensed VDI incorrectly and it’s my fault; I think I would be a little upset.  Yeah I would ditch you faster than that girl in 9th grade who ditched me at the dance (apparently when I told her my future involved SPLA licensing it turned her off…what a fool) but I would also make sure if any other organizations were looking at you as a service provider, I would tell them to stay away.  As any marketing organization would tell you, recommendations and word of mouth is the best way to advertise.

Moral of this story?  Like all the rest, know the licensing first, sell it second.  Stay tuned for scenario 2.  Your customers will thank you.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on February 1, 2016 in VDI

 

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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

 

 

 
11 Comments

Posted by on January 31, 2015 in IaaS

 

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Datacenter Outsourcing

I’ve written before on how partnering with an established provider can save you money, especially as a short term solution to get your hosting business started.  What I haven’t really addressed is the licensing.

Data Center Outsourcing is essentially what the name applies.  “Data Center” and “Outsourcing”; you outsource your data center. Amazing how that works.  Microsoft definition is a bit more confusing – amazing how that works too. From the outsourcing guide:

  1. “A Data Center Provider is a Service Provider that provides Software Services, usually IaaS, to another Service Provider using Products licensed from Microsoft through its own SPLA..”

Microsoft Azure is a good example of a data center outsourcing company.  When you sign up for Azure, Windows will be included in the service.  They are essentially providing the infrastructure (Windows and/or SQL cores) and you provide the application licenses via your own SPLA.  When you leverage another service provider who provides the infrastructure, they must be providing the Windows licenses. Hmmm…here’s why.

Let’s say you have a signed SPLA agreement to offer Exchange to your clients and you decide to use Brett’s Hosting to provide the infrastructure.  Brett’s Hosting offers a public cloud environment (multiple customers sharing same resources).  Under this model, you will report Exchange licenses for each user that HAS access to the software and NOT report Windows under your own SPLA; Brett’s Hosting would report Windows via their own SPLA.  Why?  If it is a shared environment, there is no way Brett’s Hosting can allocate processors for you to report it.  SQL cores works the same way.  Still don’t believe me?  Check out the FAQ guide from Azure here. Notice under SQL it states you can purchase a VM or use SAL licenses.  Notice under Windows it states Windows is included with your agreement.

Here’s the bottom line, if you decide to outsource your data center to a public cloud provider, ask them how they manage the Windows OS.  If they say it is not included in the cost of the service and you should be providing the licenses, they are out of compliant.

Want more proof?  Download the outsourcing guide here

That being said, if you provide data center outsourcing services, I think you are in the right business. This is the fastest growing area within the hosting industry.  Windows is relatively inexpensive from a licensing perspective, especially as you add more VM’s and can capitalize on the Data Center edition.  (remember…unlimited VM’s).  SQL can get a bit more complex, but if you understand it I think that could be an added value over your competition.  Last, because you report Windows and SQL only and let the service provider control the user based licensing; it limits your compliance exposure.  (processors/cores are easier to track).

So are you a data center outsource or a service provider?  Do you work with someone to resell your solution or do it alone?  Would love to learn more about your offerings. If you need guidance or best practices or just want a second opinion from a licensing perspective you can email me at blaforge@splalicensing.com.

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 
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Posted by on August 7, 2014 in Data Center Outsourcing

 

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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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