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CAL’s, SAL’s and Multiplexing. 101 Licensing for on premise and cloud environments

 

In this article, we will take a closer look at CAL’s and SAL’s…what they are and how to license them.  We will also look at the User Subscription License (USL) for Microsoft Online Services.

Client Access License 

A Client Access License (CAL) provides the right to access a server.  Depending on the environment and product licensed, a CAL can either be a user or a device.   Many resellers, consultants, and even Microsoft, make it a lot more complicated than it needs to be.  The biggest trick to CAL licensing is remembering it is just a “right” not a technical requirement to access the server.  In other words, you can spin up a server, users can access it (in most cases with or without a CAL) and away they go.  Sounds great, but it’s not compliant, and I would argue that is the #1 reason customer’s fall victim to compliance.

SQL is a great example of this.  When I go to my SharePoint site, I pull reports, store information, share information, and perform many other tasks.  What I don’t know is SQL is used in the background to provide access to this information.  Did I log into a SQL Server?  No.  Did I “use” SQL?  Yes.  This is where multiplexing come into play. Multiplexing uses hardware and/or software to pool connections.  The best way to know if a user needs a license (and I’ve said this before) is to ask yourself “If I remove this from my hosted solution would it still work the same as it did prior?” If you answer “no” you need a license.  If your SQL Server is licensed in the Server/CAL model, you’re required to have CALs for any User or Device that accesses that application directly or indirectly. Very few users in an organization have credentials to a SQL Server.  One way to eliminate some of the risk with SQL is to license by core.  Cores allow unlimited number of users to access the server.  If they use the server or not, they are covered.

SAL Licensing

Under SPLA there is a Subscriber Access License (SAL).  SAL’s are licensed by user only (there are very few exceptions such as desktop applications and System Center).  Like a client access license, a SAL license is not concurrent.  This is important, since other vendors are based on concurrent licensing.  SAL is like your cable bill, your provider is going to charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not, SAL licensing works the same way.  I’ve written about this before but it’s worth repeating – SAL is for any person that HAS access not who does access.  Unlike CAL’s, there is no need to purchase a server license in SPLA.

Online Services

To add a bit more complexity, let’s review Microsoft Online Services.  If you license Exchange Online or an Office 365 Suite, you will purchase a User Subscription License (USL).  A USL provides a user access to the online solution.  Unlike a CAL and like a SAL (that’s a mouthful) you do not need a server license to access the solution if it’s online.  If you want to run anything on premise or in another third-party datacenter, you would require a server license.  In other words, if you have SharePoint Online, the USL license will provide on-premises rights (essentially CALs) in addition to their online rights. This allows for the ability to migrate over time and have hybrid environments without incurring additional cost.  Keep in mind, when you run hybrid, you do require a server license on premise.

Additionally, if you to purchase an online suite (Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Skype) you can run pieces of the suite on premise. For example, maybe you want to keep SharePoint on-premises but move Exchange to the cloud. An Office 365 Suite includes both online and on-premises rights for each product in the suite, which means you don’t have to pay for the E Suite and then buy Exchange CALs separately.   Just remember the server license!

Summary

It is very important to understand the licensing rules before purchasing any software.  There has and always will be a difference in the way in which technology can be deployed and the way it must be licensed.  Don’t waste money, time, and effort planning a cloud solution without considering the license impact.  I was on a call recently where a customer wanted to leverage their Windows Server with Software Assurance in a shared public cloud.  Unfortunately, Windows is not license mobility eligible.  They worked with a consultant or “expert” who told them one thing, but the rules state otherwise.  Yes, maybe they can take advantage of Windows HUB, but Azure unfortunately was not the right fit.  Pay attention to the license rules, it can save you.  Question?  Email info@splalicensing.com

Thanks for reading,

SPLA Man

 

 

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6 Comments

Posted by on June 30, 2017 in Office 365, SPLA General

 

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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

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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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

 
11 Comments

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

 

 
3 Comments

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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