Microsoft Hosting and CSP Newsletter

The December 2016 Hosting and Cloud Service Provider Newsletter is out. There’s just one item of licensing interest: the SPLA agreement will be refreshed in February 2017 with two small amendments – there’s a new primary place of business field, and notices sent to Microsoft no longer need to be copied to the legal department.

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September 2016 Hosting and Cloud Newsletter

This useful newsletter has three items of licensing interest this month – let’s take a look.

First of all there’s confirmation that Windows Server 2016 and System Center 2016 will be available in October 2016, with Service Providers being able to download the products from 17 October. The licensing model changes to Core licences and there’s a requirement for a minimum of 8 Core licences per processor. The virtualisation rules are pretty much the same as for 2012 R2: license all the cores with Datacenter edition for unlimited virtualisation, and license all cores with Standard edition for the rights to run a single VM.

Then there’s confirmation that Windows 10 Enterprise E3 is available in the CSP program from 1 September 2016. Licensed users may install the software on up to 5 devices but they will not have access to any virtualisation rights or Software Assurance benefits. Note that qualifying licences of Windows 10 Pro and above are required.

And finally, you’ll want to put 29 September in your diary for the quarterly licensing briefing from the Microsoft SPLA team. The agenda is set to cover the detail of licensing Windows 10 Enterprise E3 through CSP, and Windows Server and System Center 2016 through SPLA. Register for the Cloud Channel Network to attend: http://bit.ly/2c3U8nd or, if you’re already a member, add the event to your calendar here: http://bit.ly/2bPvwOt.

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SPLA track available in GLR

SPLA comes to GLR! If you’re already a fan of Get Licensing Ready then you’ll know that it’s a great way of testing your existing licensing knowledge as well as learning topics you’re less familiar with. Now there are four new modules for the Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA), so if you need to get up to speed with how Microsoft licensing works under SPLA, then download the handouts, watch the videos, and get a tick in the box by passing the exams: http://getlicensingready.com.

Cloud Platform Suite

Microsoft announce a new Cloud Platform Suite which will be available through the SPLA channel from January 2014. You can download the FAQ here: http://bit.ly/1gh0Yz1, but read on to get the overview.

The Cloud Platform Suite will offer an alternative to the Core Infrastructure Server Suite; both are offerings to license the core infrastructure of Windows Server and System Center, but they’re aimed at different types of highly virtualised environments.

With CIS Suite Datacenter licensing you buy a CIS Suite Processor licence for every physical processor in the server and then you’re licensed to run as many Windows Server virtual machines, managed by System Center, as you want to on that server. For a highly virtualised environment it’s seen as a cost-effective option. Actually, it’s a cost-effective option in a homogeneous environment where all the VMs are running Windows Server. It’s a slightly different story in a heterogeneous environment where there are VMs running different operating systems; you’re paying for unlimited virtualisation but you don’t need to run Windows Server in all of your VMs.

This is where the Cloud Platform Suite will be at its most convenient. The physical machine is again licensed by processor with the new Host licences which include Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and the Windows Azure Pack for that host machine. These Host licences will be cheaper than their equivalent Core Infrastructure Server Suite licences because you’ll then separately license the virtual machines that will run on that host machine. For any Windows Server VMs you’ll purchase a single Guest licence per instance, which will license that VM to run Windows Server and to be managed by System Center. But here’s the interesting bit – if you also want to run a large number of, say, Linux VMs on the same host then there are no guest fees for those VMs at all.

So, key takeaways:

  • the Cloud Platform Suite arrives in January 2014, and
  • its new licensing model has the potential to offer Service Providers a more cost effective way of licensing a highly virtualised heterogeneous environment.

Overview of the Changes to the October 2013 Services Provider Use Rights Document

This quarter’s refresh of the SPUR gives us some pretty much expected updates for some of Microsoft’s key products and, rather more interestingly, useful clarification on the use of “Data Center Providers”.

So, tackling the mundane first, Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 are replaced with their newer, shinier R2 versions, and CRM Service Provider and Visual Studio with (sure to be) enhanced 2013 flavours. Other than that, Microsoft User Experience Virtualization Hosting for Desktops goes to v2.0 and we lose Microsoft Exchange Hosted Encryption.

And now for the Data Center Providers. This is a posh (OK, official) term for Service Providers who provide software services to another Service Provider. You can imagine that this is typically going to be infrastructure services so that Service Provider A sells SharePoint solutions but doesn’t actually have any hardware as he prefers to partner with Service Provider B to provide that infrastructure. Both Service Providers would use SPLA for their licensing.

There’s a definition of a Data Center Provider on page 5 of the SPUR and a note on how you know if you’re allowed to take a product and host it in another Service Provider’s data centre. This is done by the usual sort of flagging system, so if “Eligible for Software Services on Data Center Providers’ Servers: Yes” appears next to the product then it’s good to go. Actually, you don’t have to work that hard – ALL of the products licensed with the Subscriber Access Licence Model that aren’t Online Services are included – no more, no less. Simples.