Microsoft updates cloud licensing

The ‘cloud’ industry had some great news today – Microsoft are making their licensing rules significantly more cloud-service friendly.

Up until now, organisations taking cloud services using Microsoft software had to have their licensing covered through something called the SPLA model – the Service Provider Licensing Agreement. This specifically permits, in the EULA, delivery of services to a third party – something which is precluded under ‘traditional’ licensing. There were two issues with this – firstly that customers had frequently already invested in ‘on-premise’ licensing and were therefore having to double-purchase, and secondly the complexities around managing two models of licensing.

As of the 1st of July, Microsoft will issue updated Product Use Rights, which will grant customers with active Software Assurance (SA) the right to deploy certain server workloads (including Exchange, Lync, SQL, SharePoint and CRM) either on their own infrastructure or in ‘the cloud’. This means that the choice of how a customer consumes Microsoft technology is no longer constrained by a customer’s existing licensing investment (assuming they have SA, of course!).

An increase in customer choice can only be seen as an advantage – both for those customers, and for cloud providers who can now novate customers’ existing investments to their platform. Well done Microsoft!

The only downsides I can see are that desktop appears not to be included – so no hosted full desktop as a service (such services are available, but typically based on session-based desktops) and of course that access to these ‘license mobility enhancements’ is restricted to Software Assurance customers. But despite those two small downsides I applaud Microsoft for a forward-thinking move (and it is more of an incentive to include SA).

I can see our Software Asset Management Team will have to introduce a Cloud Licensing Mobility Readiness Assessment in fairly short order!

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