Cloud Platform Suite

This is a new licensing program that will be available on the January 2014 SPLA price list. It is aimed at Service Providers who run heterogenous environment – that is environments with a mix of Operating Systems such as Windows, Linux & Unix.

It is licensed in a “Host and Guest” model – the Host license covers the hardware and you will then purchase a Guest license for each Windows VM you wish to run.

Host SKU: Includes Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and Windows Azure Pack, host capabilities and rights to manage all guests

Guest SKU: Includes Windows Server 2012 R2 guest capabilities

For more info, check out my good friends over at Licensing School:

Permalink to Cloud Platform Suite

Microsoft Enrolment for Education Solutions (EES)

Microsoft licensing has a new family member, Enrolment for Education Solutions AKA EES.

Currently, there are 2 education specific licensing programs, Schools Agreements & Campus Agreements (I’m not including Open Academic & Select Academic as specific). These offer huge savings over standard licence costs but there are certain requirements that don’t always please people, mainly the requirements to cover ALL eligible desktops, even if they’re already licenced or not to be used for that purpose.

Last year, Microsoft introduced a pilot licensing scheme for education called SESP, which I covered here:

Read Microsoft Licensing- Subscription Enrollment for Schools

Not much has been heard about SESP since then, but it’s influence can definitely been seen in EES.

It’s interesting to note that Live@EDU, the free email+ service for Further/Higher Education establishments will be fully integrated into EES.

What’s different?

The big change is that EES is based on an FTE (Full Time Employee) count, rather than the number of desktops. This will, for almost all schools and colleges, dramatically reduce the number of licences needed.

Another change is the ability to add “non-platform” products in any quantity at any stage of the contract. This will reduce costs as well as help reduce complexity and perceived “pointlessness” of licensing. A good example of this is one we had with a customer a year or 2 ago, where they wanted 70 something Terminal Service CALs but they were required to purchase 700+ as that was their desktop count! Many grumbles were made about that as 600+ of them were never used and seen as a complete waste of money.

Something else that will help organizations further reduce costs is the ability to pro-rate the pricing of additional products, with a minimum charge of 6 months. For example:

Product added in month 3 = full price x 0.75

Product added in month 9 = full price x 0.5

You can also define an organization in a much more granular fashion so it could be:

  • Entire school district
  • Entire school
  • Just Year 11
  • Just the science departments

or more…much more flexible Smile

However you define the organization, the minimum entry point is still 300 units.

What exactly is FTE?

Perhaps not surprisingly, FTE isn’t quite as straight forward as just “Full Time Employees”! The actual calculation is:


“Non desktop PC Users” such as maintenance or food service staff can be excluded from the count. MS point out that you must include “student employees”, although I’m not sure what they are?!


EES is being made available at different time in different regions, and also through different channels. December 2010 will see the limited launch of EES.

In the US & Canada = December launch of EES under Campus Agreement via Distribution & Value Add Resellers (VARs).

In EMEA = December launch of EES to Campus Customer only via Large Account Resellers (LARs) only.

In APAC = December launch of EES under Campus Agreement via LAR only.

It won’t be available to primary & secondary schools in EMEA until March 1st 2011.

Microsoft VLSC N-2 Media Downloads

Microsoft’s VLSC (Volume Licensing Service Center) is the central portal for volume licensing customers to manage and download licence keys and media.

Microsoft’s Volume Licences all include “Downgrade Rights” which let you run previous version of the software, for instance:

Buy Windows 7, install XP or Buy Office 2010, install 2007

However, Microsoft have only ever provided the media for 1 previous version AKA N-1 so:

Windows 7 = Vista

Office 2010 = Office 2007

Exchange 2010 = Exchange 2003

If you needed to downgrade further than that, you were required to provide your own media…usually from a previous install.

That being said, Microsoft are now changing that!

From July 2010, VLSC users have been able to access:

  • Windows XP
  • Windows Server 2003 R2

and from September 2010, the following N-2 downloads will be made available:

  • Office 2003
  • SQL Server 2005
  • Exchange Server 2003

This will make it easier for organizations who still need to run these older versions.

(via Eric Ligman)

Microsoft Licensing Changes

Microsoft licensing is an ever changing world and there have been a few changes recently that I think you could do with knowing.

Removal of Grace Periods:

Previously, all Microsoft licence programs gave customers a 30 day grace period on Software Assurance (SA) renewals…but not any more.

There is no longer a grace period for the following programs:

  • Enterprise Agreement (EA)
  • Enterprise Agreement Subscription (EAS)
  • Select
  • Select Plus
  • Open Value Perpetual
  • Open Value Subscription
  • The exceptions are:

    Open Licensing (OLP)

  • Schools Agreement
  • Campus Agreement

This doesn’t impact current agreements so current customers will still receive a grace period until the end of the contract they have at the moment.

Change of Channel Partner:

The Change of Channel Partner (CoCP) forms are used when a customer wants to move their agreement from one reseller to another and applies to all agreements except OLP. They currently take 30 days to process which, in my opinion is too long so when I heard there was a change coming-I was cautiously optimistic…however I was also wrong!

The CoCP forms now take 90 days to be processed, which is frankly ridiculous. That is 1/4 of a year just to change resellers and I don’t think it is in the interests of resellers or customers. It is due to an “increasing volume of CoCP forms” but I can’t believe there are so many forms flying around that a company the size of Microsoft can’t process them in less that 3 months.

The form is about 1 side of A4 and contains very few details so I struggle to see why it takes so long. I can only assume it’s done as a manual process and that makes it slower…so I suggest making it do-able online. Either:

1) A customer does it via MCLS/VLSC

2) The reseller does it via those or another tool. It is then emailed to the customer for verification.

Bada-Boom, Bada-Bing, job done :-)

If anyone from MS can explain why it takes so long, please do.I think this is possibly the part of dealing with Microsoft that infuriates me the most!

Microsoft Licensing: Too difficult?

Steve Ballmer was hosting a Q&A today (05/10/09) and was asked about plans to simplify Microsoft’s licensing. Brilliantly, he said they have no plans to do such a thing; somewhat expectedly, Twitter has lit up with person after person commenting that it’s all too hard and Ballmer should sort it out. However…

I don’t understand why people expect Microsoft licensing to be super simple and laid out so that everyone, no matter their field of expertise, can easily understand every part of it.

I don’t know how an engine is all put together, so I rely on mechanics. I don’t know how to re-program a washing machine,so I rely on engineers. I’m not 100% au fait with all the accounting procedures, so I rely on our Finance dept. At no stage do I expect that I should be able to work out & know all these things; much less do I demand that someone does something about it!

Yes-it is important and integral to an end users business that they get the correct licences, in the correct way, as cost-effectively as possible. However the same is true of servers…and VOIP…and storage…and the list goes on but I have never seen anyone moan about how confusing speccing up a SAN solution is…and that can be pretty complicated. People are perfectly happy to accept that these things are handled by experts, people with years of experience and the time to work out all the different ways of doing something…so why not software licensing?

In fact, it’s not software licensing as a whole…in reality, it’s just Microsoft licensing that people seem to have a problem with. If someone needs help working out whether Adobe TLP or CLP suits them best – fine. Help on whether they need a Backup Exec agent for each File server or should they get a virtual agent for the server – fine. Help on whether they need CALs or NULs for Crystal Reports server – fine. However, if they need help on whether OLP or OVP is best, or if they need Windows Server Std or Enterprise or if they should get CALs or a processor licence – then it’s a whole different story. Then it’s too complicated, it’s made to confuse and rip off end users and all it does is generate more money for Bill & Steve.

Yes, I’m a Microsoft fan and yes, my job is to provide licensing solutions to customers but I really think people are being over the top now. It’s similar to what happened with Vista, it’s become cool to slate MS licensing. Just like with the ill-fated OS, I suspect many people who are complaining haven’t had any bad experiences with it, or perhaps haven’t experienced it at all, but it’s cool to moan so everyone’s joining in!

If you’ve read this and there’s some part of MS licensing that’s confusing you-please leave a comment/drop me a tweet/send me an email and I’ll be happy to help :-)

A quick defense of MS licensing

I’m a Microsoft Licensing MCP and spend a great deal of my time helping customers & colleagues with Microsoft licensing queries. This could be recommending the best programme to purchase on, the most cost-effective way to licence a particular product/project or it could be finding and rectifying compliancy issues.

While some parts of MS licensing can be difficult and it is an area that requires experts such as myself-I really don’t think it’s as difficult as people make out. Yes, customers can be put off by it’s apparent complexities but that is the case for so many things in IT yet it’s only MS licensing that comes in for such a bashing. I think part of it is similar to how PCs get more malware than Macs-MS licensing is simply more common than other manufacturers. Oracle licensing can be MUCH more complicated than SQL for example…but you just don’t hear people moaning about it as much.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments :-)

Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD)

Microsoft Windows Vista Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD) is a unique way to licence Windows OS on virtual machines (VM’s) as part of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

The desktop OS (Operating System) images are held on a server and users access them via PC or Thin Clients*. You can have an unlimited number of OS instances on the server, these can be Vista or downgraded to XP, it is licensed by Device and you can have 4 virtual instances per access device at a time.

VECD is priced on a per device per month basis (so 100 users = 1200 units x price) for a minimum of 1 year.

A link to the Microsoft page which includes various datasheets can be found here.

Running Virtual Instances on the desktop is becoming more and more common and, of course, poses it’s own problems when it comes to licensing. You must have a separate OS licence for each VM as well as the OS licence for the physical machine.

If VECD isn’t an option for whatever reason, you can run OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)/FPP (Full Packaged Product) inside the VM to give you the OS licences. However if your corporate standard is still XP (as it is with many companies) it gets a bit trickier! You won’t find an OEM or FPP copy of XP now so you will have to start with Vista and downgrade to XP:

1) Buy a volume licence for Vista= NO. The Desktop OS volume licence is UPGRADE ONLY and as a VM is a clean machine, yo’re not eligible to install an upgrade.

2) Buy an OEM Vista licence= NO. Although OEM licences of Vista Business/Ultimate give downgrade rights, you’re not eligible for OEM licensing as they’re not being installed on a “new” physical machine.

3) Buy an FPP copy of Vista and enrol it in to Software Assurance (SA)= YES. Enrolling an FPP licence into SA** grants you Downgrade Rights, so you can take Vista down to XP and it’s a full copy so you can install it in a new clean VM.

* PC’s MUST be covered with Software Assurance (SA) to be eligible for VECD.

**You have a time limit to enrol the FPP copies into SA. 90 days for Open Licensing, 30 days for Open Value/Select/Enterprise Agreements.