The February 2021 edition of Microsofts Product Terms Document will be the last.
A little under two years ago we reviewed Microsofts new approach to licensing terms in our June 2019 blog here - now its being further revamped.
As announced on the front page of the February PT document:
Please note this is the last Product Terms Word document. Going forward, the terms will be published on the Product Terms site available at https://www.microsoft.com/licensing/terms/productoffering. Archived versions will continue to be available. For more details, go to https://www.microsoft.com/Licensing/product-licensing/products.
What does it look like - the landing page as shown below:
So quite clear and compact, although you will need to be quite savvy with their license programs and models to get the most out of using it.
... and when put to the test?
We decided to take on one of their more convoluted product licensing models - Power BI - and, well, it didn't seem any simpler. With prerequisites like "Power Automate per user with attended RPA plan, or Power Automate per flow plan" (ok...), and Extended Use Rights such as "Power Apps Portals that map to licensed Dynamics 365 application context and, Power Apps Portals that map to the same environment as the licensed Dynamics 365 application" (right...), the format might have changed but the content is still not that intuitive is it?
So while access to dynamic and current licensing information is always a good thing, simpler licensing models and metrics would we think resonate much better with software customers in general. After all, we all want to be compliant, so why make it so hard we wonder - any thoughts / comments ?$$?
Vendor results can be a telling indicator of what might lie ahead
We regularly connect with the ITAM Review as a reliable source of information in the software domain and of interest this month is a comprehensive report from Rich Gibbons on the financial performance of some key software vendors - from the $5.6B loss of Google Cloud to the 29% rise in operating income (Q2) of Microsoft.
You'll find the full report here.
In summary ...
Some marked differences in performance - particularly in the cloud space, with a watch and ready advice for some of the poorer performers - we all know where they head when times are tight ...
What do you need to do?
All services, products, and offers in Open License program today will remain available until January 1, 2022. To plan for future purchases, ask the partner you’re currently buying software licenses from about your options. Your partner can help you decide the best steps for you, whether that’s new licenses or online services subscriptions. If you don't have one, you can Find a Microsoft partner.
Are there any other options available?
Yes - depending on what you want to purchase you can make use of the Open Value or the Open Value Subscription program:
Here's a reminder of the differences between the current programs:
So nothing alarming in this announcement, more just an evolution of a 20 year old program to align with Microsofts contemporary go to market structures. While 2022 might seem some time away you can be sure the changes will begin to emerge through 2021, so just something more to be aware of and prepare for in the ever changing world of software licensing!
New for 2020 - Microsoft to reduce Software Assurance Benefits
Changes to Microsoft's SA Benefits have been announced effective 1st February 2020 which will see the end of some of the most useful aspects of the program, in summary:
So time to review all of your enrollments and make sure you convert all of your SA Benefits to get full value out of your investment in these programs. As a refresher, take a look through the list below.
Check out this October announcement - It could save You Thousands!
Microsoft recently announced a new SQL Server SA benefit that is well worth reviewing – it could either release some currently consumed cores or save you buying more for any clustered environments you have now or are planning.
Starting Nov 1st, every Software Assurance customer of SQL Server will be able to use three enhanced benefits for any SQL Server release that is still supported by Microsoft:
So considering a typical architecture per diagram below the number of SQL Server core licenses required to operate this topology would be only 12 cores as opposed to 24 cores in the past:
Now the FAQ’s in the announcement included a specific question as to the versions that were covered and was answered in the affirmative by a Microsoft representative:
Q1. Is this applicable to old SQL Server versions like 2014 & 2016?
Answer for Q1: Yes. The benefit applies to all supported releases of SQL Server.
Which raises the question – why do we once again see a potential conflict in the Product Terms which appear to qualify the benefit to SQL Server 2019 only:
4.2 SQL Server 2019 – Fail-over Rights
For each of its Primary Workloads, Customer is entitled to:
We shall (again) seek clarification from Microsoft. In the meantime, check out more comprehensive information and examples in the accompanying Licensing Guide.
Lets Straighten out On-Premise Rights Included with M365
A quick internet search is likely to find conflicting views on what on-premise rights you are granted with your M365 Subscription particularly in relation to server software. Many sites will state that you gain only user access rights with your USL licenses, ie. essentially a CAL license entitlement, and that you are still required to acquire the server licenses for the likes of Exchange and Sharepoint.
Simply, that's not correct.
Firstly though, be sure of the M365 Subscription you are dealing with as each will offer different content and scope. The CAL/ML equivalency table of the Product Terms provides a good overview to this:
Note for example that the common business E3 and E5 plans provide both Base and Additive access rights for Exchange and SharePoint Server. But what about the Server Licenses?
A quick browse through the FAQ of the M365 Site provides the first hint that certain Server software is indeed included:
While the respective sections covering the likes of Exchange or SharePoint Server software don't provide any clues, the Microsoft 365 section clearly articulates the entitlement (page 57 of the October 2019 document):
Assuming all of your users are properly licensed (and they should be) your on-premise Exchange, SharePoint and Skype for Business Server installations are covered!
... and that includes back-versions of course under the Universal License Terms part 3 - "Rights to Use Other Versions and Lower Editions".
So no need to True-Up those on-premise Server licenses for Exchange or SharePoint, and who isn't keen for less overhead and more funds right?!
terms related to outsourcing rights and dedicated hosted cloud services Change 1-Oct.
Microsoft’s off-premise outsourcing terms are changing October 1, 2019, evidently to clarify the distinction between on-premises/traditional outsourcing and cloud services, and create more consistent licensing terms across multitenant and dedicated hosted cloud services, the core of the changes being:
Now there’s one statement that seems to negate it all (page 3 of the FAQ) given all of the Listed Providers are currently in the Authorized Mobility Partner list which we’re seeking clarification from Microsoft for (italics added):
Do the updates to the Outsourcing Software Management clause affect my rights to deploy licenses with an Authorized Mobility Partner? License Mobility through Software Assurance rights will be expanded to permit deployment of licenses with License Mobility coverage with Listed Providers’ dedicated hosted cloud services for those Listed Providers who are Authorized Mobility Partners. (and importantly) Rights to deploy licenses on Authorized Mobility Partners’ shared servers are not impacted by the outsourcing update.
But that aside, lets dissect it all ...
Firstly, what exactly are “dedicated hosted cloud services”? Microsoft’s states this to be the “services offered by major public cloud providers typically with elastic, ondemand, pay-as-you-go resources, like their multitenant cloud services.” Multitenant cloud services? Wouldn’t that be the opposite of dedicated?? Well for the Listed Providers examples given are “Azure Dedicated Host, Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts, single tenant nodes from Google” – all dedicated – and “VMware Cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS)” – so perhaps the/an exception being SDDC architecture.
The first thing to note - the change won't impact the use of existing software versions under licenses purchased before October 1, 2019 so you can continue to deploy and use software under your existing licenses on servers dedicated to you, just not workloads under licenses acquired on or after October 1, 2019 (and don’t forget that just performing a Software Assurance renewal doesn't affect your perpetual use rights for existing versions). And secondly, rights to deploy licenses on Authorized Mobility Partners’ shared servers are not impacted by the outsourcing update.
So what to be wary of …. as usual, the limitations:
Are there any alternatives? Well, besides any SPLA or otherwise ‘bundled’ licensing options available with the provider service, enter the Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit (!) where, solely with Azure Dedicated Host, there are exceptions (!!) if you happen to have current SA or equivalent subscription rights. And what might the Azure Hybrid Benefit provide:
Oh … and don’t forget – to make use of License Mobility through SA, you must ensure that you:
A New And WeLcome Direction in Consolidated, Direct, Licensing Information
Microsoft announced the 1st June 2019 as the date at which the new 'Licensing Terms Site' will replace the current downloadable document versions of the Product Terms (PT) and Online Service Terms (OST) (although at date of this publication it is still stating "under construction and for preview use only.")
Not only is this intended to consolidate the myriad of licensing documents and material rife across Microsoft sites, but according to the FAQ (available here) will also ease navigation through filters available by program and product, and also introduce a new 'compared-to' function which allows users to compare changes (albeit post 1st June 2019) to 'current' use rights going forward - a useful utility!
So what does it look like? - the landing screen as below (see it for yourself here):
A quick test run found the site easily navigable, presenting targeted information based on your selection in the familiar format of the Product Terms structure. Of course it can't solve the 'knowledge complexity' invariably attached to licensing - you basically still need to know what you are looking for, and then be able to apply what you find to your own situation.
A quick delve into the SQL Server section highlights the information then available by edition:
All in all though a timely advance in the overall licensing landscape that would be welcomed across other vendors with similarly broad and complex license terms and models, which makes us wonder ...
... is it too much to hope for a cross-industry standard?
Extended Support for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will end on July 9, 2019.