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Glossary: Decoding Microsoft Licensing Jargon

Dealing with Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, MACC, and Unified Support can feel like learning a new language. Here's a glossary to help you decode the jargon.


90-Days Rule

sBy default, Microsoft licenses are allocated to a specific piece of hardware or a user for a duration of 90 days. Transferring server Virtual Machines (VMs) to a different host during this time frame risks non-compliance, unless the licenses are either under active Software Assurance or are subscription-based. This rule is particularly crucial for organizations with dynamic or virtualized environments.

Account Rep

Your primary liaison at Microsoft, tasked with overseeing your contractual relationship and ensuring alignment with Microsoft's licensing policies. This individual often serves as the gateway to additional Microsoft resources and services.

Active Directory

A Microsoft technology that serves as a centralized management system for both users and devices within a network. It functions as a digital directory, facilitating the administration of security policies and user permissions across an organisation.

Active Software Assurance

Software Assurance in its active phase, meaning it has not reached its expiration date. During this period, licensees are entitled to software updates, technical support, and other benefits as stipulated in the agreement.

Audit Bill

A detailed financial statement issued post-audit, enumerating any penalties or supplementary charges accrued as a result of non-compliance with licensing terms. This bill is often the basis for remedial actions and future compliance strategies.

Audit Defense

Specialised services designed to assist organisations in both the preparation for and the response to Microsoft software audits. These services often include pre-audit assessments, documentation reviews, and strategic guidance throughout the audit process.

Audit Letter

An official correspondence from Microsoft that signals the commencement of a software compliance audit. Upon receipt, organisations have a 30-day window to initiate the audit process, which may involve data collection, internal reviews, and engagement with Microsoft or third-party auditors.

Audit Timeline

A flexible schedule outlining the various stages of the audit process, largely controllable by the audited organisation. Post the initial consultation with the auditor, Microsoft agreements generally do not impose stringent calendar deadlines, save for a 30-day period allocated for the settlement of the final audit bill.

Authorised Outsourcers

Service providers that are not among the four major cloud vendors—Microsoft, Amazon, Google, or Alibaba. Notably, these providers do not require explicit authorisation to function as authorised outsourcers.

Authorised Users

Individuals who have been granted permission to access servers or services. If you are renting software from a provider on a per-user basis, many services require billing for the number of authorised users, regardless of whether they are actively using the service.


Microsoft's public cloud computing platform, offering a range of cloud services including computing power, storage, and databases.

Azure Active Directory (Azure AD)

Formerly known as Azure AD and now rebranded as "Entra ID" since 2023, this is Microsoft's cloud-based, multi-tenant directory and identity management service. It serves as the backbone for user authentication and permissions in Azure and other Microsoft Online Services.

Azure Active Professional Direct Support

The highest level of Azure support, offering the best response times and access to support API.

Azure Active Standard Support

An advanced level of Azure support offering better response times than basic support.

Azure Arc

Azure Arc is a specialised service that enables the extension of Azure management capabilities and services to infrastructures outside of Azure

Azure Commitments

Contractual agreements that commit an organization to utilize Azure services for a predetermined period and cost. These commitments are frequently used as a bargaining chip to negotiate discounted rates on Azure services.

Azure Consumption Commitment (MACC)

The Microsoft Azure Consumption Commitment (MACC) is a binding financial agreement that obliges you to consume a specified volume of Azure services within a set timeframe, generally ranging from one to three years. Unlike other commitment models like Azure Savings Plans or Reserved Instances, MACCs are non-refundable and non-cancellable. While they offer preferential pricing, failure to meet the agreed-upon consumption levels can incur financial penalties, making them best suited for organisations with stable and predictable Azure usage.

Azure DevOps Server

A collaborative platform designed to facilitate software development processes. It's important to note that this tool is categorised under "production use", and, therefore, should not be deployed in dedicated development environments to maintain compliance.

Azure Hybrid Benefit

Azure Hybrid Benefit (also known as AHB or AHUB) is a licensing feature that permits the transfer of existing on-premises Windows Server or SQL Server licences to Azure. This feature can yield significant cost reductions and serves as a strategic lever for businesses in the process of cloud migration.

Azure Instance

An Azure Instance encompasses a virtual machine (VM) or a specific set of computing resources allocated within Microsoft's Azure cloud platform. These instances are categorised into various types and sizes to accommodate diverse workloads and performance criteria. Each type offers a unique blend of CPU, memory, disk, and network capabilities. Instances can be scaled up or down based on demand, and billing is determined by both the type and duration of the instance utilised.

Azure Pricing Calculator

A freely accessible tool provided by Microsoft that allows you to estimate the cumulative cost of Azure services. It offers various parameters to customise your cost projection, including instance types, storage options, and data transfer rates.

Azure Savings Plan

A commitment model for Azure compute services where you agree to an hourly rate for a duration of either one or three years. Unlike Reserved Instances, Azure Savings Plans offer greater flexibility by covering multiple services and subscriptions, making them more adaptable to fluctuating business needs.

Azure Virtual Desktop for Windows (AVD)

A cloud-based service that enables users to access a virtualised Windows desktop environment hosted on Azure. This service is particularly useful for remote work scenarios.

BATNA (Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement):

In negotiation theory, BATNA refers to the most advantageous alternative that a negotiating party can take if negotiations fail and an agreement can't be reached. It's essentially your Plan B. Knowing your BATNA gives you negotiation power. If the terms on the table are less favourable than your BATNA, then you're better off walking away.


A consolidated package comprising multiple Microsoft products or services, often offered at a discounted rate. Common examples include the Core Infrastructure Suite, Enterprise CAL Suite, and various Microsoft 365 and Office 365 plans.

Business Case

A formal document that articulates the justification for a specific purchase or negotiation strategy. It is commonly used to obtain internal approval and can serve as a robust foundation during negotiation discussions.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

The policy of allowing employees to utilise their personal devices for work-related tasks. While this can reduce hardware expenses and enhance flexibility, it introduces complexities in monitoring software usage and ensuring compliance.

BYOL (Bring Your Own License)

A licensing model that permits the application of existing, valid licences to new deployments with another service provider. This model often necessitates Software Assurance to facilitate the transfer of licences to cloud environments.

CAL (Client Access License)

A licence that authorises users and devices to legally access Microsoft server software. These CALs are generally required in addition to server licences and significantly contribute to the total cost of ownership. They are available in two forms: User CALs and Device CALs.

CapEx (Capital Expenditure)

An initial outlay incurred by a business for the acquisition or enhancement of assets, such as perpetual software licences. This is in contrast to operational expenditures, which are ongoing costs.


An organisational strategy that prioritises the use of cloud services, thereby influencing the selection of licensing agreements and technological infrastructure.

Cloud Economics

The discipline that examines the economic variables affecting the cost, value, and pricing of cloud computing services. This includes the analysis of total cost of ownership (TCO), return on investment (ROI), and other financial metrics pertinent to cloud adoption.

Cloud Services

Digital services hosted in a cloud environment, such as Azure or Microsoft 365, as opposed to traditional on-premises software solutions.

Clusters (Hardware Clusters)

A configuration of multiple physical servers that are integrated to function as a unified system. This setup enhances redundancy and facilitates load balancing, thereby improving overall system reliability and performance.

Collateral Savings

Cost reductions that are not directly targeted but occur as a by-product of optimisation initiatives. Examples include lower electricity consumption or reduced expenses for hardware maintenance.


The act of ensuring that your utilisation of software and services is in strict accordance with the stipulations outlined in your licensing agreement. Non-compliance can result in financial penalties and legal repercussions.

Compliance Management

The systematic approach to meeting all licensing obligations, aimed at mitigating risks and avoiding penalties during audits. This often involves regular internal reviews and documentation of software usage.


A form of lightweight virtualisation that segregates applications within the host operating system. Unlike virtual machines, containers utilise shared resources from the host OS, offering more efficient use of system resources.


A suite of Microsoft Generative AI Services, with multiple products under the same name, such as Github Copilot, M365 Copilot, and Windows Copilot. Each serves different functions but shares the core AI technology.

Core Infrastructure Suite

A discounted bundle frequently included in Enterprise Agreements, comprising both Windows Server and System Center. This suite offers a comprehensive solution for managing and automating datacentre operations.

Core Licenses

Licenses required for each core in a server or in a virtual machine, depending on the product and its relevant terms. Core license terms may require a minimum number of licences. For example, a SQL Server virtual machine requires at least four core licenses assigned, even if the virtual machine has fewer virtual cores.


Microsoft's AI-powered virtual assistant, integrated across various Microsoft platforms including Windows. Cortana offers functionalities like voice-activated search, reminders, and natural language queries.

Cost Optimisation

The strategic effort to minimise expenses associated with Microsoft licensing and cloud services. This often involves meticulous planning, effective negotiation, and ongoing monitoring of software usage.

CSP (Cloud Solution Provider)

A programme by Microsoft that enables the purchase of cloud services and software licences through Microsoft's partner network under the Microsoft Customer Agreement. These partners can amalgamate Microsoft offerings with their own services, delivering a bespoke IT solution tailored to your needs.


Data Centre

A facility used to house computer systems and related components, such as telecommunications and storage systems.

Deferred Payments

Payment terms that allow you to delay payment to a future date, often used to align with budget cycles.

Digital Transformation Strategy

The overarching plan that guides the adoption of digital technologies in an organisation, including the choice of appropriate Microsoft licensing agreements.

Direct Billing

A payment structure where you pay Microsoft directly for services, as opposed to going through a reseller.

Disaster Recovery

Strategies and processes designed to restore the availability of applications, data, and hardware as quickly as possible following an outage. There may be specific licensing terms and discounts for disaster recovery.

Down-edition Rights

The right to use lower editions of the software. It must be explicitly permitted. For example, SQL Enterprise may be "down-editioned" to SQL Standard, but Office Standard may not be run in place of Office Professional Plus.

Downgrade Rights

The right to use previous versions of the software.


The time during which a machine, especially a computer, is out of action or unavailable for use.

Dynamics 365

A set of intelligent business applications (CRM and ERP) that help you run your entire business.


The process of converting data into a code to prevent unauthorised access.


Any device that is physically an end point on a network. Laptops, desktops, mobile phones, and tablets are all endpoints.

Enterprise Agreement (EA)

A three-year contract with Microsoft that covers software licenses, cloud services, and Software Assurance.

Enterprise Agreement Renewal

The process of extending your existing Enterprise Agreement for another term, often involving negotiation of terms and pricing.

Enterprise Motion

An alternative to CSP for large companies, allowing them to purchase directly from Microsoft without a partner intermediary.

Enterprise Software

Enterprise Software is a term used in the context of an Enterprise Agreement. It indicates if a certain product or bundle must be procured for the entire organisation, organisation-wide.

Entra ID

Entra ID is the new name for what was previously known as Azure Active Directory. The core functionalities remain the same, and this rebranding is primarily a name change.

EOL (End of Life)

The time when a hardware or software product is no longer sold or supported. Note that it does not invalidate perpetual licences!


The automatic switching to a redundant or standby system, server, hardware component, or network upon the failure or abnormal termination of the previously active application, server, system, hardware component, or network. Licensing for failover scenarios can be complex and may offer specific terms and discounts. It often requires Software Assurance.


FinOps is the practice of bringing financial accountability to the variable spend model of cloud computing. It aims to align IT, finance, and business teams to ensure effective cloud cost management and optimisation.

FinOps Expert

A professional focused on cloud financial management, helping organisations to optimise their cloud spending.

Flexible Virtualisation Benefit

A licensing feature introduced in October 2022 that allows subscription licenses and licenses with Software Assurance to be taken to any provider, not just Azure. In addition, it effectively superseded License Mobility in Server Farms on-premises and added License Mobility equivalent rights to Windows Server and System Center.

From SA Licences

Special licenses that allow users with Microsoft 365 to install Office Professional Plus on their desktops and laptops. Available in Enterprise Agreements but not in CSP.


GGWA (Get Genuine Windows Advantage Agreement)

An agreement that allows you to legalise non-genuine or improperly licensed Windows software.

Hosted Solution

A software application that is operated and maintained from a service provider's data centre.


Microsoft Windows Server's native hypervisor used for creating and running virtual machines.

Hyper-V VM Mobility

Similar to VMware's DRS, this feature in Hyper-V allows VMs to move between hosts for resource optimisation.


A hypervisor is a software layer that enables the creation and management of virtual machines (VMs) on a physical computer. It acts as the go-between for the hardware and multiple operating systems, allocating resources like CPU, memory, and storage to each VM. The hypervisor plays a crucial role in virtualisation, allowing for efficient resource utilisation and isolation of different computing environments.

IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service)

A form of cloud computing that provides virtualised computing resources over the Internet, such as virtual machines, storage, and networking.

Independent Consultants

Experts who provide unbiased advice on Microsoft licensing, as they are not compensated by Microsoft for selling licenses.

Indirect CSP Partners

CSP partners who provide support via their distributor. Microsoft itself will not offer billing or technical support in this model.

Indirect Provider

A large partner that provides services, including billing and support, to other smaller Microsoft partners.

Industry Device

A device used for industry-specific tasks and not as a general-purpose computing device. These can be excluded from the qualified devices count in an Enterprise Agreement.

Internal Compliance Audit

An internal review conducted to ensure that software licenses are being used in compliance with their terms.


A cloud-based service that focuses on mobile device management (MDM) and mobile application management (MAM).

ISO/IEC 19770

An international standard that provides a foundation for implementing SAM policies, processes, and procedures.

ISV Royalty or ISV Bundle

Licenses that are bundled with other business software, such as accounting or payroll applications. These have their own unique licensing rules.



The legal right to install and use a software product, often subject to various conditions like the number of users or devices.

License Compliance Penalties

Financial repercussions for failing to adhere to licensing terms and conditions set by the vendor. Penalties usually arise as a result of an official audit initiated by the vendor. Penalties may include license costs, an additional penalty percentage on top of the license costs, support costs, and reimbursement of the auditor's fees.

License Key

A data string that verifies authorised software product access.

License Mobility in Server Farms

The ability to move licenses from one server to another at any time, often requiring Software Assurance. Superseded by Flexible Virtualisation in 2022.

License Reharvesting

The practice of reclaiming unused or unnecessary licenses for redistribution within the organisation.

License Stacking

Adding more licenses to the same hardware to increase licensed capabilities, such as running additional virtual machines. This is particularly relevant for products like Windows Server, where a set of Standard Core licenses has limitations on the number of VMs you can run. Adding another set of licenses allows you to expand beyond those initial limitations.

Licensing Solution Provider (LSP)

An LSP is a certified reseller of Microsoft licenses. They help with the purchase and management of large-scale licensing agreements like Enterprise Agreements.


Lift-and-Shift is a strategy for migrating applications, data, and workloads from an on-premises architecture to the cloud with little or no modification. While convenient, this approach often fails to take advantage of cloud-native features and can lead to higher costs.

Line of Business Device

Another term for an industry device, used in the context of Enterprise Agreements.

List Price

The standard, non-discounted price of a Microsoft product or service.

Locking Prices

The strategy of purchasing at least one license before a price uplift to secure current pricing for an extended period.



Practice of monitoring and measuring software, Cloud and SaaS usage. This data-driven approach serves multiple purposes: it helps in cost-saving by identifying unused licenses and Cloud resources, ensures compliance with licensing agreements, aids in resource optimisation, and informs future budget planning. Essentially, metering gives you the insights needed to make smarter decisions about your IT assets.

Microsoft 365 (M365)

An integrated bundle of Windows 10, Office 365, and Enterprise Mobility + Security (EMS) offered as a subscription service.

Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA)

A licensing agreement you sign when you acquire Microsoft software and services through CSP. It establishes a relationship between you and Microsoft, facilitated by your chosen CSP partner. Despite that, MCA also sets the stage for a more direct relationship between Microsoft and its customers, cutting out the need for intermediaries in many cases.

Microsoft Edge

The web browser developed by Microsoft, replacing Internet Explorer as the default browser on Windows.

Microsoft Exchange

A mail server and calendaring server developed by Microsoft that runs exclusively on Windows Server operating systems.

Microsoft Licensing Statement (MLS)

A key Excel document outlining your entitlements, often complex and open to interpretation. Microsoft provides it, but you cannot request it directly, only via a Microsoft partner.

Microsoft Product Terms

The terms and conditions that govern the use of Microsoft software, which can vary depending on the type of license or agreement. From February 2021, Microsoft Product Terms is a public website.


The process of moving from the use of one operating environment to another operating environment that is, in most cases, thought to be a better one.

MPSA (Microsoft Products and Services Agreement)

MPSA is a licensing option for organisations that are not cloud-centric and prefer dealing with traditional servers and desktops. It can be combined with CSP for more flexibility.

MSDN Licensing

A subscription service, often bundled with Visual Studio, allows developers to deploy and test almost all Microsoft software in special environments.

Multi-Cloud Approach

A strategy that involves using multiple cloud service providers to gain negotiation leverage and contain costs.


Multiplexing refers to the use of hardware or software to pool connections, reroute information, or reduce the complexity of data requests to a server. In the context of Microsoft licensing, even if users access a server through a multiplexing service, each individual user must still be properly licensed. This means you can't bypass licensing requirements by using multiplexing to funnel multiple users through a single or fewer connections. It's crucial to understand this to avoid non-compliance and potential penalties.

Multi-Year Agreement

An agreement that spans multiple years, often providing cost benefits but requiring a longer-term commitment. While this can protect against price hikes, it also often means you're committed even if prices drop.


The state of violating licensing rules.

O365 (Office 365)

A subscription-based online office and software services suite which offers access to various services and software built around the Microsoft Office platform.

OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer)

A company that produces hardware or software to be marketed under another company's brand.

OEM Licenses

Original Equipment Manufacturer licenses come preinstalled on hardware, usually detachable from the hardware.

Off-the-Shelf Licenses

Licenses purchased directly from a retail store or Microsoft's website. Not recommended for organisations due to potential management headaches.


Software that is installed and runs on computers in the physical premises of the organisation using the software, as opposed to running it in the cloud.


Microsoft's service for hosting files in the cloud.

Open Value and Open Value Subscription Agreements

Available for smaller organisations, these are somewhat equivalent to Microsoft EA and offer better discounts and benefits than MPSA for this size of business.

Operating System Environments (OSEs)

The environment in which an operating system runs, either directly on hardware or in a virtual machine.

OpEx (Operational Expenditure)

Ongoing costs for running a product, business, or system. In the context of cloud services like Azure, these would be considered operational expenditures.


PaaS (Platform as a Service)

A cloud computing service that provides a platform allowing customers to develop, run, and manage applications without the complexity of building and maintaining the infrastructure.

Pack Size

Refers to the number of core licenses included in a single pack, which can be either a 16-core or 2-core pack for Windows Server. Know that a pack is "breakable" between servers or virtual machines as it is not a single license but a way to simplify procurement of licenses.


A set of changes to a computer program or its supporting data designed to update, fix, or improve it.

Passive SQL Server

SQL Server instances that are on standby for failover events. They don't require a license under SQL Failover conditions. In most cases, Software Assurance or a subscription is required to benefit from SQL Failover rights.

Pay-As-You-Go (PAYG)

In cloud services, PAYG is a billing model where you pay for resources as you use them. It offers flexibility to scale usage up or down.

Perpetual License

A type of software license that allows you to use the software indefinitely, as opposed to subscription-based models.

Physical Cores

The actual processing units in a server's CPU.

Power Automate

Formerly known as Microsoft Flow, this is a cloud-based software tool that allows employees to create and automate workflows across multiple applications and services without the need for developer help.


A suite of apps, services, connectors, and a data platform to build custom apps for your business needs.

Power BI

A business analytics tool by Microsoft that aims to provide interactive visualisations and business intelligence capabilities with an interface simple enough for end users to create their own reports and dashboards.

Premier Support

Microsoft's older support model, now replaced by Unified Support.

Price Protection

In EA, the price is protected until the end of the term. In CSP, price protection is only until the end of each individual subscription.

Product Terms

Specific rules and conditions outlined by the software vendor that dictate how its software may be used.

Programmatic Discounts

Discounts available in EA based on the volume of licenses purchased. They are pre-defined. Additional discounts are subject to negotiation.

Proof of Licence

Documentation that proves the legality of software usage. This can be in paper or electronic form and may include other assets like stickers, certificates of authenticity, and purchase records.

Qualified Devices

Devices that are included in the count for Enterprise Agreement licensing. They usually include all client devices that the organisation manages. Always check the exact definition in your current agreement because Microsoft updates it from time to time. Specialised industry devices can be excluded.

Qualifying Operating System

A specific edition of an operating system that is eligible for an upgrade to Windows Enterprise. Usually, it needs to be Windows Professional preinstalled by the manufacturer.

Reallocation of Budget

The practice of shifting funds from unnecessary or less critical areas to more important ones, often achieved through license optimisation.

Reassigning Licenses

The process of transferring a software license from one user or device to another within the same organisation. In Microsoft's licensing terms, this is generally allowed once every 90 days, unless specific conditions are met, such as hardware failure or an employee leaving the company. Some licenses, particularly those with Software Assurance, may have more flexible reassignment rules. This practice is essential for optimising license usage and can have cost implications. Always consult the specific product terms to understand the rules for reassignment.


The duplication of critical components or functions of a system with the intention of increasing reliability.

Remote Desktop

A technology that allows a user to connect to and control another computer via an Internet connection, as if they were physically present at that computer.

Reprofiling Microsoft 365 Personas

The practice of adjusting Microsoft 365 licenses to better match the actual needs of individual users within an organisation.

Reserved Instances

Pre-purchased cloud service capacity in Azure, often at a discounted rate.

Reserved Instance Utilisation

Monitoring of utilisation rates for reserved instances in cloud computing. Reserved instances are pre-purchased cloud resources, and their underutilisation can be a financial drain. Monitoring their utilisation helps in making informed decisions about purchasing and usage.


Rightsizing involves adjusting the resources allocated to a specific workload or application to match its actual requirements. In the context of cloud computing, this means choosing the appropriate type and size of virtual machines, storage, and other resources.

ROI (Return on Investment)

A performance measure used to evaluate the efficiency or profitability of an investment, often calculated by dividing the net profit by the initial capital cost. In the context of cloud computing, ROI would consider the benefits gained against the costs incurred in migrating to and operating in the cloud.


The act of reverting to a previous version of software or data.

Running Costs

Running costs in cloud computing are the ongoing expenses for using booked resources. Unlike on-premises setups, where you mostly pay for maintenance and electricity, in the cloud, running costs can add up quickly if resources are not managed effectively.


SaaS (Software as a Service)

A software licensing and delivery model in which software is provided over the Internet, eliminating the need for in-house servers.

SaaS Discovery

Identifying all Software as a Service (SaaS) applications in use within an organisation, including those on personal devices.

SAM (Software Asset Management)

Software Asset Management (SAM) is a comprehensive approach that involves managing and optimising the purchase, deployment, maintenance, and disposal of software applications within an organisation. SAM encompasses a set of policies, processes, and procedures that work together to ensure software compliance, improve efficiency, and reduce risks. SAM also involves strategic planning to align software needs with business objectives, which can result in cost savings and operational efficiencies.

Savings Plan

A savings plan in cloud computing is a commitment to use a specific amount of resources for a set period, usually in exchange for discounted rates.


The capability of a system, network, or process to handle a growing amount of work, or its potential to be enlarged to accommodate that growth.


A computer program or a device that provides functionality for other programs or devices, called "clients."

Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE)

Server and Cloud Enrollment is a licensing option under Microsoft's Enterprise Agreement that offers a more cost-effective way to purchase cloud services and server products. With SCE, you commit to a three-year term, gaining access to discounted rates and additional benefits like Software Assurance. This option is particularly useful for organisations with large-scale server and cloud needs, as it consolidates various licenses into a single agreement.

Service Accounts

Accounts used for running automated tasks or services. In many cases, they don't require Client Access Licenses or Subscriber Access Licenses.

Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA)

An agreement that allows you to rent Microsoft software from a service provider on a monthly basis bundled with their services. Most small and medium-sized providers use SPLA, and it is also common with large cloud providers like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. For an end user, it's a monthly service subscription model where the provider takes care of the license.

Service Provider Use Rights (SPUR)

The official document outlining the terms and conditions for using Microsoft software under SPLA.

Setup Costs

In both on-premises and cloud environments, setup costs are the initial expenses incurred to configure and deploy resources. However, in the cloud, these are often minimal compared to the ongoing operational costs.

Shadow IT

Unofficial IT systems and solutions built and used within organisations without explicit organisational approval. SaaS has become a significant part of this.


A web-based collaboration platform that integrates with Microsoft Office and is used for storing, organising, sharing, and accessing information from any device.

SKU (Stock Keeping Unit)

A unique identifier for each distinct product and service that can be purchased. Also can be called "part number".

SLA (Service Level Agreement)

A commitment between a service provider and a client that specifies the level of service, such as uptime and response time for technical support.

Software Assurance (SA)

An add-on to your licenses that offers extra features, support, and upgrade rights. It's often a requirement for specific licensing scenarios, such as license mobility.

Software Assurance Equivalent Benefits

Benefits similar to Software Assurance but included in subscription licences under CSP.

SPLA Reporting

The monthly process of declaring the number of licenses consumed, which must usually be completed within ten calendar days of the previous month's end.

SQL Failover Benefit

A feature available to licenses with Software Assurance or CSP subscriptions, allowing the use of up to three failover nodes free of charge.

SQL Server

A relational database management system by Microsoft, available in different editions like Standard and Enterprise, each with its own set of features and licensing requirements.

SQL Server Consolidation

The practice of combining multiple SQL Server instances in a single Operating System Environment (OSE) or multiple SQL Server virtual machines on a single server to save on licensing costs.

SQL Server Developer

A free edition of SQL Server for non-production use. Useful for development, testing, and demonstration.

SQL Server Enterprise

The most feature-rich and expensive edition of SQL Server.

SQL Server Runtime License

Licenses bundled with third-party applications.

SQL Server Services (Licensable)

Standalone services like SQL Server Reporting Services and SQL Server Integration Services that require full licenses.

SQL Server Technology License

SQL Server Standard licenses bundled with other Microsoft products like System Center or Azure DevOps Server.

SQL Server Web Edition

Licensed for web hosting only and only available under SPLA.

Subscriber Access Licenses (SAL)

An equivalent of Client Access Licenses used in SPLA. Subscription only. Required for every authorised user. Normally billed monthly.


A licensing model where you pay a recurring fee to use the software or service.

Subscription Licenses

Licenses that are paid for on a subscription basis, often including additional benefits like Software Assurance.

System Center

A suite of management tools from Microsoft.


A collaboration app that helps your team stay organised and has conversations all in one place, effectively replacing Skype for Business.

Technical Account Manager (TAM)

A Technical Account Manager at Microsoft is a designated advisor who provides personalised service and support. While their primary role is to offer technical guidance and resolve issues, it's crucial to understand that they also have sales targets.

Tier 1 or Direct Model Partners

CSP partners who provide you with billing and technical support directly.

Tiered Pricing

A pricing model where the cost per license decreases as you purchase more licenses.

TCO (Total Cost of Ownership)

The total cost of a product or service, including the purchase price and the cost of maintenance, support, and any additional features or services.


The process of adjusting your license counts – purchasing new licences – to match your actual usage, that is typically done annually.

Unified Support Agreement

An agreement for proactive and reactive support services from Microsoft, priced based on your overall licensing and cloud spending. It includes technical support and escalation management.

Unit Cost

The cost of a single license or service, often reduced when buying in bulk due to tiered pricing.

Unlimited Virtualisation

A licensing feature that allows unlimited virtual workloads on licensed hardware. For example, licensing a server with SQL Server Enterprise with Software Assurance allows unlimited SQL Server workloads in VMs and containers.


The time during which a machine, especially a computer, is in operation.


Value Gap

The difference between what you are being sold and what you actually need in terms of software features and services. This gap can be leveraged in negotiations for better pricing.

VDA Licensing

Virtual Desktop Access licensing terms that apply when running Windows client virtual machines.

VDI Infrastructure

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure where client operating systems like Windows 11, 10, and 8 are virtualised on servers.

Vendor Lock-in

A situation in which a customer using a product or service cannot easily transition to a competitor’s product or service.


The creation and management of multiple releases of a product, all of which have the same general function but are improved, upgraded, or customised.

Virtual Cores

The number of virtual cores in a virtual machine is important for per-core licensing.

Virtual Machine (VM)

An emulation of a computer system that runs in a cloud or on-premises server, allowing you to run multiple operating systems on a single physical server.

Virtual Machine Mobility

The ability for virtual machines to move between different hosts, either for load balancing or resource optimisation.


The act of creating a virtual (rather than actual) version of something, including virtual computer hardware platforms, storage devices, and computer network resources. Licensing for virtual environments can be intricate and usually requires additional considerations, such as the number of virtual instances allowed per license.

Visual Studio

An integrated development environment (IDE) from Microsoft used to develop computer programs, websites, web apps, web services, and mobile apps.

VMware's Distributed Resource Scheduler (DRS)

A feature in VMware that balances resources by allowing virtual machines to move between hosts.

Volume Licensing

A licensing option aimed at large organisations which allows the purchase of a license covering multiple installations of a software product.

Web Services

Applications which can be accessed over a network using a web browser like Edge or Chrome.

Windows Enterprise Upgrade

An upgrade license that doesn't grant the right to deploy Windows Enterprise by itself. It requires a pre-existing qualified operating system.

Windows Server

A brand name for a group of server operating systems released by Microsoft.

Windows Server CALs

Client Access Licenses required in addition to server licenses for accessing Windows Server services. Windows Server CALs can be per user or per device. Users licensed with higher-tier Microsoft 365 plans do not require Windows Server CALs.

Windows Server Containers with Hyper-V Isolation

A specific type of container in Windows Server that runs as a separate virtual machine, requiring its own Windows Server license.


An enterprise social networking service used for private communication within organisations.

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