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January 22, 2024

Exploring the Benefits of Microsoft SPLA for Businesses

SAMexpert Podcast

What is SPLA from the IT and procurement point of view? What are the benefits? When is it better to use it? Exploring the benefits of SPLA for end clients.

8.70 MB

 Welcome back to the SAMexpert podcast, where we discuss everything related to Microsoft agreements, licensing, FinOps, negotiations, and discounts. My name is Alexander Golev. I'm a Microsoft expert with 25 years of experience.

In today's episode, I will try to explain the Microsoft SPLA agreement for end users—for the customers, not providers—and the benefits of using SPLA from the cost and compliance perspective.

 So you're not a provider; you're a regular business, and you've heard the word SPLA. Via SPLA, Microsoft licenses providers to provide you services with included Microsoft software. And I must give you a massive warning. They can't just give you licenses. You can't buy SPLA licenses and use them in your own data centre unless a provider manages those servers for you.

But you may have been using SPLA licenses already without even thinking about it. When? When you rent something from a provider. Amazon AWS is the biggest SPLA provider. And if you rent virtual machines from them, You're already using SPLA; you just don't know about it. Why? Because the provider is licensed to provide you services with licenses included.

So, when you choose a Microsoft licensing program through SPLA, you are choosing to buy services from a provider with licenses included without having to deal with those licenses directly. And here's the million-dollar question. Is that a good idea? Is it better than using your traditional Enterprise Agreement licenses?

Firstly, SPLA is one of the options available to you when you migrate to the cloud. As I already said, if you migrate to a large provider, you may be already getting SPLA licenses without even thinking about it.

SPLA also simplifies license management. You don't have to deal with licenses because the provider is licensed to provide those licenses together with the services they provide you. There are no licenses in the traditional sense. You consume SPLA. as a cost of the service.

That leads me to point number three. SPLA licenses are always an OPEX because they are a service fee. They are not a capital expenditure unless you do some CFO magic, which is outside the scope of this channel.

The main benefit of that is commercial flexibility. You can only get it when you're hosting your services with a provider or they give you licenses together with their services to use on-premises. At the moment, SPLA is the only truly flexible Microsoft licensing program that allows you to reduce or increase your costs every month. Of course, there are Microsoft CSP monthly subscriptions. But you need to remember that CSP monthly is only for Office products.

So SPLA is the only program through which you can get server licenses on a pay-monthly, pay-as-you-go basis. You only pay for what you consume during a calendar month.

You can switch licensing models every month, depending on your usage model, to find the most appropriate and cost-efficient model. You have, however, to communicate this to your service provider so they can also report the correct licenses on their side.

For example, you use SQL Server, you deploy SQL Server, and in the first month, only a handful of users require access to that server. So you count those users and only pay for user subscription licenses in that calendar month. And then the number of users grows. It may be that in that calendar month, when your user base has grown, it will be cheaper for you to pay per core for the same server, and you can switch it on a monthly basis.

The other benefit is security. Since, through SPLA, you always have access to the most recent versions of Microsoft software, your IT security is less of an issue. You don't have to buy any upgrade licenses. You just inform your service provider that you want to upgrade the server to a more recent version.

Speaking about upgrades, one thing that is not obvious, not security-related, is that your client access licenses also don't have to be upgraded or purchased anyhow else because, again, through SPLA, you get access to the most recent client access license, or as we call it in SPLA, subscriber access license.

And if getting support on a timely basis is critical for you, please remember that when you rent services from a service provider, they're contractually obliged to provide your first level of support. Try to get quick support from Microsoft without paying for Premier or Unified support. That will be difficult, if not impossible.

I hope you learned something new today. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a comment or reach out to us via our website, See you in the next episode.

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