Microsoft relaxes licensing rules to elevate its customers to the cloud

Microsoft is making changes to its licensing policies to provide enterprise customers with a fast track to the cloud. The changes dubbed “License Mobility” announced at the Microsoft Hosting Summit in March this year,will move will allow customers with Software Assurance to move their applications to a cloud services provider without paying a premium for the added flexibility this will bring.

The changes which are due to take effect on July 1 this year should benefit Microsoft, its customers, and cloud service providers equally. 

Microsoft’s old rules that forced service providers to use dedicated hardware for each separate customer have been eliminated. At the same time, Microsoft is providing a new Core Infrastructure Suite Service Provide License Agreement (SPLA) and eliminating the Windows Server Outsourcers SKUs which should cut the cost of licensing for service providers and their customers, assuming that the savings are passed on of course. Customers will directly benefit from a reduction in the price for some Subscriber Access Licenses for Software Assurance (“SALs for SA”) and the creation of new SALs for SA offerings to cover Enterprise SAL licenses for Exchange Server, Lync Server and SharePoint Server.  Microsoft for it’s part is betting that a little flexibility now will reap the rewards in the form of addition revenue from Microsoft’s own Azure cloud offering when the time comes.

Microsoft is backing these changes up with a commitment to real mobility, extending the current policy that allows transfer of licenses between on premise servers to include cloud servers.

So far License Mobility is limited to the following products:

  • Microsoft Dynamics CRM
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft Lync Server
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Systems Center servers

Which coincidentally just happens to be those services where Microsoft stands to lose out to if cloud computing takes off as expected.

The one area that Microsoft does not appear to have taken into consideration when making these changes is that some customers might find the current 90 day license transfer rules that Microsoft is grandfathering into the new license mobility scheme will create an artificial barrier preventing the most adept customers from taking full advantage of the flexibility that cloud services can bring.

Simon Bramfitt (109 Posts)

Simon is an independent industry analyst covering enterprise desktop, mobile and application virtualization, delivery and management technologies. He is an experienced solutions architect with unmatched insight into the challenges of designing large (200,000 seat plus) high availability presentation and desktop virtualization systems. Simon was invited to join the Citrix Technology Professionals (CTP) group in May 2010 and joined the Virtualization Practice in September 2010

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