08 Nov 2012

Moving to the cloud? Make sure you're correctly licensed.

Many companies have either started or are thinking about transitioning to a public or hybrid cloud model to centralise data, increase redundancy and stability or remove the requirement of continuously upgrading and managing hardware. This move will allow companies to reduce or refocus their IT resources. But what do you need from a licensing aspect to ensure you are correctly licensed? Microsoft have some guidelines around this that covers off what you can and can’t bring into a public cloud environment. A basic rule of thumb is “do you currently have software assurance for your software”? If the answer is yes you can bring those licenses across and migrate your infrastructure to a cloud platform such as IaaS.

If you have perpetual licenses for client or server related software such as volume licensing then you will require Microsoft SPLA licensing (Service Provider license agreement) to be compliant with Microsoft. This is a form of software assurance licensing were you will always be entitled to the latest version of any Microsoft software you have a SPLA agreement for and you pay a monthly subscription for SPLA to your Cloud service provider. This generally works out well for most organisations that want to upgrade but don’t want to pay a large CapEx to purchase licensing outright or with an annual payment for licensing back to Microsoft.  SPLA also allows you to change license numbers on a monthly basis.  This allows far greater flexibility in your licensing model and for a lot of seasonal companies that have licensing fluctuations throughout the year can be a very cost effective model.

Another option if you want to bring perpetual licensing across to a cloud provider is if they offer dedicated compute (a dedicated  cluster of host servers for your infrastructure) this allows a company to legally run their perpetual software in a public cloud without utilising SPLA. However this still does not allow you to bring over OEM licensing to another platform as with any OEM license it is bound to the computer you purchased it with.

SPLA licensing is comparable in price to software assurance models with additional flexibility, so if a move to the Cloud is on the horizon then it is something to consider. For further information speak to one of our Solutions Architects or Licensing specialists here at Brennan IT to find out what model best fits your environment.

Clinton Shiels is a Senior Consultant, Engineers at Brennan IT.