A light buzz is going around the Microsoft licensing world about the NGVL (Microsoft Next Generation Volume Licensing) and a new agreement called MPSA (Microsoft Product and Services Agreement). I mention both terms because many of the resellers I've talked to have often known that NGVL was available but thought the MPSA wasn't or vice versa. This confusion should rapidly diminish but for now, find that it helps for clarification.
The NGVL and MPSA has been available for some time and the beauty of it has been that unlike the Microsoft Select Plus Agreement it allows for online subscriptions. The bad part was that it didn't allow for Software Assurance purchases.
As of September 2, 2014 Microsoft now allows for purchases of Software Assurance under the MPSA.
It has been a long time since Microsoft has really created a new licensing agreement (the Microsoft Select Plus was in my opinion more of a re-write of the Microsoft Select Agreement) and frankly their offerings have changed substantially during that time so the old agreements were having to be "massaged" to work with current offerings.
Basically the MPSA has many pluses, but the contract language also leaves me very uncomfortable around certain areas - so if you're looking to update your Microsoft agreements take a good look at this agreement but be sure to read the contract carefully and negotiate terms you can actually live with.
The MPSA is designed to cover all products you buy from Microsoft; perpetual licenses, software assurance, subscriptions and services. That's great and can really provide you with streamlined management but the problem is whenever you lump disparate products together the contract language can get messy.
For example, if you think of your classic "services agreement" and compare that to your "software licensing agreement" there are many things you will accept for packaged software (such as warranty) that doesn't fit what you would require from your consulting services agreement. However; in this contract they are the same (but they did provide a way around it...you just have to make sure you're aware of it and follow through on it when you're executing the work orders).
Audit clauses have also been updated - this is a subtle change that has happened over the years in the Microsoft Master (Business or Services) Agreement taking out the wording that required them to use a major auditing firm in performing an audit...in my opinion this lays the ground for them to be able to use any Microsoft Partner to perform audits, I don't necessarily feel that change is advantageous to companies.
I'll be going into further details in a later posting but wanted to give an initial "heads up" for anyone thinking of either signing an MPSA or who's in the middle of determining their Microsoft licensing strategy and were unaware that there is a new player on the field that might offer them substantial benefits.
As always, if you are looking at your Microsoft licensing strategy or are considering signing a new agreement with Microsoft (or are being audited under an existing one) it's a good time to get some expert help from an independent third party. I live and breathe Microsoft licensing (I know...but what can I say - we love puzzles!) and am happy to help - contact me to find out how we can help you.