Thursday, September 04, 2014

Microsoft Next Generation Licensing Agreement (NGVL and MPSA)

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 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 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.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Renewing Microsoft Software Assurance - Know the Implications

Upgrade rights are included but so are updated rule requirements

 A frequently misunderstood area of Microsoft licensing is knowing what rules apply when you are utilizing downgrade rights (the right to install an earlier version of the product under a newer license).
The version purchased determines the use rights regardless of what version is installed.

However; this gets a little more confusing for companies who maintain Software Assurance on their products.  For example if a customer bought a license for Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise in July of 2011 with Software Assurance (we’ll assume 3 full years of Software Assurance) they would have bought the rights to Microsoft SQL Server 2008R2 Enterprise (either per server or per processor) and enjoyed upgrade rights to later versions of that product. If they choose to run 2008R2 (or an older edition), then the 2008R2 rules would apply. If they choose to upgrade to 2012 then the 2012 rules would apply.

In July 2014 that customer will need to decide if they are going to renew Software Assurance.  As soon as they renew Software Assurance they are in essence refreshing the license version of all products with Software Assurance to the current edition.  Therefore, they would no longer get to leverage the rules from 2008R2 they would now have to follow the rules for Microsoft SQL Server 2014.

There are both advantages and disadvantages for customers but the important thing for customers to remember is that renewing Software Assurance has a licensing impact which should be considered so that you are not accidentally put in a position of being non-compliant.

Just one more thing to consider in your due diligence when determining what products to renew Software Assurance on at your next renewal.  Let us know if we can help!