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SQL Server 2016 | Top 3 SPLA gotchas that will get you in compliance trouble

Microsoft | Posted on June 1, 2016 by Aleks Hara

In a time where being first-to-market is paramount, having a powerful tool such as SQL Server 2016 will give insight into opportunities others can’t see. When it comes to your customers in the SPLA program, SQL Server 2016 is a welcomed addition without any changes to pricing or licensing.

What has changed in recent years, however, has been Microsoft’s increased efforts to ensure compliance in increasingly complex environments. On average, Microsoft is auditing 50% of its partners, and the average out-of-compliance penalty is $200,000. Many IT teams have been caught off-guard and even further exerted during the auditing process. As it pertains to SPLA, there are a few specific signs Microsoft looks at when trying to determine if you could potentially be out of compliance. Not surprisingly, most have to do with SQL.

Since most of you are curious about the common “gotchas”, let’s get right into it:

  1. Hyper-threading – Often overlooked and underreported, this is a favorite of the auditors. In a virtual OSE, if Hyper-Threading is turned on, you have to count the cores and multiply by the number of threads. No excuses!
  2. SQL without Windows Server – This is like having Thanksgiving without the turkey – it’s just not right. Unless, of course, your Windows Server is already provisioned by your Datacenter Provider like Azure or AWS. Otherwise, you must always report Windows Server if you’re reporting SQL. As a matter of fact, if a SPLA Partner is not reporting Windows Server at all, Microsoft gets very curious. Don’t be a turkey – report Windows Server!
  3. SQL through Volume Licensing accessed by Third Party end-users – The Microsoft rule book that is the PUR (Product Use Rights) clearly states that there’s no commercial use permitted. It’s just like using your personal car as a taxi – it is not licensed or insured for that use. Until we get “Uber”-SPLA, it’s safe to say that any commercial use should be licensed under SPLA.

And as a gentle reminder, don’t forget that SQL Standard can be licensed by either counting the users that have access to it (User SALs), or by counting the cores on each server (physical or virtual, with a minimum of 4 cores per server). Whereas, SQL Enterprise can only be licensed by Cores – again, with a minimum of 4 cores per server.

If the above makes complete sense to you, we are always hiring and could use more SPLA experts. If on the other hand, something isn’t quite clear or you have questions, it’s always best to reach out to Softchoice and our dedicated SPLA team before the compliance police come knocking.

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