What is a Microsoft SPLA Verified Self-Audit?

If you provide commercial hosting services using Microsoft’s Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA), you may become a target of an ever-increasing variety of license audits from Microsoft and its vendors.  The latest flavor of a Microsoft SPLA audit is the verified self-assessment or VSA.  The SPLA verified self-assessment differs from both the independent audit and…


Avoid Mixed-Mode Microsoft Licensing Whenever Possible

Most Microsoft software products – especially server products – can be licensed under multiple different models and metrics. SQL Server probably is the best example of a product that presents companies with multiple decision layers when analyzing new use cases: • Commercial Hosting or Volume Licensing? Companies need to determine whether a particular use case requires…


Is Hosting Microsoft Products via Third Parties a Good Option?

Most providers of hosted software solutions traditionally have delivered those solutions over the Internet from their own servers. However, an increasing number of businesses are interested in outsourcing not only their internal-use IT infrastructure but also the systems used to host their client-facing solutions. Doing so may allow a business to focus more on product…


Licensing Non-Employees to Access Microsoft Products on Your Servers

Many businesses have teams of third-party vendors to assist with their business operations or to provide independent services – like software development or website design – that require access to company servers. For Microsoft products like Windows Server that require additive licensing (usually, Client Access Licenses, or CALs) to support all such client access, the…


Which is Better: Microsoft SPLA or Microsoft Self-Hosted Applications?

Many businesses that identify a need to acquire “commercial hosting rights” in connection with hosted solutions incorporating Microsoft software have two options for acquiring them: through a Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) with Microsoft or through the Self-Hosted Application (SHA) benefit that is included with Software Assurance under an Enterprise Agreement or other volume-licensing agreement….


Defending SPLA Audits: Critical First Steps

Many businesses contact Scott & Scott, LLP regarding Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) audits after providing extensive information to Microsoft’s auditors and receiving compliance demands that would be ruinous for their bottom lines, if paid in full. At that stage, it might be difficult to “un-ring the bell” with respect to the data allegedly underlying…


Licensing Old Microsoft Products

Businesses seeking to license older versions of Microsoft products may encounter challenges acquiring valid licenses.  This is a particular concern for some companies that utilize Microsoft products as the basis for their IT infrastructure and that want to avoid a costly migration to new software versions. Microsoft offers a number of options under its Volume…


Microsoft’s Auditors Are Not Infallible

Microsoft licensing is a complex, multi-faceted undertaking, with different rules and license metrics applying to different products. In the context of software audits initiated by Microsoft, it is important to keep in mind the fact that the auditors hired to perform those investigations are fallible human beings and that they can (and do) make mistakes…


To SAM or Not to SAM? The Differences Between a Microsoft SAM Engagement and an Audit

In recent years, Microsoft seems to have been shifting an increasing volume of its license-compliance resources toward what it calls Software Asset Management (SAM) reviews. These “optional” engagements typically are proposed by Microsoft personnel with whom a company has not had any prior interactions, and the company often receives no advance warning or introductions from…


Consult with Counsel for SPLA Audits

Microsoft’s Services Provider License Agreement (“SPLA”) is a popular licensing framework for businesses delivering hosted or rented software solutions to their customers. However, as with many software license agreements pertaining to resale or other business channel partnership programs, the SPLA typically includes audit rights language giving Microsoft the ability to review a SPLA partner’s records…


In Microsoft Audits, Don’t Forget About True-Up Rights

Following the conclusion of a software audit, Microsoft’s standard practice is to require an audited company to purchase licenses associated with calculated “unlicensed use” within a set period of time (typically, 30 days) following receipt of Microsoft’s settlement demand. However, it is important for companies with Enterprise Agreements to keep in mind the fact that…


Microsoft SPLA Self-Assessment – What It Is, and How to Respond

Many of our clients contact us regarding notices they received from Microsoft requesting an internal self-assessment of their license positions under their Services Provider License Agreements (SPLAs). Naturally, many of those clients have questions about that process and the ramifications of cooperating with Microsoft. For those who may be unaware, SPLA is the principal licensing…