Microsoft: Volume license agreements now are 'cloud ready'

Summary:Today, July 1, is the first day of Microsoft's fiscal 2012 year, and is also the day that some new cloud-focused licensing changes from the company commence.

Today, July 1, is the first day of Microsoft's fiscal 2012 year, and is also the day that some new cloud-focused licensing changes from the company commence.

"License Mobility through Software Assurance" is one of these volume-licensing program changes. As the program name indicates, this allows customers with Software Assurance contracts "deploy certain server application licenses on-premises or in the cloud in a shared hardware environment with the ability to assign your existing licenses to a authorized Service Provider."

License Mobility kicks in as of July 1. Server applications that can be licensed under the program include SQL Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, Lync Server, System Center servers, and Dynamics CRM. Windows Server isn't eligible for inclusion, and Windows Server operating system licenses "remain assigned to customers’ on-premises hardware with their applicable license terms," according to Microsoft's overview of the program.

Microsoft is pitching License Mobility as making it easier for customers to move their application-server workloads from on-premises to the cloud at any time without additional licensing. For customers looking at hybrid cloud-on-premises deployments, the new terms should make life easier, Microsoft officials contend.

On July 4, Microsoft's newly updated Enterprise Agreement (EA) volume licensing terms take effect. Via the updated EA, users won't be restricted to primarily device-based licensing terms. Instead, they'll be able to mix and match the way they license products, with cloud-deployment being one of the options. One result will be that volume licensees won't need to license the same functionality twice, said Mark Croft, Director of Volume Licensing Product Management.

"Enterprise agreements are cloud-ready and Software Assurance supports the cloud," said Croft.

The base volume-licensing terms will remain, said Croft. There will still be device licensing, built-in Software Assurance terms, three-year contract lengths and annual reconciliation. But the changes are in recognition that "most of our (volume) customers are going to be in a hybrid environment," Crosft said.

The new EA terms are explained well and succinctly in this post from UK VAR Software Manager Rich Gibbons. (Gibbons mentions a new core Client Access License in his post, more about which I've previously blogged here.)

Microsoft will likely share more details about its cloud licensing changes and how they affect its partners at its Worldwide Partner Conference the week of July 11.

Topics: Microsoft, Hardware, Servers


Mary Jo Foley has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications, including ZDNet, eWeek and Baseline. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008). She also is the cohost of the "Windows Weekly" podcast on the TWiT network. Got a tip? Se... Full Bio

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