Microsoft SPLA: Asking Licensing’s hard questions

Microsoft Licensing QuestionsMicrosoft Answers Our SPLA (Licensing) Questions

The following are common deep dive questions raised by staff and customers.

They were posed to both Microsoft and our SPLA law firm. I have a high degree of confidence in their interpretation, but like anything else, please use your best judgment and seek legal counsel if any of this information can seriously impact your business. 

Also, don’t forget to check your Master Business Agreement and Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA).

The Service Provider License Agreement Questions:

1. Do test and admin users require a license?  I assume yes, but several customers are asking and I would like to say that we validated with Microsoft.

End users who access SAL-licensed software deployments for test or administration purposes require a SAL – the SPLA does not contain an exception for such end users. There is a grant in the SPLA that allows you to “authorize up to 20 individuals per data center (including employees of any Outsourcing Company performing services for [you]) to access and use the Products for the sole purpose of testing, maintenance and administration of the Products.” However, that is an internal-use grant that does not extend to your end-user customers.

2. If a customer has two domains in their SharePoint, and users have the same ID but in each domain, does the customer have to license twice?

For SAL-licensed software deployments, it is necessary to assign only one SAL to each end user. The SPUR states: “You must acquire and assign a SAL to each user that is authorized to access your instances of the server software directly or indirectly, regardless of actual access of the server software… Each user SAL permits one user, using any device, to access instances of the server software on your servers.” The license grant does not require you to assign additional licenses to SAL-assigned users in order for those users to access instances of the software deployed on servers in multiple domains, as long as all of those servers are yours.

3. If a customer is maintaining a user ID in order to maintain the modification history in SharePoint, can they simply disable (or does it have to be deleted) the account in order to not need another license?

Typically, during a SPLA audit, Microsoft’s auditors will request Active Directory data identifying the users of SAL-licensed products. In most cases, user accounts that are disabled in AD will not be counted for purposes of the audit. However, if the last login date for a user was within the audit month, then I would expect that user to be counted as well, even if the account is disabled when the AD data is collected.

4. If a customer has a test/QA environment, and only four users are utilizing the test box, but they want to maintain the environment as an exact replica of production (including the SharePoint users), does Microsoft require duplicate licensing of all users or just the four using the box or will their production licenses be enough? 

If both servers are active, you will need a separate license for each user. These are considered separate instances.

5. If the customer provides us their EA number (some have given screenshots as well), will that suffice for the audit?  Not everyone has been comfortable providing the actual document.

You will need to fill out the Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance License Verification Form. If you need a copy of this form or if you have any additional questions, please reach out to your SPLA provider.

2014-01-22T08:30:56+00:00 January 22nd, 2014|


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  2. Rusty November 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm - Reply

    A good blogg!
    Here is a hard qestion.
    If a endcustomer has O365 E3, and a Sharepoint server with active SA.
    Can he then move the server with licens mobility to the hoster(SPLA), and use the user licens from E3?

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