Microsoft SPLA, Demystified.

George Jon
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George Jon

What is Microsoft SPLA?
A Service Provider License Agreement, or SPLA, is one of the many licensing programs offered by Microsoft for access to their software product offerings. Whereas other licensing programs offered by Microsoft, such as Enterprise Agreements and Open License programs, allow users to access but not host Microsoft products, an SPLA enables licensees to host specific Microsoft programs. 

Who should be using SPLA?
If your entity hosts applications or customer data for a fee, then you are considered a “Service Provider” by Microsoft. Any Microsoft licensing used in a hosted environment needs to be reported under the SPLA program. Your organization is considered a Service Provider by Microsoft if you:

  • Provide customers with direct/indirect access to products such as hosted websites or line-of-business (LOB) applications through Microsoft server products.
  • Offer customers software services that interact with Microsoft products where you, not your customer, are the licensee.
  • Facilitate a customer’s business, including business transactions with third parties, through software services that interact with Microsoft products.
  • Provide customers with access to, and use of, any application as a software service (Microsoft or otherwise) and the application runs on a server and interacts with a Microsoft product on that server.
  • Offer other service providers platform infrastructure services to use and run any Microsoft or third-party application. In essence, this allows these external service providers to offer Microsoft applications as a software service to their end customers using their own SPLA.
  • Use Microsoft software for the benefit of a third party.

How is the SPLA program structured?
SPLA is a month-to-month licensing program and only bills for licenses that are being used on a monthly basis. Licensing is non-perpetual, which means that at the end of the SPLA agreement term, no licensing is actually owned by the Service Provider.

Usage can scale up/down as needed based on a monthly basis. The Agreement term is three (3) years, and at the end of term, users can sign a new agreement or let the agreement expire. An Agreement can be terminated with 60 days’ notice with a written request to Microsoft.

How do you enroll in the SPLA program?

  1. Determine if SPLA is right for your organization based upon the Microsoft products you use and how you use them.
  2. Enroll in the Microsoft Partner Network to become a Microsoft Partner, as you must be a MS Certified Partner or a Registered Member of the Microsoft Partner Network to enroll in SPLA. If you are a Registered Member, you must also enroll in the Microsoft Hosting Community.
  3. Find a SPLA Reseller in your operating country and open an account with that Reseller. The SPLA Reseller will collect your monthly/zero use report and submit it to Microsoft. An invoice will be issued by the SPLA Reseller for the licenses you used in the previous month.
  4. Sign the SPLA Agreement.

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