Licensing Spotlight: License Mobility

The traditional choice between Volume Licensing and SPLA (Service Provider Licensing Agreement) was that dedicated hardware was required for Volume Licensing, whereas any shared deployment of Microsoft software will require SPLA.

Microsoft have responded to adapt the respective imposed silos for hardware and software licensing to provide flexibility to third-party service providers and customers. The following changes went live July 1st 2011.

The new License Mobility for Software Assurance provides customers with a licensing solution so that they can move Volume Licensing (VL) licensed applications to shared hardware clouds.


License Mobility through Software Assurance enables customers to license their server applications on-premises and in the cloud on a service provider’s shared hardware environment, for specific applications.

Service Providers providing the shared environment can use a single delivery platform to host multiple users who take advantage of License Mobility for Software Assurance for their dedicated server application instances.

This allows service providers to be able to provide and server multiple business models in a shared infrastructure. For Instance, Software as a Service (SaaS) via SPLA and the provision of End-User Applications via Volume Licensing.


SPLA is the vehicle to license the shared infrastructure, allowing partners to run their software services as well as the VMs for end-customers deployed workloads through license mobility, all in a single licensing model.

License Mobility for Software Assurance allows the end customer to deploy their application server workloads with a Service Provider, provided the customer has active Software Assurance (SA) coverage active on those licenses. The customer also maintains appropriate SA on CALs in their Volume License (VL) agreement for accessing the relevant application servers.

Please be aware that Windows Server licenses are not eligibly for mobility – the Service Provider is responsible for providing the licensed platform (OS) to receive the application server licenses, and they do so by licensing the infrastructure uniformly in SPLA.

Windows Server infrastructure will be licensed at the existing lower priced SKU no matter which workloads are running on it; whether outsourcing, web sites or ISV Apps.

There is a comprehensive list of the applicable servers that License Mobility applies to. As always, refer to the Product Use Rights and your incumbent Microsoft Reseller before acting. This website is for information purposes only.

The customer will assign instances of their existing Volume License (VL) server licenses to run in a shared datacenter. The instance will be dedicated to the specific customer.

Without License Mobility through SA, Microsoft cannot support an Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). A customer can either place a physical server with all licenses in a shared services center (“co-locating”) or they can use Software as a Service (SaaS) as offered by a service provider who uses SPLA.

License Mobility through SA allows users to use a hybrid solution: their qualifying server licenses (e.g. Exchange Server 2010 with active SA) on top of the service provider’s infrastructure.

Microsoft confirm that there is no ‘extra’ cost for the customer to exercise this new flexibility: This will require Software Assurance (SA) to be active on the licenses and procured and maintained through normal Microsoft Volume License (VL) Agreements. This will require that Software Assurance (maintenance) is active via the most cost-effective annuity agreement available and suitable for the customer. There will be an impact if the corresponding agreement is not renewed.

This is now available as of today 1st July 2011 and will be enshrined within the Software Assurance benefits section of the Product Use Rights


[Ref: Microsoft Customer Presentation]

What products are eligible for license mobility?

Please refer to the Product Use Rights, July 2011, Appendix 1 “Software Assurance Benefits” to see a list of which products and editions include this new benefit. As a general rule, License Mobility through SA will apply to server products that already include License Mobility. This will also apply to SQL Server Standard.

The instance is dedicated to the customer.

License Mobility through SA will not be available for Windows Server, so the service provider will have to license the operating system to the customer through SPLA. In order to decrease the Windows Server cost to service providers, two related improvements will happen on July 1st, 2011:

  • Windows Server for Outsourcer will disappear. Service providers will be able to use the existing (Non-Outsourcer) SKU for Windows Server, which costs considerably less than Windows Server for Outsourcer SKU.
  • The new Core Infrastructure Server (CIS) Suite, currently only available in the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure (ECI), will be available in SPLA.
      • Reduced pricing for certain Subscriber Access Licenses for Software Assurance (“SALs for SA”) that will make shared application hosting more affordable for customers with active Software Assurance.                                   [Thanks Jelle]

Apps via SaaS

Many commercial customers will be interested in consuming productivity applications via SaaS.

Microsoft have also recognised that many customers have previously purchased perpetual software licenses (CALs with Software Assurance) from Microsoft for on-premises use.

Subscriber Access Licenses (SAL) for SA, allow customers with active Software Assurance (SA) to migrate to a shared-tenant hosted application at a discounted rate.

Subscriber Access Licenses (SAL) for SA are functionally equivalent to the full Subscribe Access License (SAL), and Use Rights for SALs for SA are identical to their corresponding full SALs.

However, please be aware, if you choose not to renew the associated annuity agreement, you will lose the right to purchase Subscriber Access Licenses (SALs) for SA and will have to procure the full license going forward. If you do not have Active Software Assurance via a Annuity Agreement running, don’t procure this step-up.

This will be available for Microsoft Lync, SharePoint and Exchange and extended to most Standard and Enterprise functionality Subscriber Access Licenses (SALs)


[Ref: Microsoft Customer Presentation]

License Mobility through Software Assurance lets you move certain on-premise licenses covered by Software Assurance to third party shared servers subject to the terms below.

Permitted Use

With License Mobility through Software Assurance, you may:

  1. Move your licensed software from your servers to a third party’s shared servers;
  2. Run your software in virtual OSEs on the third party’s shared servers; and/or
  3. Manage your OSEs that you use on a third party’s shared servers.

Microsoft’s Requirements

To use License Mobility through Software Assurance, you must:

  • Maintain Software Assurance coverage for licenses under which you run software on shared third party servers;
  • Maintain Software Assurance coverage for all CALs, External Connector licenses and Server Management Licenses under which you access your licensed software running on shared third party servers and manage the OSEs in which that software runs;
  • Run your licensed software and manage your OSEs on third party shared servers solely for your use and benefit;
  • Deploy your licenses only with qualified License Mobility through Software Assurance Partners. A list of qualified License Mobility through Software Assurance Partners is available at; and
  • Complete and submit the License Mobility Validation form with each License Mobility through Software Assurance Partner who will run your licensed software on their shared servers. The License Mobility Validation form will be made available to you by the qualified License Mobility through Software Assurance Partner.
  • Your rights to run licensed software and manage OSEs on shared third party servers expires with the expiration of the Software Assurance coverage on those licenses.
  • You may move your licensed software from a third party’s hared servers back to your servers or to another third party’s shared servers, but not on a short term basis (not within 90 days of the last assignment). […]
  • Use of software deployed by third parties on shared servers on your behalf remains subject to the terms and conditions of your license agreement. You agree that you will be responsible for third parties’ actions with regard to software deployed and managed on your behalf.
  • The license terms applicable to the Product together with the License Mobility through Software Assurance terms govern its use. The License Mobility through Software Assurance terms supersede any conflicting license terms for a Product when License Mobility through Software Assurance is used. Generally, your rights to use the software on third party shared servers are the same as the use rights when you run the software on your servers. However, some Products, as outlined below, have different use rights for shared third party servers under License Mobility through Software Assurance:



[Ref:Microsoft Product Use Rights, July 2011, Page 115 of 122]

CRN, Web Host Industry Review and Redmond Channel Partner Magazine

Microsoft Volume Licensing –

Microsoft Partner Network –


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