Monday 10 March 2008

SBS Hosting? MS SPLA is the answer

Lately we have been in contact with a number of small companies requiring SBS features and abilities but are not necessarily in a position to outlay that kind of cash up front.

These companies tend to be 2-5 seats with most of their users on the road. Some are even home based businesses that do not require the need for office space as their users are almost completely remote based.

An option that has become viable for us to get involved with is the Microsoft Service Provider License Agreement or SPLA.

What the SPLA enables us to do is setup either hardware dedicated or virtual SBS networks on our servers for the smaller companies to use.

The licensing revenue of Microsoft products under SPLA is per user per month. We essentially pay for what we use to provide our clients with the hosted SBS solution. And, the cost per month is very reasonable.

So, for a typical small business we may setup the following on a virtual server:
  • SBS 2K3 R2 Standard
  • Windows XP Pro or Vista Business desktops
  • Office Standard 2003/7
  • SharePoint Version 3
The advantages for the clients are manifold:
  • No large outlay of cash for infrastructure - fees are month by month with a small setup fee
  • Client does not need a dedicated physical location
  • MS server, workstation, and applications hosted are patch managed
  • ShadowProtect based backups - no, "I forgot to change the ..."
  • Data is centrally accessible via share and/or SharePoint sites
  • No need for new or updated hardware for their users
  • Software Assurance covers any MS product for upgrades or downgrades
Besides a Managed Services focus, SBS hosting services can further stabilize an I.T. company's revenue stream by providing additional diversity and consistency.

For any company contemplating adding this type of service to their services portfolio however, there are a number of very important things to keep in mind:
  • A reliable Internet Connection - preferably managed and/or fibre
  • Hardware capacity to provide an excellent level of service
  • Hardware, location, Internet connection redundancy
  • UPS and/or power generation capabilities
  • A good data backup system
  • Disaster Recovery Planning in place
  • A secured facility to protect the infrastructure
  • Proper cooling for the hardware delivering the hosted services
  • A lawyer approved service agreement
For us, it is our preference to meet our prospective hosting clients fact to face before considering them for our SBS based hosting solutions. We prefer to get to know them and their business first. From there we can tailor an SBS hosting solution to meet their specific business needs.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.


Anonymous said...

Are you sure that hosting virtuel Windows XP Pro or Vista Business desktops is allowed by using SPLA licences? Last time i wanted to use this as a hosted solution it wasnt allowed by the SPLA EULA.

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...

We are in the process of clarifying exactly where we stand with regards to SPLA and desktop OSs.

Here is some more information though that indicates that there is a stand alone licensing model for Vista Enterprise VMs: Flexible Desktop Computing.

I suspect that we will be okay.


Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...


Just to follow up with you: We spoke with our SPLA representative at Microsoft, and they explained things to us.

The Vista Business "Upgrade" is licensed for virtual desktop, rental machine, or other installation. What we need is a SAL to cover each instance that is accessed by our serviced clients.



Anonymous said...

Hi Philip,

Do you happen to know if it is allowed to downgrade the Vista SPLA SAL to XP?