Microsoft Adjusts Volume Licensing To Aid Customer Migrations To Cloud Computing

Under the Volume Licensing Mobility plan that will be effective July 1, 2011, volume licensing customers will be able to deploy their application server licenses to the cloud without any additional purchase requirements, according to Microsoft. The plan will allow them to retain their Software Assurance benefits in the process.

The change is in response to customers who have asked to use their own licenses as they move to cloud computing, rather than paying a service provider to use a software product, a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement. The change will enable more hybrid cloud/on-premise scenarios, according to the company.

The new licensing plan applies to SQL Server, Exchange Server, Lync Server, SharePoint Server, System Center servers and Dynamics CRM. But it does not apply to Windows and Windows Server, because the operating system remains tied to the hardware platform, as well as desktop applications and development tools.

In addition to the obvious benefits for customers, Microsoft is portraying the change as beneficial to service providers as well. The new licensing option "enhances business opportunities [for partners] by paving the way for qualified Microsoft customers to take advantage of cloud computing without having to bear the economic burden for products that they already own and have covered through Software Assurance," the spokesperson said.

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Microsoft will also implement changes to the Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) that the company said will help hosting partners reduce costs. The introduction of a new Core Infrastructure Suite in the SPLA program will make licensing the infrastructure at the Service Provider's datacenter more affordable, according to the company. The suite will include Windows Server Datacenter, System Center Server Management Suite Datacenter (SMSD) and Forefront Endpoint Protection.

Microsoft announced the licensing changes at its Microsoft Hosting Summit in Bellevue, Wash.