Everything you need to know about Microsoft SPLA

24 July 2023

Michaela Gray


Microsoft SPLA (Services Provider Licence Agreement) enables organisations like yours to licence Microsoft products month-by-month to efficiently manage and host software services for your customers.



In simpler terms, Microsoft SPLA means that you can deliver tailored IT services to customers without upfront costs, making it a beneficial licence program. Providers pay only for products made available to customers and usage is reported monthly.


What are the disadvantages of Microsoft SPLA?

While Microsoft SPLA is a useful agreement for many Microsoft solution providers, it can be difficult to maintain and remain compliant. Service providers must report the quantity of SPLA licences their customers used in total each month. Depending on the total costs, customers may need to provide further details.

There’s also required agreements for certain scenarios such as when using software services resellers or outsourcing.

Audit firms conduct SPLA audits on behalf of Microsoft, and these audits look back over several months or even years, meaning that even small non-compliance issues escalate quickly and pose significant risk. Additional licence purchases come at a list price of 125%.

The most common issues found in these audits include:

  • Windows server: as mentioned above, the biggest risk in audits is that any shortfalls are multiplied across multiple months, which can be particularly costly when it comes to Windows Server. Licencing Windows Server through SPLA has some differences to the rules in volume licencing, which makes it a higher risk
  • Access restrictions: providers must maintain robust controls around which users are provisioned to access applications. User licencing in Microsoft is based on users who can access software, not just those who actually do, so ensuring this is managed correctly is important
  • Active directory hygiene: if user access is not restricted, all of the users in active directory (with the exception of system/ generic accounts) will be assigned User SAL requirements. Keeping the active directory up to date by disabling users who are no longer active will reduce this impact
  • End user installations by customers: as an SPLA provider, you are responsible for software identified, even if this has been installed by end customers. It’s important that the correct controls are in place to prevent, or at least be aware of what end customers install so the correct licencing can be reported
  • Understanding the SPUR (Services Provider Use Rights): the SPUR details how products are allowed to be utilised, so it’s crucial to read and understand the relevant SPUR to ensure proper reporting

So how can we help?

Our specialists are familiar with the terms outlined in the SPLA and MBSA, and the obligations for SPLA providers. Managing SPLA is challenging so that’s why our baseline service is a valuable exercise.

With our baseline service, our specialists analyse and advise on any non-compliance identified, enabling you to focus on your customers without worrying about audits. By joining us for a baseline review, you will:

  • Receive a kick-off call: our specialists will take you through a discussion to reinforce the key deliverables of the service, ensuring you receive the advice you need
  • Capture full deployment and usage: we will collect the required data points and our Software Asset Management (SAM) Consultants will advise on Microsoft SPLA licencing requirements in your scenario
  • Identify risks: following data inventory, our SAM Consultants will analyse the data provided to produce a compliance risk log identifying any risks
  • Benefit from a review of monthly reporting: in SPLA there is no traditional entitlement, but we’ll review what you report monthly and compare this with the identified requirements. Any scope for optimisation will be highlighted
  • Receive a compliance review workbook: to end the service, our SAM Consultants will take you through their findings and help you understand your current risks and remedial actions

Ready to resolve your SPLA challenges? Talk to us.

Are you ready to take our SPLA baseline review? Get in touch with our specialists today by booking a 1:1 call below. Alternatively, please email us at [email protected] or call 01904 562217 and one of our specialists will be in touch to discuss your requirements.

Book a call with one of our specialists now

Michaela has worked within the industry for over 11 years, both within sales and marketing. She works closely with the team to support them with all their marketing needs and maintains and promotes the License Dashboard brand.

Michaela Gray

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