Microsoft offers smoother licensing path to cloud

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Microsoft offers smoother licensing path to cloud

Small but important change in the fine print.

Microsoft has made a minor adjustment to its licensing rules that should make it far easier for customers to migrate applications between their own data centres and third-party “cloud” providers.

The change, noted by virtualisation blogger Rodney Haywood, was briefly discussed at Microsoft’s professional developers conference last month, and would enable users to migrate in-house applications running on Microsoft’s Server 2008 R2 operating system to the cloud without suffering any licensing headaches.

Microsoft has made little effort to inform customers or channel partners in the past as to how cloud services impacts on server licensing.

The general assumption among end-users was that the volume license agreements used for servers deployed in-house would not be applicable if the operating system instance was migrated to a hosted virtual machine, which would require SPLA licensing.

But now that Microsoft has launched its own cloud service – Azure – the software giant has moved to adjust licensing to encourage migration, opening the door for customers to use other cloud services in the process.

The change means that users could build a server instance on-site, migrate the disk image to an external cloud provider, and continue to run it with existing license keys.

Users will, however, in the short-term be paying for two licenses – directly for the original license key, and either directly or indirectly (via the hosting provider) under the SPLA program.

“The critical thing is that [migration] is now explicitly allowed,” Haywood said on his blog. “You can leave your old license key in the machine, you don't have go replace it with the providers OS SPLA key.”

Microsoft traditionally updates its SPLA licensing program every January with new pricing.

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