How to avoid common SPLA Hoster Reporting Mistakes

Reporting requirements for service providers under the SPLA program can be tough. There are several mistakes made by SPLA hosters when it comes to reporting that you will want to avoid. Reporting mistakes increase your risks for being audited, which can lead to costly fines for non-compliance.

Common Reporting Mistakes to avoid

Some Microsoft software products under SPLA require that software is used in combination with another software as part of a solution stack. If you license a product that requires another product, you need a license for both products. It is up to service providers to know which products are required to deploy the solution and to obtain the proper licenses for them. For example, service providers commonly make the following reporting mistakes:

  • Reporting Office without RDS
  • Reporting CRM without SQL
  • Reporting SharePoint without SQL
  • Reporting SharePoint Enterprise without reporting Standard

Additional common but easy-to-fix reporting mistakes include:

  • Reporting only one 2 core pack when you are required to report a minimum of 4 cores
  • Miss combination of Windows and SQL
  • Agreement without Windows Server
  • Reporting SQL processors on a recently signed agreement
  • Using SQL Web to support a line of business application
  • Reporting less than $100 on a recently signed agreement.

Other reporting errors that are more difficult to correct involve:

  • Hosting SPLA on servers that are consumed internally
  • Installing SPLA software on hardware you don’t control or have access to
  • Using System Center to manage both internal and external facing applications

Why You Must Report on Time

Not only do you need to avoid mistakes when reporting under the SPLA program but you want to make sure you report on time due to the following list of reasons:

Not reporting is like stealing. If you haven’t paid for licenses upfront but you begin charging your customers for access, it’s the same as stealing. Not reporting is unlawful.

You agreed to report. On page 11 of the SPLA you signed a statement that says you will report monthly or submit a zero-use report to your SPLA reseller.

Microsoft runs audit checks. After the 10th of each month, Microsoft runs audits. If you don’t report you are more likely to be audited.

What Might Trigger an SPLA reporting Audit

Microsoft can audit any service provider they choose at any time. But there are some things that could increase your risks for getting an SPLA audit, including:

  • Purchasing another company
  • Hosting software from a third-party
  • Higher or lower SPLA report
  • Forgetting or avoiding a SPLA report
  • Reporting minimal usage despite advertising hosting offerings
  • Provide software as a service without a SPLA report

What to Do If You’re Audited

If you’ve been audited, there are a few things that could help you prepare for a response. Try the following:

Take inventory. Pay special attention to SQL and RDS, as well as any licenses you purchased outside your SPLA that are used to support your hosted solutions.

Review customer services. Do any have software assurance?

Respond to auditors. Provide the requested information but nothing more. This is a situation when less is more and often a SPLA hoster is audited randomly and there is nothing much to worry about. Just fulfill their audit request and you’re likely to operate business-as-usual.

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