The deal is part of a global authorization for Tech Data under SPLA, which started a few months ago and is still coming online in the distributor’s various regions around the world. It’s part of a press by Microsoft to make its software packages available to partners on a pay-as-you-go revenue model for hosted applications, said Greg Myers, vice president of marketing for Tech Data Canada.
“They are methodically working through their authorization of the channel to offer products under SPLA,” Myers said. “SPLA is now the de facto licensing program that allows Microsoft products to be used for commercial hosting.”
Products available under the SPLA license include Windows Server, Office, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server, SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange Hosted Services, Microsoft Systems Center, Forefront Client Security, and a variety of Microsoft Dynamics business software (ERP and CRM) offerings.
As well as covering the actual license, partners who have access to SPLA have access to the metering and reporting tools needed to capture the utilization of hosted Microsoft apps. Myers said it’s one of the new models for partners to realize revenues on cloud-based and SaaS software sales.
“There are so many new models appearing in the marketplace for anything that’s delivered through the cloud, with Office 365, with this hosting model, with electronic software download available soon, there are a number of new revenues recognition models that are appearing,” Myers said.
While SPLA is primarily intended for the company’s hosting partners, having SPLA-licensed software available through distribution opens up the opportunity to a wider variety of solution providers. It’s particularly a good fit for partners focused on the SMB market where such hosted applications hold the greatest opportunity, Myers said.
“These hosted applications are targeted at small and medium business, they’re new services designed to be month-to-month and to consume operation budget rather than capital budget,” he said. “The early best fits are folks who are selling to small to midmarket customers, and who are familiar with hosting in a larger environment.”
It’s a way for Microsoft partners to supplement their existing open license agreement software sales to businesses, without having to do away with the project-based business altogether. And selling under SPLA doesn’t mean that partners have to host the applications themselves – partners are free to work with a third-party hosting supplier in bringing their offerings to market under the model.
Partners need to be approved by Microsoft to have access to the licensing model through Tech Data, and Myers said the distributor is working with the software giant to identify early partners for the program.
Myers said Microsoft is ahead of many of its software peers in offering a hosted license through distribution, but he said he doubts they’ll be the last.
“This is the first agreement that we have in place with a major publisher to deliver through a hosted environment, but I think there will be others,” he said.