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Amazon Embraces 'License Mobility' for Microsoft App Servers

Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced last week that the Microsoft "license mobility with Software Assurance" (SA) program applies to AWS hosting services.

That means that organizations with Microsoft volume licensing and SA agreements in place have a little more flexibility on how to use Microsoft application server products that were originally licensed for on-premises use. In many cases, organizations can transfer those licenses into a hosting company's public cloud, including leveraging AWS' infrastructure-as-a-service offerings to run applications as services, without incurring additional licensing costs.

Microsoft's license mobility with SA program applies just to some of its application servers. It doesn't apply to Windows licensing. Organizations paying to use a public cloud, such one run by AWS, typically get access to Windows Server through the Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) that the service provider signed with Microsoft. In addition, Windows is licensed per device, which is another reason why an organization's on-premises Windows licenses aren't transferrable to public cloud infrastructures.

Licenses for the following Microsoft application server products are eligible for Microsoft's mobility program, provided that they are covered by Microsoft's SA licensing option: Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Lync Server, Microsoft SharePoint Server, Microsoft SQL Server (Standard and Enterprise Editions) and Microsoft System Center.

Amazon claimed in its announcement that companies with volume licensing and SA agreements in place have been upgrading to the cloud using Microsoft's mobility licensing option. For instance, they may move from using SharePoint 2007 on premises to using SharePoint 2010 on the AWS cloud.

Amazon lays out the eligibility requirements to use Microsoft's mobility licensing option on this page. The license mobility program is described by Microsoft here.

An important caveat is that SA agreements also have to be in place with Microsoft for the Client Access Licenses, or CALs, used to access the application servers.

Microsoft first announced this license mobility program back in March, but the program took effect on July 1. The licensing mobility program also got mentioned at the 2011 Microsoft Worldwide Partner Convention in Los Angeles, which took place last week.

Microsoft had announced back in March that the licensing mobility program would apply to service providers with SPLA agreements. Consequently, the program is opened up to AWS or any other authorized public cloud hosting company or value-added reseller that may want to participate.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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