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InfoQ Homepage News Microsoft Changes Cloud Licensing to Ease Moving Workloads to Partner Clouds

Microsoft Changes Cloud Licensing to Ease Moving Workloads to Partner Clouds

Microsoft recently announced that it would implement significant revisions and upgrades to its outsourcing and hosting terms to benefit partners and customers globally starting from the 1st of October. 

The company is making the changes based on customer feedback and preventing an antitrust investigation from the European Union. According to a Microsoft Partner blog post, the changes have three primary goals:

  • Ease migration to the partner cloud by expanding use rights to allow customers to run their software, including Windows 11, on hosters’ multitenant servers and more easily license virtual machines for Windows Server.
  • Provide more opportunities for partners to work with more customers, sell the necessary solutions, and run them where they prefer.
  • Enable partners to build hosted desktop and server solutions to help directly fulfill customers’ hosting needs.

In an EU policy blog post, the company stated:

We are committed to competing fairly and in partnership with the diverse group of European cloud providers, and we strongly believe in the importance of an open and competitive cloud economy in Europe.

However, in 2019, Microsoft imposed outsourcing restrictions, causing customers to pay more to run Microsoft software in non-Microsoft cloud environments. These restrictions impacted customers using AWS and Google Cloud as dedicated hosts for running Windows Server and clients. Hence, some European partners and customers complained to European antitrust authorities.

Regarding the complaints, president Brad Smith said in May this year that a new team will address them:

A European Cloud Provider support team will help European Cloud Providers achieve its goals, provide licensing and product roadmap support, and continue to support their growth around cloud solutions. This new team will also work to create a tighter feedback loop, enabling European Cloud Providers to share ongoing feedback in real-time and ensure that Microsoft is better connected and supporting their needs.

With the upcoming changes, customers will have additional choices to deploy their solutions with more flexibility. For instance, the new Flexible Virtualization provides customers with Software Assurance or subscription licenses, the benefit that they can leverage licensed software for developing and running solutions on any cloud environment (except Google, AWS, and Alibaba). It also includes a new Windows Server core licensing option, allowing customers to choose to license Windows Server on a virtual core basis.

In response to the changes Marcus Jadotte, vice president, Government Affairs & Policy Google Cloud, tweeted:

The promise of the cloud is flexible, elastic computing without contractual lock-ins. Customers should be able to move freely across platforms and choose the technology that works best for them, rather than what works best for Microsoft.

Lastly, Microsoft has also announced improvements for the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program. Partners will now be able to sell Remote Desktop Services (RDS), Windows Server, SQL Server, and other products on a one-year or three-year subscription basis.

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