Spreading your business systems across heaven and earth can result in duplicate licensing costs unless you manage your hybrid cloud infrastructure with care.

In many ways hybrid cloud computing offers the best of both worlds. Under a hybrid model you can take advantage of cloud computing in areas where it makes good business sense – leveraging the cloud’s economies of scale, high availability and capacity to quickly ramp up to meet peak demand.

Meanwhile, you might keep some IT systems on-premises so they’re always close at hand. If your broadband link is sometimes found wanting, it can be wise to keep your bandwidth or latency-sensitive servers and systems in-house rather than moving absolutely everything to the cloud. Even if you eventually intend to move everything off-premises to the cloud, the hybrid cloud model might still make sense during the transition period.

One of the complexities of hybrid computing is that it can see a duplication of costs as you find your business needing to maintain in-house hardware to support legacy systems. This duplication can include Microsoft licenses, and your rights vary greatly depending on what you’ve signed up for and whether it falls under the Software Assurance Volume Licensing program.

It’s critical to understand your licensing rights; for example, shared tenant cloud environments are usually licensed under a Microsoft SPLA (Services Provider License Agreement), which does not necessarily extend to your on-premises hardware. In particular, Microsoft Office licenses obtained under an SPLA agreement do not cover local installation rights on users’ desktops

Meanwhile, not all Office 365 subscriptions are created equal. For example, Microsoft’s Office 365 Enterprise E3 suite is licensed to run within a Remote Desktop Services environment but the cheaper Office 365 Business Premium suite is not. This seemingly minor detail can become a big deal when you’re dealing with a hybrid computing model, which is why it’s always important to read over the fine print rather than just paying attention to the headline items.

Hybrid computing can also cause headaches with Microsoft server licensing, but thankfully Microsoft offers “Microsoft License Mobility”, acknowledging the complexity of managing licenses in a hybrid environment while trying to make the most of your existing investments. The Microsoft License Mobility program is available to customers of Authorised Mobility Partners, such as TechBrain. With TechBrain’s help, you can move some Microsoft server licenses from your own infrastructure to a public or private cloud provider, if you have Enterprise Agreements or licenses with Software Assurance.

Server applications that are eligible for Microsoft License Mobility include various editions of Windows Server, Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, Dynamics CRM, Lync, BizTalk and Skype for Business. Microsoft License Mobility doesn’t apply to desktop and server operating systems, or to desktop applications. Keep in mind that you must also maintain the appropriate Client Access Licenses with Software Assurance in your Volume Licensing agreement for accessing these application servers that are taking advantage of Microsoft License Mobility.

Microsoft License Mobility isn’t just about making it easier to manage your licenses. The true benefit is the greater flexibility to use your licenses regardless of where your servers may be housed offering your business the ability to adjust your hybrid mix between cloud and on-premises computing. If your business wants to look to the clouds but keep its feet on the ground, Microsoft License Mobility ensures you’re always making the most of your Microsoft server licenses.

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Adam S

Adam S is a technology expert with a passion for innovative ideas.