Software as a Service (SaaS) is growing on the Cloud by the day, but is it being delivered legally?
Over my many years of working with the Microsoft licencing and Cloud based services, you quickly realise that most people have never read the Microsoft End User License Agreement (EULA). If you are planning to offer your customers a service, then the following extract for the EULA is VERY important to you.
NO RENTAL/COMMERCIAL HOSTING. You may not rent, lease, lend or provide commercial hosting services with the Software.
This line appears on all purchased Microsoft software meaning you are not legally allowed to use any purchased Microsoft product and then effectively rent it on as part of a service. If you fall into this category you MUST use a Microsoft Service Provider Licencing Agreement (SPLA), under this agreement you rent licences from Microsoft on a monthly basis often per user, paying for what you use.
Here are a few examples of what you cannot do unless you use SPLA, all these examples assume you own the hardware, not your customer.
- Buy a laptop running windows and rent it as a service to a customer.
- Create a Windows IIS web server, then charge people to host their websites.
- Create a software solution which you charge external users to use on a subscription basis, i.e. a SaaS solution
- Create a terminal server (Remote Desktop Server ) and charge users to use Office or any other application through it.
There are a few exceptions to this but not many. So stay legal, make sure you and your service provider are following these rules. You can obtain SPLA licencing via your service provider, or directly in your own right.