Microsoft have made a number of changes to Windows Server 2022 licensing, detailed in the April 2023 Product Terms.
First of all they’ve removed the requirement for a customer to have a minimum of 16 Windows Server Core licences in their estate before they can take advantage of licensing by virtual machine or use the Azure Hybrid Benefit. Secondly, there’s a change to the Azure Hybrid Benefit where Windows Server Core licences no longer have to be kept in groups of 8 when licensing a virtual machine with more than 8 cores – previously a 20-core virtual machine would have needed 24 licences (3×8), now it just needs 20.
Then there are changes to the rights when Windows Server licences are acquired as Software Subscriptions through CSP. If a customer has these licenses then they may use Standard licences with Windows Server Datacenter virtual machines. This right is available to them if they’re running their virtual machines in their own on-premises data centres, or with Authorized Outsourcers.
And finally there are changes when a CSP-Hoster partner sells Windows Server Software Subscription licences as part of a solution which they are hosting and managing for a customer. In this case, there’s no need for Windows Server CALs or External Connector licences, and the right to use Standard licences with Datacenter images also applies as above.
This March 2023 Outsourcing Software Management Licensing Brief brings together information about changes that happened in October 2019 and October 2022. You’ll find information on using licences with Listed Providers and Authorized Outsourcers, as well as the benefits that enable this: the Flexible Virtualization Benefit, License Mobility through SA, and the Azure Hybrid Benefit. Find this Licensing Brief here: http://bit.ly/3T1nxR7.
There’s a new (September 2022) Microsoft Licensing Guide for Azure Arc-enabled SQL Managed Instance. It gives you an overview of the service tiers, and explains how to license containers, how the billing under different connectivity modes works, how to use the Azure Hybrid Benefit, and the licensing for non-production use.
Find this guide here: http://bit.ly/3u7z2es.
Microsoft announce that there will be a new benefit for customers who have Windows Server licenses with active SA or bought as Software Subscriptions through CSP. This is an extension to the Azure Hybrid Benefit and will allow customers to use the Azure Kubernetes Services (AKS) on Windows Server and Azure Stack HCI at no extra cost.
You can find the announcement article here: https://bit.ly/3S4ldHf, and this page has a great diagram explaining all the different flavours of the Azure Hybrid Benefit and how they might work together: https://bit.ly/3Te7A9G.
Microsoft introduce a new benefit for customers with Windows Server Datacenter licences with SA purchased through an Enterprise Agreement. It’s an extension to the Azure Hybrid Benefit and waives the fees for the Azure Stack HCI host service and Windows Server guest subscriptions, as long as all physical cores of the Azure Stack HCI cluster are licensed with Windows Server Datacenter Core licences.
You can find the announcement article here: https://bit.ly/3S4ldHf, and this is a good place to find out more, such as how the benefit is activated: https://bit.ly/3yOX54F.
The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server can be used with Azure resources such as SQL Databases or Managed Instances, or SQL Server running in a virtual machine. This means that customers can bring their own licences with SA (or Server Subscriptions acquired through CSP) to pay for the SQL Server part of the resources. Historically, the Azure Hybrid Benefit has always been activated at the resource level, but a new option means that customers can now manage it for a single Azure Subscription or for a whole Billing Account.
This new feature is enabled in the Azure Management Portal where you specify the number of eligible SQL Server licences you have which are then converted to Normalized Core Licenses (NCLs). Because SQL Server Enterprise and Standard Core licences can be combined in Azure in the ratio of 4:1, this NCL number calculates (in effect) the total number of Standard Core licences you have available. So, 8 Enterprise and 16 Standard Core licences = 8 x 4 + 16 = 48 NCLs. These NCLs are then automatically allocated to SQL resources running in the chosen scope, rather than the Azure Hybrid Benefit having to be manually activated by a human on each resource.
Scope-level management of the Azure Hybrid Benefit can be used with SQL Databases, SQL Managed Instances, SQL Elastic Pools or SQL Server running in an Azure VM, but only resource-level management is available for Azure Dedicated Hosts and Azure Data Factory SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS). Note too that it’s not an option currently available for Web Direct or CSP customers, only those buying through an Enterprise Agreement or direct from Microsoft via the Microsoft Customer Agreement.
Find tutorials, how-go guides and an FAQ at the docs site here: https://bit.ly/3n2IfAO.
Microsoft announce that the Azure Hybrid Benefit for Linux is now generally available after a preview phase. This means that customers can bring their own Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions to a virtual machine in Azure and just pay for the infrastructure charges. Customers can apply this Azure Hybrid Benefit to either existing or new virtual machines.
Find the announcement here: https://bit.ly/3pRFwe0, and details on exactly how the Azure Hybrid Benefit applies to Linux virtual machines here: https://bit.ly/2Tqh4S5.
Microsoft announce the General Availability of the Azure VMware solution enabling customers to seamlessly move VMware-based workloads from their data centres to Azure and integrate their VMware environment with Azure.
What’s interesting from a licensing perspective is that if customers are running Windows Server and SQL Server workloads then they can use the Azure Hybrid Benefit to reuse existing on-premises licences, and they can also save money on the infrastructure by purchasing Reserved Instances.
Find the announcement here: https://bit.ly/34IRm1H, and information on the solution itself here: https://bit.ly/3ow1DWH.
Microsoft announce a further extension to the Azure Hybrid Benefit, this time for Linux virtual machines.
Now customers can bring their own Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscriptions to a virtual machine in Azure and just pay for the infrastructure charges.
Customers can apply this Azure Hybrid Benefit to either existing or new virtual machines.
Find the announcement here: https://bit.ly/35J8F1H, and instructions on participating in the preview for this new benefit here: https://bit.ly/2Tqh4S5.
There are lots of different ways to optimise costs in Azure, but this list is great to remind you of the basics (Reservations, Azure Hybrid Benefit etc) as well as newer options specific to running SQL in Azure, or using Azure Backup solutions.
Find the full list here: https://bit.ly/2J7pVWR.