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.
Microsoft announce some expanded use rights for the Azure Hybrid Benefit with SQL Server giving additional flexibility in using Standard and Enterprise Core licences for Azure IaaS and PaaS solutions.
SQL Server Standard Core licences may now be used for SQL Server Enterprise virtual machines with 4 Core licences required for each virtual core, and SQL Server Enterprise Core licences may now be used for SQL Server Standard virtual machines with 1 Core licence covering 4 virtual cores.
There are similar changes for the licence requirements for the Azure Data Factory SQL Server Integration Services Standard/Enterprise, and SQL Server Standard Core licences may now also be used for Azure SQL Database Business Critical solutions with a requirement of 4 Core licences to cover a virtual core.
You can find the announcement article here: https://bit.ly/2PlP6oh and find the official documentation on pages 54/55 of the August 2020 Product Terms document: http://bit.ly/MSproductterms.
There’s text added to page 30 of the January 2020 Product Terms document stating that customers must indicate their use of SQL Server on Azure when making use of the Azure Hybrid Benefit or Disaster Recover Rights. For details on how to do this see our blog post: http://bit.ly/2ZB6nwI.
If you provision an all-inclusive SQL Server virtual machine from the Azure Marketplace then you’ll be charged a single fee which includes the cost of SQL Server. If you want to bring your own SQL Server licences to that virtual machine via the Azure Hybrid Benefit, then you need to change the licence type of the virtual machine. You do this in the Azure Management Portal and simply change the licence type from Pay As You Go to the Azure Hybrid Benefit in the Configure settings of the VM. You can find instructions for that here: http://bit.ly/2Pd6miy.
If you’ve self-installed SQL Server on an Azure virtual machine, then again, you’re probably intending to bring your own licences. The Product Terms states that you need to indicate when you’re using the Azure Hybrid Benefit – which is what happened above – but this time you need to first register the SQL Server VM with the Resource Provider, and then activate the Azure Hybrid Benefit as before. You’ll find instructions for the process of registering a SQL Sever VM in Azure with the SQL Server VM Resource Provider here: http://bit.ly/324kGLx.
There’s an excellent article from Microsoft that gives some
great advice on saving money when running SQL Server VMs in Azure. Tips
- using a free edition of SQL Server (Developer or Express) where possible
- choosing the SQL meter for temporary or periodic workloads, and bringing your own licence via the Azure Hybrid Benefit for workloads with a known lifetime and scale
- correctly sizing the VM – perhaps choosing one of the special VMs that are optimised for certain types of SQL Server workloads which have a high level of resources but a lower virtualised core count
- shutting down VMs where possible, perhaps using an automatic shutdown facility
Find the article here: http://bit.ly/2Ndp7jd.
The August 2019
Product Terms details some changes to the Azure Hybrid Benefit to include
licensing options for the recently announced Azure Dedicated Host, so here’s a
summary of the rules for both Windows Server and SQL Server.
- Standard licences may now be used on-premises OR for virtual machines running
in Azure OR for virtual machines running in an Azure Dedicated Host. The licensing
for both Azure and Azure Dedicated Host follow the “groups of 8” rules. Licenses
may now be assigned to both on-premises servers and Azure for a period of 180
days for migration purposes – this is an increase from the previous 31-day
- Datacenter licences may now be used on-premises AND for virtual machines
running in Azure (no change) OR for virtual machines running in an Azure
Dedicated Host. Customers can choose to license individual virtual machines
running in Azure Dedicated Host following the “groups of 8” rules, or can
license all the physical cores of the Azure Dedicated Host and run an unlimited
number of virtual machines. Customers moving from on-premises to Azure
Dedicated Host have the same 180-day migration window as Standard licences
- Standard licences may now be used on-premises OR for virtual machines
running in Azure OR for Azure SQL Database Services OR for virtual machines
running in an Azure Dedicated Host. The licensing rules for Azure Dedicated
Host are the same as for virtual machines running in Azure. There is no change
to the 180-day migration period allowed when moving from an on-premises to an
- Enterprise licences may be used in the same scenarios as the Standard
licences above. However, there is an additional licensing option for Azure
Dedicated Host which allows customers to license all the physical cores of the
Azure Dedicated Host to run SQL Server in an unlimited number of virtual
You can find the
August 2019 Product Terms here: http://bit.ly/MSproductterms and there’s an Azure Hybrid Benefit FAQ