Changes to the Azure Hybrid Benefit

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.

Windows 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 allowance
  • 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

SQL Server

  • 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 Azure infrastructure
  • 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 machines

You can find the August 2019 Product Terms here: http://bit.ly/MSproductterms and there’s an Azure Hybrid Benefit FAQ here: http://bit.ly/2g1HEwS.

Windows Virtual Desktop Public Preview

Microsoft announce that Windows Virtual Desktop is now in public preview.

This new Azure service will allow customers to run Windows 7, Windows 10 or Windows Server desktops and provide free Extended Security Updates for customers choosing Windows 7.

Customers will already be licensed for the client desktops if they have Microsoft 365 F1/E3/E5, Windows 10 E3/E5 or Windows VDA licences, and for Windows Server desktops if they’ve got RDS CALs. Reserved Instances may also be used to optimise costs for the infrastructure.

This site (http://bit.ly/2HPbqo2) has all the information as well as a video that gives an excellent overview of the service.

Windows Server 2019 Available

Microsoft announce that Windows Server 2019 is available for download from VLSC: http://bit.ly/2IzPATQ.

There’s also a Licensing Datasheet available where you’ll see that the basic licensing model is unchanged: servers are licensed per core with packs of 2 or 16 Core licences available, and a minimum of 8 Core licences assigned to a processor, and 16 to a server. CALs are required for users or devices accessing the services of the server.

The datasheet also confirms that there’s a 10% price increase for Windows Server 2019 Standard Core licences, and gives a nice overview of the Servicing Channels.

Find the datasheet here: http://bit.ly/MSLicensingGuides.

Windows Server 2019 Essentials

Microsoft announce that there will be a Windows Server 2019 Essentials edition, released later this year along with the Standard and Datacenter editions of Windows Server 2019. There are no changes to the licensing (it’s a single Server licence that includes access for up to 25 users/50 devices) and it will be supported as a Long Term Servicing Channel release. In addition, Microsoft state the strong possibility that this could be the last version of Windows Server Essentials. Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2wWprZO.

The Ultimate Guide to Windows Server on Azure

This not-too-long guide from Microsoft might be useful if you’re starting to think about taking Windows Server workloads to Azure. It outlines possible benefits, how to decide whether to migrate or extend a server farm, and of course the cost savings associated with the Azure Hybrid Benefit. Find it here: http://bit.ly/2KZtwCp.

Extended Security Updates

Microsoft announce Extended Security Updates for Windows Server and SQL Server 2008/2008 R2. These products go out of extended support in the near future: 9 July 2019 for SQL Server, and 14 January 2020 for Windows Server. Extended Security Updates give three more years of support and, if the workloads are moved to Azure, then there’s no charge. Customers with Enterprise Agreements may purchase Extended Security Updates for their remaining on-premises deployments, if required. Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2uAxwmw and a Datasheet and an FAQ here: http://bit.ly/MSLicensingGuides.

“Using the Windows Server Azure Hybrid Benefit”

Customers who have Windows Server licences with active Software Assurance can take advantage of the Azure Hybrid Benefit which allows them to assign these licences to Azure. This means that they can run Windows Server virtual machines at a reduced cost, paying just the base compute charges in Azure. It’s possible to deploy a new VM using the Azure Hybrid Benefit or to update an existing running VM to use this benefit. This is a useful article if you want to see how this is done and to get a view of which deployed VMs are using the Azure Hybrid Benefit: http://bit.ly/2tgbUdC.

Windows Server 2019

Microsoft announce that Windows Server 2019 is now available in preview with general availability in the second half of 2018, along with System Center 2019. This release will be a Long Term Servicing Channel release and there will be a corresponding Semi Annual Channel release at the same time. Licensing will be the same as for Windows Server 2016 but with a likely increase in CAL pricing.

Find the announcement here: http://bit.ly/2G1rX8B.

Windows Server 2016 Licensing Guide

There’s a brand new (May 2017) Windows Server 2016 Licensing Guide released by Microsoft. It’s a delicious 31 pages of licensing loveliness, but here are our highlights:

  • Core Packs: there’s confirmation of the new 16-core packs on page 7, but an interesting note points out that although the cost of eight 2-packs equals one 16-pack, they may not have the same point count in Volume Licensing programs where this matters – MPSA or Open, for example. There’s also confirmation on page 21 (Q4) that the licences from a multi-pack can be split across servers, they’re not joined forever at purchase point
  • Nano Server: this is a deployment option available only if you have SA on your Windows Server licences, and page 6 confirms that you also need SA on any Windows Server CALs too
  • Core Migration: there’s a lot of guidance on migrating from Processor-based to Core licences and, in particular, there are a couple of pages of FAQs starting on page 26, including what happens with Core licence grants if you have a subscription agreement, and how the grants appear in your licensing portal
  • Standard or Datacenter: there’s a useful table on page 25 which shows the breakeven point for virtual machines running on a 2-processor server which has 8 cores per processor. You’ll find that if you’re running 13 or more virtual machines on this server, then it’s cheaper to license with Datacenter edition

As usual, you can find this Licensing Guide with all of its Licensing Guide family and friends at: http://bit.ly/MSLicensingGuides.