A Quick Refresher on the Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server

July 5, 2018
Robin Duprel

Author

Robin Duprel

Software Asset Management Consultant

The Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server has been around for some time now.  Many customers are familiar with it and some are taking advantage of the cost savings.  Microsoft announced the public preview of SQL Database Managed Instances and with it Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server at Microsoft Ignite 2017.  However, until now, it wasn’t clear what the new benefit would be and how it compared to Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server.  Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL details are included in the March 2018 Microsoft Product terms and provides additional guidance into what the benefit is and how it may be applied.

Save up to 40 percent

Customers with Software Assurance on Windows Servers may save up to 40 percent on Azure consumption by taking advantage of the Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server.

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Figure 1 – Windows Server Azure Hybrid Use Benefit Datasheet (Source: Microsoft. Savings based on a D2 instance in US East 2 Region,
annualized hourly pricing as of 7.29.16, and including the cost of Software Assurance. Prices subject to change. )

The actual savings is based on the size of the Virtual Machine (VM), the amount of Azure used (consumed?) and regional charges.  The benefit allows Windows Server licenses that include Software Assurance to be used in Azure at a lower base compute rate equal to a Linux rate.

A Windows Server Datacenter license with 16-cores that include Software Assurance allows customers to use their license on-premises AND in Azure on up to two VMs with up to eight cores or one VM with up to 16 cores.

A Windows Server Standard license with 16- cores that include Software Assurance has the same benefit in Azure, but does not have concurrent use.  The core licenses must be assigned either on-premises OR in Azure.

In both instances, Windows Server licenses may be stacked to run a VM with more cores.

How does that compare to the new Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL

The Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server is an effort by Microsoft to make the move to Azure more cost effective for customers.  Microsoft states customers can save up to 30 percent on Azure SQL Database Managed Instances when the Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit is applied.  Customers will not be charged for the Microsoft Azure Data Service, but will be billed for compute, storage, back up, etc.

Unlike Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server, the new Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server does not allow for concurrent use of the license regardless if it is SQL Server Enterprise or Standard.

SQL Server core licenses with Software Assurance may be applied to SQL Database Managed Instances and SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS) per the following listed in the Microsoft March 2018 Product Terms:

Azure benefits 2

1 Subject to a minimum of four Core Licenses per Virtual Machine.(Source: Microsoft)

In addition to some of the licensing nuances, there are also technical differences in how these two benefits may be used. Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server is a benefit for customers who want to use Azure for Infrastructure as a Services (IaaS).  Azure is an extension of your own datacenter.  This results in a reduction of hardware costs and the ability to pay for only what you use, but the maintenance, updates and patching of the VMs are still the customers’ responsibility.

In contrast, Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server is now available for customers who wish to move to a Database as a Service (DaaS) model.  On-premises databases are moved to Azure as a managed database service.  Azure SQL Managed Instances allow for control and functionality required by enterprises without having to fully manage the operating system.  Microsoft is responsible for server maintenance but allows the customer to use the SQL tools they are familiar with,  and there is no need to re-architect the applications.

SQL Server licensing is often one of the most complex and expensive Microsoft products at renewal.

Please contact your SoftwareONE Account Manager to find out how a SQL Server and Windows Server Microsoft Advisory Services engagement can assist you in understanding best practices and realizing an optimized renewal.

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