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Microsoft Makes It Easier To Move SQL Server Licenses to Azure

Organizations with Enterprise Agreements (EAs) can now move their existing SQL Server licenses to Azure Virtual Machines using prebuilt images, Microsoft announced late last week.

Microsoft currently sells SQL Server use on Azure Virtual Machines on a "pay per use" licensing basis, but organizations can now bring their own license and tap Azure infrastructure if their SQL Server licenses are covered under an EA. To do that, an organization just selects a prebuilt image from the Azure gallery and then gets charged for the Azure compute costs, per Microsoft's announcement:

Starting this week, customers with Enterprise Agreement who already have SQL Server Licenses, can use them on Azure Virtual Machines with Microsoft-certified (BYOL) gallery images. These images will not charge for SQL Server licensing, just for compute cost.

The image selection process is demonstrated briefly in this Microsoft video. Organizations "don't get billed per hour," per that video, although they do for the compute-time component. Microsoft offers documentation on the Azure Virtual Machine provisioning process at this page.

The deal isn't for small organizations. An EA is a licensing program for organizations with 250 or more users or devices right now, but that minimum limit will get bumped up to 500 users or devices starting on July 1, 2016 for new contracts.

Microsoft also has a so-called Azure "license mobility" program that applies to organizations with server licensing covered under Software Assurance (SA) agreements. An SA is an extra-cost annuity agreement on top of a software license that permits software upgrades within the SA contract period. Organizations with SA agreements also can tap Azure infrastructure using their existing server licenses, although they have to bring their own images under that plan, explained Wes Miller, an analyst with independent consulting company Directions on Microsoft, based in Kirkland, Wash.

"They (SA customers) do have that option," Miller said, via an e-mail. "But note that to do so they have to bring their own images. This option also lets them start with images from the gallery and not get charged for SQL, just compute."

In response to a question, Miller said Microsoft's new EA deal isn't bearing any extra costs other than the Azure compute costs. There aren't any Client Access License charges as "Azure generally doesn't have the concept of CALs," he noted.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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