Home Development Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server Subscription Announcements on Azure

Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server Subscription Announcements on Azure


Microsoft has announced that Windows Server and SQL Server subscriptions are now available as 1 or 3-year subscription terms on Azure via CSP, offering massive potential savings to customers purchasing via this model vs PAYG on Azure.

Prior to this announcement from Microsoft, customers would have had to purchase Windows Server and SQL Server subscriptions under a Microsoft volume licensing 2 or 3-year agreement with Software Assurance (SA), or include the licence cost in your annual bill but forego the benefits of SA.

What are the benefits of this new way of purchasing a subscription?

If you want to run predictable Windows Server and SQL Server workloads in Azure, you can now make use of a fixed 1 or 3-year subscription that works alongside Reserved Instances and Azure virtual machines to provide you with the best possible price. This could equal savings of up to 72% for SQL Server and up to 92% for Windows Server, compared to the same model on PAYG on Azure.

You will also get access to certain benefits included in Software Assurance, something which you would have previously had to buy separately. SA helps companies to get the most from investment in Microsoft technologies by lowering off-premises deployment costs through Licence Mobility and Disaster Recovery benefits. One benefit is the Semi-Annual Channel which has a faster release cadence than the Long-Term Servicing Channel. With new releases every 6 months, the Semi-Annual Channel is particularly useful to those of you that have modern applications and innovation scenarios such as containers and micro-services that require faster innovation. SA also provides access to new version rights also allow you to use the latest version of the Microsoft software you need. These are just a few of the benefits offering by SA. The particular benefits vary according to whether you’re purchasing a Windows Server or SQL Server subscription but include the following:

Windows Server  SQL Server 
Self-hosting*   Self-hosting* 
Disaster recovery  Disaster recovery 
Semi-annual channel releases  Licence mobility across Server Farms 
   Unlimited Virtualization and Power BI Report Server** 
  Machine Learning Server for Windows, Linux and Hadoop** 

*licences can be used to provide customer-facing software solutions hosted on dedicated or shared infrastructure 

**for Enterprise Core Licences only 

Just because the server subscriptions are purchased via the Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) program doesn’t mean the licences have to be used on Azure. You will be entitled to the Azure Hybrid benefit and be able to choose whether you use your licences for Azure virtual machines or in on-premises deployments. It’s worth noting that as you’ll be purchasing your servers through the CSP program, you’ll automatically gain access to all the benefits that come with that free of charge. I’ll say more about CSP benefits shortly but let’s take a closer look at what Azure Hybrid Benefit brings to the table for developers.

Azure Hybrid Benefit

Azure Hybrid benefit allows you to use your existing software investment to get started in the Cloud which is good news for developers who will benefit from the latest Azure technologies. Whether you’re working on new cloud deployments or migrating existing workloads, you are entitled to extend your existing Windows Server and SQL Server licence and SA to the cloud. Database migration projects will benefit greatly from SQL Server Azure Hybrid Benefit as you won’t need a licence for both the source and the target databases. In the case of SQL Server, Azure Hybrid Benefit is available to use with the Azure Data Factory SQL Server Integration Services (Standard) and Azure SQL Database (Managed Instance, Elastic Pool and Single Database) – General Purpose, to further economise on your cloud spend using your Azure Hybrid Benefit investment.

For developers generally, the ability to move between on-premises and the Cloud with ease is an important requirement from both a technical and practical perspective, and so much the better if this is supported by the licensing model too!

Microsoft has also introduced an alternative Cloud consumption model which is an addition to the existing DTU-based model. This is vCore and it allows for greater flexibility, control and transparency when translating on-premises workload to the cloud. It also allows customers to scale their compute and storage resources based on workload needs. Single database and elastic pool options using the vCore model are eligible for up to 30 percent savings with the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server. A virtual core represents the logical CPU offered with an option to choose between generations of hardware. Gen 4 Logical CPUs are based on Intel E5-2673 v3 (Haswell) 2.4-GHz processors and Gen 5 Logical CPUs are based on Intel E5-2673 v4 (Broadwell) 2.3-GHz processors.

What’s so great about CSP?

Possibly one of the biggest single advantages to being able to purchase Windows Server and SQL Server workloads in Azure via CSP – aside from the cost savings – is the support that being on CSP offers.

Through the CSP program with Grey Matter you get access to expert licensing advice and technical support that you would otherwise have to pay for on a consultancy basis. You also get access to GMCirrus, a cloud automation platform which allows you to add and remove licences easily whenever you need to, as well as track your cloud usage.

If you’re a reseller or ISV then the platform makes buying and removing licences for customers, provisioning VM’s and resources for customers and tracking their Azure usage easy. It also allows you a way to offer your customers support and billing fulfilled by Grey Matter, leaving you more time to focus on building your customer offerings.

Of course, if you’re already on CSP, then the ability to now buy Windows Server and SQL Server through your CSP’s platform at a discount will just be another bonus.

What next?

To find out how much you could save by purchasing your Windows Server and SQL Server subscriptions on Azure via CSP get in touch with Grey Matter licensing specialists on +44 (0) 1364 654100 or email cloud@greymatter.com.

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