Hybrid failover rights is a new benefit that allows you to run a license-free Azure SQL Managed Instance when used as a passive DR replica for your SQL Server licensed under Software Assurance (SA), or using Pay-as-you-go billing option.
How the Hybrid Failover Rights benefit works
The new Hybrid failover rights licensing benefit is technology agnostic. You can use any technology, such is Managed Instance link (MI link) as the most advanced replication technology using Always On, or perhaps Log Replay Service (LRS), Azure Data Factory (ADF), transactional replication, backup and restore, or similar to setup replication between SQL Server and Managed Instance. As long as you are using Azure SQL Managed Instance as a passive replica only for your SQL Server, you are eligible to apply the new licensing benefit. Please note that depending on your SQL Server version, your bidirectional database replication options might be limited:
Always On technology is known to be the most advanced method of setting up disaster recovery between SQL Servers on-premises. The link feature for Managed Instance provides the same – Always On is used for near real-time replication between SQL Server and Azure SQL Managed Instance. MI link disaster recovery (DR) feature provides bidirectional database replication with SQL Managed Instance for SQL Server 2022 only.
Older SQL Server versions (2019 and below) might rely on setting up bidirectional transactional replication for DR purposes with Azure SQL Managed Instance.
For precise terms and conditions of the Hybrid failover rights benefit, see the SQL Server licensing terms online in the section “SQL Server – Fail-over Rights”.
Note: There exists a similar benefit “Failover rights” for license free DR when replication is setup between two Managed Instances in Azure, in an auto-failover group. The new “Hybrid failover rights” benefit for SQL Server should therefore not be confused with “Failover rights” benefit for Azure SQL Managed Instance auto-failover groups.
Activating the benefit
Hybrid failover rights benefit is activated through “Compute + Storage” option of Azure SQL Managed instance in Azure portal by performing the following steps:
Navigate to your Azure SQL Managed Instance in Azure portal
On the left-hand side select the “Compute + Storage” menu option
In the SQL Server license section, select the “Hybrid failover rights” benefit
To enjoy the benefit, please confirm that your SQL MI will be used solely as a passive DR replica.
Click on Apply
Operations on Managed Instance with the benefit activated
To enjoy the benefit on your Managed Instance, the instance needs to be used as passive DR replica of your SQL Server only, meaning that it cannot be used for reporting or other read-write, or read-only workloads.
You can still perform business continuity related activities such are:
Taking copy-only backups
Running consistency checks like DBCC_CHECKDB
Connecting monitoring solutions or querying related DMVs
Running DR drills
You can use Azure pricing calculator to calculate the benefit for your concrete instance compute size and service tier. In the Azure pricing calculator, search for managed instance and ensure that in the “Disaster Recovery” dropdown menu you select “Geo-secondary replicated instance” option, and then select the Failover rights option under SQL License.
Deactivating the benefit
You can deactivate the benefit at any time by taking steps reverse to activation of the benefit. In such case simply choose a different licensing option for your Azure SQL Managed Instance – Pay-as-you-go, or Azure Hybrid Benefit.
Discover the link feature as the most powerful mechanism for having a near real-time replica of your SQL Server on Azure SQL Managed Instance.