Microsoft SQL Server Licensing: Do host affinity rules affect licensing requirements within a VMWare

Copper Contributor

I am trying to understand Microsoft SQL Server licensing policies in a specific virtualization scenario we have in our organization.


In our VMWare cluster, we have host affinity rules enabled for two servers where SQL Server Virtual Machines (VMs) are pinned. However, in case of a host level failure, the VMs would temporarily move to other hosts within the cluster. I am unsure whether we need to license only the 2 physical hosts, or if we need to license the entire cluster.


As part of our infrastructure, we maintain active Software Assurance (SA) and we are using host affinity rules specifically to avoid licensing at the VM level or having to license the entire cluster.


So far, I have tried researching Microsoft's SQL Server licensing guidelines but found them a bit ambiguous in our specific scenario.


1 Reply
The Microsoft Account Executive (Sales) assigned to your company would be a good source for clarity on this question.

Based on the SQL Server 2022 licensing Guide, with an SA licence it would appear as though the licenses can be moved to any other server in the same server farm as often and as frequently as required taking note that ALL VMs on the cluster node with affinity rules must move together. Licenses moved a different server farm must remain there for 90 days, unless the original physical cluster node experienced a permanent hardware failure, in which case, the 90 day limit on moving the licenses is waived. With SA, pretty sure that Always On Availability Groups also do not require a license for their passive node(s). The SA license for Always On passive nodes and VMware cluster passive nodes seems pretty much the same.

The below is from the SQL_Server_2022_Licensing_guide.pdf.

Note: Beginning with SQL Server 2022, licensing by virtual machine is an option under subscription licenses or licenses with Software Assurance only.

When licenses are allocated by virtual machine, they can be moved at any time as needed to another server within the same Server Farm (e.g., with the virtual machine). (The right to reassign licenses to servers in a different Server Farm is subject to the standard 90-day reassignment limitation.) Maximum virtualization can be achieved by licensing the entire physical server with Enterprise Edition core subscription licenses or licenses with Software Assurance (SA).