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Microsoft

Software Assurance (SA) Benefits for SQL Server are enhanced on November 1st, 2019 with new rights to build a holistic high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) plan for SQL Server workloads. Enhanced SA rights for SQL Server enable significant licensing cost savings for SQL Server both for on-premises and on Azure VMs. In this blog post, we will highlight the scenarios to maximize savings with new SA benefits for SQL Server.

 

SA rights for primary servers hosted on-premises data centers

 

Many of you are using SQL Server for the data tier of on-premises workloads today. To ensure business continuity and prevent data loss, enterprise workloads are supported with a minimum of three servers:

1. the active primary server serving the application,

2. the passive failover server for high availability located on same data center,

3. the passive failover server at a separate data center for disaster recovery.

 

HA and DR cores used on-premises data centers are free

Effective by November 1st, 2019; SA brings “one free passive core for HA or DR” and also “one free passive core for DR” benefits for one core of SQL Server license of Enterprise or Standard edition.  No additional license fee is required for one HA and one DR server when the primary server is licensed and covered with SA (if the number of cores used for HA and DR servers are the same as or fever than primary server). The same rights apply to customers licensing SQL under the Server/CAL model. For details see the Product Terms.

 

DR cores on Azure VMs are free

In addition to one HA and one DR core coverage, SA also covers an additional DR core on Azure Virtual Machines (VM). This is a huge opportunity to start leveraging the elasticity, performance and manageability benefits of Azure VMs for SQL Server. Simply by having SA for the primary SQL Server hosted on your on-premises data center, you are eligible to run a DR server on Azure VMs without paying any additional SQL Server  fee ( if the number of cores used for HA and DR servers are the same as or fewer than primary server).  Free SQL Server license combined with the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) savings of Azure unlocks the lowest cost disaster recovery configuration for SQL Server workloads. Use the Azure TCO calculator to find out possible savings by migrating disaster recovery servers for SQL Server to Azure VMs.

 

All new benefits are applicable to both Enterprise and Standard editions of SQL Server. You can configure a disaster recovery server for your SQL Server in a hybrid-IT environment using any available method including availability groups, database mirroring, log shipping, and backup and restore with Azure blog storage.

 

Recommended technology to configure DR between your data center and Azure VMs is Always On Availability Groups (AG). If you are using availability groups with a Windows Failover Cluster then, to have all availability replicas in the same failover cluster, the cluster must span both networks. This configuration requires a VPN connection between Azure and the on-premises network. And, for successful disaster recovery of your databases, you should also install a replica domain controller at the disaster recovery site as shown in the picture below.

 

Picture1_DR benefit.png

 

Alternatively, you can configure Distributed AG to remove the need for a VPN tunnel. Note that, the SA benefit only covers SQL Server licensing for the disaster recovery server it does not cover licensing for the forwarder. Also, you can configure domain independent availability groups to remove the need to replicate Active Directory domain controller in Azure.

 

Once the DR server on Azure VM is configured, to leverage the SA licensing benefit, set SQL Server license type of the SQL VM Resource as “Disaster Recovery” on Azure Portal, as shown below.

 

Picture2_Dr benefit.png

 

SA rights for primary servers hosted on Azure VMs

 

Starting November 1st, 2019; SA now brings following benefits for one core of  SQL Server license used on Azure VMs:

  • One free passive core for HA or DR on Azure VM
  • One free passive core for DR on Azure VM (asynchronous replication only)

 

Similar to SQL Server workloads hosted on-premises, no additional license fee is required for one HA and one DR server if primary server is covered with SA on Azure VMs (if the number of cores used for HA and DR servers are the same as or fever than primary server). The same rights apply to customers licensing SQL under the Server/CAL model. For details see the Product Terms.

 

You can leverage this benefit with Azure-only DR solutions including Always ON AG, database mirroring , log shipping, backup restore and Azure Site Recovery with application consistent snapshots.

 

With recently added benefits, cost effective solutions to host SQL Server workloads are further enhanced on Azure. Use   Azure Migrate to migrate SQL Server workloads to Azure SQL and leverage workload optimizations and total cost of ownership savings today! Get started with a free trial or pre-configured Azure SQL images.

 

 

This information is provided to help guide your authorized use of products you license; it is not product documentation or part of your commercial licensing agreement. Microsoft makes not warranties, express or implied, with respect to the information presented here.

7 Comments
Occasional Visitor

For the statement "one free passive core for HA or DR” and also “one free passive core for DR". Does this means that for all licensed core on primary with SA( let us say 8) we can have at most 8 cores HA instance( Same DC) and 8 core DR instance(Other DC) with no cost. 

Microsoft

Correct. For 8 cores of primary Standard or Enterprise edition license; 8 cores of passive HA and additional 8 cores of passive DR is at no cost. 

Occasional Visitor

Presumably this only applies if the OSE is dedicated to HA or DR and not being used for say development / testing?

 

Microsoft

Correct. Benefit is only applicable for passive HA or DR servers. For dev-test activities SQL Server dev edition can be used.

Occasional Visitor

Does this benefit apply to all versions of SQL?

Microsoft

Yes, SA benefits apply to all versions of SQL Server.

Senior Member

This is good initiative but what about the virtual machine cost on the Azure? Assume, I have a 32 core machine and a DR will allow to get benefit under SA for the SQL licenses but the VM cost itself is expensive to create a DR for the same. Please correct me if this is not the case.