Azure Hybrid Benefit for Azure Stack HCI

Photo by Alexander Grey on

Ignite 2022 saw Microsoft expand the Azure Hybrid Benefit (AHB) to grant access to Azure Stack HCI.

What is it?

It is only available for Enterprise Agreement customers and only applies to Windows Server Datacenter licenses w/SA; licenses must be allocated for all physical cores in the Azure Stack HCI cluster. Licensing in this way allows you to use unlimited Windows Server base instances across the cluster. Furthermore, as per the Product Terms, the “dual-use” rights do not apply so licenses can be used as Windows Server licenses OR as Azure Stack HCI licenses.

It is activated in the Azure portal:

I question the phrasing in the Microsoft announcement here as it says that customers “exchange” their Windows Server licenses to get Azure Stack HCI. This suggests that they are somehow transformed from one type into another but that doesn’t appear to be the case – as this is via AHB, it is simply an additional right that doesn’t change the underlying licenses. As with allocating Windows Server licenses to “regular” Azure, it seems one can re-assign from Azure Stack HCI licenses back to Windows Server Datacenter licenses following the 90-day rule.

Given the increasing level of focus on CSP and the MCA, it’s interesting to see that it is restricted to Enterprise Agreement customers only. It not being made available for Open Value and MPSA customers is, rightly or wrongly, business as usual these days but CSP has been getting a lot of shiny things lately.

Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL: Centralised management

Photo by Skitterphoto on

Microsoft have introduced a new way to help organisations manage their SQL licenses when using Azure Hybrid Benefit – scope-level management.

Scope-level management

Rather than assigning Hybrid Benefit usage at an individual resource level, you tell the Azure portal how many SQL licenses w/SA you have and these are then auto-applied to SQL resources running in the subscription or billing account.

Both SQL Server Standard and Enterprise licenses can be used to off-set costs in Azure but the licenses are “worth” different amounts. In effect, this means that 1 x SQL Server Enterprise license is equivalent to 4 x SQL Server Standard licenses when applying them to Azure services.

Normalized Core Licenses (NCL)

The new concept of NCLs makes it easier to work out how many Azure vCores your on-premises licenses give you. Keeping track of the different licenses and what they equate to in Azure can be confusing so now, when using scope-level management:

1 x SQL Server Standard core license = 1 x NCL

1 x SQL Server Enterprise core license = 4 x NCLs

This means if you have, for example, 6 SQL Standard core licenses w/SA and 9 SQL Enterprise core licenses w/SA you will have 42 NCLs to use across Azure services.

Things to know

You can’t currently use this new centralized management option with:

  • Azure Data Factory – SQL Server Integration Services (SSIS)
  • Azure Dedicated Host

nor can you use it with Windows Server licenses.

Further Reading

What is centrally managed Azure Hybrid Benefit?

Centralised management FAQ

%d bloggers like this: