Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL: Centralised management


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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

Microsoft Product Terms: June 2020


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June is the last month of Microsoft’s financial year but they’re still made a few changes worth noting in this month’s Product Terms:

  • 5 year reservations for Azure VMs are added – with a 35% early termination fee
  • Azure Hybrid Rights for SQL have been expanded so now:
    • on-premises SQL Server Standard licenses can be used to run SQL Server Enterprise VMs in Azure
    • on-premises SQL Server Enterprise licenses can be used to run SQL Server Standard VMs in Azure
  • Changes to the eligibility for Office 365 and Microsoft 365 F1 & F3 licenses

SQL Server

The core conversion ratio is different for the two new scenarios:

4 x SQL Server Std on-prem cores w/SA = 1 x SQL Server Ent Azure core

1 x SQL Server Ent on-prem core w/SA = 4 x SQL Server Std Azure core

You can see the above table, and the info, on pages 54-54 of the June 2020 Product Terms.

F1/F3 changes

Microsoft have again changed the rules around who is eligible for a “Firstline” SKU. The new requirements are that to qualify for an F1/F3 license a worker must satisfy at least one of these conditions:

  • Uses a primary work device with a single screen smaller than 10.1”
  • Shares their primary work device with other qualifying Microsoft 365 or Office 365 Firstline Worker licensed users, during or across shifts
    • Other licensed Microsoft Firstline Worker users must also use the device as their primary work device
    • Any software or services accessed from the shared device requires the device or users to be assigned a license that includes use of those software or services

The previous guidance, updated in November 2019, was:

“A Dedicated Device is a computing device used for work with a 10.1” screen or larger, used by the user more than 60% of the user’s total work time during any 90-day period.”

These new rules should make it a bit easier for everyone to police but, for organisations already licensed for F1/F3 prior to June 1, 2020, you can continue to license based on the previous rules until your next renewal.

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