Virtual Machines Licensing FAQ

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Windows Server Questions

 Can I move Windows Server 2012 licenses and images between Hyper-V and Azure?

Windows Server licenses are not eligible for License Mobility through Software Assurance. The license to run Windows Server in the Azure environment is included in the per-minute cost of your Windows Virtual Machine. Licenses for use of Windows Server on-premises (whether in a VHD or otherwise) must be obtained separately through volume licensing.

 I know Windows Server is not covered under license mobility. Can a customer bring their own image that has applications and middleware on top of Windows Server?

Even though Windows Server is not covered under license mobility, Volume Licensing customers can still upload their own image containing Windows Server to Azure, if they are bringing it as part of Licensing Mobility for another product that is being brought over. We will charge the Windows Server Virtual Machine rate applicable for their instance. Customers are responsible for proper licensing of any application or middleware in the image.

 Does a customer need Windows Server CALs to connect to a Windows Server image that is running in Azure Virtual Machines?

No. Windows Server CALs are not required for accessing Windows Server running in the Azure environment because the access rights are included in the per-minute charge for the Virtual Machines. Use of Windows Server on-premises (whether in a VHD or otherwise) requires obtaining a separate license and is subject to the normal licensing requirements for use of software on-premises.

 What are the System Center license requirements for managing Windows Server 2012 instances running on Azure?

Customers can use the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance to assign their System Center 2012 license to a Windows Server instance running on Azure. A System Center Standard license can be used to manage 2 VM instances; a System Center Datacenter license can be used to manage 8 VM instances. For an overview of the pricing and licensing of System Center 2012 on Azure, click here.

SQL Server Questions

 How do I license SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines?

If you are an end-customer using SQL Server, you can:

  • Obtain a SQL image from the Azure VM gallery and pay the per-minute rate of SQL Server, or
  • Install or upload your own SQL Server image using the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance

If you are a Service Provider with a signed Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) using SQL Server, you can:

  • Obtain a SQL image from the Azure VM gallery and pay the per-minute rate of SQL Server, or
  • Install or upload your SQL Server Standard image with Subscriber Access License (SAL) reported via your SPLA

    Please note that in either case running multiple SQL instances within a single Azure VM from the gallery is not supported today.
 How do I license SQL Server within Azure Virtual Machines deployed in an active-passive configuration?

Each of the Azure Virtual Machines deployed requires licensing for SQL Server. To accomplish this, you can do the following for each virtual machine:

  • Obtain a SQL image from the Azure VM gallery and pay the per-minute rate of SQL Server, or
  • Install or upload your own SQL Server image using the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance
 When using my license mobility benefit to run SQL Server, how large of a compute instance can I run on Azure with a single SQL Server license?

SQL Server 2012 is licensed per core, which is considered the equivalent to virtual cores in Azure virtual machine instances. The minimum number of cores that can be assigned to a virtual machine instance is 4. This means that Extra Small (A0), Small (A1), Medium (A2), Large (A3), and A6 instances must all be assigned 4 SQL Server core licenses. Extra Large (A4), and A7 instances would need to be assigned 8 SQL Server core licenses.

BizTalk Server Questions

 How do I license BizTalk Server in Azure Virtual Machines?

If you are an end-customer using BizTalk Server, you can:

  • Obtain a BizTalk Server image from the Azure VM gallery and pay the per-minute rate of BizTalk Server, or
  • Install or upload your own BizTalk Server image using the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance

If you are a Service Provider with a signed Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) you can:

  • Obtain a BizTalk Server image from the Azure VM gallery and pay the per-minute rate of BizTalk Server

Remote Desktop Services Questions

 Can service providers build a cloud-based service on Azure using session-based hosting through RDS (Remote Desktop Services, formerly known as Terminal Services)?

Yes, service providers can offer hosted solutions through RDS running on Azure as long as they obtained RDS SALs (Subscriber Access Licenses) through a Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA) reseller.

 Can customers use RDS CALs (Client Access License) they own as part of their VL (Volume Licensing) agreement to access Windows Server instances running on Azure or other Service Provider environments?

Effective January 1, 2014, Volume Licensing customers who have active Software Assurance on their RDS User CALs are entitled to RDS CAL Extended Rights, which allow use of their RDS User CAL with Software Assurance against a Windows Server running on Azure or other service providers’ shared server environments. This RDS User CAL Software Assurance benefit allows each User to access RDS functionality only on one shared server environment (i.e. Azure or a third party server) in addition to access the respective on premise servers. To avail this benefit, please complete and submit the License Mobility Verification form to either Azure or an Authorized Mobility Partner where the hosted graphical user interface will be running. More details are available in Appendix 2 of the Software Assurance benefit section of the PUR (Product Use Rights).

 Can customers rent Windows Client desktops on Azure or other Service providers?

No, multi-tenant hosting is restricted in the Product Use Rights of Windows Client, such as Windows 7 or Windows 8. Windows Client Desktops are not available on either Azure or on any other Service Provider such as Amazon or Rackspace. You can read more about the Microsoft Product Use Rights here.

SharePoint SQL Server Questions

  To deploy core SharePoint Server 2010 scenarios what are the supported licensing models?

SharePoint Servers can be deployed to Azure either through a customer’s volume license agreement using License Mobility for Software Assurance, or as part of a hosted solution licensed via SPLA.

Other Licensing Questions

 What are the other Microsoft Server workloads that are supported by Azure Virtual Machines today, and what are the licensing models?

In addition to Windows Server, SQL Server, BizTalk Server, we support Project Server, Dynamics NAV, Dynamics GP and Team Foundation Server. Please find the latest list of supported workloads in this article. Table below summarizes licensing models for each product:

ProductsAvailable in the image gallery and charged per minuteLicense Mobility though Software AssuranceSPLA SAL License
Windows Server Datacenter Edition check (per-minute charge includes use of hardware resource, server license and client access rights)
Windows Server Standard Edition      
SQL Server Enterprise Edition check check  
SQL Server Standard Edition check check check
SQL Server Web Edition check    
BizTalk Server Enterprise Edition check check  
BizTalk Server Standard Edition check check  
SharePoint Server   check check
System Center Datacenter   check  
System Center Standard   check  
Team Foundation Server   check check
Project Server   check check
Microsoft Dynamics NAV     check
Microsoft Dynamics GP     check
 Can customers run Microsoft Office and Windows 7 Client on Virtual Machines using License Mobility for Software Assurance?

No. Under the Microsoft Product use Rights (PUR), Office and Windows 7 are not licensed to run on Virtual Machines. In particular, Microsoft Office is classified in the PUR as “Desktop Applications”, which is not included in Licensing Mobility.

More information is available at the site for Microsoft Product Use Rights.

 Can an MSDN subscriber run the software licensed under MSDN on Azure Virtual Machines?

Yes, Starting June 1, 2013, any current MSDN subscriber who has activated their subscription may run most of the software licensed under MSDN on Azure Virtual Machines, providing greater flexibility for developing and testing their applications.

This cloud use right applies to all software included in the MSDN subscription except Windows client and Windows Server. Windows client (Windows 7, Windows 8, etc.) is only licensed to run on local devices. MSDN subscribers can run Windows Server on Azure Virtual Machines, but since this is not included as part of the cloud use rights, subscribers will be charged at the rate of Windows Server Virtual Machines. This cloud use right be available through Qualified MSDN Cloud Partners as well. More details on this new program will be made available soon. Please consult the Visual Studio and MSDN licensing white paper for additional details on cloud use rights.

In addition to this new use right for MSDN subscribers, we updated the Azure MSDN benefit to provide MSDN subscribers a monthly credit to use toward Azure services and reduced rates for running Windows Server Virtual Machines.