Azure Hybrid Benefit FAQ

Overview

  • The Azure Hybrid Benefit is a pricing offer that helps you maximise the value of your existing on-premises Windows Server and/or SQL Server licence investment while you are migrating to Azure. With it, eligible customers pay a reduced rate on Azure Virtual Machines (infrastructure as a service or IaaS) and a reduced rate on Azure SQL Database (platform as a service or PaaS) and SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines (IaaS).

    *Actual savings may vary based on region, instance type or usage.

    • Windows Server Standard Edition with Software Assurance
    • Windows Server Datacenter edition with Software Assurance
    • SQL Server Enterprise Core with Software Assurance
    • SQL Server Enterprise Core with Software Assurance
    • Azure SQL Database

    Note: Customers eligible for Azure Hybrid Benefit can use this benefit in Azure Dedicated Host (more details in Windows Server and SQL Server sections)

  • Azure Hybrid Benefit is applicable only to Windows Server Standard and Datacenter editions, SQL Server Enterprise Core and Standard Core and Azure SQL Database. The benefit does not apply to SQL Server licensed under the server/CAL licence model.

  • Azure Hybrid Benefit is available to customers who own eligible SQL Server and/or Windows Server licenses with active Software Assurance or the equivalent qualifying subscription licenses.

    The offer is available in all Azure cloud regions.

  • The offer is available in all Azure cloud regions.

  • The benefits for SQL Server and Windows Server can be used together when you use SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines. The recommended approach is to use Azure Virtual Machines with Microsoft-certified bring-your-own-licence SQL Server gallery images. In the Azure portal, deploy your virtual machines (VMs) with these images. You will be asked: “Already have a Windows licence?” Reply: “Yes.”

    In Azure SQL Database, you only need to use the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server. You can activate the benefit via the Azure portal by affirming that you have sufficient active licenses with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses.

  • For customers unable to transition to the latest versions of these products before the end-of-support deadlines, we offer the Azure Hybrid Benefit and extended security updates to help protect data and applications during the end-of-support transition. In general, we recommend upgrading to the latest versions of our software, both on-premises and in the cloud (IaaS and PaaS), to help reduce security risks and continue receiving security updates. Learn more.

Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server

  • Azure Hybrid Benefit helps you get more value from your Windows Server licenses and save up to 40 percent* on virtual machines.

    Each 2-processor license or each set of 16-core licenses, Datacenter or Standard Editions, are entitled to two instances of up to 8 cores or one instance of up to 16 cores. Datacenter Edition licenses allow for simultaneous usage both on-premises and in Azure. Standard Edition licenses must be used either on-premises or in Azure, although customers get 180 days of concurrent use rights while they are migrating their servers.

    *Datacenter Edition licenses deployed on Azure Dedicated Host at the host level (licensing all of the physical cores on the server) are limited to 180 days of concurrent use rights while they are migrating their servers.

  • Base compute rate is the rate used to calculate the Azure Hybrid Benefit. It is equal to the Linux rate for virtual machines.

  • Windows Server Datacenter edition licenses can be used both on-premises and in Azure. Windows Server Standard edition licenses converted from on-premises to Azure can no longer be used on-premises.

  • To use Windows virtual machines with the Azure Hybrid Benefit, do one of the following.

    • Deploy VMs from one of the Windows Server images provided on the Azure Marketplace.
    • Upload a custom VM and deploy using a Resource Manager template or Azure PowerShell.
    • Convert existing VM in Azure to the Azure Hybrid Benefit cost for Windows Server.
    • Apply Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server on virtual machine scale set as well.

    Learn more.

  • There is no need to match the image with your edition. If you own Standard edition, for example, you can use the Datacenter edition images. We offer four images you can use with either Datacenter edition or Standard edition licenses:

    • Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1
    • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter edition
    • Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter edition
    • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter edition
    • Windows Server 2019 Datacenter edition
  • Yes. The retroactive tagging feature enables you to tag your existing VMs. Learn more about how to convert existing VMs on Azure to use the benefit.

  • Yes, the rule requires licenses to stay allocated to Azure under the Azure Hybrid Benefit for a minimum of 90 days. Licenses can be reallocated to new VMs on Azure at any time.

  • For every 2-processor Windows Server licence or set of 16 core Windows Server licenses covered with Software Assurance, you will receive either of the following in Azure.

    • Up to 2 virtual machines with up to 8 cores
    • One virtual machine with up to 16 cores
  • Yes, you can run virtual machines with more than 16 cores by stacking licenses. For example, for two 2-processor licenses or 32-core licenses, you can run a virtual machine with up to 32 cores.

  • Yes, if you licensed Windows Server through Core Infrastructure Suite (CIS), you can use the Azure Hybrid Benefit. However, the System Center component in CIS is not covered.

  • Yes, you can apply the Azure Hybrid Benefit to purchases through partners who resell Azure infrastructure, provided you have active Software Assurance or a subscription. For example, if you purchase Azure through a Cloud Solution Provider, you are eligible for the benefit.

  • Yes, the Azure Hybrid Benefit applies to nested virtualisation and does not require that you allocate additional Windows Server licenses for nested VMs.

    No licensing keys are required to run Windows Server when using the Azure Hybrid Benefit.

  • Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server on Azure Dedicated Host can be used in three ways:

    • Standard edition: Customers with Windows Server Standard edition are entitled to 2 instances, similar to how Azure Hybrid Benefit applies to Windows Server on Azure Virtual Machines on shared servers. Each 2-processor license or each set of 16-core licenses are entitled to two instances of up to 8 cores or one instance of up to 16 cores. The Azure Hybrid Benefit for Standard Edition licenses must be used either on-premises or in Azure although customers get 180 days of concurrent use rights while they are migrating their servers.
    • Datacenter edition for VMs: Customers with Windows Server Datacenter edition can apply their Azure Hybrid Benefit either to individual VMs or to the entire host. When licensing individual VMs, each 2-processor license or each set of 16-core licenses is entitled to two instances of up to 8 cores or one instance of up to 16 cores on Azure Dedicated Host services. When allocated to Azure Dedicated Host services by VM, Datacenter Edition licenses also allow for simultaneous usage both on-premises and in Azure.
    • Datacenter edition for physical host: Customers with Windows Server Datacenter edition have unlimited virtualisation rights when they fully license all of the cores on the physical host, but unlike when they license by VM, simultaneous usage on-premises is not allowed after a 180 days migration period.

Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server

  • Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server is an Azure-based benefit that enables customers to use SQL Server licenses with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses to pay a reduced rate (“base rate”) on SQL Database vCore-based options, such as Managed Instance, vCore-based Single Database and vCore-based Elastic Pool; on SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines; and on SQL Server Integration Services.

    Note: You can apply the Azure Hybrid Benefit even with an active SKU, but the base rate will apply from the time you select the benefit in the portal. No credit will be issued retroactively.

    The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server provides:

    • The ability to move your licenses to a fully managed PaaS product. Azure is the only cloud that provides this ability. Amazon Web Services Relational Database Service (RDS) is not eligible for bring-your-own-licence (BYOL) and must be offered as “license-included.”
    • Four cores in the cloud for every one core on-premises for Enterprise edition customers in the General Purpose or Hyperscale service tiers.
    • 180 days of dual-use rights to apply to current deployment (on-premises or on third-party cloud) and in Azure to allow for data migration.

    For a hosted solution with maximum savings, combine the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server with the Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server.

  • The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server is available to customers with either of the following.

    • SQL Server Enterprise Core with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses
    • SQL Server Standard Core with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses

    If you don’t have Software Assurance, you can purchase it with new licenses at list prices or with qualifying subscription licenses.

  • The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server is available in all regions where vCore-based SQL Database options are available.

  • To activate your benefit, first confirm your SQL Server on-premises licence position with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses. You can do this through the Volume Licensing Service Center. Then go to the Azure portal and deploy SQL Database. When prompted, confirm that you own enough qualifying licenses on-premises to deploy the number of cores requested for the cloud. By confirming, you will become eligible for the reduced base rate.

  • With Azure SQL Database, the benefit works as follows.

    • If you have Standard edition per-core licenses with active Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses, you can receive one vCore in the General Purpose service tier for every license core you own on-premises.
    • If you have Enterprise edition per-core licenses with active Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses, you can receive one vCore in the Business Critical service tier for every license core you own on-premises. Note: The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server for the Business Critical service tier is only available for SQL Server Enterprise edition licenses.
    • If you have highly virtualized Enterprise workloads, you can receive four vCores in the General Purpose or Hyperscale service tiers for every core license with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription license you own on-premises. This is a unique virtualization benefit available only on Azure SQL Database.

    The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server varies based on license footprint, as follows.

    License footprint Rights
    SQL Server Enterprise edition core with Software Assurance

    vCore-based SQL Database options:

    • Base rate on either General Purpose, business critical, or Hyperscale tier

    • 1 core on-premises for 4 cores in General Purpose or Hyperscale tier

    • 1 core on-premises for 1 core in Business Critical

    SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines:

    • 1 core on-premises for 1 core Enterprise edition in Azure Virtual Machines

    SQL Server Standard edition core with Software Assurance

    vCore-based SQL Database options:

    • Base rate on General Purpose or Hyperscale tier only

    • 1 core on-premises for 1 core in General Purpose or Hyperscale tier

    SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines:

    • 1 core on-premises for 1 core Standard edition in Azure Virtual Machines

  • With SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines, the benefit works as follows.

    • If you have Enterprise Core licenses with active Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses, you can receive one core of SQL Server Enterprise Core in Azure Virtual Machines for every one licence core you own on-premises. You must allocate a minimum of four core licenses per VM.
    • If you have Standard Core licenses with active Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses, you can receive one core of SQL Server Standard in Azure Virtual Machines for every one licence core you own on-premises. You must allocate a minimum of four core licenses per VM.
  • The virtualisation benefit available with Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server applies to highly virtualised workloads on-premises. The benefit is only available for Azure SQL Database. With it, you can convert one core of SQL Server Enterprise edition with active Software Assurance to receive up to four vCores of SQL Database General Purpose service tier at the reduced rate. This makes moving virtualised applications to vCore-based SQL Database options highly cost-effective. For example, if you have four core licenses of SQL Server Enterprise edition, you can receive up to 16 vCores of SQL Database General Purpose at the reduced base rate.

  • The primary difference in the offer for SQL Server, as it applies to Azure Virtual Machines vs. Azure SQL Database, is that the virtualisation benefit is only available on Azure SQL Database. You must also allocate a minimum of four core licenses when using Azure Virtual Machines. Learn more about the differences between SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines and Azure SQL Database.

  • Your licenses must be used either on-premises or in the cloud; however, to facilitate migration, we provide a 180-day grace period during which you can use licenses both in your current deployment and on Azure.

  • No, Azure Hybrid Benefit cannot be applied retroactively.

  • Yes. Maintaining active Software Assurance on your SQL Server licenses or qualifying SQL subscription licenses is required to continue to pay the base rate for SQL Database vCore-based options.

  • To use the Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server, you need to have active Software Assurance. If your Software Assurance expires and you don’t renew it, you will be moved to the licence-included pricing of the respective service tier.

    If you have SQL Server 2008/2008 R2 or Windows Server 2008/2008 R2 but do not have Software Assurance, you can move to Azure via Pay-As-You-Go or Cloud Solution Provider (CSP) subscription licenses to receive extended security updates at no cost. To stay on-premises, you can purchase Software Assurance and/or a CSP subscription licence to receive extended security updates on-premises via add-on licenses or to qualify for the Azure Hybrid Benefit in the event that the servers are moved to Azure. Extended security updates are applied without additional fees under the Azure Hybrid Benefit.

  • Yes, you can stack up licenses. However, Standard edition licenses cannot be stacked up for an Enterprise edition-eligible service tier. For example, you can stack up 4 2-core Standard edition licenses to get 8 vCore General Purpose service tier licenses at a reduced rate; but you cannot stack your Standard edition licenses to receive Business Critical service tier licenses available only to Enterprise Core subscribers with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses.

  • The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server gives you more value from your SQL Server licenses and savings of up to 55 percent on SSIS. You can apply the benefit to SQL Server Enterprise Core and Standard Core licenses covered with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licenses and use your SQL Server licenses to run SQL Server SSIS packages on Azure at a lower base rate.

  • If you are a SQL Server customer with Software Assurance licence mobility benefits, you can reassign your SQL Server licenses to third-party shared servers. This applies to unmanaged offerings in the cloud, such as virtual machines and hosted offerings. You must bring your own media and complete all compliance forms with the third-party cloud providers. You are entitled to use one core in the cloud for every core you own on-premises and you must run the same SQL Server edition.

  • Customers eligible for Azure Hybrid Benefit can use this benefit in Azure Dedicated Host under the same terms and conditions. Additionally, Software Assurance customers with SQL Server Enterprise edition who license the Azure Dedicated Host at the host level have unlimited virtualisation rights. For customers migrating existing workloads to Azure Dedicated Host, there are 180 days of concurrent use rights. Learn more.

  • The Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server and Windows Server can be used together when you use SQL Server in Azure Virtual Machines. The recommended approach is to use Virtual Machines with Microsoft-certified BYOL SQL Server gallery images. On the Azure Portal, deploy Virtual Machines with Microsoft-certified BYOL SQL Server gallery images and then select "Yes" to the "Already have a Windows licence?" question.