2019 Microsoft Licensing Requires Good Planning

Bob Potter

Published On: December 16, 2019

Categories: AWS, Licensing, Microsoft 0

On October 1, 2019, Microsoft released new licensing terms on the use of their products in the cloud. Companies that intend to bring their own Microsoft license to a public cloud provider need to give serious thought as to how costly that move will be.

I talk to SentryOne customers all the time, and I’d say at least 80% of them plan to move at least a portion of their database workloads to the cloud. Most of our customers still run their database applications either in their own data centers or from a hosted provider. Many of them assume that SentryOne only supports Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform because we have had such a longstanding relationship with Microsoft, but this is not true.

We also support SQL Server on Amazon EC2 (IaaS) and Amazon RDS (PaaS); and some SentryOne customers are moving their SQL Server to VMWare Cloud on AWS. SQL Server on AWS is a very good environment for running high-transaction, mission-critical database applications and most of our customers are happy with the support they receive.

What Happens Now?

Now that these new licensing terms are in effect, companies will have to buy Software Assurance with their new licenses to be able to move them to any environment including Azure. Software Assurance is a new way to brand software maintenance. It provides customers with new product versions, support, and mobility. Mobility is a new way to brand transferability of the license. If you move that license to Azure, you can obtain Azure Hybrid Benefit, which theoretically gives Azure customers a cost benefit.

Is this fair? I’d say it is as fair as AWS trying to convert the customer’s application over to Amazon’s cloud native Aurora once it is running on Amazon RDS.

What About Azure Arc?

In November 2019, Microsoft threw another electric shock into the system when it introduced Azure Arc, a unique way to get Azure DevOps and Data Services anywhere, even in one’s private data center or AWS. By registering the Azure resource, such as Azure SQL Database, a company can run that database server outside of Azure and get core benefits such as automated updates, patching, security audits, and other goodies. Customers can now manage resources deployed within Azure and outside of Azure from the same control plane. Azure Arc enables customers to license Azure services and combine those licenses with their on-premises traditional licensing framework. How AWS responds to this gamechanger is yet to be seen.


In case you haven’t noticed, the public cloud wars have just begun. I advise companies to understand all the costs associated with moving their database workloads to the public cloud, hybrid cloud, or in the case of Azure Arc, the extended cloud. My strong advice is to always budget more than you think it will cost. If at all possible, optimize your existing environment, document it well, and resource plan thoroughly. Once you are running in the cloud, continue to monitor and optimize your environment.

As CEO, Bob is focused on accelerated global growth for SentryOne, both organically and through acquisitions. Here he provides valuable updates on key company milestones and future strategic priorities. Check back often to read Bob's insights that offer a glimpse of SentryOne beyond the technology.