Licensing SQL Server on GCP

There are two available options to deploy SQL Server on GCP: virtual machine instances and sole-tenant nodes

Virtual Machine instances: SQL Server per-core licenses are included in the cost of the Windows Server instances purchased on-demand. Whether you bring your existing SQL Server images to run on VM instances, or use the pre-built images available in GCP.

GCP provides images with Microsoft SQL Server preinstalled on Windows Server. For these SQL Server images, GCP manages the license for both Windows Server and SQL Server, and includes the cost in your monthly bill. Create instances with SQL Server and scale to large multi-node configurations when you need them.

Sole-tenant nodes: GCP will also enable you to bring your own licensing (BYOL) for SQL Server with your own images to GCP sole tenant and remain compliant for Microsoft licensing.

A sole-tenant from GCP is a dedicated single-tenant host that is fully dedicated for your use. GCP will not support two customers to share the same set of resources, such as hardware or storage for the term of your subscription. In this case, the outsourcing wording within the Microsoft Product Terms applies.[1]

Software Assurance

Sole-tenant – Software Assurance is not required to bring your SQL Server licenses to GCP sole-tenant.

Although Software Assurance is not required to bring your own SQL Server licenses to a dedicated sole-tenant, you will be able to leverage your legacy licenses for prior software versions. The use rights for the originally licensed version will still apply.

GCP sole-tenant is ideal for leveraging licenses where active Software Assurance has not been maintained, or licenses were purchased without Software Assurance. Additionally, sole-tenant will support per-core, per processor, and server with CAL based license models to take advantage of your prior software licensing investments.

However, it may be beneficial to maintain active Software Assurance to enable access to ‘New Version Rights’ as new software versions are released[2] and to leverage Software Assurance Benefits.

Licensing for Maximum Virtualization

Sole-tenant is a dedicated host offering that provides a commercial benefit in licensing your sole-tenant(s) with SQL Server Enterprise Edition and active Software Assurance. This will support an unlimited number[3] of SQL Server VM instances to run on the licensed host. This approach can be advantageous when you have a higher number of SQL Server VM instances running on the sole-tenant node and elect to license the physical cores of the host server.

Shared tenancy – Software Assurance is required to bring your own licenses to shared tenancy instances in Google Cloud Platform. ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’[4] for Google Cloud Platform allows you to deploy eligible Microsoft Application Servers on Google Cloud Platform using your existing application server licenses. You are required to maintain active Software Assurance for SQL Server licenses, or SQL Server Core licenses[5] to leverage ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’ on Google Compute Engine.

You can benefit from ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’ to assign volume licenses to shared tenancy instances in the cloud. In this scenario, you are responsible for disclosing new license assignments used in GCP multi-tenant environments to Microsoft.

When using ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance,’ you must complete a license verification process with Microsoft to confirm that you have the eligible licenses with active Software Assurance. To start the verification process and review additional details, go to the Microsoft License Mobility verification form in the GCP Console.

This is required for all workloads of eligible Microsoft Server products, as defined in the Microsoft Product Terms, including but not limited to: Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Skype for Business Server, Microsoft System Center, RDS CAL, BizTalk Server.

Failover Use Right

When Software Assurance is active on the licensed primary SQL Server, you are also granted failover user rights.[6] Failover user rights allow a passive fail-over instance on qualifying shared servers in anticipation of a fail-over event. This is not supported when licenses are purchased on-demand from GCP.

Under this important Software Assurance Benefit, you may run a passive fail-over instance on the GCP shared tenancy server in anticipation of a fail-over event. When Software Assurance is not active on the licensed primary instance, both the active and passive SQL server instances need to be licensed.

If the licensed primary active instance is on a dedicated sole-tenant, the passive instance is also required to run on dedicated hardware.

Conversely, if the licensed primary active instance is on GCP shared tenancy servers, the passive instance is also required to run on GCP shared tenancy servers. Please be aware that Microsoft does not intend the failover use right to be used for on-premises to 3rd party shared tenancy failover.

Failover scenarios can be complex, so it is recommended to refer to the Microsoft Product Terms and the SQL Server Licensing Guide for more information.

Right to Run Prior Versions

Microsoft ‘downgrade rights’ are available for SQL Server and support downgrade to any prior version of the same product.[7] For example, you can purchase SQL Server 2017 and downgrade to an earlier version of the product, such as SQL Server 2014. The use rights for the licensed version still apply.[8]

GCP will enable you to run versions that are approaching end of support or have reached end of support. In this case you should work with Microsoft to ensure your SQL Servers are covered with Extended Security Updates (ESU) available for purchase separately from Microsoft. Alternatively, you can opt to upgrade to the latest supported version.

Updates (ESU) available for purchase separately from Microsoft. Alternatively, you can opt to upgrade to the latest supported version.

If you have purchased SQL Server instances on-demand, GCP will not maintain images in the gallery after the end of support date. It is therefore recommended to download any required images and retain them in a private repository prior to end of support, or upgrade to the latest supported version.

License Reporting

When you bring your own licensing to GCP, you are still responsible for all reporting and compliance obligations under your volume licensing agreement regardless of the physical location of the hardware upon which the software is used.

Sole-tenant – GCP provides reporting on the physical processors and physical cores, the total number of VM instances running SQL Server on the host machine, and the number of virtual cores assigned to the VMs to allow you to keep track of licensable resources on the dedicated host.

You can elect to license each individual VM based on the number of virtual cores[9] assigned to the SQL VM instance on the sole-tenant for SQL Server Standard Edition or SQL Server Enterprise Edition based on the version deployed. (Microsoft has a minimum requirement to license 4 cores for each individual VM running SQL Server).

Alternatively, you can elect to license all physical cores for all physical processors on the host server with SQL Server Enterprise Edition. Sole-tenant is a dedicated host offering that provides commercial benefit in licensing your sole-tenant with SQL Server Enterprise Edition and active Software Assurance. This will support an unlimited[10] number of SQL Server VM instances to run on the licensed host. This approach can be advantageous when you have a higher number of SQL Server VM instances running on the sole-tenant node.

If you elect to bring your own licensing for SQL Servers purchased on a Server/CAL model, then this would also require SQL Server CALs for the total number of users or devices that directly or indirectly access the SQL Server.

Sole-tenant is a dedicated server, and thus you are eligible to leverage perpetual licenses where Software Assurance is active, but not maintained, or licenses were purchased without Software Assurance. Additionally, sole-tenant will support per-core, per processor, and server with CAL based license models to take advantage of your prior software licensing investments.

Shared tenancy – Software Assurance is required to bring your own licenses to shared tenancy instances in Google Cloud Platform.

You must license each individual VM based on the number of virtual cores[11] assigned to the SQL VM instance(s) on the sole-tenant for SQL Server Standard Edition or SQL Server Enterprise Edition, based on the version deployed.

Alternatively, for SQL Server Standard Edition only, you can elect to license your individual VM running SQL Server on Server/CAL model.

Please refer to the licensing rules for ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’ in the Microsoft Product Terms for the detailed licensing requirements for bringing your licenses to shared servers on GCP.

Please refer to your Microsoft Volume Agreement and binding contractual documents for additional information on reporting your licensing requirements to Microsoft.

Microsoft Application Servers

For the purposes of this section, ‘Microsoft Application Server’ products includes Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft Skype for Business Server, Microsoft SharePoint, or Microsoft System Center servers, Dynamics CRM for customer service and sales applications.

Software Assurance

Sole-tenant – Software Assurance is not required to bring your own Microsoft Application Server licenses and images to GCP sole-tenant instances.

Although Software Assurance is not required to bring your own Application Server licenses to a dedicated sole-tenant, you will be able to leverage your legacy licenses for prior software versions. The use rights for the originally licensed version will still apply.

GCP sole-tenant is ideal for leveraging licenses where active Software Assurance were not maintained, or licenses were purchased without Software Assurance to take advantage of your prior software licensing investments.

However, it may be beneficial to maintain active Software Assurance to enable access to ‘New Version Rights’ as new software versions are released[12] and to leverage Software Assurance Benefits.

Shared tenancy – Software Assurance is required to bring your own licenses to shared tenancy Windows Server instances in Google Cloud Platform. ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’[13] for Google Cloud Platform allows you to deploy eligible Microsoft Application Servers on Google Cloud Platform using your existing application server licenses and server images. You are required to maintain active Software Assurance for eligible Microsoft Application Server licenses to leverage ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’ on Google Compute Engine.

License Reporting

You can benefit from ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’ to assign volume licenses to shared tenancy instances in the cloud. In this scenario, you are responsible for disclosing new license assignments used in GCP multi-tenant environments to Microsoft.

When using ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance,’ you must complete a license verification process with Microsoft to confirm that you have the eligible licenses with active Software Assurance. To start the verification process and review additional details, go to the Microsoft License Mobility verification form in the GCP Console.

This is required for all workloads of eligible Microsoft Server products, as defined in the Microsoft Product Terms, including but not limited to: Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, Microsoft Skype for Business, Microsoft System Center, RDS CAL, BizTalk Server and eligible Dynamics products.

You are responsible for all of reporting and compliance obligations under your volume licensing agreement regardless of the physical location of the hardware upon which the software is used.

Please refer to your Microsoft Volume Agreement and binding contractual documents for additional information on reporting your licensing requirements to Microsoft.

[1] Please refer to Section 8. “Outsourcing Software Management” in the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 6 of 112.

[2] Microsoft confer ‘New Version Rights’ in the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 78 of 112.

[3] Please refer to ‘Server Licenses (per core)’ – Item 3 of the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 9 of 112.

[4] Microsoft confers ‘License Mobility’ through Software Assurance in the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 86 of 112.

[5] The requirements by product and licensed model are in a table – the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 86 of 112.

[6] Please refer to ‘Fail-Over Rights’ in the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 86 of 112.

[7] There is a useful Microsoft licensing brief on downgrade rights available here.

[8] Please refer to the Microsoft Product Terms for the use restrictions for Universal License Terms (Ref: Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, Page 6 of 112).

[9] Microsoft has a minimum number of 4 licensable cores. Please refer to ‘Server Licenses (per core) – Licensing by Individual Virtual OSE’ (Ref: Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, Page 10 of 112).

[10] Please refer to the Microsoft Product Terms for the ‘Unlimited Virtualization’ extend use right for SQL Server Enterprise Edition (Ref: Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, Page 28 of 112).

[11] Microsoft has a minimum number of 4 licensable cores. Please refer to ‘Server Licenses (per core) – Licensing by Individual Virtual OSE’ (Ref: Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, Page 10 of 112).

[12] Microsoft confers ‘New Version Rights’ in the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 78 of 112.

[13] Microsoft confers ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance’ in the Microsoft Product Terms, February 2019, page 86 of 112.

Thanks All


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