Benefit from Resource Provider registration when self-installing SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machine

This post has been republished via RSS; it originally appeared at: SQL Server articles.

Many companies are moving their SQL Server databases from on-premises to Azure, allowing them to benefit from cloud elasticity and scalability at the lowest TCO.[1] You can either move to Azure SQL Database Managed Instance for a fully-managed PaaS database with built-in intelligence or you may choose to move to SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines for reasons including full control over both the operating system and database.

In running SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines, you can benefit from Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server and SQL Server and three years of free Extended Security Updates for significant cost savings.  

If you choose to self-install SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines instead of choosing a preconfigured pay-as-you-go or bring-your-own-license from the Azure Marketplace, there are two reasons why you should register your SQL VM with our Resource Provider today:


  • Simplify license management - According to the Microsoft Product Terms, customers must tell Microsoft when they're using the Azure Hybrid Benefit. Registering with the SQL VM resource provider simplifies SQL Server license management, and allows you to quickly identify SQL Server VMs using the Azure Hybrid Benefit in the portal or az sql vm CLI. There are no additional licensing requirements associated with registering with the resource provider. Registering with the SQL VM resource provider offers a simplified method to fulfill the requirement of notifying Microsoft that the Azure Hybrid Benefit is used.
  • Feature benefits – unlock auto-patching, auto-backup, monitoring, and manageability capabilities, as well as licensing flexibility, when registering with SQL virtual machines with Resource Provider. Previously, these were only available to SQL VM images from the Azure Marketplace.
  • Free management Registering with the SQL VM resource provider and all manageability modes are completely free. There is no additional cost associated with the resource provider, or with changing management modes.

License Management Benefit of registering self-installed SQL Server on Azure VMs

Microsoft Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server allows using SQL Server Licenses with Software Assurance (“Qualified License”) to re-host SQL Server on Azure Virtual Machines. With Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server, customers will not be charged for the usage of SQL Server license on VM, but they must still pay for the cost of the underlying cloud compute (i.e., the base rate), storage, and back-up, as well as I/O associated with their use of the services (as applicable).

According to Microsoft Product Terms “Customers must indicate that they are using Azure SQL Database (Managed Instance, Elastic Pool, and Single Database), Azure Data Factory SQL Server Integration Services, or SQL Server Virtual Machines under Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server when configuring workloads on Azure.”

To indicate the use of AHB for SQL Server on Azure VM, there are three options:

Self-installing SQL Server on an Azure VM or provisioning an Azure VM from a custom VHD with SQL Server is compliant through Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL Server with the condition that customers indicate that use to Microsoft by registering with SQL VM RP. Microsoft auto-registers the VM's provisioned from SQL Server images on Azure marketplace, customers only need to manually register the VM with SQL VM RP if the image type is non-SQL and SQL Server is manually installed.


Benefits of registering self-installed SQL Server on Azure VM

Instead of only leveraging the infrastructure as a service, registering with SQL VM RP creates an Azure SQL VM resource integrated into the managed Azure SQL platform and enables comprehensive manageability feature set, centralized monitoring and managing through Azure SQL blade in the Azure Portal (coming late-July 2019) and flexible license and edition updates for cost savings.


Comprehensive Feature Set

The Azure SQL platform offers manageability for SQL Server on Azure VM to reduce heavy SQL Server administration cost. As opposed to fully-managed services, you can control the level of manageability needed by your workload on SQL VM service. For example, you can configure automated backup service and automate Always On AG but choose not to configure automated patching. Registering with SQL VM RP brings access to comprehensive set of manageability features for SQL Server on Azure VM, keep checking SQL VM updates as we are continuously delivering new features to maximize ROI with SQL VM service.  


Flexible Licensing and Billing

To be eligible for using existing SQL Server licenses on Azure VM, SA (Software Assurance) is a must have. Once registered with SQL VM RP, you might choose dropping SA as converting a self-installed SQL VM to PAYG license is now available. You can simply change license type of Azure SQL VM resources between AHB and PAYG on Azure Portal (Figure-1) with no availability impact. Additionally, you can in-place update SQL Server edition on the VM and set the PAYG billing accordingly by updating new SQL Server edition property on Portal.


Figure -1 SQL Virtual Machine new SQL Server License type and Edition Properties on Azure Portal.


Unified Dashboard view

We will be offering a preview of a new unified “Azure SQL” service entry in Azure portal in coming weeks. Azure SQL portal service entry will simplify finding, managing and creating resources simply and quickly with a single location for all your SQL resources at scale. With a new centralized experience, you do not have to discover separate manage experiences for each of your SQL resources independently. As seen below in Figure-2, Azure SQL Portal entry centralizes and unifies monitoring and managing of all SQL resources on Azure including SQL VM, SQL databases, managed instances and elastic pools.



Figure 2.png

Figure -2 Azure SQL Unified Browse


Enhanced Monitoring Experience

We are launching a new Portal experience to manage SQL VM resources registered with SQL VM RP. Instead of finding the VM in Azure “Virtual Machines” service; once registered, SQL VM resources can be filtered on Portal with “SQL Virtual Machine” type from “All Services.” In addition to specialized browsing SQL Virtual Machines, now SQL server license, edition and version properties are available for enhanced monitoring on Azure Portal as seen in Figure -3.


Figure 3.png

Figure -3 SQL Virtual Machines in All Services


Register with SQL VM RP Today


We are launching a new way to register with SQL VM RP today with lightweight SQL IaaS Extension. If you are looking for flexible licensing and in-place SQL Server edition updates only, then you can install the extension in lightweight mode. Installing SQL IaaS Extension in lightweight mode will not restart SQL server service and will not leave any agent running on the VM. Lightweight mode pushes a console app to the VM which will verify the version and edition of the SQL instance, communicate to RP and die; it will not leave any footprint on the VM. Failover Cluster Instances and multi-instance deployments can be registered with SQL VM RP only with SQL IaaS extension in lightweight mode.


Azure SQL VM resources with full mode of SQL IaaS extension get all manageability features enabled; but SQL VM resources with lightweight SQL IaaS extension can only update SQL Server license and edition as seen in Figure-4. 


Figure 4.png

Figure-4 SQL Virtual Machine Management with Lightweight SQL IaaS Extension


Anytime, you can enable full manageability and get access to automated backup, automated patching, performance optimized storage configuration and more by following the recommendations on Azure Portal or by manually updating SQL IaaS extension to Full mode with a  SQL Server restart.


Register your Azure Virtual Machines running SQL Server with SQL VM RP today and maximize the ROI for your data workloads on Azure. If you have a question or would like to make a suggestion, you can contact us through UserVoice. We look forward to hearing from you!


[1] Total cost of ownership (TCO) is up to five times lower than with SQL Server on Amazon Web Services EC2. Cost difference includes Azure Hybrid Benefit for Windows Server (exclusive to Azure) and a three-year offer of free Extended Security Updates in Azure Virtual Machines for no additional costs. Prices are as of October 24, 2018 and subject to change. Actual regional pricing and program discounts may apply. Actual savings may vary based on region, instance size, and performance tier. Savings exclude Software Assurance costs, which may vary based on Volume Licensing agreement. Contact your sales representative for more information. Learn more.


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