Costing for Cloud? Don’t forget SQL! Part 2

So, moving from a on premise highly consolidated hypervisor based SQL environment to cloud and using the on prem SQL licensing doesn’t cost in – but don’t Microsoft offer any concessions to encourage the move to Azure? And what about using the Azure pay as you go licensing – is that any cheaper?

A little more on “Hybrid Benefit for SQL”…

In my last blog post I quoted from the Technet Blog and an article dated March 18th 2019 by Eduard Davidzhan called “BYOL SQL & Windows Server license to the Cloud: Azure Hybrid Benefit (AHB) vs License Mobility. What is the difference?” that can be found here:

This article stated that

“1 SQL Server ENT/STD Core license provides the rights to run 1 vCore in the  Azure VM.”

But this isn’t really the whole picture…

Azure Hybrid Benefit for SQL is designed to allow on premise licenses to be used in Azure and can potentially reduce the pricing further. See the more detailed article on Hybrid Benefit here (available on 30/04/2019) where Microsoft say:

SQL Post 2 - Hybrid Benefit.PNG

To re-iterate then

“You can convert 1 core of SQL Enterprise edition with active Software Assurance to get up to 4 vCores of SQL Database…”

which means you could get 1 to 1 or 1 to 2 as well as 1 to 4…

This implies that you have to apply to Microsoft to identify the core factor (i.e. how many Azure cores to each on premise core) and that the concession may expire after a period – say when your Enterprise Agreement is up for renewal.

So:

  • pricing for 12 months  x 200 4-core virtual machines running SQL Enterprise with 1 to 1: £2 million

  • pricing for 12 months  x 200 4-core virtual machines running SQL Enterprise with 1 to 2: £1 million

  • pricing for 12 months  x 200 4-core virtual machines running SQL Enterprise with 1 to 4: £500 thousand

So what’s the catch with this then? The fine print reads:

“The virtualization benefit is available only for Azure SQL Database.”

I.e. the Azure SQL PaaS offering, not running a SQL server in Azure. This isn’t as simple as it might seem – the SQL databases you are running need to be compatible with Azure SQL (more on that another time).

But even the 1 to 4 concession does not favourably compare with the on premise pricing… but it is much better than the pay as you go pricing (below). To get comparable pricing to on premise you would need hybrid benefit for SQL to allow 1 core license on premise to equate to 20+ core licenses in Azure which seems rather unlikely.

Running in Azure using Pay as you Go SQL Enterprise Licensing

Let’s return to our early Scenario where we have 200 SQL servers all running SQL Enterprise. We assumed before that all our SQL servers had 4vCPUs. We have several options available to us in terms of Azure virtual machines that have 4vCPUs:

SQL Post 2 - Table 1.PNG

Using reserved instance pricing affects the VM cost but not the cost on the SQL on top of that. Thus the annual cost of running SQL Enterprise on 200 virtual machines each having 4vCPU in Azure using PAYG licensing will be approximately £1.96 million. This is remarkably similar to the Enterprise Agreement pricing of around £2 million per year… so E.A. pricing doesn’t appear to offer a significant saving.

Running in Azure using Pay as you Go SQL Standard Licensing

Using the same scenario as above – 200 SQL servers – but this time all running SQL Standard the following figures can be arrived at:

SQL Post 2 - Table 2.PNG

 Thus the annual cost of running SQL Standard on 200 virtual machines each having 4vCPU in Azure using PAYG licensing will be approximately £522 thousand. Again – this is only marginally more expensive that Enterprise Agreement pricing.

So what other options are there?

We will cover some other options in the a future blog post.

Disclaimer

I’m not a Microsoft SQL expert or a Microsoft licensing expert – so this is just my understanding of the situation. If I have any elements of this wrong and am informed I will correct it. I don’t however believe that this is at present the full picture so intend to write more about it in another blog post in the future.

The enterprise agreement pricing used in this blog post is representative of the subscription based enterprise agreement. I have not used exact pricing as this can vary customer to customer but pricing that I believe has i) the right proportionality between SQL Enterprise and SQL Standard ii) approximately the right order of magnitude. This also ignores any pricing increased Microsoft have announced – so the situation may well be worse that this.

The PAYE pricing is correct as of 01/05/2019.

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