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Microsoft SPLA Licensing Release Update

Recent changes to Microsoft licensing may affect how you acquire Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server pre-packaged instances for VMware Cloud on AWS. Read on to learn about the changes and how they could affect you.


We are pleased to announce the Gated Availability of VMware Cloud on AWS’s ability to provide select Microsoft Software, in accord with Microsoft’s recent licensing changes. Read Microsoft’s statement here. The focus of this week’s change is focused on delivering Windows Server Datacenter and SQL Server Enterprise for all post October 1, 2019 licensing needs.

Simply put, per Microsoft’s October 1, 2019 licensing changes (described in this earlier blog), VMware now supplies Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server pre-packaged instances for rapid deployment on VMware Cloud on AWS, for all new Windows Server and some new SQL Server licenses that need to be acquired after October 1, 2019. VMware also supplies ISO binaries to allow a customer to create their own instances. Once licensed, customers can deploy an unlimited number of instances on a cluster by cluster basis. 

Why the change?

Effective from October 1, 2019, Microsoft introduced licensing restrictions, via its Product Terms, on deployment of perpetual licenses on Hyperscaler platforms, called “Listed Providers”, which includes VMware Cloud on AWS.  

Per modified Microsoft’s Licensing terms, for example, Windows Server instances acquired after October 1, 2019 are not transferable to the VMware Cloud on AWS Platform. As such, a customer must subscribe to Windows Server from the VMware service. For SQL Server, the customer has the choice of transferring a purchased perpetual license to VMC or subscribing to SQL Server from the VMware Service. 

How will it work?

Because Microsoft’s rules require the licensing of entire clusters, the settings for Microsoft software will exist at the cluster level. When you create a new cluster, you’ll see an option like the one below, which will allow you to turn Windows licensing on and off. 


What are the basic rules?

Microsoft licensing is complicated, but we are trying to make it simple. In general, if you purchased a Windows Server or SQL Server before October 1, 2019, the old Bring-You-Own License (BYOL) model applies. By “purchased” I mean either you purchased it directly, or were under a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement signed prior to October 1, 2019, unless you have conflicting amendments. Under this model, if you purchased Microsoft Software on-premises, you could move your Microsoft-containing VMs or licensed physical instances to the cloud at no extra charge.

If you purchased your license after October 1, 2019, are under a post-October 1, 2019 Microsoft Enterprise Agreement, or are already under Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) licensing, in order to move to VMware Cloud on AWS, you must move to the VMware monthly billing model, as required by Microsoft’s licensing architecture. This is very much like moving from owning an asset to renting it. Instead of paying for the asset up front, you pay a much smaller fee, monthly. It should be noted that while this is strictly true for Microsoft Windows, SQL Server is slightly more complex, and does allow you to purchase on-premises licenses and move them, under very specific circumstances. If you have SQL Server instances that you’d like to move to VMware Cloud on AWS, it is important to “do the math”. We can help. 

What about other Microsoft Software?

As of this writing, VMware is only offering Windows Server and SQL Server on VMware Cloud on AWS. You might wonder if other companies can sell Microsoft on VMware Cloud on AWS. The answer, as with many things, is “it depends”. Contact your VMware account rep if you have questions.

What should I do now?

If you are considering a move to VMware Cloud on AWS and have Microsoft Windows Server or SQL Server licenses that you have acquired after October 1, 2019, or need new instances of these software packages, contact your VMware Account Manager or email a question to vmc-microsoft-ext@vmware.com