Windows Azure Pack and it’s licensing


This article has been published recently in German but seems to be very interesting for a broader audience, why I decided to re-post it in English. Licensing is often a very important (and confusing) topic, especially when you’re designing a new infrastructure or service. With the growing adoption of virtualization in the datacenter, Microsoft has simplified their licensing model. Using the Datacenter Edition of Windows Server and System Center allowed the deployment of unlimited guests (virtual machines) on the licensed hosts.

However, with the release of Windows Azure Pack the question again came up, what licenses are required for this product? This requires to have a quick look on the architecture of the Microsoft Cloud Platform (a.k.a. CloudOS), which looks like the following:

Windows Azure Pack und die Lizenzierung

Windows Azure Pack (WAP) is an independent product and available as a free and public download. To run the Portal or use the Management API’s, System Center is not necessarily required. But as soon as you configure WAP to offer “Infrastructure-as-a-Service” (IaaS), or you’re using workflows in SMA, System Center (primarily SCVMM and SMA) becomes mandatory. Also WAP has a dependency on SQL Server as the entire configuration, plans and consumption data are store in a database. Different to System Center, where SQL Server is part of the license (see System_Center_2012_R2_Licensing_Datasheet.pdf), there is no SQL Server license attached to WAP. This means, you will need to license SQL Server for WAP separately. Now as always, the devil is in the details! According to the Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) is it compliant to use a SQL Server (Standard Edition) for your WAP deployment if has been already licensed by the System Center license (see SPLA Partner FAQ Cloud Platform Suite Guest.pdf):

SQL Server 2012 Standard

This component is used only to support System Center 2012 R2 and/or Microsoft Azure Pack.

Depending on the scenario, with or without System Center, the licensing situation looks like the following:

Scenario Product License
WAP without System Center Windows Azure Pack Free
Windows Server Required
SQL Server Required
WAP with System Center (IaaS) Windows Azure Pack Free
Windows Server Required
SQL Server Included
System Center Required
WAP with System Center (DBaaS) Windows Azure Pack Free
Windows Server Required
SQL Server Included
System Center Required
SQL Server (Tenant) Required

To conclude, if you are using WAP without System Center you would have to license SQL Server separately. Of course it would also be possible to use SQL Server Express Edition, but this isn’t recommended for a productive environment. Very important, the Enterprise Edition of SQL Server, which is very popular because of the Always On Availability Group support, has to be licensed with or without System Center as this isn’t covered.

Cloud Platform , Hyper-V , SMA , System Center , Windows Azure Pack , Windows Server 2012 R2

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About the Author

Michel Luescher is a solution architect in the worldwide Datacenter & Cloud Infrastructure Center of Excellence (CoE) at Microsoft Corporation based out of Zurich, Switzerland. Primarily, Michel is focused on hybrid cloud solutions (Hyper-V, System Center and Microsoft Azure). In addition Michel is speaker, blogger and author of several books.

Comments (2)

  • darek says:

    Well done,
    Correct me if i’m wrong but I think that you missed licensing SMA and orchestrator for WAP. When you provide request management for your tenants through 3rd party solutions or natively through run books automation, you need to cover a user CAL

    • Michel Luescher says:

      Yes, any endpoint that process touches requires a licenses. Even if not directly. Eg, if you use SMA to kick of a process which hands over to another system which runs that on its behalf – then all the endpoints that prices touches need to be licensed.


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