Microsoft Licensing on AWS

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Content level: Intermediate

Are you migrating your Microsoft workloads to AWS and looking for licensing options for Microsoft software on AWS? You have a variety of options for using new and existing Microsoft software licenses on the AWS Cloud.

Use Microsoft software on AWS

Get an overview of the flexible Microsoft licensing options available on AWS and the cost benefit of various licensing strategies in this video: Enter image description here

AWS is an Authorized Mobility Partner. You can bring products with Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance benefits, such as the following into AWS:

  • SQL Server
  • Exchange
  • SharePoint
  • BizTalk

Review licensing options for Microsoft software on AWS

To use Microsoft software licenses on AWS Cloud, you can buy the licenses from AWS or bring your own licenses.

Buy the licenses

You can use instances that include the license for Windows Server and SQL Server on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) and Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS). You can pay for these instances as you go with no upfront costs or long-term investments. You can choose from Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) with just Microsoft Windows Server, or with Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server pre-installed. Microsoft Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server are available as AMIs, in a variety of combinations of current and legacy versions. They also include two Microsoft Remote Desktop Services licenses for administrative purposes. Purchasing an Amazon EC2 license included instance eliminates licensing overhead and enables you to rapidly provision the compute resources you need. You can also bring your own images or AMIs for use with license included. When you buy an Amazon EC2 or Amazon RDS instance with Microsoft licensing, you get the following benefits:

  • When you purchase an Amazon EC2 instance with license included, the licensing costs are included in compute costs, which you can pay-as-you-go. Also, Amazon takes care of licensing compliance for you.
  • Amazon EC2 AMIs with Windows Server require no Windows Server Client Access Licenses (CALs).
  • AWS supports current and legacy versions of Microsoft software.

Bring your own licenses

You can bring your own licenses (BYOL) to AWS Cloud subject to Microsoft license terms. Your existing licenses may be used on AWS with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Dedicated Hosts, Amazon EC2 Dedicated Instances, or EC2 instances with default tenancy using Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance. When you bring your own licenses, you get the following benefits:

  • Use AWS Cloud with your existing perpetual licenses.
  • Extend the lifecycle of your software without additional hardware costs.
  • Speed up your migration to cloud by using your existing virtual machine images.

BYOL with Microsoft License Mobility: Microsoft License Mobility through Software Assurance allows many Microsoft software licenses to be brought into the AWS Cloud for use with Amazon EC2. This benefit is available to Microsoft customers with eligible server applications covered by Active Microsoft Software Assurance or subscription licenses with SA Equivalency Rights. The following are examples of products eligible for License Mobility through Software Assurance:

  • Exchange Server
  • SharePoint Server
  • SQL Server Standard Edition
  • SQL Server Enterprise Edition
  • SQL Server Business Intelligence Edition
  • Skype for Business Server
  • System Center Server
  • Dynamics CRM Server
  • Dynamics AX Server
  • Project Server
  • Azure DevOps
  • BizTalk Server
  • Forefront Identity Manager
  • Forefront Unified Access Gateway
  • Remote Desktop Services User CALs

You can also choose to use AWS VM Import to bring virtual machine images from on-premises to AWS Cloud. With this, you can bring your existing virtual machine configurations as well.

BYOL without Microsoft License Mobility: With Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts, you can use your own licensed software on dedicated infrastructure without Software Assurance. For more information on bringing licenses without Software Assurance or Microsoft License Mobility benefits, see Do I need active Software Assurance and Microsoft License Mobility benefits to use my Microsoft licenses in AWS? in Amazon Web Services and Microsoft FAQs. Microsoft perpetual licenses without Microsoft License Mobility purchased before October 1, 2019, where the version deployed is a version released before October 1, 2019 as per the Microsoft Product Terms can be deployed on AWS using Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts. The following are some examples:

  • Microsoft Windows Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server without Software Assurance/Microsoft License Mobility
  • Microsoft Office

Manage your software licenses

Effective software license management relies on the following:

  • An expert understanding of language in enterprise licensing agreements
  • Appropriately restricted access to operations that consume licenses
  • Accurate tracking of license inventory

AWS License Manager makes it more efficient for you to manage your software licenses from vendors, such as Microsoft, SAP, Oracle, and IBM, across AWS and your on-premises environments. A licensing expert manages licenses across the entire organization, determining resource inventory needs, supervising license procurement, and driving compliant license usage. In an enterprise using License Manager, this work is consolidated through the License Manager console.

License Manager allows you to do the following: Enter image description here

With License Manager, you can handle the following:

  • Streamline license management.
  • Simplify the Windows BYOL experience.
  • Control AWS Marketplace license entitlements.
  • Manage user-based license subscriptions.

Save licensing costs

Take advantage of an AWS Optimization and Licensing Assessment (AWS OLA) to build your migration and licensing strategy on AWS, save on third-party licensing costs, and run your resources more efficiently.

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AWS OLA is a free program for new and existing customers to assess and optimize current on-premises and cloud environments, based on actual resource utilization, third-party licensing, and application dependencies. You can use the report provided by AWS OLA to explore available cost savings across flexible licensing options from AWS.

With AWS OLA, you can:

  • Rightsize your resources: The tooling-based approach will help you determine your actual utilization requirements to help optimally select the lowest-cost Amazon EC2 instance size and type for each workload.
  • Reduce costs: Leverage the recommendations from an AWS OLA to get the most value from your existing licensing entitlements by configuring your instances to require fewer licenses while still maintaining highly performant applications.
  • Explore flexible options: Use the results of an AWS OLA to avoid unnecessary licensing costs and vendor lock-in.

Related resources

AWS and Microsoft Licensing FAQs

How to save 45% on licensing costs by migrating and optimizing SQL Server on AWS

AWS Microsoft licensing considerations - Best practices to reduce costs and maintain operational agility for workloads moving to the cloud

Contact us

  • Are you interested in running Microsoft Windows Server or Windows Server applications, such as SQL or SharePoint on AWS, and would like to have an AWS Sales Representative follow-up with you? Contact us.
  • For questions about Microsoft licensing on AWS, reach out to your AWS account representative or email
1 Comment

Hello, If I purchase a license-included Windows EC2 instance with a certain on-demand rate, then I do BYOL, would I pay less? My simple inference is: now I don't need the included license on AWS because of BYOL, the cost should exclude the version on cloud. Please correct if I mis-understand anything. Thanks.

replied 7 months ago