Moving Microsoft to AWS: the licensing issues


22. 11. 2019

PART 3: Shared Environments

In Part 2 of the Moving Microsoft to AWS guide, we looked at usage within AWS EC2 on dedicated hosts and/or dedicated instances. Also, Part 1 of our Moving Microsoft to AWS Guide explained the requirement for customers to use dedicated hardware for their move to AWS, unless software assurance were in place.

However, the considerable advantage of EC2 – its elasticity – is primarily delivered through shared environments. Therefore Part 3 of the Moving Microsoft to AWS Guide looks at the licensing impacts in order to permit this.

Use on Shared Servers

The position as to use on shared servers is markedly different to dedicated hosts: shared servers are of course not ‘dedicated’ and so do not fall within the allowance given under Section 8 of its Universal License Terms:

Customer may install and use licensed copies of the software on Servers and other devices that are under the day-to-day management and control of Authorized Outsourcers, provided all such Servers and other devices are and remain fully dedicated to Customer’s use.

The Universal License Terms of Microsoft’s Product Terms do however also allow movement of customer licenses to shared environments – but only if software assurance is in place:

Permitted Use:
With License Mobility through SA, Customer may:

  • Run its licensed software on shared servers;
  • ….

The consequence of this is that Microsoft does permit customers to use third-party shared servers (such as Amazon EC2 Shared Servers) but only if software assurance is in place or the hoster itself has adequate licenses for the customer (‘License Included’ see section below) – not otherwise.

License included

As an alternative to Bring Your Own License (BYOL), AWS of course also offers license-included instances – fully-compliant Microsoft software licenses bundled with either Amazon EC2 or Amazon RDS instances.

Amazon Machine Images (AMIs) are available with just Microsoft Windows Server or with Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server pre-installed.
For more information on this, Amazon has a useful e-Book:

MODERNIZE YOUR APPLICATIONS WHEN YOU MIGRATE TO AWS

Moving Microsoft to AWS – Software Assurance and License Mobility

Software assurance is standard with licenses sold through a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement and optional, on a case by case basis, with other Microsoft product licenses acquired under a Microsoft Open License and/or a Microsoft Products and Services Agreement.

Mobility within the same Server Farm

Within software assurance, there are a number of included rights. New version rights are of course central but of considerable importance is is License Mobility:

License Mobility Across Server Farms

Under License Mobility Across Server Farms, Customer may reassign any of its Licenses which are designated as having License Mobility and for which it has SA to any of its Licensed Servers located within the same Server Farm as often as needed.

Server Farm means a single data center or two data centers each physically located either in time zones not more than four hours apart, or within the EU or EFTA. A data center can be moved from one Server Farm to another, but not on a short-term basis. (EU is European Union; EFTA is European Free Trade Association).

The right therefore is for movement, at any time and as often as needed, between servers within one server farm. Microsoft’s standard 90-day rule (see box below) does not apply to this movement.

The 90-day rule

Microsoft logo

Microsoft concedes that, although licenses have to be assigned to a device or individual[1], customers can still reassign the licenses. The base position here is that this is permitted only once every 90 days save where there is permanent hardware loss or other conditions are satisfied[2]:

Section 9, Universal License Terms:
Customer may reassign a License to another device or user, but not less than 90 days since the last reassignment of that same License, unless the reassignment is due to (i) permanent hardware failure or loss, (ii) termination of the user’s employment or contract or (iii) temporary reallocation of CALs, Client Management Licenses and user or device SLs to cover a user’s absence or the unavailability of a device that is out of service.

Mobility across to other Server Farms

With License Mobility, there is also an allowance for movement to other server farms – but only every 90 days:

Customer may also reassign these Licenses from one Server Farm to another, but not on a short-term basis (i.e., not within 90 days of the last assignment).

This is also expressed elsewhere as this:

Customer may also move Instances run or OSEs managed under a particular License from shared servers in one Server Farm to its shared servers in another Server Farm, but not on a short-term basis (not within 90 days of the last assignment).

Mobility back to customer’s own servers

Once the software is utilised on the shared servers, the customer can also revert it back to its own servers (or another party’s shared servers) – but again no more often than every 90 days:

Customer may move its licensed software from shared servers back to its Licensed Servers or to another party’s shared servers, but not on a short term basis (not within 90 days of the last assignment).

Use can be on shared hardware

The second advantage permitted by License Mobility is use on shared – rather than dedicated – hardware:

License Mobility through Software Assurance

Under License Mobility Through Software Assurance (SA), Customer may move its licensed software to shared servers under any of its Licenses which are designated as having License Mobility for which it has SA, subject to the requirements below.

Products used for Self-Hosting may be used at the same time under License Mobility through SA rights, subject to the limitations of the Self-Hosting License Terms.

Permitted Use:

With License Mobility through SA, Customer may:

  • Run its licensed software on shared servers;
  • Access that software under access licenses and for which it has SA, and under its User and Device SLs that permit access to the Products;
  • Manage its OSEs that it uses on shared servers; and/or
  • Manage its OSEs that it uses on its servers using software that it runs on shared servers.

Certain additional requirements[3] are also made by Microsoft.

What is the effect of License Mobility?

License Mobility therefore enables the movement of licenses, unrestricted by the 90-day rule (see the box above). It is included as a benefit of Software Assurance but software assurance is not always a pre-requisite to license mobility.

It is important to note that license mobility is not equally available for all products. There are differences, in particular, between:

  • Windows Server; and
  • SQL Server licensing.

For all mobility, however, there is a process to go through: customers must complete a license verification process and Microsoft will ensure that you have eligible licenses with active Software Assurance[4].

A License Mobility Verification Form[5] has to be used, with a section to provide information about the Authorized Mobility Partner. For AWS, ‘Amazon Web Services’ is to be specified as the partner name.

Microsoft then provides confirmation to you and to AWS that you have completed this verification process. The application server software can still be deployed prior to the verification process including up to ten days before submitting the form.

Microsoft has published its own guide on license mobility:

License Mobility through Microsoft Software Assurance: Verification Guide for Customers

To use License Mobility through Software Assurance, you need to deploy on Microsoft Azure or with an Authorized Mobility Partner. Any current Authorized Mobility Partner can accept your assigned licenses and deploy them as appropriate to your chosen hosted deployment solution.

Microsoft also declares in its License Mobility through Microsoft Software Assurance: Licensing options to support cloud adoption that:

With more businesses adopting Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), customers moving server workloads and applications to the cloud want to take advantage of their existing licensing investments as part of their IT strategy.

License Mobility through Microsoft Software Assurance gives Microsoft Volume Licensing customers the flexibility to deploy certain server applications with active Software Assurance on-premises or in the cloud, without having to buy additional licenses.

As a result, customers can take advantage of the lowest and flexible cost infrastructure for changing business priorities. Because of this new Software Assurance benefit, customers do not need to purchase new Microsoft Client Access Licenses (CALs), and no associated mobility fees exist.

Eligibility Requirements

The following conditions must be met:

  • The Microsoft Server application products to be migrated to AWS via the License Mobility through Software Assurance program must be covered with active Software Assurance (SA); and
  • The server applications must be on the list of eligible products. [6]

What Microsoft software can you move over?

Most Microsoft products utilised on-premise can be moved over to AWS. These include:

To Dedicated Hosts

  • Microsoft Windows Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (user CALs)
  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server
  • Microsoft System Center
  • Microsoft Dynamics products

To the AWS cloud (ie its shared environments)

The following, but only if with License Mobility:

  • Microsoft Exchange Server
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server
  • Microsoft SQL Server
  • Microsoft System Center
  • Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (user CALs)
  • Microsoft Skype for Business Server
  • Microsoft Dynamics products
  • Microsoft BizTalk Server

Note: It will be seen that this list of products, permitted for a transfer to EC2’s shared environment, does not cover: Microsoft Windows Client operating system, Desktop application products (e.g. Microsoft Office), and/or Microsoft Windows Server operating system.

In our next part of our Moving Microsoft to AWS Guide (Part #4), we shall look at the issue of Patching.

Robin Fry

Cerno Professional Services Ltd


(1) Section 9, Universal License Terms: ‘Before Customer uses software under a License, it must assign that License to a device or user, as appropriate.’

(2)Section 9, Universal License Terms: ‘Customer may reassign a License to another device or user, but not less than 90 days since the last reassignment of that same License, unless the reassignment is due to (i) permanent hardware failure or loss, (ii) termination of the user’s employment or contract or (iii) temporary reallocation of CALs, Client Management Licenses and user or device SLs to cover a user’s absence or the unavailability of a device that is out of service’.

(3)[Requirements:

To use License Mobility through SA, Customer must:

  • Run its licensed software and manage its OSEs on shared servers under the terms of its volume licensing agreement;Deploy its Licenses only with Microsoft Azure Services or a qualified License Mobility through Software Assurance Partner; and Complete and submit the License Mobility Validation form with each License Mobility through Software Assurance Partner who will run its licensed software on their shared servers.

(4) https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/licensing/licensing-programs/software-assurance-license-mobility.aspx.

(5) A sample is available here: http://microsoftvolumelicensing.com/Downloader.aspx?DocumentId=11640

(6) There is a full list of eligible server application products within the Microsoft Product Terms at http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/product-licensing.aspx

To get in contact with our team you can either Call us on 0207 421 7360 or email us at info@cerno-ps.com

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