Licensing SQL Server on GCP

There are two available options to deploy SQL Server on GCP: virtual machine instances and sole-tenant nodes

Virtual Machine instances: SQL Server per-core licenses are included in the cost of the Windows Server instances purchased on-demand. Whether you bring your existing SQL Server images to run on VM instances, or use the pre-built images available in GCP.

GCP provides images with Microsoft SQL Server preinstalled on Windows Server. For these SQL Server images, GCP manages the license for both Windows Server and SQL Server, and includes the cost in your monthly bill. Create instances with SQL Server and scale to large multi-node configurations when you need them.

Sole-tenant nodes: GCP will also enable you to bring your own licensing (BYOL) for SQL Server with your own images to GCP sole tenant and remain compliant for Microsoft licensing.

A sole-tenant from GCP is a dedicated single-tenant host that is fully dedicated for your use. GCP will not support two customers to share the same set of resources, such as hardware or storage for the term of your subscription. In this case, the outsourcing wording within the Microsoft Product Terms applies.[1]

Software Assurance

Sole-tenant – Software Assurance is not required to bring your SQL Server licenses to GCP sole-tenant.

Although Software Assurance is not required to bring your own SQL Server licenses to a dedicated sole-tenant, you will be able to leverage your legacy licenses for prior software versions. The use rights for the originally licensed version will still apply.

GCP sole-tenant is ideal for leveraging licenses where active Software Assurance has not been maintained, or licenses were purchased without Software Assurance. Additionally, sole-tenant will support per-core, per processor, and server with CAL based license models to take advantage of your prior software licensing investments.

However, it may be beneficial to maintain active Software Assurance to enable access to ‘New Version Rights’ as new software versions are released[2] and to leverage Software Assurance Benefits.

Read moreLicensing SQL Server on GCP

Microsoft Licensing FAQs for GCP

Here are a selection of common licensing questions and answers. I also recommend referring to binding documentation like the Microsoft Product Terms for guidance.


Q. How will GCP enable me to meet my license reporting obligations to Microsoft? License Usage – Self Reporting

·    In addition to enabling control of VM placement to launch your instances on a dedicated host, GCP will keep a record of how your instances use sole-tenant resources, which will allow you to create your own usage reports.

·    Windows Server is licensed by the physical cores on each host. GCP provides visibility, including but not limited to, the number of physical processors and physical cores, and number of Windows VMs running on the host machine to allow you to keep track of how your individual Windows Server VMs use the resources of the dedicated host.

·    Additionally, for SQL Server GCP provides reporting, including but not limited to, the physical processors and physical cores, and total number of VM instances running SQL Server on the host machine, and the number of virtual cores assigned to the VMs to allow you to keep track of licensable resources of the dedicated host.

License Mobility Self Reporting

·    When using ‘License Mobility through Software Assurance,’ you must complete a license verification process with Microsoft to confirm that you have the eligible licenses with active Software Assurance.

·    GCP enables you to meet your licensing reporting obligations to Microsoft. To start the verification process and review additional details, go to the Microsoft License Mobility verification form in the GCP Console.

·    This is required for all workloads of eligible Microsoft Server products, as defined in the Microsoft Product Terms, including but not limited to: Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SharePoint, or Microsoft System Center, RDS CAL, BizTalk Server and eligible Dynamics products.

Q. I understand from the Microsoft Product Terms that a license cannot move to another region or physical server for at least 90 days. How is this managed in GCP sole-tenant?


·    Each sole-tenant node is associated with one physical server dedicated to hosting your VM instances. You can control VM placement to launch your instances to a dedicated host, and instance affinity will allow specific node affinities between your nodes and VM instances. This will enable you to control VM instance placement to satisfy the restriction of license re-assignment once every 90 days.[45]

·    The license re-assignment rule will apply to your licensing of Windows Server unless there is a permanent hardware failure. In this scenario when there is permanent failure of hardware[46]components, the sole-tenant node that is hosting the VM instances will use live migration47 to move the VM instances to replacement host hardware automatically. If there is complete hardware failure, the VM will crash and restart automatically and a host-error is logged.

Read moreMicrosoft Licensing FAQs for GCP

Licensing Office on GCP

Google will enable you to bring your own licensing for Office to GCP sole tenant and remain license compliant.

License Model

User Subscription Licenses – Microsoft offers a cloud supported version of Office sold as a subscription with cloud services called Office 365 ProPlus. Office 365 ProPlus is licensed on a “per user” basis, to a single named user, referred to as a “licensed user”.

Per Device Licenses – For customers that continue to have an on-premises version of Office, Microsoft offers Office Professional Plus. Microsoft Office Professional Plus is licensed on a “per device” basis, referred to as a “licensed device”, normally a personal computer.

Running Office Remotely

User Subscription Licenses – You can bring your own Office 365 ProPlus licenses and run them on GCP sole-tenant[1] in Shared Computer Activation mode and remain license compliant.

Shared Computer Activation (SCA) is an activation mode that enables deployment of Office 365 ProPlus on a dedicated server.[2] Shared Computer Activation will enable the licensed user to access Office from any device. Unlike when Office 365 ProPlus is deployed on a local device, there is no published limit on the maximum number of devices that can access Office 365 ProPlus deployed via SCA.

Any SKU that contains Office 365 ProPlus is eligible for Shared Computer Activation, including Office 365 E3, Office 365 E5, Microsoft 365 E3, and Microsoft 365 E5. All equivalent Government and Edu SKUs are also included. Project Online Desktop Client and Visio Online Plan 2 are also included.

Office 365 ProPlus will require access to the internet to connect to the ‘Office Licensing Service’ to keep track of which users who are licensed.

Read moreLicensing Office on GCP

Licensing Windows Desktop OS on GCP

Google will enable you to bring your own licensing for Windows Desktop Operating System to GCP sole-tenant[1] and remain compliant for Microsoft licensing.

Assigning a License

Before you bring your own Windows Desktop OS license to GCP, you must first assign a Windows Desktop OS license to the end-user, referred to as a “licensed user”, or “licensed device”, typically a personal computer.

To ‘assign’ a license means simply to designate that license to a user or device that can access the Windows Desktop OS in a virtual machine.

Running Windows Remotely

You can bring your own Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10 desktop and run iton GCP sole-tenant and remain license compliant. Under the assigned volume license, you may access Windows Desktop OS remotely in a virtual machine as a benefit of Software Assurance for Windows.

GCP will ensure isolation of the hardware and other resources to make sure it remains fully dedicated to your use.[2] GCP will not support two customers to share the same set of resources, such as hardware or storage for the term of your subscription.

License Model

User Subscription Licenses – Remote use of the Windows desktop OS deployed on a GCP sole-tenant is allowed for the licensed user, who is the primary user of at least one device, which is their primary work device. There must be a qualifying Windows desktop OS installed and licensed via an OEM license, on the accessing device.

Per Device Licenses – Remote use of the Windows desktop OS deployed on a GCP sole-tenant is allowed for the licensed ‘primary’ user, of the licensed device, or for any other user, from another separately licensed device. There must be a qualifying Windows desktop OS installed and licensed via an OEM license, on the accessing device.

Microsoft defines the ‘primary’ user an individual that would use the licensed device more than 50% of the time in any 90 day period, so a per-device licensing model may not be suitable for some shift workers or workers in shared workspaces.

VDA[3] User Subscription Licenses – Under this licensing model, remote use of the Windows desktop OS deployed on a GCP sole-tenant is allowed for any assigned licensed user or device. There is no minimum ‘primary’ user requirement for the end-user accessing device, or a requirement for a ‘qualifying’ Windows OS to be installed on the accessing device.

This licensing model is more suitable for businesses that plan to use Google Chrome books, or other client devices where there is no OEM licensed Windows desktop OS on the accessing device.

Read moreLicensing Windows Desktop OS on GCP

Microsoft Update January 2019

Some of the principle product and licensing updates for January 2019

  • MyAnalytics now more broadly available to Office365 and M365 Users, and the standalone SKU is retired. Initially as an Outlook Add-In but features will improve until there is parity with the standalone offering.
  • Office365 Cloud App Security will be wrapped into Microsoft 365 Cloud App Security from February 2019. The standalone SKU is retired from the February 1st price file.
  • Microsoft finally acknowledge PowerBI, Phone System and Audio Conferencing as potential E5 blockers, offering incremental access to advanced Compliance and Security services across the expansive E5 stack.
  • The Add On ‘mini bundles’ are targeted at Microsoft365 E3 customers, offering a ‘scale up’ model programmatically as a bundle, a new option in addition to standalone SKUs. A welcome addition in my opinion, even if the price point and product balancing is off.
  • Advanced Threat Intelligence (ATI) finds it’s home in in Advanced Threat Protection P2 within the new Identity & Threat Protection (ITP) bundle.
  • New Identity & Threat Protection (ITP) bundle is a new  ‘Add On’ for M365 E3 users – later renamed to a simpler ‘ E5 Security‘.
  • New Information Protection & Compliance (IPC) bundles is a new ‘Add On’ for M365 E3 users – later renamed to a simpler ‘E5 Compliance‘.
  • The new E5 Security ‘mini bundle’ SKU now includes:
    • O365 ATP P2 (Price decrease for existing Threat Intelligence at anniversary)
    • MCAS
    • Azure ATP
    • AADP2
    • Windows Defender ATP
  • The new E5 Compliance ‘mini bundle’ SKU now includes:
    • O365 Advanced Compliance
    • AIPP2
  • The Office365 Cloud App Security SKU will be discontinued.
  • The standalone MyAnalytics SKU will be discontinued.
  • Microsoft accelerated their strategy to  service customers directly as part of their wider ‘Modern Commerce’ strategy, with a  direct-to-customer move to target Azure customers and syphon relationships away from their channel. Initially targeting direct Azure-Only SCE’s to be replaced by a new Microsoft Customer Agreement (MCA). One stated objective was to reduce cost of sale via the current partner-enabled SCE model. The important dates you should know –
    • 1st March 2019 – Sales Motion for SMC/Unmanaged Accounts to MCA
    • 1st April 2019 – Extended out to Enterprise/Managed Accounts
    • 1st August 2019 – No New or Renewed Azure-Only SCE’s
    • FY20+ – Expand to Hybrid SCE, Indirect EA and Public Sector
    • Extended Term Still Available
  • Microsoft expand Azure Reserved Instance (RI) reservations, with RDS to be released, 1 or 3 years upfront, akin to server subscriptions and can be tied to RI instances

Thanks All

Read moreMicrosoft Update January 2019

Microsoft Update December 2018

Some principle product and licensing updates for December 2018

  • The Office Professional Plus ‘Dual Use Rights’ for Microsoft365 ‘From SA’ was extended to August 2019, advance notice for companies to seriously look adopting Office365 ProPlus C2R.
  • Microsoft updated the CSP channel partner qualification criteria, requiring a partner performance assessment, requirement for advanced or premier support, and provision of Value Added Reseller (VAR) and Support service requirements. Microsoft continue to ‘streamline’ the partner reseller channel to enable their ‘Modern Commerce’ strategy.
  • Microsoft clarified the new licensing rules for advanced security and compliance features for Office365 Groups, with a group organizer only needed for ‘premium’ features, and a group mailbox inheriting the license of the organizer. This is important for Teams which is built on Groups.
  • Microsoft updated the Dynamics365 licensing  (an ongoing theme), with re-alignment of the ‘light tasks’ use rights, and broadly maintaining ‘read only’ access across Dynamics365 for knowledge sharing.
  • Microsoft cull the empowerment for Open Agreements, with the financial value of discount at $10,000 for Open and driving Open SMB customers towards CSP.
  • Microsoft open up eLearning, a traditional Software Assurance Benefit, with 80 hours of learning content at launch and certifications for core technologies like Azure and Dynamics.
  • Microsoft update to the Microsoft365 SKU, with a single item in the portal, not broken out into components, making the licenses easier to assign. The New SKUs would apply to new agreements and renewal only (rather than mid-term on a contract).
  • A new Meeting Room SKU for Microsoft Teams  SfBP2, Teams, Phone System, Audio Conferencing, Intune, Licensed Per Meeting Room Device (Notably Microsoft had a price list error for the SKU – MQH-00001 is incorrect – Do Not Order)
  • Microsoft Stream features moving broadly across Office365 SKUs – features include – speech to text transcription and speaker timelines that use facial detection to see who’s talking. Available across all Office365 E Plans, Firstline, Edu, SMB – Bus Essentials & Premium and M365 Business. 
  • Microsoft confirmed the MPSA Azure Retirement Extension & Automated Tool Release (MPSA to Azure CSP
  • Microsoft acquire FS Logix to bolster their Virtual Desktop capabilities in Azure.
  • Exchange Server 2019 will leave Extended support on Jan. 13, 2026, three months after Exchange Server 2016, so upgrading will not buy additional supported life.
  • Now included in the Microsoft 365 Roadmap, Microsoft is on course to deliver tools to move email, calendar, and contacts from Google G Suite to Office 365 (in reality, to Exchange Online) with an expected availability in the second quarter of 2019.
  • Microsoft Intune announces device-based subscription for shared resources and updated in the November Product Terms
  • Microsoft recognize silo of labels under Azure Info Protection (AIP) and O365 DLP polices, and merges unified labelling under Microsoft Info Protection in the Microsoft Security Compliance center.
  • Simplified licensing requirements for group-based licensing. Users who are targeted for group-based licensing need Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) Basic (and above), or Office 365 E3/A3. The original messaging around Licensing appears to have been slightly relaxed:

Thanks All

Read moreMicrosoft Update December 2018

Microsoft Update November 2018

Some principle licensing updates for November 2018

  • Office 2019 perpetual entered General Availability in the Product Terms
  • The November Product Terms 2018 – Updated for Exchange and other Productivity Servers are updated for new 2019 versions.
  • Microsoft  announced for any CSP partner, starting November 7, 2018, you’ll need to confirm that a customer has accepted the Microsoft Cloud Agreement by providing information about the person who signed it. See ‘Confirm a customer’s acceptance of the Microsoft Cloud Agreement’ for more details. 
  • Effective November 2018 – Group Based licensing management is now (finally) Generally Available for Azure AD. Developer APIs in Microsoft Graph to allow you to programmatically read group-based licensing assignments on groups, as well as programmatically get assignment status and errors. Includes ability to reprocess group-based licensing assignments for a single user.
  • Microsoft Intune announces device-based subscription for shared resources and updated in the November Product Terms
  • Microsoft recognize silo of labels under Azure Info Protection (AIP) and O365 DLP polices, and merges unified labelling under Microsoft Info Protection in the Microsoft Security Compliance center.

Microsoft announced Extended Security Updates (ESU) for SQL Server and Windows Server

Read moreMicrosoft Update November 2018

Microsoft Update October 2018

As Microsoft push forward with 47% revenue growth in Q1 for commercial cloud, Microsoft push towards higher cost and expensive licensing ‘bundles’ to achieve record growth, implementing a swathe of price increases in October 2018.

  • As a CSP partner, 31st  October 2018, you can now change the billing frequency of a Subscription for the Online Services from monthly to annual, and vice versa. Updated billing article:
  • Mainstream support for Office Professional Plus 2016 ends 13th October 2020, and Microsoft extends support to October 2023. Extending interoperability with Office365 services.
  • Microsoft Product Price Changes, and Level A Waterfall Adjustment – Effective October 1st
  • Establishing a single, consistent starting price across all programs aligned to web direct for online services (OLS)
  • Removing the programmatic volume discounts (Level A and Open Level C) in Enterprise Agreement (EA)/EA Subscription, MPSA, Select/ Select Plus, and Open programs (Open, Open Value, Open Value Subscription). A programmatic approach to drive purchasing behaviours towards CSP for SMB customers.
  • Aligning government pricing for on-premises and online services to the lowest commercial price in EA/EAS, MPSA, Select Plus, and Open Programs
  • Delivering a newly designed Customer Price Sheet that better outlines how a customer’s price was derived (direct EA/EAS only)
  • Office 2019 commercial prices will increase 10 percent over current on-premises pricing
  • The price increase will include Office client, Enterprise CAL, Core CAL, and server products
  • Windows Enterprise E3 will now refer to the per user offer only- Windows 10 Enterprise E3 per User becomes Windows 10 Enterprise E3
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 per Device becomes Windows 10 Enterprise
  • The price of Windows 10 Enterprise will be raised to match the price of Windows 10 Enterprise E3
  • Windows 10 Enterprise E5 per device will be discontinued

Thanks All

Read moreMicrosoft Update October 2018

Microsoft Update February 2019

Some of the principle licensing updates for February 2019 –

  • There is a new and improved licensing guide for Dynamics365 including (most) of the latest licensing updates – search for the January 2019 document.
  • Microsoft365 for Non Profit is now available in CSP
  • Changes to Office365 Student Use Benefit
    • New O365 A3/A5 offers in EES (Enrollment for Education Solutions)
    • Will provision correctly to the right set of service entitlement as part of Student Use Benefit
    • Existing customers to continue on original SKUs through agreement term
  • Azure Reservations expand availability – Reservation Discount now applies to:
    • Classic VMs or cloud services
    • RI’s must have ‘instance size flexibility’ option enabled
    • Dev/Test Subs
    • Can now centralise RI purchases by disabling the ‘Add Reserve Instance’ setting on enrolment
  • New CSP Direct to Indirect capability
  • Azure Visual Studio Cloud Subscriptions – Annual Subscriptions Removed and Monthly Subscriptions now Availabl
  • Microsoft announced CSP Multi-Year Subscriptions Pilot, reflecting their roadmap towards ‘Modern Commerce’. Initially available for Dynamics365, for 1-3Years. Microsoft support Annual or Monthly Billing. Narrow focus on Dynamics365 in Pilot, with Customer Engagement Plan, Unified Ops Plan, Device/Activity, and Team Members.Thanks All


    This website is a way to give back to the licensing community and as an information resource for all customers that work with Microsoft software and licensing. I hope you find it of value.

    Tony Mackelworth is Head of Microsoft Advisory Services at SoftwareONE

    If you would like to reach out for a coffee or a meeting under NDA, Email or connect via Twitter or LinkedIn

    Copyright – Softspend Limited 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Microsoft Update July 2018

Some principle recent Microsoft solution and licensing updates, for July 2018

  • Technical Dependency- Office 2019 (C2R) and Office 2016 (MSI) cannot run concurrently on either Windows or Mac.
  • Technical Dependency – Office 2019, there is no MSI version offered.
  • Licensing –  Office 2019, there is no MSI version offered. “Office 2019 (for both Windows and Mac) is a one-time purchase and does not receive feature updates after purchase. Office 2019 includes a meaningful subset of features found in Office 365, but it is not part of Office 365.”
  • Roadmap Lifecycle – Configuration Manager 2007 reaches the end of its support lifecycle on July 9, 2019. SoftwareONE recommend that customers migrate to the latest version of SCCM (current branch) as soon as possible.
  • Licensing – Microsoft confirm Windows Autopilot licensing requirements
  • Reference – Microsoft publish Windows Autopilot solution documentation at
  • Roadmap Lifecycle – SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2 will be end-of-support in less than 12 months, effective July 9th 2019

Read moreMicrosoft Update July 2018