Software Assurance benefits for SQL Server HA and Disaster Recovery

On Oct 30, 2019, Microsoft announced new rights to build a holistic high availability (HA) and disaster recovery (DR) plan for customers licensing SQL Server with Software Assurance (SA) coverage.

All new benefits can enable significant licensing cost savings for your SQL Server on-premises and on Azure VMs.

Applying to all supported versions of SQL Server and both Enterprise and Standard editions.

What is new?

According to Microsoft, the Soft Assurance customer will be able to add one passive SQL Server instance as a failover server and the other two for disaster recovery purposes (a total of three passive instances).

All these instances may run on a separate server.

Figure 1- Software Assurance (SA) Benefits for SQL Server.

Importantly, the passive instances (free) cannot run active SQL Server workloads or data to clients.

It may only be used to synchronize with the primary server and perform the following maintenance-related operations for the permitted passive fail-over Instances:

  • Log and Full Back-ups
  • Database consistency checks
  • Monitoring resource usage data

In the topology below, the primary has two secondary replicas: one sync replica for HA supporting automatic failovers and one asynchronous replica for DR.

If the active replica uses 12 cores, the number of SQL Server core licenses required to operate this topology would be only 12 cores as opposed to 24 cores in the past.

Figure 2- New SQL Server licenses rules on-prem.


Microsoft is looking to promote its cloud-hosted offering and gain a competitive with the addition of free Disaster Recovery instance hosted in Azure.

Now, SA offers passive replica benefits also running on an Azure Virtual Machine. The customer will be able to implement hybrid disaster recovery plans with SQL Server.

In the setup below, organizations will need licensing only 12 core too.

Figure 3- New SQL Server licenses rules with Azure VM.


With recently added benefits, cost-effective solutions to host SQL Server workloads are further enhanced.

A full breakdown of the enhanced benefits are available on the Product Terms available on Microsoft’s website.


Need help with your Microsoft SQL Server licensing challenges? Contact us!


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