November 2019 saw the release of Microsoft SQL Server 2019 and one of the new things it brings is enhanced fail-over and Disaster Recovery rights specific to SQL server.
With the introduction of the 2019 release, having SQL Server with Software Assurance now means:
These benefits apply to both Standard and Enterprise editions.
The November 2019 Product Terms state that, for SQL Server with SA, you are now entitled to 3 (three) fail-over OSEs (Operating System Environments). You can have:
*This must abide by the Outsourcing Software Management clause re: the Listed Providers in the cloud.
These rights do not apply if SQL Server is deployed using the “License Mobility through SA” right. This means if you deploy the primary SQL workload in a 3rd party shared cloud environment, you do not have these fail-over rights available.
Microsoft represent the available benefits like this:
As is so often the case with SQL Server, careful understanding and differentiation must be made between the different types of fail-over, and the architecture of solutions, to ensure you don’t find yourself mis-licensed.
It is now possible to have 2 fail-over servers covered under SA for a single, primary SQL Server workload; 1 for HA and 1 for DR.
It is to be noted that while the HA fail-over can be synchronous and receive replicated data, the DR fail-over cannot.
While it has always been technically possible to fail-over an on-premises server into the Azure cloud – it hasn’t been covered under the Software Assurance benefits; meaning the passive Azure server required licensing, and paying for, as if it were active. Now however, with this added benefit, the Azure virtual machines can be used free of charge:
Microsoft state that DR fail-over instances must be both “asynchronous” and “manual” and that, whether for DR or HA, fail-over instances cannot serve SQL data or run active workloads.
This was initially announced via a Microsoft blog which states these changes apply to “any SQL Server release that is still supported by Microsoft” which, at the time of writing, is SQL Server 2012 onwards.
However, the November 2019 Product Terms list these changes under “SQL Server 2019 – Fail-over Rights” and there is no reference to these rights applying retrospectively to other SQL Server releases.
As it stands, a Microsoft blog generally isn’t a strong foundation on which to base licensing decisions so, if you’re running SQL 2012 – 2017, I’d speak to your Microsoft team for further confirmation that the new rights do indeed apply retrospectively. I’ll keep an eye on the Product Terms too and see if anything is added there, either through a revision or in subsequent months.