Getting Started with Microsoft and VMware Cloud On AWS

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See what other people are asking about using Microsoft software with VMware Cloud.

Learn About Licensing

This blog explores elements of Microsoft's licensing changes that came into effect on October 1,2019.

Licensing Options for Microsoft and VMware Cloud On AWS

Explore your options for bringing your own or buying new Microsoft licenses. If you have questions, please talk to your Vmware Account Executive.

Bring Your Own

Take advantage of cloud efficiencies while preserving your investment in software, and migrate to cloud faster by using existing virtual machine images.

You can bring your own licenses (BYOL) to VMware Cloud on AWS if you purchased Microsoft software or signed a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement before October 2019. Before moving to cloud, just be sure to review your Microsoft Enterprise Agreement to make sure the license is complaint with cloud.

Buy New Licenses

You can run Microsoft software on VMware Cloud on AWS nodes without pre-existing licenses, or if you purchased licenses after October 1, 2019. Use the VMware-priovided software images or bring your own - just make sure that the cluster the software runs on is licensed appropriately.

If you purchase the Microsoft software through VMware you pay a per node, per-month charge for the cluster running Microsoft software.

Why Licensing Costs Differ with Dedicated Hosts

While many cloud services sell preconfigured virtual machines, VMware Cloud on AWS sells dedicated hosts. A dedicated host is hardware in your cluster solely for your use, and is only replaced if it fails or is due to retire.


Microsoft calls out vendors like VMware and AWS differently in its licensing regime. To comply with Microsoft’s Product Terms, the entire dedicated host needs to be licensed. Keep this in mind when comparing prices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please contact our VMware Cloud Microsoft Licensing Experts at

Microsoft announced that on October 1, 2019, the licensing terms for its products deployed on dedicated hosted cloud services will change. This change in Microsoft licensing affects customers planning to move and/or deploy Windows Server and Microsoft SQL Server workloads to non-Azure clouds including VMware Cloud on AWS. Details here.

Currently, Windows Server and SQL Server are offered by VMware.

At the time of this writing VMware is only making Windows Server and SQL Server available. However various Microsoft products have either License Mobility rights (from on-premise licenses) or can be purchased from other SPLA partners.

There are several options: Licenses are offered on a per-host basis. A Windows Server License will allow a customer to deploy an unlimited number of Windows Server Datacenter editions VMs on a VMC host. A SQL Server License will allow a customer to deploy an unlimited number of SQL Server licenses on a VMC host. However, the following restrictions and clarifications apply

  • A customer must license all hosts in a cluster, per Microsoft’s license terms
  • Licenses are billed on a calendar month basis based on the maximum number of hosts that were deployed on that month.

We provide “per VMware Cloud on AWS host" based Microsoft licensing model to the VMware Cloud on AWS customers, and all hosts in a cluster must be licensed. You should consider creating separate clusters for Microsoft software if possible to limit your licensing costs.

No. Windows Server Licenses provided by Microsoft are only provided on a per-host basis. Each license can only be assigned to a single physical VMware Cloud on AWS host and all hosts in the cluster must be licensed.

Yes, VMware supplied licenses include the Unlimited Virtualization benefit both for Windows Server and SQL Server. You can run unlimited number (up to technical maximum) of VMs with Windows Server and/or SQL Server on a fully licensed cluster of VMware Cloud On AWS hosts.

A customer has three options: 1. A VMware-supplied Windows Server VM (with and without SQL Server) packaged as an OVF 2. Microsoft ISO binaries to allow customer to provide their own VMs 3. Migration of a customer-supplied VM image for use on VMC.

The VMs will be packaged as an OVF (Open Virtual Format) which can be included in the customer's Content Library. As part of initial deployment, the VM will be activated and the VM is now ready for customer use. Two important clarifications apply: 1. VMware will provide the current binaries but it is the customer's responsibility to install and maintain Microsoft patches and updates 2. A customer can customize the VM as they required by configuring services or adding custom agents and software.

Yes. You can transfer your Windows Server and SQL Server binary as a VM, VM Template, or OVF. VMware will provide the customer a script to activate the VM.

For Windows Server, we will provide the Windows Datacenter. We will provide SQL Enterprise. VMware’s license with Microsoft allows us to distribute the following versions:

  • Windows Server 2019 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2016 Datacenter
  • Windows Server 2012 Datacenter
  • SQL Server 2019 Enterprise on Windows Server 2019 Datacenter

An end-user can provide a customer-provided Windows Standard edition. However, that doesn't change the licensing cost. Microsoft’s license terms only allow VMware to provide Windows Server Datacenter edition licenses.

Yes. You can bring Windows Server licenses from before 2019 (e.g. 2016, 2012, 2008) that you have acquired previously, prior to Oct 1 2019, to VMware Cloud on AWS under the “Bring Your Own License” (BYOL) license terms.

Yes. There are two ways to "upgrade/downgrade"; by edition and by version. Customers can upgrade to the latest version as the license with Microsoft covers VMware for the latest version. For example, a customer can upgrade from SQL Server Enterprise 2017 to SQL Server Enterprise 2019, as it becomes available. The customer can also "downgrade" editions as well, on the licenses VMware provides. For example, an end-user can "downgrade" from Windows Server 2019 Datacenter Edition to Windows Server 2019 Standard Edition, as down-grade rights are included. However, VMware’s license with Microsoft is only allowed to sell the higher-priced "Datacenter" edition at this time.

Microsoft Support is not included. VMware will provide commercially reasonable assistance with installation, configuration, and troubleshooting. In some cases, when Support doesn't have dedicated skilled experts, they may refer you to Microsoft for more assistance.

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