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Bring Your Own EA Windows Server License to Amazon EC2!

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Update (November 2011): The information in this post is no longer relevant. Read our post Extending Microsoft Licensing Mobility to the AWS Cloud: Now You Can Run Several Windows Server Applications on AWS for an update.

When we talk about AWS with potential users, they often ask if Windows Server is available. As you know, we’ve supported Windows Server 2003 for a while, and we recently added support for Windows Server 2008. Once we’ve let them know that they can run Windows Server and their existing Microsoft Windows applications on Amazon EC2, the larger customers often tell us that they’ve already set up an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with Microsoft, and ask if it can be applied to EC2 instances.

As of today, the answer is now a conditional (yet still enthusiastic) – “Yes!”

Under a new Microsoft pilot program, you can bring your EA Windows Server licenses into the cloud, activate them, and then launch Amazon EC2 instances running Microsoft Windows Server for the same price as Linux/UNIX On-Demand or Reserved Instance .

Enrollment starts today and will continue until September 23, 2010, so it is important to act fast. Your participation and feedback will have a definite impact on the long-term prospects for this pilot program.

To participate in the pilot, Microsoft requires that your company meets the following criteria:

  • Your company must be based (or have a legal entity) in the United States.
  • Your company must have an existing Microsoft Enterprise Agreement that does not expire within 12 months of your entry into the Pilot.
  • You must already have purchased Software Assurance from Microsoft for your EA Windows Server licenses.
  • You must be an Enterprise customer (Academic and Government institutions are not covered by this pilot).

Once enrolled, you can move your Enterprise Agreement Windows Server Standard, Windows Server Enterprise, or Windows Server Datacenter Edition licenses to Amazon EC2 for 1 year. Each of your Windows Server Standard licenses will let you launch one EC2 instance. Each of your Windows Server Enterprise or Windows Server Datacenter licenses will let you launch up to four EC2 instances. In either case, you can use any of the EC2 instance types. The licenses you bring to EC2 can only be moved between EC2 and your on-premises machines every 90 days. You can use your licenses in the US East (Northern Virginia) or US West (Northern California) Regions. You will still be responsible for maintaining your Client Access Licenses and External Connector licenses appropriately.

To apply for this program, dig up your Enterprise Agreement Number and fill out the Windows License Mobility Form. We’ll verify your eligibility with Microsoft, and then we’ll need you to sign some paperwork and return it to us. We’ll do some final checking, pass the paperwork along to Microsoft, and we’ll enable your AWS account for the program. We’ve set up SLAs for each step to make it possible to have you up and running in less than two weeks.

Operationally, you’ll use a couple of new EC2 APIs (ActivateLicense, DeactivateLicense, and DescribeLicenses) to tell us how many licenses you’d like to use for EC2. The ActivateLicense and DescribeLicenses requests will return a “License Pool” that you’ll use in an EC2 RunInstances request, which will activate an EC2 instance using your license and at the lower price.

— Jeff;

Modified 1/25/2021 – In an effort to ensure a great experience, expired links in this post have been updated or removed from the original post.
Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr

Jeff Barr is Chief Evangelist for AWS. He started this blog in 2004 and has been writing posts just about non-stop ever since.