Licensing options for Microsoft Windows Server/ SQL Server-based SAP workloads on AWS

Customers have been running Microsoft Workloads on Amazon Web Services (AWS) for over 12 years, longer than any other cloud provider. AWS has been running SAP workloads since 2008, which is also meaningfully longer than any other cloud provider. Today, more than 5000 active customers are running SAP on AWS, and many of them are running their SAP workloads on Microsoft SQL Server.

The objective of this blog is to provide guidance and resources for the planning and migration of SAP workloads running on Microsoft SQL Server databases to AWS. We will cover the licensing options to be considered while migrating these SAP workloads to AWS.

Assess Your License Options:

Customers with SAP workloads running on SQL Server databases should assess their current license model, business strategy, and operational efficiency as part of the migration strategy. The following diagram helps you identify the type of license you have and the mobility options.

SQL Server License Evaluation

SQL Server License Evaluation

*BYOL=Bring Your Own License

As shown in the figure, if the SQL Server licenses are bought from SAP or through an authorized SAP reseller, they are called as Runtime licenses. Please refer to the SAP Note – 2139358 (SAP ONE Support Launchpad) to understand the changes and requirements to stay compliant with the runtime licenses.

As mentioned in the SAP note, SAP customers may continue to run SQL Server versions up to SQL Server 2012 until 12 July 2022 on shared/hosted environments. After 12th July 2022, or when upgrading to SQL Server version 2014 or higher, you must run these databases on Dedicated Hosts to stay compliant.

The following section focuses on the migration options available for the SAP applications that are affected by the changes in these license terms.

1)SQL Server with Microsoft License Mobility:

For the SQL Server databases that have the Microsoft License Mobility; you can bring these licenses to the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) shared tenant environments. You may refer to the SQL Microsoft License Mobility site to determine the number of cores required for various instance sizes.

To run Microsoft SQL Server under a BYOL model using EC2 shared tenancy instances:

  1. SQL Server licenses should be purchased from Microsoft or an authorized reseller of Microsoft licenses
  2. SQL Server licenses should have active Microsoft Software Assurance or subscription licenses with SA equivalent rights (*).

In the event that your SQL Server licenses are not covered by Software Assurance, there are restrictions on your ability to used your SQL server licenses on EC2 instances. SQL Server databases running on version 2019 without Software Assurance, are not eligible for deployment on EC2 due to Microsoft’s licensing terms that took effect on October 1, 2019.

(*)Note: Any licenses purchased from Cloud Solution provider (CSP) program are not eligible for BYOL

Please consult your specific Microsoft license agreements for information on how your software is licensed. You are solely responsible for complying with all applicable Microsoft licensing requirements, including the Product Terms. AWS recommends that you consult with your own advisors to understand and comply with the applicable Microsoft licensing requirements.

2)Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts

As mentioned in SAP Note 2139358 (SAP ONE Support Launchpad login required), SQL Server versions up to 2012 can be run on shared/hosted hardware until 12 July 2022. After this time, you may continue to run them on Dedicated Hosts. For customers that want to stay on SQL Server database, you may consider migrating the SAP runtime licenses to the Dedicated Hosts provided by AWS. Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts allow you to use your eligible software licenses from vendors such as Microsoft and Oracle on Amazon EC2, so that you get the flexibility and cost effectiveness of using your own licenses, but with the resiliency, simplicity and elasticity of AWS. An Amazon EC2 Dedicated Host is a physical server fully dedicated for your use, so you can help address corporate compliance requirements.

Amazon EC2 offers Dedicated Hosts with EC2 instance capacity fully dedicated for your use. Dedicated Hosts support different configuration (physical cores, sockets, and VCPUS) which allow you to select and run instances of different families and sizes depending on your business need. You may refer to EC2 Dedicated Hosts configurations here.

You can start using EC2 Dedicated Hosts by allocating a host using AWS Management Console or Amazon Command Line Interface (CLI) and then launching the instances into them. The capabilities available on Dedicated Hosts include:

  1. Multiple instance size support – Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts allow you to configure multiple instance sizes from an instance family. You can run different instance sizes within the same instance family on a Dedicated Host. Support for multiple instance types on the same Dedicated Host is available for the instance families listed here.
  2. Instance placement control – EC2 Dedicated Hosts allow you to launch the instances onto a specific Dedicated Host.
  3. Affinity – You have the option to keep instances attached to a host even if you stop and start it, by specifying instance affinity to a particular host.
  4. Monitoring – You may use AWS Config to continuously monitor, record the instances that are launched on to the Dedicated Hosts.
  5. Visibility of sockets and physical cores
  6. Integrated license management – You may use AWS License Manager to automate the tracking and management of your software licenses on EC2 Dedicated Hosts
  7. Automated management and automatic scaling
  8. Cross-account sharing
  9. Host recovery –if there is an unexpected hardware failure host recovery automatically restarts your instances on a new host.

3)License included Amazon EC2 instances:

One of the other options available is to purchase license included Amazon EC2 instances, which will include licenses for Windows Server and a SQL Server database. Depending on your use case, you may be able to provision the license included Amazon EC2 instances.

By choosing license included Amazon EC2 instances, you benefit from pay as you go model. This model allows you to pay for what you use and save on Windows Server license costs when you stop the Amazon EC2 instances.

For example, consider that you have Non-Production SAP instances that run on Windows Server; you run these instances 60 hours a week. In this case, your Windows Server charges will only be for the 60 hours you use. As mentioned in SAP Note 2539944 (SAP ONE Support Launchpad login required), In order to be eligible for SAP support, you’ll have to purchase support for MS SQL server and Windows Server when using the marketplace Amazon Machine Image (AMI).

As described in SAP Note 1656099 (SAP ONE Support Launchpad login required), Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) for SQL server is not supported for WebAS ABAP/JAVA. For SAP Data Services specifically, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) for SQL Server is supported.

4)Migrate from SQL Server:

SAP has made an announcement in 2020 that their support of SAP Business Suite 7 software is extended until the end of 2027 with an option to extend the support until end of 2030. You can refer to the announcement here. After this date, customers would need to migrate to SAP S/4HANA. It may be a good idea to evaluate and consider options from moving from SQL Server to SAP HANA database to align with SAP’s product roadmap plans.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) and SAP have worked together closely to certify the AWS platform so that companies of all sizes can fully realize all the benefits of the SAP HANA in-memory computing platform on AWS. With SAP HANA on AWS you can:

  • Achieve faster time to value – Provision infrastructure for SAP HANA in hours versus weeks or months.
  • Scale infrastructure resources – As your data requirements increase over time so does your AWS environment.
  • Reduce cost – Pay for only the infrastructure resources that you need and use.
  • Bring your own license – Leverage your existing licensing investment with no additional licensing fees.
  • Achieve a higher level of availability – Combine Amazon EC2 Auto Recovery, multiple Availability Zones, and SAP HANA System Replication (HSR).

Assess your Windows Server Licenses:

The Microsoft product terms do not grant Microsoft License Mobility to Windows Server.  As a result, it is generally not compliant with Microsoft licensing terms for customers to bring Windows Server to the shared tenancy of Amazon EC2.

Amazon EC2 Dedicated Hosts are recommended for customers bringing Windows Server licenses to Amazon EC2.

For Windows Server to be eligible for bring your own license (BYOL) on EC2 Dedicated Host:

  1. The version must be Windows Server 2019 or a prior version.
  2. The license must either be purchased from Microsoft before October 1, 2019 or purchased as a true-up under an active Enterprise agreement that was effective before October 1 2019.
  3. If the license does not meet the terms stated above, Microsoft licensing terms do not permit BYOL per this announcement.

In addition, you can also use Windows Server AMIs provided by Amazon to run the latest versions of Windows Server on Dedicated Hosts. This is common for scenarios where you have existing SQL Server licenses eligible to run on Dedicated Hosts but need Windows Server to run the SQL Server workload. The current price for using Windows Server AMIs is 0.046$per hour per vCPU.

You may refer to this page to get the latest pricing information.


We understand that your SAP applications are business critical and you need reliable global infrastructure and services to support your workloads. By following the guidelines shared in this blog post, you can deploy your SAP on SQL Server workloads on AWS, to increase their flexibility and value with the world’s most secure, reliable, and extensive cloud infrastructure. You may choose bring your licenses or modernize your SAP applications by migrating to SAP HANA database or Linux based operating system depending on your business needs/strategy. Please contact SAP on AWS team for any assistance and to deep dive into your requirements.

Please refer to below links for further consideration

Microsoft SQL Server HA design for SAP on AWS

AWS License Manager

Migrate an On-premises Microsoft SQL Server database to Amazon EC2 using CloudEndure