How to maximise your Microsoft Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB)

Author: Anurag Mittal

Microsoft’s Azure Hybrid Use Benefit for Windows Server was made generally available to eligible customers on February 17, 2016. Even though this benefit has been around for a while, there are customers running Windows Server and SQL Server VMs in Azure that are still yet to maximise the value of this benefit.

Eligible customers can save up to 85% of their Azure VM resource bill through a combination of available benefits, including AHUB for Windows Server, SQL Server, extended security updates and reserved instances.

For the customers who are already utilising this benefit, it is essential to monitor the AHUB license consumption to avoid over-allocations and to re-adjust the AHUB license allocation based on the number of vCores/vCPU and the Azure VM uptime.



In this blog, we will share an overview of Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB), potential cost savings and some common pitfalls to avoid to maximise the AHUB realisation.


What is Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB)? 

To promote their Azure cloud, Microsoft introduced this cost savings benefit to allow eligible customers to bring their on-premises Windows Server and SQL Server licenses with software assurance or subscription to Azure, and avoid paying for the Windows Server OS and SQL Server license cost in Azure. The Windows Server OS cost can be around 40% of the total cost of running an Azure VM, so this represents a substantial cost-saving opportunity.

To be eligible, you must have SQL Server and Windows Server licences with active Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licences. These include:

  • Windows Server Datacenter edition with Software Assurance
  • Windows Server Standard edition with Software Assurance
  • SQL Server Enterprise Edition core licences with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licences
  • SQL Server Standard Edition core licences with Software Assurance or qualifying subscription licences.

AHUB License Eligibility Summary:

How much can you save with Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB)?

Based on the example below, for every 16 cores Win Server license with active SA, customers can save approx. $617.58/month($7,410/annum) on 2 Azure D4 v2 instances with 8 vCores each.

If a customer has 100 Azure VMs with the corresponding on-premise Windows Server licenses with SA, it equates to approx. $370K/annum in saved Azure cost.

Note: The potential savings will differ based on the Azure VM instance type.

How can I start using the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB)?

As a starting point, you should consider the following points before embarking on your AHUB realisation journey:

1. Check your eligibility and current on-premise license consumption

Even though it is a no-brainer to immediately utilise your eligible Windows Server Datacenter licenses in AHUB due to the dual-use rights, it is critical to establish an accurate license position report for your Windows Server Standard and SQL Server licenses before you start migrating any spare licenses across to the Azure environment.

2. Validate the current AHUB license consumption in your Azure instance

Yes, your Azure admin team may have ticked a box stating you are using BYOL under AHUB on the Azure management console. Most of the leading SAM tools, including Flexera FNMS have Azure cloud connectors that list all Azure VMs and identify if any VM is using AHUB/BYOL for Windows Server and SQL Server licenses. If your SAM tool is not capable or configured yet, you may request your Azure team to run a report available here.

3. Calculate the best AHUB license allocation model based on your Azure environment

Unfortunately, it might not be a straightforward activity due to the large number of Azure VM instance types and your environmental factors (e.g., VM uptime). So, work with your cloud team to understand the Azure VM environment and associated Win Server or SQL Server license cost to come up with the AHUB license allocation to maximise the cost savings.

4. Set up a process to regularly monitor and manage the AHUB license consumption

Unlike most of the on-premise server environments, the cloud environment is constantly changing in most organisations, so regular review and control over AHUB license consumption are critical to avoid AHUB license over-allocations and maximise cost savings.

The Microsoft Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB) is a significant cost-saving opportunity for Azure customers with the potential to reduce your Azure costs significantly. At the same time, it is vital to embark on this journey after proper planning to minimise associated risks and maximise the cost savings for your organisation.

If you would like to hear more information about how you can optimise your Azure cloud costs with or without a SAM tool, please reach out to us via email at or visit our website

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