Avoid costly invoices when your database name ends on database.windows.net

Violation of Azure Subscription Terms

You might be in violation of the Microsoft Azure subscription terms & conditions when you gain direct access to a SQL Server instance on Azure as part of your subscription on a third party product.

This article helps you to investigate whether you might be using SQL Server on Azure illegally and we recommend possible steps to take in such case.

Typical SQL Server on Azure Use

An increasing number of users employ Power BI, Tableau and other products to analyse and report on their business. Microsoft SQL Server is one of the most commonly used databases for storing and analyzing the data.

For many applications, we recommend customers to acquire an Azure-based SQL Server database and we assist in setting these up. Such a subscription with Microsoft is typically entered into by the customer itself by providing name and payment information to Microsoft through a Microsoft website.

An Azure-based SQL Server database can be recognized by the host name, which typically reads “NAME.database.windows.net“. A more extensive explanation is available on determining whether you run SQL Server on Azure.

Possible non-compliant SQL Server Use on Azure

You and your supplier might be violating Microsoft Terms & Conditions when you are using a SQL Server database named “NAME.database.windows.net” and you receive no invoices from Microsoft.

Regularly we receive a question:

Why doesn’t Invantive bundle use of a SQL Server database on Azure in their subscription?

Often this question is asked when comparing our offering with competing solutions.

The answer is:

No, it is not possible for Invantive to bundle a SQL Server database on Azure in a subscription due to Microsoft licensing policies.

There is to our knowledge no low-cost commercial product available that provides customers with direct read or even write access to a SQL Server database on Azure although Microsoft provides certified partners with various options to bundle Azure-based products to their customers.

The typical Microsoft terms and conditions on Azure and other products include a clause for the party entering into the agreement with Microsoft such as:

You may not rent, lease, lend, resell, transfer, or sublicense the Product or any portion thereof to or for third parties.

This means that the party paying the invoice from Microsoft may not provide the Microsoft products to other parties, independent of the form. Without additional terms & condition a third party such as you should not receive direct access to a Microsoft product.

A checklist

The following questions help you to assess whether you might be using SQL Server in an illegal way, without trying to cover all scenarios:

  • Do you receive a monthly invoice from Microsoft itself for your SQL Server database?
  • If not, does this analysis indicate that your SQL Server instance runs on Azure?

In case the answer to the last question is “Yes”, you might be violating Microsoft terms & conditions. We recommend the following steps:

  • As a first step, contact your supplier and ask them to provide reasonable evidence that your company will not be held liable for any violations of the terms & conditions of the provided SQL Server database.
  • When in doubt, contact a Microsoft certified partner.
  • When there is strong reason to believe you have been provided with illegal access to SQL Server contact the Business Software Alliance.