Add an Instance to SQL Server Azure Virtual Machine

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How do you add an instance to your local SQL Server installation? You run the executable that you probably downloaded from MSDN or maybe from a CD. Works the same on an Azure VM right? Sure… but wait. Do I have to go and download the software to my VM instance? Let’s assume that you’re running one of the VMs from the Gallery, then, the answer is “No.” Just navigate to C:\SQLServer_12.0_Full. There you’ll find the full installation setup for SQL Server. And you’re off and running… Until you realize that you don’t have the Product Key for this thing. What happens when you get to this screen:


You can look around all you want and you won’t see a product key anywhere. At least no where that I could find. So what do you do? Same question was asked and answered over on this forum at SQL Server Central. The trick is to get the product key from SQL Server. I tried several different methods, the ones you’ll find if you search for how to get the product key from an existing copy of SQL Server. But finally, as was posted on the forum, a method that worked was found. I tested it out and I was able to add an instance to a VM from the Gallery.

Which brings up the next question. Did I just violate some type of licensing with Microsoft? Lordy I hope not. But I did some research. This definition of the support policy at Microsoft says that anything that is not explicitly denied in that documentation, that is normally supported is still supported. There’s nothing in there about multiple instances. There’s nothing in the basic Azure Licensing FAQ. There’s nothing against this in the Pricing details either. And since the standard iron version of SQL Server allows you to have as many instances running on a given server that you want, from what I can tell, this still applies here.

Personally, I don’t think I’d want to run multiple instances on a single Azure VM. I wouldn’t really want to run multiple instances on a VM or, in some cases, even on iron. Multiple instances frequently have difficulty playing nice. I can’t see that getting any better inside Azure. However, there’s nothing to keep you from doing it except tracking down that Product Key. Get that, and you’re golden.


  • suhail ali

    Can you expand upon how multiple instance have “difficulty playing nice”? I was about to do exactly what you suggest before I read your article.

  • Just that when you run multiple instances of SQL Server (and I’m talking on iron here, I haven’t done this except as a test in Azure), if you don’t very carefully isolate them from each other, limit their memory consumption, give them CPU affinity, isolate their disks and controllers, you get a lot of contention on resources in ways that you don’t if you just have additional databases on a single instance. That’s what I was referring to.

  • suhail ali

    Yes, that makes perfect sense. I knew about limiting memory but I had forgotten about the need to give CPU affinity. I agree if licensing isn’t a issue then having a separate servers is less of an headache.

  • Can you expand on the method used to find an existing key on an Azure instance of SQL. You stated: “…But finally, as was posted on the forum, a method that worked was found.” The SQLServerCenteral Forum to which is referenced does not give or point to the specific PowerShell script that was successful. The forum only states: “I found a solution now. I managed to use a key finder on the VM to find the key of the installed instance.” Any light you could shine on the “key finder” would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

  • Frankly, that’s the one part of this that does seem sketchy. I was told that Microsoft removes the product key from it’s images. However, you can find it. I used a third party tool, the one recommended further down in the conversation over on SQL Server Central. Pointing this out is as close as I want to get to showing how to do it, because I’m still a little concerned that it might be problematic for Microsoft.

OK, fine, but what do you think?