Connect your non-Azure machines to Microsoft Defender for Cloud with Defender for Endpoint

Defender for Cloud allows you to directly onboard your non-Azure servers by deploying the Defender for Endpoint agent. This provides protection for both your cloud and non-cloud assets under a single, unified offering.


To connect your non-Azure machines via Azure Arc, see Connect your non-Azure machines to Microsoft Defender for Cloud with Azure Arc.

This tenant-level setting allows you to automatically and natively onboard any non-Azure server running Defender for Endpoint to Defender for Cloud, without any extra agent deployments. This onboarding path is ideal for customers with mixed and hybrid server estate who wish to consolidate server protection under Defender for Servers.


Aspect Details
Release state GA
Supported operating systems All Windows and Linux Server operating systems supported by Defender for Endpoint
Required roles and permissions To manage this setting, you need Subscription Owner (on the chosen subscription), and Microsoft Entra Global Administrator or Microsoft Entra Security Administrator
Environments On-premises servers
Multicloud VMs – limited support (see limitations section)
Supported plans Defender for Servers P1
Defender for Servers P2 – limited features (see limitations section)

How it works

Direct onboarding is a seamless integration between Defender for Endpoint and Defender for Cloud that doesn’t require extra software deployment on your servers. Once enabled, it also shows your non-Azure server devices onboarded to Defender for Endpoint in Defender for Cloud, under a designated Azure Subscription you configure (in addition to their regular representation in the Microsoft Defender Portal). The Azure Subscription is used for licensing, billing, alerts, and security insights but doesn't provide server management capabilities such as Azure Policy, Extensions, or Guest configuration. To enable server management capabilities, refer to the deployment of Azure Arc.

Enabling direct onboarding

Enabling direct onboarding is an opt-in setting at the tenant level. It affects both existing and new servers onboarded to Defender for Endpoint in the same Microsoft Entra tenant. Shortly after enabling this setting, your server devices will show under the designated subscription. Alerts, software inventory, and vulnerability data are integrated with Defender for Cloud, in a similar way to how it works with Azure VMs.

Before you begin:

Enabling in the Defender for Cloud portal

  1. Go to Defender for Cloud > Environment Settings > Direct onboarding.
  2. Switch the Direct onboarding toggle to On.
  3. Select the subscription you would like to use for servers onboarded directly with Defender for Endpoint
  4. Select Save.

Screenshot of Onboard non-Azure servers with Defender for Endpoint.

You've now successfully enabled direct onboarding on your tenant. After you enable it for the first time, it might take up to 24 hours to see your non-Azure servers in your designated subscription.

Deploying Defender for Endpoint on your servers

Deploying the Defender for Endpoint agent on your on-premises Windows and Linux servers is the same whether you use direct onboarding or not. Refer to the Defender for Endpoint onboarding guide for further instructions.

Current limitations

  • Plan support: Direct onboarding provides access to all Defender for Servers Plan 1 features. However, certain features in Plan 2 still require the deployment of the Azure Monitor Agent, which is only available with Azure Arc on non-Azure machines. If you enable Plan 2 on your designated subscription, machines onboarded directly with Defender for Endpoint have access to all Defender for Servers Plan 1 features and the Defender Vulnerability Management Addon features included in Plan 2.

  • Multi-cloud support: You can directly onboard VMs in AWS and GCP using the Defender for Endpoint agent. However, if you plan to simultaneously connect your AWS or GCP account to Defender for Servers using multicloud connectors, it's currently still recommended to deploy Azure Arc.

  • Simultaneous onboarding limited support: Defender for Cloud makes a best effort to correlate servers onboarded using multiple billing methods. However, in certain server deployment use cases, there might be limitations where Defender for Cloud is unable to correlate your machines. This might result in overcharges on certain devices if direct onboarding is also enabled on your tenant.

    The following are deployment use cases currently with this limitation when used with direct onboarding of your tenant:

    Location Deployment use case
    All Windows 2012, 2016:
    Azure VMs or Azure Arc machines already onboarded and billed by Defender for Servers via an Azure subscription or Log Analytics workspace, running the Defender for Endpoint modern unified agent without the MDE.Windows Azure extension. For such machines, you can enable Defender for Cloud integration with Defender for Endpoint to deploy the extension.
    On-premises (not running Azure Arc) Windows Server 2012, 2016:
    Servers running the Defender for Endpoint modern unified agent, and already billed by Defender for Servers P2 via the Log Analytics workspace
    AWS, GCP (not running Azure Arc) Windows Server 2012, 2016:
    AWS or GCP VMs using the modern unified Defender for Endpoint solution, already onboarded and billed by Defender for Servers via multicloud connectors, Log Analytics workspace, or both.

    Note: For Windows 2019 and above and Linux, agent version updates have been already released to support simultaneous onboarding without limitations. For Windows - use agent version 10.8555.X and above, For Linux - use agent version 30.101.23052.009 and above.

Next steps

This page showed you how to add your non-Azure machines to Microsoft Defender for Cloud. To monitor their status, use the inventory tools as explained in the following page: