Thursday, 13 October 2016

Windows Server 2016- Licensing Deep Dive

Following the introductory blog to Windows Server 2016, this post will go into a bit more depth on the licensing itself, with some real life examples explained.

Windows Server 2016 Datacenter and Standard are licensed on a core & CAL basis. There are 2 key requirements to bear in mind:
  • There is a minimum licensing requirement of 8 cores per physical processor, 
  • You must license 16 cores per host server. 
So instead of buying a single licence to cover a physical server, you now buy a quantity of the 2 core licence – depending how many cores the server has. As long as these minimums are met, it keeps Microsoft happy and the customer is licensed compliantly.

The curveball with this licensing model is that unlike other licensing models based on cores, you still need CALs for each user or device connecting to the server. There are new CALs for Windows Server 2016, so don’t forget to upgrade these too, as the 2012 CALs won’t let the customer connect to a 2016 Windows Server. Similarly, the Remote Desktop Services CALs are updated too, so if a customer is using a terminal server bear in mind that these CALs will need rebuying!

By licensing all the cores with the Standard edition, you gain the same 2 VM rights as you do today. So for a physical server such as the one in the left hand diagram, with 2x 6 core processors, as there is a minimum of 8 cores which must be licensed, we need to license 8 cores in each processor to meet the minimum. So that makes 16 cores, which is 8x 2 core licences. If this server only had 1 processor, the licences required would be the same, as we still need to license a minimum of 2 processors, even if they only have 1.

This may sound overkill at first, but the pricing for licensing 16 cores is the same cost as it was when licensing version 2012 R2. It is also useful to remember that the Windows Server 2012 R2 SKU was a “2 processor” SKU, so that also had a minimum requirement.

For this second example, a host server with 2 processors and 10 cores in each, it meets the minimum of 8 cores per processor, and it meets the minimum of 16 cores per server, so the customer would buy 10x 2 core packs. There are no price increases compared to the 2012 R2 version, as long as the customer has no more than 16 cores such as this scenario- in which case they will find the costs do creep up!

You can “stack” the Windows Server Standard licences, so let’s say a customer needs 4 Virtual Machines for this second example, they would license all 20 cores once for 2 Virtual Machines, and license those 20 cores again to get the additional 2 virtual machine rights. So for this setup, to license the 40 cores, they would purchase 20x 2 core licences.

Comparing Standard vs Datacenter, cost-wise there is a tipping point of 14 virtual machines per host, so if the customer has more than 16 per host, a single copy of Windows Server Datacenter will be more cost effective than stacking up the Windows Server Standard licences.

Useful links

Here are some more in depth product details on Windows Server and System Center below:

Register for one of our Windows Server 2016 Masterclasses

Please contact Emma, Shiraz or Dave on the licensing team on 0118 912 6088 or for further help, advice or quotes

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