Achieving cost-effective licensing across a virtualised environment can mean considering the limitations of different server editions in detail, notes Eric Siron, blogging for Altaro Software.
“If you need to run three or more virtual instances of Windows Server, then you buy more licenses for the host. Each time you satisfy the licensing requirements, you have the legal right to run another two Windows Server Standard instances,” he says.
Due to the per-core licensing model introduced with Windows Server 2016, the minimums vary based on the total number of cores in a system. However, it’s not true to maintain — as some people do — that Windows Server Standard Edition can only really run two Hyper-V virtual machines (VMs).
“I see and field this particular question quite frequently. A misunderstanding of licensing terminology and a lot of tribal knowledge has created an image of an artificial limitation with standard edition. The two editions have licensing differences,” Siron explains.
It’s all about reducing the complexity. In terms of Hyper-V related functional differences, Datacenter Edition has automatic virtual machine activation and can run Storage Spaces Direct.
“Otherwise, the two editions share functionality,” he says.
Datacenter Edition allows for an unlimited number of running Windows Server instances, he adds.
“If you run enough on a single host, then the cost for Windows Server Standard eventually meets or exceeds the cost of Datacenter Edition. The exact point depends on the discounts you qualify for. You can expect to break even somewhere around 10-12 virtual instances.”
On the other hand, if you need to run Linux or BSD instances, they do not count against the Windows Server instances in any way, he adds.
When companies miss the key nuance on this, the full value of certain server environments may never be
fully realised in these cost-conscious times. Due to the per-core licensing model introduced with Windows Server 2016, the minimums vary based on the total number of cores in a system.
“Consult your license reseller. Insufficient licensing can cost you a great deal in fines. Take this seriously and talk to trained counsel,” Siron writes.
Altaro specialises in VM backup and other solutions for business users and MSPs around the virtualised Windows environment.
Download and read the full e-book, Licensing Windows Server 2016 in a Virtual Environment.