Many Microsoft customers may by now have digested the difficult transition from Processor to Core licensing for SQL Server introduced in 2012. Now it’s time to look at Windows Server.

In December 2015 it was announced that the licensing model for Windows Server 2016 will switch from a per Processor licensing model to a per Core licensing model. We can expect this is to be in effect for October 2016 and customers who have Software Assurance that expires at the end of October will have to renew their licenses based on the Core Licensing model.

You will see that many factors such as your Software Assurance expiration date, a planned hardware refresh as well as your current hardware configuration will impact your renewal costs and therefore your decision how to proceed with a renewal – we at Cloud Optics have advised many customers on their journey with SQL Server, we now offer a free impact study that should help you being prepared to make an informed decision for Windows. If you would like to learn more, please do not hesitate to get in touch with at Cloud Optics

Harmeet Assi: | +44 7789 402 896
Nicole Zimmermann: | +44 7545 537 686

Summary of the changes:

Cost neutral if less than 8 Cores / Proc

The minimum license conversion – which is the only cost-neutral conversion –is 8 Core licenses / CPU with a minimum of 2 CPUs / Server. This means that a minimum of 16 Core licenses are required for a Server. The 16 Core licenses are cost neutral to the previous 2 Proc License which means that one Core-Pack will cost 1/8th of a 2 proc Server license. Windows Server has not seen a price increase since autumn 2013 which means that costs for 16 Cores should indeed not be higher than what it was in the past 3 years.

License grants equal to core density at the time of Software Assurance expiration

As with SQL Server there is a Core-equivalent License grant for Software Assurance customers. This means that no new licenses will have to be acquired for all of the Cores on a given processor in use at the time the Software Assurance expires. As an example if you have 16 Cores / Proc on a 2 Proc Server – you would be entitled to renew Software Assurance on 32 Cores and therefore own 32 Core Licenses instead of the standard grant of 16. However, your Software Assurance costs would double as a result as you would previously only have paid for 2 Procs which is cost equivalent to only 16 Cores.

The license grants for customers who will not renew Software Assurance should be the same.

Whether Software Assurance is renewed or not – in both cases customers must keep an inventory that proves the core density at the time Software Assurance expires. The grants are linked to that date and the inventory. If you were planning on buying hardware with a higher Core density a few months after your enrolment expiration you will have to acquire additional Core licenses to cover the new hardware at that time.

Counting licenses for virtualization

The little bit of good news is that the licensing for Windows Server is easier than SQL Server especially when it comes to counting licenses for use in virtualized environments. No need to count virtual processors, virtual cores and the virtualization rights don’t depend on whether Software Assurance is acquired or not. Windows Server requires all physical Cores to be licensed on a Server. You then get:

  • – 2 VMS for Windows Server Standard once all Cores on the Server are licensed – if 4 are required simply double-up the number of Windows Server Standard licenses for that server
  • – unlimited VM’s for Windows Server Datacenter once all Cores on the Servers are licensed

The pricing today is such that if you need less than 12 VM’s on a Server licensing Windows Server Standard is more cost effective – provided you don’t need any of the new features that are only included with the Datacenter edition in 2016.

No more feature parity between Windows Server Standard and Windows Server Datacenter

Whilst this was the case for Windows Server 2012 R2 – Windows Server 2016 Datacenter will provide features not included in the standard edition – In the current FAQ these features are called Azure-inspired networking stack and Azure-inspired storage enhancements including Storage Spaces Direct.

Azure Hybrid Use Benefit

In a previous article we have already touched on the Azure hybrid use benefit – this is a Software Assurance Benefit that allows Windows Servers to be brought onto Azure. (only Azure and not to any other cloud /shared platform)

  • Today’s 2 proc licenses (therefore assuming that in the future 16 Core licenses) allow for
    • – 2 Azure VM’s using 8 cores or
    • – 1 Azure VM using 16 Cores

For Windows Server Standard if the Windows Server license is used on Azure, it is “assigned to Azure” and can’t be used on premise at the same time

For Windows Server Datacenter however customer can still make use of the unlimited VM Rights on premise for the same 16 Core Licenses.

In September, Cloud Optics offer a free impact review on your Windows Server Licenses that should help you being prepared for a Software Assurance renewal on Windows.

Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us

Harmeet Assi: | +44 7789 402 896
Nicole Zimmermann: | +44 7545 537 686




Product Terms for Hybrid Use Benefit

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