Windows 2016 is almost here & there are going to be important changes to note around licensing! Back in 2012, Microsoft came out with a Core-based license model for SQL Server, and you probably thought to yourself, did I leave the iron on, this is going to be a hot mess! I have to count now? I have to do math? Come on Microsoft, you make licensing more complicated than coding. Well, for some of us, over the past couple of years we’ve sort of become accustomed to the way SQL is licensed. It’s the direction a lot of manufacturers are going. Around the same time, Microsoft also released Window Server 2012. However, instead of being Core-based, Windows Server’s licensing focused on being CPU or Socket-based. Whether you chose Windows Standard or Datacenter, you were required to license all the physical sockets in the host. The main difference between Windows Standard versus Datacenter was how many VMs you received. Windows Standard allowed you to license two VM’s per license and Datacenter jumped to unlimited VMs per license.
The Windows Server 2012 (and R2) license model had a pretty good run, but in an effort to always keep us on our toes (and allowing me to continue to write licensing blogs) Microsoft went ahead and changed how Windows Server is licensed with the release of Windows Server 2016. Just when everyone was starting to grasp the per-socket model, Microsoft throws a new wrinkle into our lives. Kind of like when you turn to your friend or spouse after watching and episode of Game Of Thrones and you say “I think I get what’s going,” only to be confused the following week. Wait, which house does that character belong too and where is Danny going now? Wait who’s Danny, oh its short for Daenerys. Speaking of names why do some characters have unique names like Theon and Sansa and others are known as Jon, Jamie and Robb? I mean did George R. R. Martin just run out of creative names? GOT needs a guy named Sully to appear in an episode or two. Everyone knows a Sully. Perhaps we can dive into that in another blog, for now onto to Windows Server 2016…
Moving forward, in a similar fashion as to how SQL is licensed, the licensing of Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter editions will shift from being based on physical processors to being based on physical cores, much like SQL. However, there will be some differences. With Windows, your still required to license all the cores in the host, whereas SQL you could just license the allocated cores. Windows Server 2016 licensing model for Standard and Datacenter will also requires CALs.
So here’s the lowdown:
- To license a physical server, all physical cores must be licensed in the server.
- Windows will be sold in two-core packs, much like SQL, however a minimum of 8 core licenses is required for each physical processor in the server and a minimum of 16 cores is required to be licensed for servers with one processor.
- The price of 16-core licenses of Windows 2016 Datacenter and Standard Edition will be the same price as the 2 proc license of the corresponding editions of the Windows Server 2012 R2 version.
- Standard Edition provides rights for up to 2 OSEs or Hyper-V containers when all physical cores in the server are licensed. Multiple licenses can be assigned to the same cores for additional OSEs or Hyper-V containers.
- Datacenter provides rights for unlimited OSEs or Hyper-V containers when all physical cores in the server are licensed.
- Each user and/or device accessing a licensed Windows Server Standard or Datacenter edition requires a Windows Server CAL. Each Window Server CAL allows access to multiple licenses Windows Servers.
Moving to Core-Based Licensing:
- Customers with processor licenses with Software Assurance (SA) can upgrade to Windows 2016 at no additional cost. At the end of the SA term, processor licenses will be exchanged for core licenses and customers can renew their SA on core licenses.
- Windows Server Datacenter and Standard Edition 2-processor licenses with SA will be exchanged for a minimum of 8 two-core pack licenses (16 core licenses) or the actual number of physical cores in use. For example, say you’re running 20 cores, but the exchange is 16, Microsoft will allow you to purchase SA only renewal for all 20 cores versus renewing 16 and purchasing 4 full new cores-worth of licensing.
- Standard Edition licenses with SA assigned to 4-processor servers running more than 2 OSEs will receive license grants to cover the additional OSEs. If no inventory is done, grants of 16 core licenses (8 two-core packs) will be provided for each 2-proc license with SA.
- Customers in existing licensing agreements with Microsoft, such as an Enterprise Agreement or Server and Cloud Enrollment, will be able to continue to purchase processor licenses through the end of the term of their agreement.
Standard vs. Datacenter
- With Windows 2012 (R2), the features of Windows Standard and Datacenter are the same. The major difference between the two editions was how many VMs you received with each license. Windows Standard includes 2-VMs and Datacenter includes unlimited VMs. However, with Windows 2016 Datacenter, along with continuing to cover unlimited VMs, there will be additional features that Datacenter Server will provide that Windows Standard does not.
- Windows Datacenter will include new storage features including Storage Spaces Direct and Storage Replica+. There will also be a new Shielded VM and Host Guardian Service and a new networking stack, which are both Azure-inspired features for advanced software-defined scenarios.
Microsoft has a release date of September for Windows 2016. We'll be sure to keep you up-to-date with official release dates and information surrounding Windows 2016! If you have questions, please reach out and I'd be more than happy to help out.
By Rob O'Shaughnessy, Director of Software Sales & Renewals