Windows Server 2016 and Microsoft licensing changes

25 Feb 2016 | SAM/SLO, Uncategorized

With a new release of Windows Server (and also System Center) in early 2016, Microsoft have used this as an opportunity to change the way they package and license these products. In addition to the virtualization rights and differentiation between Standard and Datacenter Editions, Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition will include new advanced software-defined datacenter capabilities designed for highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environments.

Licensing now based on physical cores

The licensing model for Datacenter and Standard Edition will move from the current processor-based one to physical cores. This aligns the licensing of private and public cloud to a consistent currency of cores and simplifies licensing across multi-cloud environments.

Licenses for servers with 8 cores or less per processor will be same price as the 2012 R2 two-processor license price. Core licenses will be sold in packs of 2 for incremental licenses needed above the required 8 cores per processor. The Standard Edition of Windows Server will license up to 2 VMs when all of the physical cores on the server are licensed.

Still need CALs

As stated above, core licenses will be sold in packs of two licenses. Each processor will need to be licensed with a minimum of 8 cores, which is 4 two-core packs. Each physical server, including 1 processor servers, will need to be licensed with minimum of 16 cores which is 8 two-core packs. Additional cores can then be licensed in increments of two cores (one two core pack) for gradual increases in core density growth. Standard Edition provides rights for up to two virtual Operating System Environments when all physical cores on a server are licensed (minimum of 8 cores per processor and 16 cores per server).

Both editions will continue to require Windows Server CALs for every user or device accessing a server. Some additional or advanced functionality will continue to require the purchase of an additive CAL. These are CALs that you need in addition to the Windows Server CAL to access functionality, such as Remote Desktop Services or Active Directory Rights Management Services.

“Confusing transition period”

A Texas law firm, Scott & Scott, issued an analysis of the changes and concluded that customers would face a “confusing transition period” working out how many licenses they would need after their current SA term was up. Microsoft have rebutted these claims, saying the large majority of customers would not be impacted. It will be interesting to see how things pan out.

If you have any questions over your Microsoft licensing under the new rules, please fill out the from below to get in touch.