One of the many considerations involved with managing your Windows Server infrastructure is licensing. Licensing plays a key role in determining how you windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free out your infrastructure as well as what edition of Windows Server you choose for various roles. Additionally, when deploying Hyper-V in your environment, licensing is an important consideration to make with your virtualization initiatives as well. When provisioning your Hyper-V infrastructure, Windows licensing will determine which version and configuration of Hyper-V you will need to run.
You will need to pick Windows licensing that aligns with your current business objectives and technical needs for running your virtual infrastructure with Hyper-V. There is much to think about. In this post, we will take a look at Windows Hyper-V licensing considerations and the factors that help determine your license strategy when running Microsoft Hyper-V. With Windows ServerMicrosoft has moved to a per-core licensing model instead of the traditional per-socket licensing.
There are three principles to understanding the licensing changes as they have been instituted with Windows Server and These include the following:. Microsoft uses specific terminology that refers to physical server licenses and virtual machine licenses for virtualization purposes. When you assign the Windows license, you are assigning the Windows licenses to the physical cores in the Hyper-V host.
To understand the licensing structure with Hyper-V, we must first consider the different editions of Hyper-V and how they are delivered to windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free enterprise.
Hyper-V comes in three different versions that can be installed in your enterprise data center, including:. Hyper-V itself requires no licensing outside of your normal Windows licensing to run virtualization with Windows. So, the licensing that we are referring to here is Windows licensing as it relates to Windows virtual machines running as a Hyper-V virtual machine.
Microsoft directly ties licensing of your Hyper-V virtual machines to the edition of Windows you are running. These licensing benefits to run higher editions of Windows Server. Hyper-V Server is essentially a specially loaded version of Windows Server Core that comes preinstalled with the Hyper-V role already configured when you install it.
The great thing about Hyper-V Server is that it is free. However, there is a catch to the free nature of the product. This could essentially get expensive if you have the need to provision a fair number of Windows VMs including Windows Server as you will be licensing each instance contained in a virtual machine.
If your organization is looking at making use of Hyper-V Server, you will need to look at the breakpoint where paying for each Windows Server license contained in a VM inside of Hyper-V Server is more expensive than having a paid version of Windows Server and then running your VMs there.
What about Standard and Datacenter editions? What are the particular use cases and advantages of each of these Windows Server editions? When related to virtualization, there are certainly differences in Windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free vs Datacenter editions. While Standard edition is a very capable Windows Server operating system, there are some features missing in Standard edition directly related to virtualization that you want to make note of.
These features are directly related to running virtualized environments, so make sure that aside from comparing the VM licensing entitlements that are given for each, you want to make note of the specific features that you may want to have for running VMs on top of a Hyper-V infrastructure.
In many environments, this may simply not be an option to fit a virtualization use case. With Windows Server Datacenter Edition, you get everything without limits. This includes windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free roles and features as well as the number of VMs you are entitled to run — unlimited VMs.
This means you will have all the roles and features available, including Shielded Virtual Machines and Storage Spaces Direct. Additionally, you can run as many VMs as you want with the only limiting factor being the hardware you are using to back your Windows Server installation.
Windows Server Standard and Datacenter are both licensed by physical core. These licenses are sold in 2-packs and packs. Microsoft has moved to an all-new per-core model as of Windows Server With the new per-core licensing, there are minimum license requirements associated with these editions.
These windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free. There is the concept of stacking the Windows Server OS licensing when you want to run more than 2 VMs that are allotted with the Standard Edition license.
This is called license stacking. According to the Licensing Windows Server document from Microsoft:. When looking at what a Windows Server Standard Edition license gets you, it includes the following license rights as a customer:. When customers want to make use of more virtual instances that are housed on a Hyper-V host that is licensed with Standard edition, license stacking will need to take place.
There is general confusion from customers on how to license stacking needs to take place when licensing additional VMs past VM number 2. Many customers may think that at the point of adding the third VM to their Windows Server Standard Edition server, they would simply purchase the number of core licenses that are assigned to the VM. However, according to Microsoft, this is not the case.
So, in other words, you have to license all the physical cores and not just the cores that you have assigned to the VM running on the Hyper-V host. As you can imagine, this would get expensive very quickly if you had only a handful of VMs that you needed to run in addition to the included 2 virtual instances with Windows Server Standard edition.
Many cost-analysis studies will show that around the virtual server point on Windows Server Standard Edition, the Datacenter license will actually make a lot of sense from a cost standpoint. Additionally, it will allow you to run an unlimited number of VMs on your server. Number of 2-core packs needed for processors per server. With the virtual OSE licenses that you own as part of purchasing Standard and Datacenter editions, you have the ability and the right afforded by the licensing terms to downgrade your licenses.
When thinking about downgrading your licensing, you need to think about the following:. Another point of consideration that is at least indirectly tied to your licensing is the servicing models that define how often new releases are made available as well as how long various releases are supported. This is something you need to keep in mind when choosing which version of Windows you install.
These are broken into the following to release channels:. The support lifespan windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free the SAC releases is 18 months due to the very aggressive release cycle and the way SAC operates.
For many, the SAC releases are not going to be versions of Windows Server they will run in production simply due to the requirement of frequently upgrading the release to stay in a supported condition. Since containers frequently are provisioned and destroyed, using the SAC release will be a much better fit for this type of infrastructure. SAC releases are usually going to be the release that contains new functionality, capabilities, and features related to container infrastructure.
The LTSB releases of Windows Server are the release that most will want to choose when running infrastructure-critical VMs that are serving roles like domain controllers, SQL Servers, and other infrastructure and application-specific servers.
SAC releases do not contain the Desktop Experience as an option. This allows Microsoft to devote more time to new features as opposed to maintaining the command line and a GUI. Windows Server licensing has changed a great deal since the release of Windows Server Windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free, the per-core model is the standard for licensing all Windows physical servers. You must keep in mind the licensing for virtual OSEs when looking at the edition of Windows Server you are going to install.
You can stack Standard edition licenses if you need more than the included 2 virtual OSEs. However, from a cost perspective, for most, the point at which you may want to start looking at the Datacenter edition is around VMs. No matter what edition of Windows Server you need to license and type of server you are using either physical or virtualbacking up your physical Windows Servers and virtual machines is a business-critical task that must be taken seriously to protect your data.
It also allows you to effectively P2V Windows Servers that are physical and restore them as virtual machines. Follow our Twitter and Facebook feeds for new releases, updates, insightful posts and more. Previous Next. About the Author: Brandon Lee. Brandon Lee is a guest blogger for Vembu. Windows server 2016 cluster standard vs datacenter free is a prolific blogger and contributes to the community through various blog posts and technical documentation primarily at Virtualizationhowto.
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