Windows Server 2012 Licensing Changes


Windows Server 2012 is getting ever closer and today we had some exciting news – changes to the licensing – Yay! This has genuinely got me quite excited Smile

Currently Windows Server has 3 main flavours:

  • Standard / Licensed Per Server
  • Enterprise / Licensed Per Server / Rights to 4 Virtual Servers
  • DataCenter / Licensed Per CPU / Rights to Unlimited Virtual Servers

There are also Web Server, HPC & Small Business Server (SBS) editions.

There are also feature differences between the versions.

Going forward with Windows Server 2012 we will have:

  • Std / Licensed Per CPU / Rights to 2 Virtual Servers
  • DataCenter / Licensed Per CPU / Rights to Unlimited Virtual Servers
  • Each license covers 2 CPUs

Std & DataCenter will have feature parity and the only difference will be the virtual server rights. This is a question I’ve already seen on Twitter:

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So it’s good to get an answer straight away.

Features previously not in Windows Server Std that will be with 2012 include:

  • Windows Server Failover Clustering
  • BranchCache Hosted Cache Server
  • Active Directory Federated Services
  • Additional Active Directory Certificate Services capabilities
  • Distributed File Services (support for more than 1 DFS root)
  • DFS-R Cross-File Replication

This follows the same path as the changes recently made to System Center and, while it may make small installations more expensive, overall it reduces costs and simplifies the licensing for end users.

There are 2 other editions of Windows Server 2012 – Essential & Foundation:

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As you can see, Essentials & Foundation are aimed at the very small networks and both are limited to 1 CPU. Things which are missing from the lower editions include:

  • Direct Access
  • Hyper-V
  • ADFS

To see the full list of feature differences between the various editions, download the Windows Server 2012 datasheet here:

View Datasheet

Web Server

Windows Web Server can only run web facing workloads but does not require any CALs (Client Access Licenses) which makes it perfect for hosting external sites. However Web Server is being discontinued in the next release but before tales of astronomical rises in costs as companies are forced to buy CALs for every single user of their service:

“Despite the removal of Web Server edition, web workloads running on a Windows Server 2012 edition will continue to receive the “CAL waiver” that is in effect for these workloads today. Windows Server CALs will not be required to access the licensed server if it is only being used to run web workloads”

Software Assurance Transition

If you have active Software Assurance (SA) on Windows Server licenses at the time of release for 2012, you will receive rights to the new versions as per the below:

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What about SBS?

Small Business Server has been around for years, combines Windows Server & Exchange Server and is aimed at networks with less than 75 users. Now however it’s time has come to an end…

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SBS has quite a thriving community built around it with many passionate advocates, most of whom are sad/angered to see it go. I on the other hand am really rather happy about it! I’ve always found it to be an extra, unnecessary complication when new sales staff/customers get involved with licensing. I realise I’m not going to be popular with that opinion and I’m equally sure that if I worked more in that area I’d have a different opinion but as it is, from the Mid-market & Enterprise space, this is a welcome move.

You can find the full FAQ here:

Find Answers

Microsoft SPLA pricing changes


Microsoft SPLA, Service Provider Licence Agreement is, as the name suggests, a licensing program aimed at Service Providers. It gives them a very cost effective subscription based licensing model, allowing them to offer monthly pricing to their users.

Come January 1st 2011, there are going to be some changes to the Windows Server pricing:

Product Price Change
Windows Web Svr -21%
Windows Svr Std -21%
Windows Svr Ent -21%
Windows Svr Datacenter +30%

Why is Windows DataCenter going up? Well, it’s actually going DOWN, as the current price is technically a promo that’s been going on for about 2 years Smile

For more info and some FAQ’s, head to:

http://blogs.msdn.com/b/stevemar/archive/2010/11/19/service-provider-license-agreement-spla-changes-for-windows-server.aspx

Microsoft Webinars with Bechtle


I am running a series of Microsoft webinars through the month of June which I think/hope will be of interest to a lot of people out there :-)

The sessions and dates are:

June 15th

Windows 7 – Overview of Business Benefits

Click to register

June 17th

Overview of Microsoft Desktop Optimisation (MDOP)

Click to register

June 22nd

Office 2010 – Business Benefits and WebApps

Click to register

June 24th

SharePoint – Document Management, Business Connectivity Services and SharePoint Workspace

Click to register

First Event

The first webinar is tomorrow so it’s not much notice (sorry!) but the agenda is:

This session will cover the business benefits of deploying Windows 7, from both an administrator and user perspective covering things such as:

  • Increasing user productivity
  • Enhancing security
  • Flexible working

and more. The session will also cover Windows 7 Enterprise, Software Assurance (SA) benefits & Windows Server 2008 R2.

As well as myself, our Account Manager from Microsoft will be hosting the event too so there will be a chance to ask questions/give feedback directly to MS…which is always nice :-)

You can hit the “Click to Register” links above to email me or you can message me on twitter:

@richfrombechtle

We’ll be sending the registration info out around 16:00ish this afternoon so I’ll need to hear before then.

This is open to pretty much anyone so feel free to register :-)

I don’t often mention Bechtle on my blog as I don’t use it as a sales platform at all, but I feel this is a good exception ot make…I hope you agree!

Windows Server 2008 R2 & Windows 7 Service Pack 1


Windows Server 2008 R2 introduced many new features over and above Server 2008, and now we hear that Service Pack 1 (SP1) will extend that even further.

Memory Over Commit:

This feature, or rather the lack of it, caused quite a few comments from the VMWare side of the virtualization world as they had it and Hyper-V didn’t.

Basically it allows you to assign more RAM to your Virtual Machines than you physically have available for example:

A physical host with 4GB RAM

4 VM’s each allocated 2 GB RAM

So a total of 8GB assigned with only 4GB available…what the what?! How can this work?!

Although machines will crash if the physical memory isn’t available, it reality it’s very rare for machines to use anywhere near the amount of RAM they have. It does still carry risks though so it isn’t for everyone!

Remote FX

Do you remember when Microsoft bought Calista around the start of 2008? They were a startup who:

“set out to create technology that allows remote workers to enjoy the same rich user experience over a network as with a locally executing desktop”

This includes:

  • Full Fidelity Video
  • Silverlight Support
  • 3D Graphics
  • Windows Aero

Based on this technology, Microsoft are introducing “RemoteFX” with Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, although there are keen to point out that this is:

“not a new standalone product from Microsoft. Rather, it describes a set of RDP technologies – most prominently graphics virtualization and the use of advanced codes – that are being added”

This will allow remote users/VDI users to have an experience much closer to that of a full desktop PC.

One thing to note is that:

If you want to use RemoteFX with a Windows 7 VM, it must be running on Hyper-V…so no VMWare!

Microsoft have always very closely with Citrix and now it’s been announced that Citrix will be integrating RemoteFX into their XenDesktop and HDX products.

Exchange 2007 & Server 2008 R2


Windows Server 2008 R2 doesn’t support Exchange 2007. That is a fact and it has caused confusion, consternation & anger among many of Microsoft’s customers and indeed partners (I can confirm that!).

The big question was “Why"?”…as when Server 2008 R2 was released in September, Exchange 2007 was the current version. While Exchange 2010 is almost upon us it is still unlikely that companies will instantly move to the new version…particularly on something as important as their email infrastructure. So that meant either:

a) Customers stayed on Exchange 2007 and Server 2008

b) Customers had a mixed Server 2008/2008 R2 environment

and, aside from the technical aspect, many people viewed it as a cynical ploy by Redmond to force them to upgrade. The message alongside Windows 7 is “Deploy with Server 2008 R2, they’re better together” (which is true!) but then it seemed a little like “Gotcha! Now you’re got R2…you’ve got to buy Exchange 2010”. While that wasn’t the case, that’s how it seemed to customers and really-that’s what matters. Vista wasn’t anywhere near a terrible as a lot of people say it is…but it didn’t do very well did it…and that was because of user perception.

Now however, that’s all changed! This post on the Exchange Team Blog (You had me at EHLO) reveals that:

“In the coming calendar year we will issue an update for Exchange 2007 enabling full support of Windows Server 2008 R2”

They say that customers spoke, Microsoft listened and the change is happening…brilliant :-)

Good work Microsoft!

Thanks to @JohnFontana for the tweet that flagged this up…

Microsoft: The New Efficiency


At today’s “New Efficiency” launch event, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer spoke about Windows 7 deployments and how customers can save money with the latest OS. He particularly mentioned that Windows 7 “will bring $90-$160 saving per pc per year”.

He also discussed the “Consumerisation of IT”, where users bring/force change in Corporate IT via their expectations from using software at home. He said that it isn’t a new phenomenon (it just has a new name) and that it will continue to be a huge driving force in the way that software is designed and used-such as the extra social networking features being added into Office, Exchange & Sharepoint.

This all led to the launch of a new website:

http://vepexp.microsoft.com/thenewefficiency

which contains dozens of videos from MS execs covering topics such as:

  • Discover Windows Optimized Desktop
  • Learn about Optimized Server
  • Experience Unified Communications
  • Explore Business Ready Security

There are a bunch of videos on Exchange 2010 such as:

  • Upgrade & Deployment
  • High Availability
  • Mobility & Active Sync
  • Email Archiving

and more. These are a great source of information on Exchange 2010, some of which I’ve collected here.

The banner below is a great representation of the products & ideas behind the New Efficiency.

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There are way too many sessions to list here but MS have put together some suggested sessions listings for:

  • Enterprises
  • Mid-Size
  • SMB’s

They contain links to the videos on the New Efficiency site and can be downloaded from my SkyDrive here.

Microsoft & Virtual Licensing


Microsoft and virtual licensing is definitely a hot topic at the minute. In particular an article written by Paul DeGroot from Direction on Microsoft keeps being re-tweeted on Twitter by all manner of people. Personally, I think people are being a little short-sighted and thus not being quite fair to Microsoft-or the people they’re advising.

Reading this article by Bridget Botelho over at www.searchservervirtualization.com, the crux of it seems to be that Microsoft licensing

 “defeats the purpose of building a dynamic data center”

due to the rules around re-assigning Windows server licences. True, if you’re using Windows Server Std or even Enterprise licences, licence re-assignment has the potential to cause a few issues. However, the example used is of a datacenter…and MS have a product called “Windows Server DataCenter”-which is aimed at customer running a “proper” datacenter. The example DeGroot uses is:

"You might want to run an automated data center with rules like ‘Move a VM when the CPU hits 90%,’ but that move may violate the 90-day rule…”

What’s the problem?

Example A:

Say you are licensed for 3 VM’s on server A and 2 VM’s on server B. The above rule could potentially leave you with 2 VM’s on server A and 4 VM’s on server B. If you’re licensed with Windows Server Std-that would leave you incorrectly licensed.

Example B:

Say you are licensed for 3 VM’s on server A and 4 VM’s on server B. The above rule could potentially leave you with 2 VM’s on server A and 5 VM’s on server B. If you’re licensed with Windows Server Enterprise-that would leave you incorrectly licensed.

However, Windows Server Datacenter gives you unlimited virtual licensing rights-rendering the above examples moot.

Check out this great video explanation:

Other analysts join in:

Chris Wolf from Burton Group said at this year’s VMWorld that “one of the most important changes Microsoft needs to make is to remove the mobility restrictions associated with Standard Edition Windows Server OS licenses”. He goes on to say

“Most enterprises wind up purchasing Datacenter edition licenses as part of a virtualization project…”

and he says this as though it is a bad thing! He only seems to be looking at the upfront costs and basing it on the assumption that there are no benefits associated with Datacenter licensing other than being able to move VM’s around; in my experience that isn’t true.

If a customer were to use Standard licences to cover every VM in their datacenter, It would also slow down expansion as each time you need to deploy a new VM-what do you need to do…that’s right, go and order a new licence.

You urgently need to provision a new server to cope with extra load etc but you haven’t got a spare licence-the proper thing to do is wait until a licence has been ordered from your reseller and then deploy the VM. What will actually happen is that the VM will get deployed anyway and the licence will get ordered after the fact…leaving the company non-compliant but “hey-it’s only for 24 hours” will be the mentality.

Then, once people become familiar with that “process” they may well not bother reporting the new deployment as, let’s be fair, most techies aren’t up on the licensing rules and so might not even realise there’s anything to report. On top of that maybe people will simply forget to mention it or the Asset management guy is on holiday so they’ll tell him when he’s back…but a fortnight’s a long time and it never gets done.

Even with Software Asset Management monitoring is place, it will be a job to keep track of it and may well still lead to non-compliance.

Alternatively, you can purchase Datacenter edition and use as many VM’s as your servers can handle. These days ease of management, and thus a reduction in management costs, is a huge focus for most companies so while Datacenter is more expensive that Std (or Enterprise) it gives cost savings in many other areas.

Wolf also said:

“The leap to licensing per VM instead of per physical machines is going to take a lot of pressure on the company," Wolf said. "But keep holding them to the fire, because it is working."

To me it would seem that licensing per VM would be more expensive, more complicated and more fraught with potential pitfalls. I’d be interested to see what you think on this subject…

Technical Differences:

Also, on a slight side note, Windows Server Datacenter is much more technically suited to that environment with features such as:

  • Hot Add Processors
  • Hot Replace Memory
  • 64 X64 sockets (against 8 for Ent)

when compared to Enterprise and:

Failover cluster nodes

  • Cross File Replication
  • 2TB X64 RAM (against 32GB)
  • 64 X64 sockets (against 4)

when compared to Std.

See more comparisons here.