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Windows Server 2012 Standard License and VMs

    Question

  • Hi,

    With one Window server 2012 Standard activated license, I will get 2 VMs. So is there a limit with Windows Server 2012 standard license I can stack and the the number of VMs I can create on one server or across servers (virtual environment). Consider that all Windows server 2012 standard licenses are activated. If there is no limit on VM creation by add Standard license then why did Microsoft come with Data center licenses with unlimited VMs.

    How does the standard license work on Vmware environment. Is there a limit on the number for VMs that we can create.

    Please advise me.

    Thanks. 


    Sunday, November 18, 2012 5:29 AM

Answers

  • Windows Server licenses are assigned to the physical hosts, not to VMs.  A single Standard Edition license grants you the right to run up to two Windows Server VMs concurrently on a given host.  There is no limit to the number you can create (other than storage of the host), but the license grants you the right to run up to two Windows Server VMs.  You can also run Linux and client VMs, but their licenses would be covered under their licensing terms.  If you assign another SE license to the same physical host, you now have the right to run up to four Windows Server VMs.  If you continue to assign licenses to the host, when you reach five SE licenses, which grant you the right to run up to 10 Windows Server VMs, you would now be paying more for the SE licenses than you would for a single Datacenter Edition license.  This can get really complicated to keep track of if you are making use of live migration in your environment, because legally you should be licensing each host for the maximum number of Windows Server virtual machines you will have on any node.  This is why customers who are consistently running more that 8-10 Windows Server VMs on every host in their environment purchase Datacenter licenses - it costs less.

    Note that in the above description I never mentioned what operating system was installed on the physical host.  That doesn't make any difference (well, in a specific instance it does, but I'll ignore that for now).  So, when running VMware's ESX operating system or Citrix Xen Server or a Linux KVM, the same licensing requirements exist.  So if you assign a SE license to an ESX host, you have the right to run up to two Windows Server virtual machines.  Assign two licenses to the ESX host, and you have the right to run up to four Windows Server virtual machines.  And so forth ...


    tim

    Monday, November 19, 2012 2:04 PM
  • checkout this MS page for information on these topics (datasheets)

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/buy/pricing-licensing.aspx 


    Don
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    Sunday, November 18, 2012 6:46 AM

All replies

  • checkout this MS page for information on these topics (datasheets)

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/buy/pricing-licensing.aspx 


    Don
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    Sunday, November 18, 2012 6:46 AM
  • Windows Server licenses are assigned to the physical hosts, not to VMs.  A single Standard Edition license grants you the right to run up to two Windows Server VMs concurrently on a given host.  There is no limit to the number you can create (other than storage of the host), but the license grants you the right to run up to two Windows Server VMs.  You can also run Linux and client VMs, but their licenses would be covered under their licensing terms.  If you assign another SE license to the same physical host, you now have the right to run up to four Windows Server VMs.  If you continue to assign licenses to the host, when you reach five SE licenses, which grant you the right to run up to 10 Windows Server VMs, you would now be paying more for the SE licenses than you would for a single Datacenter Edition license.  This can get really complicated to keep track of if you are making use of live migration in your environment, because legally you should be licensing each host for the maximum number of Windows Server virtual machines you will have on any node.  This is why customers who are consistently running more that 8-10 Windows Server VMs on every host in their environment purchase Datacenter licenses - it costs less.

    Note that in the above description I never mentioned what operating system was installed on the physical host.  That doesn't make any difference (well, in a specific instance it does, but I'll ignore that for now).  So, when running VMware's ESX operating system or Citrix Xen Server or a Linux KVM, the same licensing requirements exist.  So if you assign a SE license to an ESX host, you have the right to run up to two Windows Server virtual machines.  Assign two licenses to the ESX host, and you have the right to run up to four Windows Server virtual machines.  And so forth ...


    tim

    Monday, November 19, 2012 2:04 PM
  • Windows Server licenses are assigned to the physical hosts, not to VMs.  

    Thanks for the detailed reply, it really helps understand the licensing requirements from a theoretical perspective. As I'm quite new to Windows server licensing, I am not sure how this is done practically. I am running Xenserver on a dual socket e5-2600 and have two Windows 2012 Standard (Evaluation) and would now like to promote these to full retail versions. If I purchase a single license how do I actually "assign" this to the host. Is this accomplished over the phone with microsoft? What information do I need to provide to license the physical host? Also, I am sure I am still required to insert activation keys for both VM's. Can you please explain this process to someone that hasn't done this before. Thank you.

    Stan

    Wednesday, April 10, 2013 2:41 AM
  • http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj574204.aspx

    Maybe the TechNet article Microsoft published will answer your questions.  If not, you can always call Microsoft licensing specialists.  Find numbers at www.microsoft.com/licensing.


    .:|:.:|:. tim

    Thursday, April 11, 2013 2:42 AM
  • Thanks Tim. I already read that article and to be honest I am not too worried about promoting the Evaluation versions. If need be I can reinstall the VM's, that's no big deal in my small environment. I am more interested in learning how is the "physical" host licensed in practical terms? I have tried chatting with Microsoft and to be honest the rep was not helpful at all. He kept stating the obvious. Same with the retailers, they keep pointing to documentation that I've already read. I'm just interested in knowing how does Microsoft track my physical host licensing? Thanks again for the reply.

    Stan

    Thursday, April 11, 2013 4:37 AM
  • If I purchase a single license how do I actually "assign" this to the host.

    assigning a license to a host, is simply a matter of making a record that you did so (on paper, in a spreadsheet, or a database, anyway you like) 

    Is this accomplished over the phone with microsoft?
    No, it's a local record of your own. 

    What information do I need to provide to license the physical host?
    None. Just keep records. 

    Also, I am sure I am still required to insert activation keys for both VM's. Can you please explain this process to someone that hasn't done this before. Thank you.

    Yes, you will need the relevant product key(s) and these are provided as part of your purchase of the license, by the reseller, or by MS when they set you up with the online VLSC website. When you get the product key(s), you then "install" those product keys in your server OS (replacing the evaluation product key, or, when you reinstall the OS). You can do this via the Activation Wizard (execute: slui.exe 3), or at the commandline with slmgr.vbs -ipk


    Don
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    • Proposed as answer by Stan Welsh Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:04 AM
    Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:38 AM
  • I'm just interested in knowing how does Microsoft track my physical host licensing?

    This may surprise you a little, but, they don't really.

    When you "install" your product key, and perform activation, there is an interaction between your server and the MS activation servers (if you use the MAK product key), or if you perform telephone-activation. This is the same kind of process used with Retail activation of Windows client editions and MS Office, where a hardware hash is generated, an Installation ID is calculated, and that is exchanged with MS servers. Each time an activation is attempted with MS activation servers, the hash/ID is transmitted. If too many different hashes/ID's are detected against the number of permitted activations of that product key, the MS activation servers will refuse the activation attempt, since that is interpreted as "too many".


    Don
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    Thursday, April 11, 2013 10:43 AM
  • Thank you very much, Don. This was very helpful. Finally, I have an understanding on how this Microsoft Licensing works.
    Thursday, April 11, 2013 11:09 AM
  • Hi Don, 

    I would like to clarify few things on this licensing, we are planning to move the server to windows 2012, from your explanation above, it seems that we use 2 Std edition we can have 4 VM with windows operating system. My question is the following:

    1. You mentioned above that we have to add physical license to the host machine, how to do that?, I thought we can only activate one license per physical server, please advise. What i thought is to assign the VM with the product key that we have and just divide our selves i.e VM 1 and VM 1, 1st license, VM 3 and VM 4, 2 license.

    2. We are planning to have the following:

    - Host machine (to manage the VM)

    - VM 1- VM 3 to use windows 2012

    - VM 4 to use XP machine

    - VM 5 to use Linux machine

    How many licenses we need?, 2 windows 2012 SE edition?

    Thanks 

    Agus

    Monday, September 23, 2013 9:55 AM
  • I would like to clarify few things on this licensing, we are planning to move the server to windows 2012, from your explanation above, it seems that we use 2 Std edition we can have 4 VM with windows operating system. My question is the following:

    1. You mentioned above that we have to add physical license to the host machine, how to do that?, I thought we can only activate one license per physical server, please advise. What i thought is to assign the VM with the product key that we have and just divide our selves i.e VM 1 and VM 1, 1st license, VM 3 and VM 4, 2 license.

    2. We are planning to have the following:

    - Host machine (to manage the VM)

    - VM 1- VM 3 to use windows 2012

    - VM 4 to use XP machine

    - VM 5 to use Linux machine

    How many licenses we need?, 2 windows 2012 SE edition?

    Hi Agus,

    for WS2012STD or WS2012DCE, each WS2012 license allows 2 x processors, so it does depend on how many processors your server has.
    As Tim says, if you will do lots of VMs, it becomes more economical to buy DCE instead of STD, at some point...
    WS2012STD permits 2 x VM (each VM can run WS2012STD).
    For your example, assuming you have no more than 4 x processors, you could buy:
    2 x WS2012STD
    1 x WindowsXP
    ?? x Linux (assuming Linux is free, there is no MS cost or licensing for this non-MS VM)

    further detail is here (WS2012 Licensing Datasheet):
    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/pricing-and-licensing.aspx


    Don
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    Monday, September 23, 2013 11:34 AM
  • If I purchase a single license how do I actually "assign" this to the host.

    assigning a license to a host, is simply a matter of making a record that you did so (on paper, in a spreadsheet, or a database, anyway you like) 

    Is this accomplished over the phone with microsoft?
    No, it's a local record of your own. 

    What information do I need to provide to license the physical host?
    None. Just keep records. 

    Also, I am sure I am still required to insert activation keys for both VM's. Can you please explain this process to someone that hasn't done this before. Thank you.

    Yes, you will need the relevant product key(s) and these are provided as part of your purchase of the license, by the reseller, or by MS when they set you up with the online VLSC website. When you get the product key(s), you then "install" those product keys in your server OS (replacing the evaluation product key, or, when you reinstall the OS). You can do this via the Activation Wizard (execute: slui.exe 3), or at the commandline with slmgr.vbs -ipk


    Don
    (Please take a moment to "Vote as Helpful" and/or "Mark as Answer", where applicable.
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    According to what you said, if i have one virtual host running standard version of windows server, with 2vms and i bought second set of license (keys) i don't have to do anything just set vms and activate them with those new keys? how does it work in cluster environment ? 
    Friday, October 11, 2013 3:54 AM
  • According to what you said, if i have one virtual host running standard version of windows server, with 2vms and i bought second set of license (keys) i don't have to do anything just set vms and activate them with those new keys? how does it work in cluster environment ? 

    You don't buy keys, you buy licenses.
    A license is the right to run the software. They key is needed to activate the OS installation and legitimise it, but you don't add additional keys to the host if you want to run more guests or add more processors - but you do have to purchase the licenses to remain compliant with your license agreement.

    if you were wanting to add extra guest VM's to an installation of STD (e.g. host+guest+guest, then add guest+guest, so total = 1Host and 4Guests), you would probably create the new guests with the additional keys you acquire with the additional STD license you buy.

    If you were wanting to add an extra processor (e.g. add more proc but no extra guests), you have nowhere to add the key (for the license you would buy), so, in that case you just keep the extra key and don't actually use that key at all.

    for clustering, what do you mean?
    MSCS / HA / Failover?
    or something else?


    Don
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    • Proposed as answer by Luksharp Friday, October 11, 2013 6:12 PM
    • Edited by DonPick Friday, October 11, 2013 9:00 PM reworded "buy key" to "buy license"
    Friday, October 11, 2013 11:00 AM
  • I was confused on licensing and key's part. Correct me if i am getting it wrong: 

    If i had one server 2012 standard with its key, i could run it as a vm but not as a virtual host without having the license right? If i bought the single server 2012 standard license, i'd be able to install it as a Host and activate with the key and it'd give me rights to run 2vms on it and for those vms i would have to have 2 keys to activate after installing server 2012 standart software on them right?

    Sorry for being unclear on the clusters part, i meant HA/failover. we have 2 2008R2 enterprise servers in cluster with shared storage and i was trying to clarify how could i add more vms there.  

    with current configuration, each server is hosting 2vms and if anything happens single host can accommodate all four. I am assuming we have 2 enterprise licenses for them, but if i wanted to run 4vms on each host, we have to buy 2 more enterprise licenses and install vm togerther with their keys?

    thanks

    Friday, October 11, 2013 6:07 PM
  • If i had one server 2012 standard with its key, i could run it as a vm but not as a virtual host without having the license right?

    a single WS2012STD license, allows you to run a server machine (hardware), if that hardware has no more than 2 processors. In this case, you can run 2 VMs, each VM is running WS2012STD. You can also run WS2012STD as the host hypervisor via Hyper-V. So, that's really 3 OS installations, on the same 2proc machine. The limitation is that the host hypervisor OS is only permitted to do Hyper-V stuff, it's not permitted to use that OS for anything other than hypervisor functions.
    If you implement in this way, you would only have purchased a single license for WS2012STD, so you would only have a single key, so you would use that key for the 3 OS installations.

    If i bought the single server 2012 standard license, i'd be able to install it as a Host and activate with the key and it'd give me rights to run 2vms on it and for those vms i would have to have 2 keys to activate after installing server 2012 standart software on them right?

     see above.
    if you buy via Volume Licensing, things change a little bit due to MAK/KMS keys (it gets a whole lot simpler :)

    Sorry for being unclear on the clusters part, i meant HA/failover. we have 2 2008R2 enterprise servers in cluster with shared storage and i was trying to clarify how could i add more vms there.  

     assuming your failover solution involves traditional server hardware, each failover node is just another hardware machine, so, for each node you have to count up the procs and VMs, just as you would do for non-failover implementations.
    if a server is installed and running/executing, it needs to be licensed.

    with current configuration, each server is hosting 2vms and if anything happens single host can accommodate all four. I am assuming we have 2 enterprise licenses for them, but if i wanted to run 4vms on each host, we have to buy 2 more enterprise licenses and install vm togerther with their keys?

    There is no Enterprise for WS2012? (WS2012 has STD and DCE)
    do you mean as in WS2008R2ENT ?

    You can re-assign licenses from one machine to another machine (under the Volume Licensing terms. I'm not sure about Retail terms, you should check that). There are limitations on how often you can reassign licenses (no more than every 90days)
    If hardware "fails", you are allowed to reassign the license in a shorter period than 90days.


    Don
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    Friday, October 11, 2013 9:16 PM
  • Thank you for clarifying all this burden for me.

    I am dealing with two different environments:

    One is failover cluster with both hosts running 2008R2 enterprise server versions and each host is hosting 2vms - this means each host can have max 4vms at any given time. we want to add more vms (virtualize some old stuff) and i did not know how licensing was working in that sense. In theory - i still can add one or two vms and activate without additional license for the host but it'd be violation of Microsoft's terms right?

    Second environment is, 2 standalone 2012 standard servers running Hyper-v and each host has 3vms - i did not do it, it was done by someone else. I am assuming that each server has 2 licenses assigned and one more vm can be assigned to each of them.

    thanks 


    Monday, October 14, 2013 3:05 PM
  • Thank you for clarifying all this burden for me.

    I am dealing with two different environments:

    One is failover cluster with both hosts running 2008R2 enterprise server versions and each host is hosting 2vms - this means each host can have max 4vms at any given time. we want to add more vms (virtualize some old stuff) and i did not know how licensing was working in that sense. In theory - i still can add one or two vms and activate without additional license for the host but it'd be violation of Microsoft's terms right?

    Second environment is, 2 standalone 2012 standard servers running Hyper-v and each host has 3vms - i did not do it, it was done by someone else. I am assuming that each server has 2 licenses assigned and one more vm can be assigned to each of them.

    the virtualisation rights for WS2008R2 may be different. This is because the rights are derived from the license you bought, and not the OS you are running. e.g. if you bought WS2012STD licenses, but used downgrade rights to install as WS2008R2, the virtualisation rights come from the WS2012 licenses you bought, not the virtualisation rights that are written into the WS2008R2 license.

    Under the WS2012 license, virtualisation rights are based on the number of processors in the host machine, and, the number of licenses you purchased and assigned to that host machine.
    For WS2012, you need a license for every two processors. Each of these licenses permits you to run two instances of the OS.
    So assuming your second environment has two server machines, each with no more than two processors, each of these machines requires two WS2012STD licenses. This allows you to run up to four VMs on each host, plus HyperV on each host as the hypervisor-only. If these machines have four processors in each machine, things change, since you need a WS2012 license for every two processors.


    Don
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    Monday, October 14, 2013 8:29 PM
  • Don,

    For the 1st environment, with 2 2008R2 datacenter servers in cluster\ha,  if we buy 2 WS2012 Datacenter licenses, can we assign them to our servers and can we run the amount of vms it says (unlimited). in other words will the WS 2012 Datacenter license backwards compatible with our servers?

    P.S each VM host server has 2 CPUs.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013 6:35 PM
  • Don,

    For the 1st environment, with 2 2008R2 datacenter servers in cluster\ha,  if we buy 2 WS2012 Datacenter licenses, can we assign them to our servers and can we run the amount of vms it says (unlimited). in other words will the WS 2012 Datacenter license backwards compatible with our servers?

    P.S each VM host server has 2 CPUs.

    if you have 2 servers (in a cluster but clustering isn't relevant), each server has 2 CPUs, you need 2 x WS2012 licenses (i.e. one license for each 2CPU server).
    You can choose either STD or DCE. The decision of which license, is determined by the amount of virtualisation you want to do, and, the price you would need to pay to get the desired amount of virtualisation.
    If you are intending to create and run a lot of guests/VMs, since DCE offers unlimited VMs, that may be either easiest to manage (don't have to be constantly aware of licensing entitlements/limits), but it might not be the cheapest.
    There is a break-even point, where it becomes cheaper to buy DCE licenses, instead of "stacking" STD licenses.

    The downgrade rights (e.g. if you want to run WS2008R2 instead of the WS2012 you purchased) need to be checked to confirm entitlement. VL agreements (especially if Software Assurance is attached) allow very generous downgrade and upgrade rights. If you have a VL agreement, the Product Use Rights (PUR) define your downgrade rights. If you have a Retail or OEM WS2012 license, check the MSLT or EULA to confirm your downgrade rights.

    Bear in mind that a WindowsServer license only allows you to run WindowsServer OS, so the phrase "DCE allows umilimted virtualisation" is constrained to WindowsServer OS's (you can't run a Win7 VM under your DCE rights)


    Don
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    • Edited by DonPick Friday, January 03, 2014 1:23 AM clarified initial statement
    Tuesday, October 15, 2013 8:11 PM
  • Why would i need 4 WS2012 DTE licences? according to Microsoft each WS2012 license (STD or DTE) supports 2CPUS, which means to me that two Hosts with 2cpus ea should have 2 WS2012 licenses - STD if you intend to run 2vms or DTE if you want to run unlimited amount of VMs.

    I spoke with Microsoft Support couple of hours ago and they said WS2012 license is downgradable and i should be good to install more VMS on my 2008R2 enterprise servers as long as i have those licenses - Two licenses in my case. 

    We are getting our software from the source where it is relatively cheap and getting  2 WS2012 DTE server licenses not going to be a big hit for us.

    Tuesday, October 15, 2013 8:31 PM
  • Tim, I just came across this searching for something else but I have to say in 20 years of reading these forums that was one of the best answers I've seen. Well done. Mike
    Friday, January 03, 2014 12:00 AM