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Essentials R2 licensing and having more than one VM RRS feed

  • Question

  • My understanding with Windows Server 2012 Essentials R2 is that the licensing has changed, so that we can install WS2012 R2 with only Hyper-V role on the host AND WS2012E R2 as a VM.

    However, I just ran into someone who believes that this is the only VM that is allowed. IOW, you can't add a Win7 VM, even with a valid Win7 license.

    That doesn't make sense to me, but I want to verify this before going down that path. Is there a limit on the number of VMs in this scenario?


    -- Henri

    Friday, October 3, 2014 10:40 PM

Answers

  • It is correct that the only VM rights granted with essentials 2012 R2 is to run the essentials OS itself as a VM. Additional VMs are not permitted. If you want multiple VMs, you will want a different platform for the host.
    • Proposed as answer by Larry Struckmeyer Saturday, October 4, 2014 11:13 AM
    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Friday, October 3, 2014 10:59 PM
  • No I would not agree, and it is an academic point *at best.*  First, I've found it in the PUR in the past. But as I've said, I have no interest in digging through the latest PUR every time someone wants to argue the point (which happens every few months, and the PUR does change quarterly.)  It is a waste of my time.

    Academic points aside, lets discuss practicalities. I can think of exactly one edge case where this matters, and there is an easy way to sidestep that issue

    1) If you want to run a second Windows Server VM, you'll need to license it. And since there can only be one Essentials machine per domain, that means you are buying standard or datacenter. Hmm...use *that* as the host and avoid the issue!

    2) Instaling client OSes on Hyper-V is called VDI and has separate far more complex licensing aside from this Essentials issue. To properly run VDI (even for one workstation) you'd want the RDVH role, which doesn't play well with Essentials, so we are back to wanting standard/datacenter for VDI.

    3) So the *one* time this might be helpful is the odd case where an admin wants to install Linux as a second VM and still be in 1+1 for Essentials. Now I still contend this would be illegal. But if you really find yourself in that camp, download the free Hyper-V Server, which allows unlimited VMs (they have to be licensed of course) and install Essentials and Linux on that.  You take yourself out of the questionable grey area and that insurance alone is well worth the effort. The functionality of the hypervisor is identical so there is little reason not to do this.

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 12:57 AM
  • Adding for the benefit of the op and others who read this that you can start with Server 2012 R2 as host, install it again with the Essentials role, then install it again as a second VM. Beyond that, you will need more licenses.

    Larry Struckmeyer[MVP] If your question is answered please mark the response as the answer so that others can benefit.

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 1:10 AM
  • 1) Concluded.

    2) Yes, VDI absolutely still applies. Essentials (nor SBS before it) has ever changed the licensing terms of accessing a remote virtual desktop. For more information on that, you'd need to read the windows client OS licensing, not the Essentials licensing. They very specifically call out *virtual* desktops and how that applies in that licensing document, and *nothing* in essentials alters this. RWW/RWA/Anywhere Access only provides rights to use the website to access properly licensed clients...and to properly license a virtual client, you are looking at VDI.

    3) You are right in that it makes no sense. I also agree with you that I don't understand the point of the limitation. Look, I don't work for Microsoft. I don't agree with all their decisions. I don't defend all their decisions. At no point in this thread did I say it was a good decision or try to justify it.  But that doesn't mean I can simply pretend that the limitation doesn't exist. This is one of those times. It exists. No it doesn't make sense. No it apparently has no point, except that this was maybe the birth of some bizarre internal politics and team infighting we'll never know about (that happens often in a corporation as large as Microsoft)...but we get stuck with the realities of the situation.

    So there ya go.

    -Cliff

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 1:33 AM
  • Henri:

    I suggest you call Microsoft Licensing.  Whatever you and I might think, and whatever answers you get here, we cannot speak for Microsoft whose licensing we are all using.

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/WorldWide.aspx


    Larry Struckmeyer[MVP] If your question is answered please mark the response as the answer so that others can benefit.

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 2:21 AM

All replies

  • It is correct that the only VM rights granted with essentials 2012 R2 is to run the essentials OS itself as a VM. Additional VMs are not permitted. If you want multiple VMs, you will want a different platform for the host.
    • Proposed as answer by Larry Struckmeyer Saturday, October 4, 2014 11:13 AM
    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Friday, October 3, 2014 10:59 PM
  • Can you please provide a reference to that in the licensing?

    I found this licensing document.

    I have always understood the Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard licensing to be 1 + 2, meaning that you could install it as the host OS with Hyper-V role and install it as the guest OS on 2 VMs. However, there is no limitation to how many other VMs you can install as long as you have licenses for those OSes. So, if I have 5 Windows 7 licenses, I could have a total of 7 VMs (2x WS2012 R2 Std and 5x Windows 7) on a single physical server.

    On page 13 it says:

    "With Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, the product licensing terms have been expanded to enable you to run one operating system instance on the physical server for Hyper-V, plus a second Operating System Environment on that server in order to run Essentials as a virtual machine."

    I interpret that to mean that it's 1 + 1, meaning I can install it as the host OS with Hyper-V role and as the guest OS on 1 VM. But still have no limitation on how many other VMs, as long as they are all properly licensed. So, as I understand it, I should be able to purchase 2x Windows 7 and 1x Windows 8 and setup 3 more VMs accordingly.

    So to be clear, I believe that the licensing allows you to install WS2012E R2 both as the host OS (Hyper-V role only) and a guest OS on a VM. But, DOES NOT limit you from having any number of other VMs as long the OS installed on each VM is properly licensed. Just like I can run multiple VMs on my Windows 8 machine, as long as each one is properly licensed.

    If I'm wrong, please show me where that is stated in the license documentation.

    As I said before, I want to make sure I understand this correctly before going down this path. Thanks for your help.


    -- Henri

    Saturday, October 4, 2014 12:08 AM
  • Read the first comment here:

    http://blogs.technet.com/b/sbs/archive/2013/09/03/understanding-licensing-for-windows-server-2012-r2-essentials-and-the-windows-server-essentials-experience-role.aspx

    Yes, it is also (somewhere) in the PUR, but I have no interest in reading hundreds of pages just to prove a point. Choose to believe me or not. Your choice.

    Saturday, October 4, 2014 12:17 AM
  • Thanks Cliff. But, if you read the other comments, there are 3 other people that questioned that statement and asked for clarification (as I'm doing), but MS never responded. The last commenter said:

    "Having researched, this same advice does appear elsewhere in blogs, forums etc. However, there doesn't seem to be any equivalent clarification in licensing documents or the PUR. The simple statement there seems to be that Win 2012 R2 Essentials is a 1 POSE + 1 VOSE license (as opposed to 1 + 2 for Standard) and that only the Essentials edition is permitted as the 1 VOSE. The July 2014 PUR specifically references servicing virtual operating system environments (plural), and there is absolutely no reference to just one guest VM."

    So he echos my interpretation and he's looked at the PUR and found no reference to Essentials being limited to only 1 VM. So legally, you'd have to go with what's in the PUR (or not in the PUR) and not with some blog post comment. Wouldn't you agree?


    -- Henri

    Saturday, October 4, 2014 12:47 AM
  • No I would not agree, and it is an academic point *at best.*  First, I've found it in the PUR in the past. But as I've said, I have no interest in digging through the latest PUR every time someone wants to argue the point (which happens every few months, and the PUR does change quarterly.)  It is a waste of my time.

    Academic points aside, lets discuss practicalities. I can think of exactly one edge case where this matters, and there is an easy way to sidestep that issue

    1) If you want to run a second Windows Server VM, you'll need to license it. And since there can only be one Essentials machine per domain, that means you are buying standard or datacenter. Hmm...use *that* as the host and avoid the issue!

    2) Instaling client OSes on Hyper-V is called VDI and has separate far more complex licensing aside from this Essentials issue. To properly run VDI (even for one workstation) you'd want the RDVH role, which doesn't play well with Essentials, so we are back to wanting standard/datacenter for VDI.

    3) So the *one* time this might be helpful is the odd case where an admin wants to install Linux as a second VM and still be in 1+1 for Essentials. Now I still contend this would be illegal. But if you really find yourself in that camp, download the free Hyper-V Server, which allows unlimited VMs (they have to be licensed of course) and install Essentials and Linux on that.  You take yourself out of the questionable grey area and that insurance alone is well worth the effort. The functionality of the hypervisor is identical so there is little reason not to do this.

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 12:57 AM
  • Adding for the benefit of the op and others who read this that you can start with Server 2012 R2 as host, install it again with the Essentials role, then install it again as a second VM. Beyond that, you will need more licenses.

    Larry Struckmeyer[MVP] If your question is answered please mark the response as the answer so that others can benefit.

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 1:10 AM
  • If you can point me to the PUR, I'll go through it myself.

    1) Agreed, but I'm not interested in running another server VM.

    2) Does VDI really apply with Essentials? Since Essentials allows remote access without the need of RDS licenses.

    3) This proves that having a limit on the number of VMs makes no sense. If you can simply install the free Hyper-V Server and get the exact same result, then what's the point of the limitation?


    -- Henri

    Saturday, October 4, 2014 1:13 AM
  • Thanks Larry, I understand that, but then you're dealing with the cost of Standard plus CALs, which I'm trying to avoid for a small shop that's well below the 25 user/50 device limit of Essentials.

    -- Henri

    Saturday, October 4, 2014 1:17 AM
  • 1) Concluded.

    2) Yes, VDI absolutely still applies. Essentials (nor SBS before it) has ever changed the licensing terms of accessing a remote virtual desktop. For more information on that, you'd need to read the windows client OS licensing, not the Essentials licensing. They very specifically call out *virtual* desktops and how that applies in that licensing document, and *nothing* in essentials alters this. RWW/RWA/Anywhere Access only provides rights to use the website to access properly licensed clients...and to properly license a virtual client, you are looking at VDI.

    3) You are right in that it makes no sense. I also agree with you that I don't understand the point of the limitation. Look, I don't work for Microsoft. I don't agree with all their decisions. I don't defend all their decisions. At no point in this thread did I say it was a good decision or try to justify it.  But that doesn't mean I can simply pretend that the limitation doesn't exist. This is one of those times. It exists. No it doesn't make sense. No it apparently has no point, except that this was maybe the birth of some bizarre internal politics and team infighting we'll never know about (that happens often in a corporation as large as Microsoft)...but we get stuck with the realities of the situation.

    So there ya go.

    -Cliff

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 1:33 AM
  • 2) OK, thanks. More licensing fun for the weekend. Yay.

    3) Agreed, it's stupid. So I found the PUR and read through it. It wasn't actually as scary as I thought it would be. Here's what I found:

    Server Licenses

      • You must assign each license to a single Server.
      • For each license, you may use one Running Instance of server software on the Licensed Server in either a Physical or Virtual OSE.
      • You may use the additional software listed in Appendix 3 in conjunction with your use of server software.

    Limitations on use

    1. At any one time, you may Run an instance of the server software in
      • One Physical OSE, and
      • One Virtual OSE.
    2. You must run the server software within a domain where the Server's Active Directory is configured:
      • As the domain controller (a single server which contains all the flexible single master operations (FSMO) roles),
      • As the root of the domain forest,
      • Not to be a child domain, and
      • To have no trust relationship with any other domains.
    3. If both permitted Instances are running, the Instance in the Physical OSE may be used only to run hardware virtualization software, provide hardware virtualization services, or run software to manage and service operation system environments on the licensed server.  That Instance does not need to meet the requirements in (2) above.  That is the only configuration that does not require the Instance to be a domain controller.

    So, I don't see anything in there, or the rest of the document that says anything about limiting the number of VMs.

    So whatever you read in an earlier version, no longer seems to be there (October 2014).


    -- Henri

    Saturday, October 4, 2014 2:04 AM
  • Henri:

    I suggest you call Microsoft Licensing.  Whatever you and I might think, and whatever answers you get here, we cannot speak for Microsoft whose licensing we are all using.

    http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/WorldWide.aspx


    Larry Struckmeyer[MVP] If your question is answered please mark the response as the answer so that others can benefit.

    • Marked as answer by Justin Gu Monday, November 10, 2014 8:05 AM
    Saturday, October 4, 2014 2:21 AM
  • I know this is an old post, but I contacted Microsoft via chat, and wanted to share their answer here.

    Me: I understand that I am allowed to install Essentials on a physical host, with only the Hyper-V role installed. Then I can install a second copy of Essentials as a VM on that Host. My question is, am I allowed to install additional VMs running Linux alongside that Essentials VM, or is that Essentials Host only allowed to host a single VM, which must run Essentials?

    MS: You can create a new virtual machine on that host and you can install it.

    Me: To be clear, the Hyper-V host running Essentials is allowed to run multiple Guest Virtual machines?

    MS: Yes.

    MS: Please make a note of a Case Number or Service Request Number for your future reference. The number is: 1435765916.
    • Edited by Jeremy2008 Friday, August 3, 2018 5:17 PM forum bug
    Friday, August 3, 2018 5:16 PM