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August 07, 2008


Alex A.

Chris, a nice post.
Let me correct some licensing points, to be 100% accurate.

1) If you had WS2003 licenses before consolidation, - they were assigned to appropriate physical servers. In virtualization you still need to do same - assign license to host, not to VM. That means, that if you assigned 6 WS2003 Standard licenses to one host, and then power failure happens, VMs are moved to second host and remain unlicensed there! Product Use Rights (PUR) require you to license the maximal possible ammount of running OSEs (VMs) per each host. In case of WS Standard licenses and 6 VMs you need to buy 6 WS Standard to each host. For Hyper-V you have to buy 2 WS Standard licenses for each host, so it may run four VMs in case of second host failure. (12 WS STD for non-Microsoft solutions, or 4 WS Std for Hyper-V). Alternatively we usually recommend to buy WS2008 Datacenter for hosts, that allows unlimited virtualization rights (licensed per physical CPU on server, allows unlimited number of WS Dtc/Ent/Std VMs). In Microsoft case it will cost almost same (4000 for 2-CPU WS datacenter) and will allow any number of VMs. In non-Microsoft case - a bit more expensive, but still unlimited number of VMs .

2) PUR allows you to use 1* 4 OSEs per Windows Enterprise licensem that means that if you use 4 free instances of WS in VMs, you may use host OS only to service and manage physical and virtual OSEs. I have an official point of worldwide product group, that System Center server products, that manage host and it VMs are “service and manage”, so no need to add additional license for VMM (SCCM, SCDPM, SCOM) - it can be run on host OS itself.

3) Have you forgotten that you need a Windows Server for VMware Virtual Center to use HA? Same for Citrix? Where are that costs?

4) VMM 2007 doesn’t support Hyper-V, so no need in it here. VMM 2008 does, it is included in System Center Enterprise Suite and costs 900$ per host. Allows SCCM/SCOM/SCDPM/SCVMM all VMs on host (monitoting, patch management, provisionong, software installation, inventory, backup - for all 6 VMs on that host are included).

Happy to hear any response,

Alex A. Kibkalo
MCS Infrastructure Architect

Chris Wolf

Hi Alex,

I appreciate the detailed and thoughtful comment. Let me try and respond to your points one at a time:

1) I'm still hopeful that Microsoft will follow other vendors and allow standard edition licenses to be applied directly to VMs. This makes tracking compliance significantly easier. Also, to your point on the number of licenses needed, I've been under the impression that you can work with the minimum number of standard edition licenses when you deploy VMs in a HA cluster. Page 12 of the "Licensing Microsoft Server Products with Virtual Machine Technologies" white paper states that "...you may reassign software licenses for products in the Microsoft Servers licensing models, but not on a short-term basis. 'Short-term basis' means more frequently than within 90 days of the last assignment (or reassignment). You may reassign software licenses sooner if you retire the server sooner due to permanent hardware failure." Reassignment of licenses on Node 1, for example, can go to node 2 following a hardware failure. So at that point, Node 2 would be properly licensed. If I replace Node 1 due to permanent hardware failure, I can transfer adequate licenses back. Or if I setup the cluster as a true active-passive cluster, I would always be in compliance. I'd assign six licenses to node 1, and if node 1 fails, the licenses could be reassigned to node 2.

3) I may need that license to run SCVMM too. Sure I could run it on the Hyper-V physical host, but I may choose not to. Alternatively, I may run it in one of the existing VMs. You're right. I should have been more clear. To quote Einstein, "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." I tried to be as simple as possible, but that's not always easy either.

4) VMM 2008 isn't shipping yet, so I went with the product that was shipping as an example. I wanted to price out the workgroup edition because it is cheaper and thought that it compared better to Virtual Center Foundation Server.

It's funny. I started out trying to do a linear comparison. After receiving strong feedback (before I posted this in the first place), I decided to try and capture my experience of trying to collect the pricing data for this post. It seems that the experience continues... :)

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