Windows Server 2016 Licensing: Calculating Your License Need

Windows Server 2016 licensing“How many licenses of Windows Server 2016 do I need for my environment?” Simple question, but getting an answer can be a daunting task. There are lots of factors to consider, and it’s easy to make a mistake that could result in being under-licensed or over-licensed. Let me help simplify the process.

Over the last few years, Microsoft has changed the Windows Server licensing model from server licenses (2008) to processor licenses (2012) to core licenses (2016). It’s no wonder that people are confused! To help you understand the licensing changes in Windows Server 2016, we’re publishing a series of posts. We’ve already discussed the cost differences between 2012 and 2016the basics about cores, versions, and virtual machines, and pricing issues. This post will provide you with a step-by-step process to help determine your need.

How Do I Calculate the Number of Licenses I Need for Windows Server 2016?

Here are some questions you may be asking: “Should I buy Standard or Datacenter?” “How many licenses do I need?” “Do I need more licenses if I have more virtual machines?” “If there is a 16-core minimum, why does my quote have a quantity of eight?”

Licensing your environment for Windows Server 2016 can be a complicated process, but it doesn’t have to be. Let’s break it down into a few simple steps:

Step 1: Decide whether you need Standard or Datacenter.

Do you need the advanced features of Datacenter? Do you need to run 13 or more Windows Server VMs on this host? If you answered “yes” to either of those questions, go with Datacenter. If you answered “no” to both questions, go with Standard.

Step 2: Figure out how many core licenses you need.

Here are some simple equations to use …

For the Datacenter version, you get an unlimited number of VMs so the equation is simple:

    _______ Number of Processors in the Host

X _______ Number of Cores Per Processor (minimum of 8)

= _______ Number of Core Licenses Needed (minimum of 16)

For the Standard version, you have to add an extra equation because of the limited number of VMs it provides. If you move VMs around your server farm, you have to be careful here: remember that you need to license the server for the highest number of VMs that will ever be running on it.

    _______ Number of Processors in the Host

X _______ Number of Cores Per Processor (minimum of 8)

= _______ Number of Core Licenses Needed (minimum of 16)

    _______ Number of Core Licenses Needed (total from the equation above)

X _______ Number of VMs Needed (must be an even number: 2, 4, 6, …)

÷       2        (since every set of Standard licenses provides 2 VMs)

= _______ Revised Number of Core Licenses Needed for Standard Version

Step 3: Divide the final number by two to determine how many two-packs to purchase.

Since Microsoft sells core licenses of Windows Server 2016 in packs of two, you have to cut your total in half to make sure your reseller is quoting the right amount. In other words, if you need 16 core licenses, Mirazon will send you a quote for eight two-packs. If you need 20 core licenses, your quote will be for 10 two-packs.

Examples

When learning a new skill, talking about it can only get you so far. It helps to see it in action, so let’s run some examples …

  • A server with a single four-core processor running Datacenter:
    • 1 proc x 4 cores per proc = 4 core licenses, but that is under the minimum so you need to purchase 16 core licenses.
    • 16 core licenses ÷ 2 = 8 two-packs of core licenses
  • A server with dual 10-core processors running Datacenter:
    • 2 procs x 10 cores per proc = 20 core licenses.
    • 20 core licenses ÷ 2 = 10 two-packs of core licenses
  • A server with a single 8-core processor running Standard with 2 VMs:
    • 1 proc x 8 cores per proc = 8 core licenses, but that is under the minimum so you need 16 licenses.
    • Since you are using Standard, you also need to figure in the VMs: 16 core licenses x 2 VMs ÷ 2 = 16 core licenses.
    • 16 core licenses ÷ 2 = 8 two-packs of core licenses
  • A server with a single 8-core processor running Standard with 3 VMs:
    • 1 proc x 8 cores per proc = 8 core licenses, but that is under the minimum so you need 16 licenses.
    • Since you are using Standard, you also need to figure in the VMs. You need 3 VMs, but for licensing purposes the number of VMs needs to be an even number. So you need to bump 3 up to 4: 16 core licenses x 4 VMs ÷ 2 = 32 core licenses.
    • 32 core licenses ÷ 2 = 16 two-packs of core licenses
  • A server with dual 10-core processors running Standard with 6 VMs:
    • 2 procs x 10 cores per proc = 20 core licenses.
    • Since you are using Standard, you need to figure in the VMs: 20 core licenses x 6 VMs ÷ 2 = 60 core licenses.
    • 60 core licenses ÷ 2 = 30 two-packs of core licenses

If you’re still confused or if you’re weighing several options, give Mirazon a call. We have tools we can use to help you get to the bottom line.

Don’t Forget the CALs!

While we’re on the topic, don’t forget that you still need to purchase Client Access Licenses (CALS). You still need either a Device CAL for each device that access a Windows Server or a User CAL for each user. Yes, you can mix and match Device and User CALs within the same environment, but that gets confusing so it’s not recommended. (As if things weren’t confusing enough!) User CALs are much more common than Device CALs since each user typically has more than one device, but they are also more expensive. Again, if you’re weighing the options, give Mirazon a call and we can help.

For more information on Windows Server 2016 licensing, you can check out these related posts on the Mirazon blog:

If you have questions about the changes in Windows Server licensing or what you need for your environment, send us an email or give us a call and we’ll walk you through it!