Windows Server 2016 Licensing: Pricing Issues

13-blue-ribbonMicrosoft threw everyone for a loop with the release of Windows Server 2016. In an instant, Windows Server licensing went from processor-based to core-based. To help you wrap your head around the changes, we’re publishing a series of posts to discuss Windows Server 2016 licensing from various angles.

In our previous post in this series, we covered three basic rules for core-based licensing, the differences between the Standard and Datacenter versions, and the process of stacking Standard licenses to get permission to run additional VMs. In this post, we will talk pricing. How much is this going to cost? How is it packaged? And at what point is Datacenter cheaper than Standard?

Pricing for Windows Server 2016 Licensing

How much do the Standard and Datacenter versions cost? Unfortunately, the answer is not simple.

You first need to understand that Windows Server 2016 core licenses are sold in packs of two. You can’t buy a single core license. You can only buy a two-pack. If you are only buying volume licenses and not Software Assurance, here are the prices for a two-pack:

                Windows Server 2016 Standard License, Two-Core Pack: $111.00

                Windows Server 2016 Datacenter License, Two-Core Pack: $770.00

But remember, you need to buy at least 16 cores for each physical server which means you need to buy at least eight packs of licenses. So the minimum amount you are going to spend is this:

                Windows Server 2016 Standard License, Two-Core Pack: $111.00 x 8 packs = $888.00

                Windows Server 2016 Datacenter License, Two-Core Pack: $770.00 x 8 packs = $6,160.00

If you have more than 16 cores in your physical host, then you will need to tack on additional two-packs. And if you have more than two processors, then you will need to buy enough licenses to cover each processor with 8 cores each. Additionally, if you are using Standard and need more than two VMs running on that host, then you will need to buy more licenses. In our next post, we will give you a calculation to follow to determine how many licenses you will need.

Price Break Between Standard and Datacenter

As discussed in the previous post, licensing your server using the Standard version allows you to purchase VMs in sets of two. Each time you cover all your cores with a Standard license (or meet the 16-core minimum) you have permission to spin up an additional two VMs. But if you license your server for the Datacenter version, you can run an unlimited number of VMs, which raises the question: At what point is it cheaper to buy Datacenter rather than purchase multiple sets of Standard licenses?

I’ve crunched the numbers so you don’t have to. The answer is 13 VMs. If you need to run 13 or more VMs on your host, then you should purchase Datacenter licenses. If you need 12 or less, then it is cheaper to buy Standard licenses. Below are the numbers. (Please note that these prices are for volume licenses only and do not include Software Assurance.)

Single Processor Server

# of Physical Cores Core Licenses Needed Price Comparison
1 thru 16 16 Standard: $5,328 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $6,160 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $6,216 = 14 VMs
18 18 Standard: $5,994 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $6,930 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $6,993 = 14 VMs
20 20 Standard: $6,660 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $7,700 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $7,770 = 14 VMs
22 22 Standard: $7,326 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $8,470 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $8,547 = 14 VMs
24 24 Standard: $7,992 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $9,240 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $9,324 = 14 VMs

 

Dual Processor Server

# of Physical Cores Core Licenses Needed Breaking Point
1 thru 8 16 Standard: $5,328 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $6,160 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $6,216 = 14 VMs
10 20 Standard: $6,660 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $7,700 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $7,770 = 14 VMs
12 24 Standard: $7,992 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $9,240 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $9,324 = 14 VMs
14 28 Standard: $9,324 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $10,780 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $10,878 = 14 VMs
15 30 Standard: $9,990 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $11,550 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $11,655 = 14 VMs
16 32 Standard: $10,656 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $12,320 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $12,432 = 14 VMs
18 36 Standard: $11,988 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $13,860 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $13,986 = 14 VMs
20 40 Standard: $13,320 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $15,400 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $15,540 = 14 VMs
22 44 Standard: $14,652 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $16,940 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $17,094 = 14 VMs
24 48 Standard: $15,984 = 12 VMs
Datacenter: $18,480 = Unlimited VMs
Standard: $18,648 = 14 VMs

We don’t have the space to show the calculations for servers with four processors, but I have crunched the numbers for that solution as well and the conclusion is the same: No matter how many processors and cores you have, it is always going to be cheaper to buy the Datacenter version when you reach 13 VMs.

In the next post of this series, we will teach you how to calculate the licenses you need so that you are buying enough licenses, but no more than enough. Meanwhile, you can check out these related posts on the Mirazon blog:

Have questions about Windows Server 2016? Send us an email or give us a call at 502-240-0404!