vMotion Permissions in Microsoft Licensing: What About Earlier Versions?

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May 23, 2014 by Seth Rodriquez

Last September, I wrote a blog post called vMotion Permissions (and Denials) in Microsoft Licensing, which summarizes Microsoft’s current approach to vMotion rights (or as Microsoft likes to call it, “License Mobility” rights).  However, I recently received a question from someone that caused me to dive back into these murky waters and look more closely at vMotion permissions for earlier versions of Microsoft products. Here is what I learned…

Old vs. New

First, let me summarize my previous post: for the current versions of Windows Server, Exchange, Lync, SharePoint, SQL, etc., you typically do not have vMotion permissions if all you have is a license.

  • For Windows Server 2012, you never have permission to frequently move that license from one physical host to another. The license is always tied to the physical host. So in order to frequently move a Windows Server VM around your server farm, you need to have enough licenses to cover both the sending physical host and the receiving physical host.
  • For Exchange 2013, Lync 2013, SharePoint 2013, and SQL 2012, you either need to cover both the sending and receiving physical hosts with licenses or you need to cover a single license with Software Assurance (SA). For these products, a license mobility right is provided as an SA benefit. You can read the post for more information on this.

But what if you have an earlier version of one of these products? For example, do the use rights for Exchange 2013 apply to Exchange 2010?

Well…if you have SA on that Exchange 2010 license, then the answer is yes because, technically, you now own an Exchange 2013 license (due to your version upgrade benefit) and you are just using your downgrade rights to run Exchange 2010. But if you just have the Exchange 2010 license (without SA), then things are different.

When discussing this topic, the consistent message from Microsoft is: check the Product Use Rights (PUR) document to see if your product includes license mobility rights. This is true whether you are looking at the current version or a previous version of the product.

For the sake of discussion, let’s examine the use rights for Exchange 2010 Standard.

Finding Use Rights for Earlier Versions

First, you need to find the right PUR document. For the current version of the product, download the current PUR document. But if you need to see the use rights for an earlier version of the product (such as Exchange 2010 Standard), then you’ll have to dig into the PUR archive. The most recent version of the PUR document that included Exchange 2010 was published in April 2012, so we’ll use that one.

Next, find your product in the PUR document and look for the information about license mobility. As you can see in the screenshot below, Exchange Server 2010 Standard does include license mobility but you are referred to the General Terms for further information.


Scrolling up a few pages to the General Terms for Server/CAL products, we find this information:

License Mobility — Assigning  Server and External Connector Licenses and Using Software within and Across Server Farms

The following applies to products designated as having License Mobility Within Server Farms in the Product-Specific License Terms section below. Some products may require Software Assurance for these rights. Please see the Product-Specific License Terms for details:

You may reassign server and external connector licenses as provided in the Universal License Terms.  Alternatively, you may reassign those licenses as provided below.

Within a server farm. You may reassign server and external connector licenses to any of your servers located within the same server farm as often as needed.  The prohibition against short-term reassignment does not apply to server and external connector licenses assigned to servers located within the same server farm.

Note that it says that you can reassign the server licenses “as often as needed” if the product is “designated as having License Mobility Within Server Farms.” Since Exchange 2010 Standard is marked Yes for license mobility, then so far so good.

But note that it also says, “Some products may require Software Assurance for these rights.” This is where the current versions get a red light. If SA is required for the license mobility right, then the “Additional Terms” section under that product will include a note that says, “You have the right to reassign server licenses…only under licenses with active Software Assurance.”

This is what we find in the current PUR document for Exchange 2013 Standard. But for Exchange 2010 Standard, there is nothing stated in the “Additional Terms” about SA being required, so you’re good to go even if you don’t have SA.

So according to this PUR document from April 2012, Exchange Server 2010 Standard includes license mobility rights even if it is not covered with SA. But it is important to note that in the future, when you upgrade to a newer version of Exchange, you most likely will need to cover that new license with SA in order to retain these rights.

So there you have it. Easy, right?

If you have questions about this or any other Microsoft licensing issue, send us an email at sales@mirazon.com or call us at 502-240-0404 and we’ll help walk you through it.

For those of you looking for more information on this topic, I recommend you download Microsoft’s licensing brief about virtual environments. It is a long document, but the information you need starts on page 22 with the section labeled “License Mobility.”


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