As part of the company’s push toward hybrid cloud, Windows Server 2016 will focus on per–processor core licenses.

Microsoft has made a number of major licensing changes in the last month as the company reorganizes its licensing structure around hybrid cloud. Even for a dedicated licensing professional it’s a lot to follow, let alone a corporate licensing manager who likely manages licenses from a handful of vendors.

The most recent announcement, though, is a significant one: Microsoft will switch licensing for Windows Server 2016 to a per–processor core system and away from the per-processor model the company has traditionally used. The change, announced in December, is part of a shift in Microsoft’s overall licensing strategy as it pushes clients toward Azure.

Microsoft has made hybrid cloud a priority for customers in all segments, but especially for larger enterprise customers.

Microsoft’s switch in licensing models aims to tie servers to a common and consistent licensing structure that is already the standard in other computing environments.

The changes will go into effect when Windows Server 2016 becomes commercially available (likely in the third quarter of this year), but Microsoft has yet to release a firm date.

Some details about the licensing changes, as detailed in a Microsoft FAQ:

  • Licenses for servers with eight or fewer cores per processor will be the same price as a two-processor license for Windows Server 2012 R2.
  • Windows Server 2016 core licenses will be sold in packs of two for incremental licenses needed above the required eight cores per processor.
  • The Standard Edition of Windows Server and System Center will license up to two virtual machines when all of the physical cores on the server are licensed.
  • These changes take effect when customers purchase a Windows Server 2016 licensing agreement. Customers that remain on an older version of Windows Server will not see changes in their licensing agreements until they migrate.

The Azure Advantage

In October, Microsoft announced that customers with Windows Server licenses and software assurance can upload Windows images to Azure and pay only compute rates.

This helps customers leverage existing investments in Microsoft products as they transition workloads to the cloud. For each Windows Server two-processor license with software assurance, customers can run two virtual machines with up to eight cores each, or one virtual machine with up to 16 cores.

The benefit provides customers with a 41 percent savings over the standard cost for this type of transition.

More to Come

Microsoft is in the process of transitioning a number of its licensing agreements to align with hybrid cloud systems. More information is expected soon on products such as Azure Stack, Windows Server Essentials and the rest of the Windows Server offerings. Stay connected with CDW’s Software Licensing Center to stay abreast of these new announcements.

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