If you were to ask me “What’s the number one question I receive day in and day out in managing the SPLA program?” Without hesitation my answer would be “Windows virtualization.” Windows is not overwhelming complex, but it is the most reported/licensed SKU in the program. All Microsoft software runs on a Windows operating system and is required to be licensed!
With the release of Windows 2012, there are only two SKUs that allow virtualization; Windows Datacenter and the ever so popular Windows Standard. With Windows, you must license each physical processor (not core) on the host machine that will allow “x” number of virtual instances. For example,if you have a (2)processor box with (1) virtual instance licensing Windows Standard; how many processors do you need to report? The answer is (2). Another example, let’s say you are running the same server (2 processors) with (2) VMs. How many do you need to report? The answer is (4). The SPUR (Service Provider Use Rights) for Windows Standard edition states you must license each physical processor that allows (1) virtual instance. If you run a second instance, you must license each processor on the host machine again. This can add up pretty quickly!
What happens if you are licensing Windows Datacenter on a (2) processor box with (4) virtual instances? You would only need to report (2). Windows Datacenter allows unlimited virtual instances. You must license each physical processor on the host machine (regardless which virtual technology you are running. i.e. VM Ware or Hyper V) that will allow you to run unlimited virtual instances. This by far is the less complicated way to go and in a lot of ways, the most cost effective. Most service providers are virtualizing to lower hardware costs, this is one way of reducing your overall licensing spend as well.
Hope this helps and thank you for reading!