Windows Virtualization for SPLA Partners

15 Mar

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!



Posted by on March 15, 2013 in Windows Virtualization


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15 responses to “Windows Virtualization for SPLA Partners

  1. John Zanni

    August 11, 2013 at 11:48 am

    It’s not just VMware and Hyper-V. You can also use containers in the same way.

  2. Chris S.

    December 26, 2013 at 4:55 pm

    And what about with such example: 2 physical CPUs in server, installed Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard with Hyper-V (for hypervisor function only) and 1 Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard VM. How many processor licenses should I report – 2 or 4? In my opinion I should report only 2 CPU licenses – AFAIK Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard includes one license for physical host Windows installation (hypervisor) and 1 VM. Am I right?

    • splaman

      December 26, 2013 at 8:08 pm

      Merry Christmas Chris,

      Yes, 2 processors would need to be reported. Windows virtualization does not include one license on the physical host, rather you license each processor on the host that includes 1 vm. In your example, you have 2 processors on the host with 1 vm. This would require 2 procs. Hope this helps.

      • Chris S.

        December 27, 2013 at 1:22 am

        Thank you for your answer. Merry Christmas to you, too! My question regarding Windows Server SPLA licensing was rather focused on if I should report somehow licenses used for Windows Server 2008 R2 ‘bare-metal’ installation – hypervisor role in my example. You’ve described rules for VMs very well. ‘Ordinary’ (Open/OEM, not SPLA per physical CPU) Win2008 R2 Std license includes 1 license for host (hypervisor role) and for 1 VM running on it ( I don’t know how to count this host license in SPLA (or maybe it’s included too if I properly report licenses for at least 1 VM running on particular host).

        Chris S.

      • splaman

        December 27, 2013 at 9:04 am

        Thank you. Yes, report the physical processors on the host, doesn’t matter what virtualization technology installed.

  3. Rene van Roon

    August 26, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Windows 2012R2 Standard licenses under SPLA is most of the time twice as expensive compared to Windows Standard Volume Licenses if you compare Standard vs Datacenter.
    A single Windows 2012R2 SPLA license is bought per processor while the VL version is good for two processors. I understand, but thats not the thing that surprises me.
    I use a physical server with two physical server as an example. Popular config.
    In the VL world Windows Standard is about seven times cheaper than Windows Datacenter. So if there are more than fourteen Virtual Windows OSes to host Datacenter becomes more economical.
    In the SPLA world Standard is also seven times cheaper than datacenter (give or take). Nevertheless Datacenter becomes more economical at more than seven Virtual OSes.
    Strange because all other factors are about the same. Datacenter SPLA is at 36 months x 2 (per processor) as expensive as Datacenter VL (good for two processors) and Standard SPLA is 36 x 2 as expensive Standard VL. While Virtualization rights are only half as good.
    Clear strategy from MS to push Datacenter adoption in SPLA.
    – I do understand that in disaster recovery and clustering scenario’s Windows Datacenter is almost always preferable –

    • splaman

      August 26, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      Thank you for reading. I appreciate your response and will certainly help other readers.

  4. George Mathew

    May 26, 2015 at 5:00 am

    Windows Server 2012 Standard allows you 2 VMs per 2 Procs. So I can run 2 VMs on a 2-Proc machine. If I want to run a 3rd VM then I need to buy another license.

    • splaman

      June 3, 2015 at 4:20 pm

      Hi George…not under SPLA. You must license each processor that allows you to run 1 VM. Ugh.

  5. Hmoud

    September 2, 2015 at 12:39 am

    As per my understanding, each Windows Server Std license on SPLA allows you with:
    – 1 physical processor & 1 VM, or;
    – 2 VMs
    So on any Hyper-v cluster, you need to license each Physical processor with one WS Std license, and this will provide you 1 x WS VM to run on the cluster.
    After that, each 2 x WS VMs running on that cluster, requires an addition 1 WS Std license to be reported.

    The above doesnt apply on non-Hyper-v cluster (ESX .. etc)

  6. Yuttana H.

    February 9, 2016 at 9:33 am

    Hello, Thank for providing the good article here after I ready it, I have a one question about Windows SPLA.
    You said “With Windows, you must license each physical processor (not core) on the host machine that will allow “x” number of virtual instances.”. In case that I provide visualization with 8 Hosts (Live Migration Support) that contain 2 Processors each, if I use Windows Standard in SPLA. I have to pay for 8 hosts x 2 Proc x # of VM. Is it correct?

    • splaman

      February 22, 2016 at 8:06 am

      correct 🙂 Thanks for reading.

  7. Jacob Shorr

    July 12, 2016 at 8:44 am

    For a single processor virtualization host, is it allowed to purchase only a single copy of Datacenter Edition SPLA?

    • splaman

      July 19, 2016 at 6:22 pm

      as long as you have 1 proc on that host than….YES! 🙂

  8. homerjsimpson8

    September 13, 2016 at 2:24 am

    I enjoyed your article splaman. Just to add a further level of complexity to Yuttana H’s comment.
    Just suppose with SPLA you have 3 Virtual hosts arranged in a cluster. Each Virtual Host has 2 physical processors.
    Virtual Host 01 has 4 x Vms, Virtual Host 02 has 6 x Vms and Virtual Host 03 has 8 x Vms. All Vms have with Windows Server 2012 R2.

    My 2 questions are:
    1/ How many ‘Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard’ SPLA instances would need to be reported? Or
    2/ How many ‘Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacentre’ SPLA instances would need to be reported?

    I saw in in the following reddit post that suggests that it is ok to move Vms to different hardware (I would presume to a different Virtual host within a cluster say for perhaps scheduled hardware maintenance) as long as it is not more than once every 90 days. However, I am still looking for a supporting Microsoft document that supports this claim.

    Thanks heaps


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