Licensing options in a virtual world

05 Dec

I thought I would update a post I wrote previously regarding virtualization.  In this article, I want to touch on three specific products (Windows, Core Infrastructure Suite, and the new Cloud Platform Suite).  Pay attention, this could save you money!


Windows must be reported, but oddly enough it is the most under licensed product during an audit.  (along with SQL). You have to license every processor on the host machine that will allow you to run 1 virtual instance (either Linux or Windows) for Windows Standard edition.  If you spin up another instance, you have to license every processor again!  In other words, to run two instances licensing Windows STD on a 2 processor machine would need 4 licenses!  Datacenter- you must license every processor on the host machine that will allow you to run unlimited VM’s.  Great bargain if you are highly virtualized!  Only caveat, it is going up in price in January.

Core Infrastructure Suite

CIS is a bundled SKU that includes Windows Server and System Center.  There are two editions, Standard and Datacenter.  They both come with the same technology, the only difference is virtualization.  Standard will allow 1 instance, Datacenter will allow unlimited. This SKU is licensed by physical processor and follows the same logic as Windows virtualization mentioned above.  Pay attention to the number of instances running on each host!

Cloud Platform Suite (CPS)

This is the baby of the SPLA family.  (actually hasn’t been born if your reading this prior to January, 2014).  I wrote about the basics in a earlier blog.  I think this could be a HUGE plus for service providers who report SPLA licenses and run Hyper V.  Why?  Mobility rights.  CPS is a bundled SKU of Windows and System Center.  The differences between CPS and the Core Infrastructure suite is the way you license the guests.  CPS you have to license the virtual guests, Core Infrastructure you don’t (as long as you license datacenter edition).  What will make CPS attractive is the cost.  The cost per host processor is a lot less than the cost of the Core infrastructure processor license.  Secondly, because you also license the guest (not that cheap but pretty valuable), the guest OS can move as long as you license both the guest and host.  This reduces your compliance risk tenfold.  If VM’s can migrate and you cannot track that virtual instance, this is the way to go.  Why wouldn’t you use CPS?  If you are not running Windows 2012, System Center 2012, and Hyper V (a requirement) you should stick with Windows Standard or Datacenter.  If you are heavily virtualized in Microsoft technology and running System Center, stick with Core Infrastructure Suite Datacenter.  You will need to sit down with your reseller and review  your options.  That’s why you need to work with someone who understands SPLA and has your best interest.  I always say “Make sure your compliant, but make sure you are licensing the most cost effective way.”

Good news is you have options, just make sure you pick the right one!

Thanks for reading.



Tags: , , , , ,

9 responses to “Licensing options in a virtual world

  1. Jay

    February 13, 2014 at 11:52 am

    Oh, if only you could be cloned and could replace my current SPLA contact…

    After reading your very clear and concise posts about the different hosting platforms, I decided to go with CIS Datacenter. It sounds perfect.

    I want to purchase CIS outright and use it to provide SaaS and IaaS offerings to my customers. I was thinking my customers would of course have to pay for use of the guest OS (Windows Server Standard 2012 R2). My SPLA contact says I can’t do that. He says I cannot purchase CIS outright and then use it for commercial hosting. That sounds bonkers. Is it true?

    Further, he says I would have to report my customers as using (the much higher priced) CIS – not Standard. That also sounds bonkers. Is it true?

    Thanks in advance for your input and many clear and informative posts. If only MSFT could follow the example…

    • splaman

      February 13, 2014 at 12:11 pm

      Hi Jay,

      Thank you for the kind words. The reseller is correct unfortunately. You cannot purchase CIS and host it. That being said, your end customer can purchase it and you host it in a physical and virtual isolated hardware configuration. (dedicated). The only difference between the datacenter edition and the standard edition is virtualization. If you are running multiple VMs, datacenter is the way to go. If not, stick with standard. Are you running both Windows and System Center? You might want to check out the new cloud platform suite. Hope this helps, great question!

  2. Pbrunet

    February 19, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    CPS is not licensed for VMware only Hyper-V

    • splaman

      February 19, 2014 at 2:17 pm

      Thanks for reading. It does not matter which virtual technology you use, you are required to license the physical processors on the “host fabric” as described in the SPUR.

      • paulyblog

        February 20, 2014 at 7:21 pm

        I was on a webinar yesterday with Microsoft SPLA and CPS can’t be used with VMware only Hyper-V as per their licensing team.

      • splaman

        February 21, 2014 at 1:05 pm

        Thanks. I assume you’re in Europe? In the US they didn’t make any announcement regarding CPS (yet- stay tuned). When you look at the latest version of the SPUR (which you are currently bound) it states “host fabric” which is not vendor specific. I’ll post an update to the blog if any changes. Thanks for reading.

    • splaman

      February 20, 2014 at 7:58 am

      thanks for reading. Yes, you would still need to license the processors for the CPS host fabric,

  3. Jason

    March 12, 2014 at 7:03 am

    Does SPLA allow us to provide IaaS, i.e. hyper-v VM service with possible sql server instances to public. Many thanks.

    • splaman

      March 12, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Hello Jason,

      Yes, SPLA is designed for commercial hosting to non employees (public).



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: