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The new Windows Server 2012 platform offers a range of features covering virtualisation, cloud, storage and more. Before they jump in and start playing with Microsoft’s latest server, organisations will need to know about a few licensing features that might affect how they approach implementation.

A processor/CAL Microsoft volume licensing model

Up until the 2012 release in September, Windows Server was licensed in a server/Client Access License (CAL) model. However, given how many multi-core processors are now in the market, moving away from this set-up seemed like a more straightforward approach to Microsoft volume licensing. That’s why Windows Server 2012 is now licensed per physical processor, instead of per server, with a CAL tacked on for each user or device accessing the server. One license applies to two processors.

Microsoft volume licensing options for Windows Server 2012

Organisations can obtain the Windows Server 2012 Datacenter and Standard Editions through Microsoft volume licensing under the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure Enterprise Agreement. Standard and Datacenter are for mid-size to large organisations, with the latter for organisations that want more options in the number of virtual machines, or VMs, they run.

Standard Edition, which caters to non- or lightly-virtualised environments, allows two processors to be licensed and two VMs, also known as virtual instances, of Windows Server 2012 to run. You can add more VMs under this edition by adding more licenses to the server. Datacenter, on the other hand, allows for unlimited VMs. The fact that you can scale up your VMs without incurring more Microsoft volume licensing costs means this edition is ideal for organisations looking to move to a highly-virtualised private cloud setup with limitless VMs.

The Core Infrastructure Suite for Microsoft volume licensing

There is a Core Infrastructure Suite available through the Enrollment for Core Infrastructure Enterprise Agreement Microsoft volume licensing option as well. For organisations that want to acquire System Center 2012 in addition to one of these two Windows Server 2012 editions, the CIS presents a more cost-effective option. The two CIS options include System Center 2012 Standard and Windows 2012 Standard or System Center 2012 Datacenter and Windows 2012 Datacenter. Again, the edition an organisation opts for will largely depend on their level of virtualisation and if they want to run limitless VMs.

Have more questions? A Datacom licensing expert can help you decide which Windows Server 2012 edition is best for your organisation depending on your volume licensing needs and level of virtualisation, including the intended number of VMs you wish to run.

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