But why do we need containers? What do containers provide that virtual machines can’t?
For the developers, containers unlock the ability to build an application, package within a container, and deploy, knowing that wherever you deploy that container, it will run without modification, whether that is on-premises, in a service provider’s datacenter or in the public cloud such as Azure. You can also have complex multi-tier applications, with each tier packaged in a container.
So that’s containers in a nutshell. What about Nano Server? Is that a special edition for my granny?
If you are hosting lots of VOSEs, the last thing you want is for the host OS to reboot because that means everything I’m running on that host either needs to migrate to another server or also reboot. You want to minimise what’s running to reduce the resources used and the surface area open to bugs and attacks. Yes, I used the B word.
Windows Server 2008 came up with Server Core which was a hugely reduced installation intended to just support specific workloads such as hosting VOSEs. Windows server 2012 improved Server Core so it was more modular and you could install and configure the server and then switch into Server Core whereas in 2008 it was an either-or choice at installation.
Windows Server 2016 goes further with Nano Server. Just to give you an idea of the scale here, the charts below compare setup time, disk footprint and VHD size between the already trimmed Server Core installation and the new Nano Server.
Now the big question here is how do you licence Nano Server?
Well, Nano Server is a deployment option within Windows Server 2016. It’s included as part of the licensing of both Standard and Datacenter editions so there is no unique or separate licensing for Nano Server. Good news.
Look Like an Expert with these Extra Facts
Q – Will the Core Infrastructure Suite SKU also be core based licensing?
A – Yes, Core Infrastructure Suite is a single SKU incorporating both Windows Server and System Center at a discount. This will also be core based when Windows Server and System Center are released.
Q – Is the Windows Server External Connector available at the release of Windows Server 2016?
A – Yes, the Windows Server External Connector license will still be available for external users’ access to Windows Server. Just like it is today, an external connector is required for each Windows Server the external user is accessing.
Q – How should I think about hyper-threading in the core based licensing?
A – Just count the physical cores. Windows Server and System Center 2016 are licensed by physical cores, not virtual cores. So you only need to inventory and license the physical cores on the processors.
Q – If processors (and therefore cores) are disabled from Windows use, do I still need to license the cores?
A – No, if the processor is disabled for use by Windows, the cores on that processor don’t need to be licensed. For example, if 2 processors in a 4 processor server (with 8 cores per processor) were disabled and not available for Windows Server use, only 16 cores would need to be licensed. However, disabling hyper threading or disabling cores for specific programs does not relieve the need for a Windows Server license on the physical cores.
Don’t Forget CALs
Windows Server Standard and Datacenter editions will continue to require Windows Server CALs for every user or device accessing a server (See the Product Use Rights for exceptions).
Some additional or advanced functionality will continue to require the purchase of an additive CAL. These are CALs that you need in addition to the Windows Server CAL to access functionality, such as Remote Desktop Services or Active Directory Rights Management Services.
Feel free to contact us if you have any questions – we love to hear from you!
Microsoft announced that Windows Server 2016 will be licenced in a per-core + CAL (client access licence) model. This changes from Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 which were per-processor + CAL.
Whilst the main editions of Windows Server 2016 remain Standard and Datacenter (US spelling of course), another change is that Datacenter enjoys more features than Standard. This was not the case with Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 when Standard and Datacenter had exactly the same set of technical features and capabilities.
The licensing rules in brief
All physical cores in the server must be licenced
Core licences are sold in packs of 2
A minimum of 8 cores per processor must be licenced, even if the processor has less than 8 cores
For a single-processor server, a minimum of 16 cores must be licenced
Only physical cores need be counted; hyper-threading has no effect on licensing
Processors that are disabled in the server do not need to be licenced
Licensing all cores in the physical server with Datacenter edition allows you to run Windows Server in an unlimited number of VOSEs (Virtual Operating System Environment) on that server
Licensing all cores in the physical server with Standard edition allows you to run Windows Server in two VOSEs (Virtual Operating System Environment) on that server. You can apply extra licences to the physical server if you wish to run more than two.
A bit of background
If you’re scratching your head about the minimum licensing requirement or even why Microsoft chose to change the licensing model at all, a little explanation may help.
The reason for requiring a minimum of 16 core licences per server is to keep the prices of Windows Server 2016 in line with the minimum licensing (2 processors) of Windows Server 2012 R2. In turn, Windows 2012 required a minimum of 2 processors because it kept the price in line with the per-server + CAL model from Windows Server 2008 R2.
One reason for changing to per-core model is to align with a new benefit that will soon be in Microsoft Azure which will allow customers who have Software Assurance (SA) on their Windows Server licence to ‘lend’ that licence to the Azure datacentre. So you would only need to rent an empty VM and upload your own Windows image instead of paying for an Azure VM which had Windows. Azure compute units are based on cores so it makes sense for Windows licensing to match.
With Windows Server Datacenter edition, it gets even better because you don’t lose your on-premises rights and you can virtualise on-premises at the same time as on Microsoft Azure. We’ll blog about that in more detail at a later date.
System Center 2016 and Core Infrastructure Suite 2016 (a single SKU combination of both Windows Server and System Center) will also be licensed in the new per-core model.