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AHV Windows Licensing

  • 15 December 2016
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Can someone chime in on how Licensing woudl work when using AHV?

For example, we currently have Windows 2012R2 Datacentre edition on each host and we have the ability to have unlimited licensed Windows Servers virtualised.

I know that AHV doesn't require a license but does that mean that a license for each Widnows Virtual Server will need to be purchased hence invalidating our Datacentre license???
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Best answer by Jon 15 December 2016, 14:32

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My question here is, I have Windows Server Datacenter; how do I apply this license to my host on Nutanix AHV? I can’t seem to find any guide on this.

You just have to keep the license(s) on file, as proof you own them, they don’t have to actually be applied to the AHV host, you just use that data center key on all the VMs.  At least that is what a MS auditor told us at my old company.

My question here is, I have Windows Server Datacenter; how do I apply this license to my host on Nutanix AHV? I can’t seem to find any guide on this.

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To expand on what Jon said, and because we just recently "trued up" our licensing...

Microsoft always gets paid if you run Windows guest VM's, regardless of what underlying hypervisor your have. You can either buy a datacenter license and run Hyper-V on each host and run unlimitied guest Windows VM's on it, you can buy a datacenter license and run another hypervisor on each host and run unlimited guest Windows VM's on it, or you can run another hypervisor on each host and buy Windows Standard licenses for each guest VM. It's been a while since I ran the numbers, but the concensus for the break even point between datacenter and standard seems to be around 7 and 10 guest VM's in Server 2012 R2***, depending on the deal you get on your license. Most people probably have many more than 10 guest Windows VM's on their host so datacenter licensing is pretty common.

***Microsoft is changing to core based licensing for Server 2016 which will probably result in a net increase for most customers since most servers now have > 16 cores per host. This will probably further skew the "break even" point vs the socket based licensing through Server 2012 R2.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/licensing/product-licensing/windows-server-2016.aspx

We have 24 cores per host in most of our hosts and it resulted in a substantial increase in SQL licensing costs for us, since it also swapped to core based licensing. Having more cores means we can run more SQL boxes per host as well, so whether the net result was a cost increase per guest SQL VM is questionable. Regardless, it was a "surpise bill" for accounting.

Summary: run the numbers but you'll most likely be buying or using datacenter licenses to cover your hosts, regardless of hypervisor.
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Thats a loaded question, but the short answer is it would work exactly the same as all other non-hyper-V hypervisors. Meaning thats a question best answered by Microsoft's licensing teams, nothing to do with AHV, just ask them about non-Hyper-V virtualization.

That said, anecdotally ... From what I've practiced when I was an admin, to what I've seen/read/heard, you would have to "entitle" each host with a license, if its a per server license, or per socket/core if you purchased the licenses that way. That "entitement" gives you virtualization "rights" to run the OS instances on top of that entitled physical host/socket/core