Hold onto your hats, everybody. Microsoft is simplifying Windows Server Licensing. Coming May 2017, Microsoft is introducing a new 16-pack of Core Licenses for Windows Server, System Center, CIS Suites, and Premium Assurance in addition to the existing 2-core licenses. This new SKU will be a convenient option for companies licensing servers with 16 or fewer cores. Instead of purchasing eight 2-core packs, you can now purchase a single 16-core pack. It can also serve as an optional base pack for licensing servers with more cores. The 2-core licenses will continue to be available, and you have the choice of two SKUs. There is also no difference in pricing between one 16-pack and eight 2-packs so you can choose the combination which best suits your company.
Why is this important? Remember that 2012/R2 licenses were sold as 1 license = 2 Processors. Microsoft gave you 8 cores per processor, which amounted to 16 cores. Sixteen cores (eight 2-core packs) is the minimum licensing for a Windows Server. Because of the minimum, it can be frustrating to have to buy 8 licenses for each server when you used to mostly buy just one. It also makes reconciling owned vs. installed annoying because you are constantly dividing everything by eight, and licensing was already complicated enough without having to divide by eight.
So now Microsoft has effectively re-invented good old Qty 1. You buy one license, and it covers you for 16 cores—which is what you would buy for ANY server running less than 16 since that’s the minimum. However, if you’re running servers bigger than 16 cores, we recommend buying the 2-core packs for the whole thing. For example, I have a 28 core box, so I’m going to buy 14 2-core packs. If I use the base license, it gets too confusing—then I’d need Qty 1 + six additional 2-core packs. I’m pretty sure that gets into algebra territory and would be tough to manage across a lot of servers. We recommend the Qty 1 for anything 16 cores or fewer, and then the right number of 2-core packs for anything over 16 cores.
If you’re still unclear on this licensing math we have special slide-rules for this kind of thing, let us know how we can help.