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Windows Server 2016 licensing changes explained (part 4/4): How System Centre is affected, significant cost savings with Azure

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Windows Server 2016 licensing changes explained (part 4/4): How System Centre is affected, significant cost savings with Azure

What’s the impact on System Centre?

At the same time as Windows Server, System Centre 2016 will also move to the same core model. Unlike Windows there are no extra features in System Centre Datacenter, so virtualisation remains the only difference.

Core Infrastructure Server (CIS) also converts to Core, and remains a bundle license of both Windows Server and System Centre.

The 25% increase for 10 Core processors applies to all Windows Server, System Centre server, and Core Infrastructure Server licensing options across all agreements.

System Centre licensing is only required for servers where Server operating systems are being managed, if you are using System Centre only to manage workstations with Configuration Manager, no Server licenses are required.


Cost savings with Azure

If you have Windows Server or Core Infrastructure server under Software Assurance, and you are also paying for Azure you need to take advantage of Azure Hybrid Use Benefit.

Basically Azure HUB means you don’t have to pay for a Windows Operating System License in Azure, instead charging for those Windows instances at Linux rates.

Each set of 16 Windows Server Core licenses under Software Assurance provides two Windows instances up to 8 cores each, or 1 instance up to 16 cores in Azure at Linux prices.

Datacenter licenses offer this as a benefit so the license can still be used on premise.

With Standard licenses this benefit can only be used with spare licenses, so you cannot install both on premise and use the Azure HUB.

The Azure HUB also applies to Core Infrastructure Server licenses.


The savings are not automatic though. To get the cheaper pricing the VM’s you have in Azure need to have been setup with Azure Powershell at the time of install.  How to details on this link: https://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/articles/virtual-machines-windows-hybrid-use-benefit-licensing/

Currently this means if you already have VMs in Azure these need to be rebuilt to take advantage of the price saving, however Microsoft advised us they are working on a way to apply the Azure HUB settings to Azure instances already running, this should be available by the end of 2016.

The bigger the Azure instance is, the bigger the saving. At A0 level the difference between Windows and Linux is negligible. But for the A1-A11 Azure Compute VMs the saving is between 24-34%. For the D it’s between 30% and 48%. See here for full details on pricing.


Azure should be cheaper on an Enterprise agreement.

At renewal it may even work out cheaper to renew spare Standard licenses under SA, with the Azure HUB savings covering the Annual SA cost for mid to high spec Azure instances.

So there you have it, (nearly) everything you needed to know about the impact that the changes in Microsoft Server 2016 licensing will have on your server costs. If you have not read any of the previous blog posts in this series, I have summarized them below. In the meantime if you have any questions on how this will affect your own estate, feel free to get in contact with us.

  • Part 1: How the change to Core licensing will affect you
  • Part 2: Core counts explained
  • Part 3: Standard vs. Datacenter Licensing
| Categories: Software Asset Management (SAM), Software Licensing | Tags: windows server, windows server 2016, software licensing, software asset management, SAM, core licensing, azure licensing, microsoft azure, System Centre Datacenter | View Count: (3807) | Return

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