This is part 2 of our 4 part blog series on the changes Microsoft has made to Windows Server 2016 licensing, which came into effect from 1st October 2016. In this blog we will explore the impact of the new Core count metric in more detail.
Core counts: What’s changed with 2016?
Instead of assigning a license for every 2 Physical Processors in a server, licenses will now be sold and renewed in lots of 2 Cores.
As with when SQL moved from Processor to Core in 2012, for licenses under SA you will be able to renew the same amount of Cores as in use at end of your agreement, or each 2 Processor license will default to 8 x 2 Core packs.
For those of you thinking that this will save money on all those old servers in your fleet with single processors and low core counts, Sorry. Microsoft always makes these changes so that you never pay less.
Just as SQL had a minimum license core count of 4 per server, Windows 2016 has a minimum license core count of 16 and 8 Cores per physical processor. So all those old servers still need to be assigned 16 Cores of licensing even if they only have 1 Physical processor with 1 Core, and if you have any old Physical Servers with 4 Processors and 4 cores in each you’re going to need 32 Cores of licensing power even though only using 16.
For Standard you can still stack the licenses, but if you’re running 3-4 VM’s on a 2 Processor 20 Core Server, you need 20 Cores for the first 2 VM’s and another 20 cores for the next 2. The breakeven point when Datacenter becomes cost effective stays at 14
What you can do for servers with more than 16 Cores is disable extra cores in hardware to reduce the core count down to 8 per physical processor. This is different than SQL which doesn’t allow disabling cores to reduce cost, so if licensing SQL Enterprise for unlimited virtualisation you still need to pay for SQL on the disabled cores.
Outside of Cores there are some new features only in Datacenter, Microsoft will be actively pushing Datacenter so check to make sure you see value in the extra features.