Essentials 2012 R2 – The Role & Licensing
September 17, 2013 17 Comments
If you had previously purchased Server 2012 Standard, and exercised down grade rights to install a copy of Essentials, you may be surprised to learn that ‘to the letter of the law’ you would therefore be required to purchase Server CALs and more expensively RDS CALs if you intended to use the RWA feature to remote access client computers.
This came as a bit of a surprise to me, because i had wrongly assumed that when you downgraded to Essentials, you were therefore using Essentials and were bound by, or entitled to, use the licensing model of that OS, and what i mean by that is that you received your 25 ‘Server CALs’ and the RWA stuff was one of the benefits of the OS.
Not so. What you were actually bound by, was your Server Standard license. Meaning the appliance based nature of Essentials as a one off purchase was not being utilised. This it seems was just a general misconception of how Microsoft licensing, and downgrade rights operate, however don’t say you weren’t told.
With the release of Essentials R2, we now have the option to install Essentials as a role to an otherwise normal Standard server. The above also applies in this situation. You purchase your new Server Standard R2 license, you install Essentials as a role, and you purchase as many CALs as you need for staff in your office, and as many RDS CALs to cover how many people will be using that feature.
Where you actually install these RDS CALs is still somewhat of a mystery to me as the Licensing manager is not exposed in Essentials.
Any other surprises?
Well yes, now you mention it.
Essentials 2012 R2 also now includes the ability to be used as a Hyper-V host. The limitation here, is that you cannot enable the Essentials features, you must only enable Hyper-V and you can only virtualise one guest, that is, an Essentials R2 VM. The plus side of this is that you can use the 2012 features of Hyper-V, and have the benefits of virtualisation, and, you are still using an Essentials license so no CAL or RDS CAL requirement.
This announcement was made via the Essentials blog.
I like using Hyper-V where possible, and this license option gives us the ability to virtualise our Essentials installs without the need to provide an additional Hyper Visor (either the Free Hyper V Server or *shudder* VMware) but still, you may feel that this is somewhat limited. Well why not apply a second license to that physical server?
Excuse me? Baking Soda?
Yes, you may also be forgiven for letting your head explode now, but you can actually apply more than one license to your server. So how do we do that?
Lets assume then, that we have our Essentials R2 box hosting our Essentials R2 Guest VM.
We need to install a LOB app on a second server, should we purchase a second physical server? No!
We just purchase a single Server 2012 Standard R2 License, obviously.
We can then use the in place ‘transmog’ to take our Essentials installation to a Standard installation. Effectively giving us the ability to host 3 VMs on our single box.
This was also something of a revelation to me, i had again wrongly assumed that once you transmogged your Essentials server you effectively threw away that license, not so. it is still tied to your server, therefore you are still entitled to run that Essentials VM.
I sent this over to long time listener first time caller Tim Barrett who said i should simplify it with this..
So what Tim is showing us here, is how adept he is with Visio. I want to go through it again because it is still a bit of a head shrinker.
In the inner blue box we are showing our primary purchase, a single physical server, running Essentials 2012 R2, virtualised. We can do this because the Essentials PUR (Product Use Rights) allow us to virtualise Essentials on top of Essentials.
In the outer blue box, we add an additional Server 2012 R2 Standard license to our physical server. Our existing Essentials license is not affected and is still in effect. Our Essentials VM remains running, and we do not need Server CALS or RDS CALs to use our Essentials features.
With the addition of the Server license we will also add two, server 2012 guest VMS. As you probably know Server 2012 Standard includes 1+2 Virtualisation rights, however to use these VMs we DO need to purchase Server CALs for our users. One of these VMs could be for our LOB app.
Tim went one step ahead and totally confused the hell out of me for a few minutes, and added RDS CALs pointing to the last Standard VM. This of course could be used as a full RDS Server, which would indeed require RDS CALs.
Hopefully you made it this far, and you now have a clearer understanding of how to license Essentials 2012.
Key things to take away from this:
- Essentials as a product does not require any CALs but is limited to 25 users
- Downgrading Standard* to Essentials requires CALs & RDS CALs
- The Essentials Role on Server Standard* does require CALs & RDS CALs
- Essentials can be a Hyper-V Host for a single Essentials VM, no other guest VMs.
- You can add a second OS License to a physical server
* I am using Standard to save screen space but this also applies to Data Center edition.