Virtualization: Licensing and support changes

I was briefed a few days ago about changes to licensing to make life easier for people doing virtualization.  I think our server applications have done a good job of adapting their licences for a world where they run in virtualized machine. That's all fine and good, but the situation wasn't so clever when those virtual machines weren't tied to a single physical server.  The announcement is now up on Presspass. Previously if Exchange, SQL or the others could run on a physical computer, then that computer had to have a licence: unless a physical server was being replaced, you could not move a licence between two servers more than once every 90 days. Build a 16 node cluster with Hyper-V with one SQL VM meant buying 16 licences; as yet relatively few customers have built systems like that, but they have with VMotion and I've faced hostile questioning about this point in the past. I suspect a lot of customers thought they only needed as many licences as running VMs: that's basically the position from today. You should read the Application Server License Mobility brief for yourself, because (a) it gives some good worked examples. (b) It makes it clear what kind of moves are still excluded (c) It makes it clear which products are eligible and which are not. I'll steer questions to Emma

But there's more. We've updated our application support policy for a whole crop of applications to cover support on virtualization.. The note on Presspass simply links to and says this covers 31 applications. The full list is in KB article 957006  I'll try to find an definitive list (I have a list, I just can't call it definitive - Exchange is in though )

But that's not all. We have a new version of the KB article, 897615 which outlines how we support people running on non-Microsoft Virtualization

for vendors who have Server Virtualization Validation Program (SVVP) validated solutions, Microsoft will support server operating systems subject to the Microsoft Support Lifecycle policy for its customers who have support agreements when the operating system runs virtualized on non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software

I've mentioned the SVVP before. There are 5 companies signed up so far with certified products

  • Cisco Systems, Inc.
  • Citrix Systems, Inc.
  • Novell, Inc.
  • Sun Microsystems
  • Virtual Iron Software

The internal briefing said we'd reached out to other vendors.  If they're not on the list, it's because they don't want their customers to be properly supported. Enough said.

Update 1 The Exchange team blog has a post on this.

Update 2 Just be clear that the list on SVVP page is for those who have signed up to get their solution validated and the support statement in KB 897615 talks about having Validated solutions and It should be obvious that one comes  before the other. But I made the mistake of saying the 5 signed up as of August 19th had all completed validation.


Comments (7)

  1. Anonymous says:

    Various people noticed that VMware were not on the list of companies participating in the SVVP. Any player

  2. Anonymous says:

    In an anticipated PressPass release Microsoft yesterday announced new licensing rules, virtualization

  3. James ONeill says:

    Jon, Hi. No changes to the OS, only to applications. I don’t want to second guess the folks in Redmond too much, but I think the logic is that when you VMs that are fairly mobile there will always be X instances of an OS on a given but you don’t know which app are in them. So you say "Node 1 is licensed for 4 OSes, so is node 2 but if the SQL VM and the Exchange VM swap places that doesn’t put you out of compliance.

    I think the only time you have an issue is if you have a node for 4 windows and 4 Linux VMs and one node for 8 Windows VMs . That’s two ent licences for one node, and one for the other. If you need to move a Windows VM – or even all the windows VMs – you’re out of compliance. You can use datacenter, which has unlimited instances but I’d need a price list and a slide-rule to work out where that pays for itself, and where it doesn’t.

    It’s still more generous than we had before 2003-R2.

  4. James ONeill says:

    Jon, I’m not so sure. There are customers who will ignore the rules, and buy one licence and run many more than 4 VMs per box. And there are customers who will follow the rules – however grudgingly.  

    There have been thing about licensing in the past I have found impossible to defend. For example pre-2003-R2 if you had an OS image but you didn’t run it we expected you to pay for it.

    I think a lot of people saw the old app rules as falling into that category. I only run Exchange on one computer buy I have to license all the computers which might run it ?

    With the OS, we say you can license a box to run a given number of Windows VMs, regardless of what is in them. I think that probably can be defended – particularly given the terms on which you can get blocks of 4 or unlimited licences. I can see the next complaint being from people who DON’T use virtualization and want a discount on their licence for the enterprise OS they use to run a large, clustered exchange on SQL workload.

  5. jon honeyball says:


    Has this removed the 4 VM limitation on Server Enterprise version, whereby the 4 vm’s have to stick to the assigned base server?

  6. Graham Tyler says:

    SharePoint Server 2007 is in too 🙂 – just announced on the SharePoint Team Blog:

  7. jon honeyball says:

    the reality though is that people will simply ignore the 4vm limit and put their vms where they want, as and when they want. Same happened with the 60 day rule which has just been revoked. It was completely unenforceable, and MS simply wouldnt go after any company who had the right number of licenses and cals in place. Especially as (if I remember right) the MS management tools didnt enforce the MS licensing 🙂

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