Thoughts on today’s virtualization licensing and support news

Today we announced some changes to server application licensing and support policies related to running MS server apps on top of anyone’s hypervisor. Several folks have written or blogged about it, here are some:

Chris Wolf (Burton Group)


Windows IT Pro 

Thoughts on application mobility licensing

As of Sept. 1, 41 Microsoft server applications are covered, both per-processor apps and server/CAL applications that are available via Volume Licensing [Enterprise Agreement and Open Agreements]. In essence the 90-day mobility rule is removed for these applications. With these changes, both licenses and software can move more freely across servers in a server farm [up to two data centers each physically located in a time zone that is within four hours, or within EU and/or EFTA].

Here are some examples of how the licensing might work for you:

·         A customer has a server farm with 8 4-processor servers, running a total of 4 copies of Exchange.

o    Under the old rules, they would need to either manually move the Exchange instances to another server that is already licensed for Exchange, OR they would need to license all 8 possible servers for Exchange.

o    Starting Sept. 1, they will need to have a license for each running instance (4) and those licenses can be moved from one physical server to another as needed.

·         A customer has a server farm with 8 4-processor servers, running a total of 4 instances of SQL Server Enterprise Edition under the per-processor model.

o    Under the old rules, the customer would need to manually move an instance from one licensed processor to another, or they would need as many as 32 licenses (8×4)

o    Starting Sept 1, the customer will need a maximum of 4 licenses. Because Microsoft allows unlimited instances on a processor licensed for SQL Server Enterprise Edition, the customer could have as few as one license if all 4 instances are always moved together.   


 A few other points:

  • these licensing rights don’t apply to server apps acquired via OEM or retail channels
  • only apply to those products listed; it doesn’t apply to client access licenses (CALs) or management licenses MLs) or Windows Server
  • If you’ve recently purchased these server apps listed in the”Application Server License Mobility” VL Brief based on rules prior to Sept. 1, then you should talk to the Microsoft partner or account rep to receive maximum value.
  • Why no Windows Server? Check out the use rights with Windows Server enterprise and datacenter editions.

 Thoughts on technical support

As of today, you’ll see that we’re expanding tech support policy for (initial) 31 server applications for customers that run these apps on WS08 Hyper-V, Microsoft Hyper-V Server or any other validated hypervisor (type 1 or 2). The nut of it is … customers will be able to get the same level of tech support for virtualized workloads that they get today with non-virtualized workloads.

The kicker here, and where many journos reported inaccurate information, is that 3rd-party vendors’ hypervisors must first pass the validation test before customers can get cooperative support from Microsoft and that vendor. For example, it was reported that VMware signed an agreement to participate in the Server Virtualization Validation Program. That much is true. However, it doesn’t mean that cooperative support is now in place. First, ESX Server must go through and pass the validation test. Once validated, they’ll be added to KB article 944987, where we list “support partners for non-Microsoft hardware virtualization software.” Today only Novell is listed, and that’s due to the broader technical collaboration agreement in place between the companies.

The other thing to note is that the server application teams have posted configurations that will be supported running on validated hypervisors. For example, the Exchange team posted a blog about their policy, which can be summarized as: 

  • Exchange Server 2007 Service Pack 1 is supported on Hyper-V and other validated hypervisors when deployed according to the guidelines published on TechNet. 

 The Sharepoint team blogged about their policy today and posted an FAQ here.

Let us know if you have questions. Cheers,

Patrick O’Rourke