Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Licensing Deadline

When Microsoft released Windows Server 2016, the product was moved from a processor license metric to a core license metric. According to Microsoft, the shift to core-based licensing was to provide a more consistent licensing metric across environments, while helping to remove friction across different licensing models.

Customers with Software Assurance would automatically gain the right to deploy Windows Server 2016 with their existing licenses, receiving a Standard Edition license grant of 16 cores per two processor licenses. In scenarios where licensed servers had two processors and more than 16 cores, Microsoft offered an additional core grant, ensuring no customer would be made non-compliant due to the changes.

One of the stipulations of gaining the additional core licenses is to “maintain a record of the physical hardware and the configuration of the licensed server”. Microsoft wants to be able to see proof of the number of cores that are running when the grant is taken to ensure customers do not renew more cores than they are entitled to in and attempt to mitigate future purchases.

Creating an inventory of Windows Server 2016 license data

This proof, or inventory, of your Windows Servers, must be undertaken at the first renewal of Software Assurance following Windows Server 2016 being released, where you, as a customer, accept the current product terms, OR before the fast-approaching September 30th 2019 deadline.

It is not a requirement to submit these records to Microsoft. This means you cannot run an inventory once and submit it to Microsoft never to be thought about again. As a customer, you are expected to retain this information in order to prove yourself compliant in the event of an audit.

If you have renewed your Software Assurance for a higher number of licenses but have not run an inventory to evidence that you took a grant of the correct number of licenses, you need to act quickly. If you cannot provide this evidence during your next review with Microsoft, the additional license grant will be rendered null and void, moving you back to the Standard Edition license grant of 16 cores per processor.

Microsoft customers with existing inventory solutions can run reports to gain the required inventory. However, when just looking at uncleaned data from an inventory solution, it can be difficult to ascertain whether you have collected the data required to prove what licenses should have been granted. Fortunately, utilization of an industry-recognized SAM tool can give you the information you require in this very scenario.

SAM tools can help prevent compliance issues with Windows Server 2016 licenses

A SAM (Software Asset Management) tool is specifically designed to collect information relevant to a vendors license metrics and licensing rules. Metrics such as cores, processors, and OS deployed are recorded in an easy to use format in all SAM tools. However, basic SAM tools can overlook important information, which may have an effect on what licensing is required, increasing the risk of non-compliance.

More advanced SAM tools can record information showing the makeup of the data centre, take into account virtualization technologies, and display the use of features like VMware’s DRS. By having this additional information, rather than just showing each individual server (either physical or virtual) you will be provided with the visibility of your virtual hosts where your VM resides. Since Windows Server licensing is always applied to the physical hosts rather than the individual VM, having a robust and fit for purpose Software Asset Management tool that can provide accurate and up to date information on your Windows Server licenses is crucial.

To ensure that you have maintained a suitable record for your license grant, contact License Dashboard to review your records and check they meet the standards Microsoft requires.

Ben Simpson

Ben Simpson

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