6 things about Microsoft licensing you ought to know

6 things about Microsoft licensing you ought to know

Regardless of the organisation or their situation, there are some regular commonalities we come across - and May Turnbull lists the ones we see the most.

Published on 16th June 2015

In the spirit of my last few articles, I feel compelled to share with you all some of the commonalities I come across on a day-to-day basis. Here are 6 things that I generally find people don’t know about:

1. Virtual Desktop Access licensing

This is something I see overlooked a lot. Virtual desktop access is a Windows SA right through volume licensing. If you have opted to license your Operating Systems another way, you will need Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription licenses for each device accessing a virtual desktop. Including thin clients!

2. Windows Server License Stacking

In today’s day and age, virtualization is a very common. Now normally, in a clustered environment where virtual machines are mobile with the possibility of them sitting across multiple hosts – one would typically license the hosts each with a Datacenter license to allow unlimited virtualization.

What people often don’t know is that if you have alternative editions available (that come with a ‘guest allowance’), you are able to ‘stack’ these against a host. So yes, 9 times out of 10 you will find Datacenter the best option especially if there are plans for virtualization growth. But certainly don’t overlook the opportunity to make the best of existing licensing in perhaps smaller, less virtualized clusters.

3. SQL Server Services Components

I have seen quite a few causalities in this department of late. SQL Server services components (Analysis Services, Reporting Services and Integration Services) do require a full SQL license if installed independently, even without a database present on the device. Be very mindful here ladies and gents, I have seen customers with these components quite thoughtlessly deployed across their network. This is something you should be very wary of.

4. Companion Subscription Licensing

Companies with Windows with SA licensing through volume licensing, have an added benefit of Roaming Use Rights. This covers the primary user of the device to access their desktop when outside of the company premises on non-company devices. The catch here is that it doesn’t allow access from devices not owned by the company within the organization premises. This means that if you want to bring personally owned devices onto company premises and access your desktop, you would need to purchase a Companion Subscription License. Bet you didn’t know that one!

5. Portable Device Rights

Purchasing Office (and various desktop applications) through volume licensing allows the primary user of the licensed device to install the software on a portable device as well. What people sometime forget is this is null and void for Enterprise Agreements as you have an obligation to cover all your devices, including the portable ones. The only devices you can exclude are:

6. SQL Server pre-2012 mobility licensing

During a Microsoft audit, Microsoft will not allow pre-2012 guest SQL Server installs (that are mobile within a cluster) to be covered with 2012/2014 licenses with SA (to allow mobility). Microsoft’s reasoning is that at the time there were no mobility rights through SA then – so they require each host that the virtual machine could possibly sit on to be licensed for that eventuality.

This rule of Microsoft’s often throws a lot of people out because the usual rule of thumb is that the rules of the applied license dominate. However, one can see Microsoft’s point here, if customers had licensed their SQL originally for mobility – they wouldn’t have been able to get away so lightly and would have had to license each host at the time.

So take heed! If you are licensing your virtual machines with a current SQL Server license with SA (2012/2014) to take advantage of the mobility rights, you should not be downgrading these to cover 2008 R2 versions or prior.

If you have read the above and think you may be in trouble or would like some more clarification around these particular points, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

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Picture of May Turnbull

May Turnbull


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