What’s new in Windows Server 2012 and why does it matter?

The excitement about Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012 is definitely hitting the marketplace, because last month I found myself fielding a ton of questions on both. When it came to Windows Server 2012 customers were concerned about the order in which they should perform their updates, the effect it will have on their existing cloud services, and the exclusive use of the Metro interface.

All of those are important issues, but the number one issue for SHI customers is how Windows Server 2012 will affect Windows OS licensing. That’s what I’d like to address today.

Windows Server 2012 will revamp the world of Windows Server OS versions, licensing, and capabilities in an effort to facilitate easy management and integration in highly virtualized public and private clouds. There are three major changes to the volume licensing of Windows Server 2012 that SHI customers need to be aware of:

1. Consolidation of licenses. Windows Server 2012 will be consolidated into two major volume licensing versions: Standard and Datacenter. Both versions will have high-availability features such as Failover Clustering, Branch Cache hosted cache servers, Active Directory Federated Services, Additional Active Directory Certificate Services capabilities, Distributed File Services, and DFS-R Cross-File Replication.

2. Dual processor licenses. Windows Server 2012 will be licensed with dual processor licensing, which will still require Windows Server Client Access Licenses or external connectors for users and devices to be authenticated or identified by the server. The differences between the two versions will be the virtualization rights that come along with the license and, of course, the price. The Windows Server 2012 Datacenter dual processor license will allow for unlimited virtualization and virtual migration of VMs across all licensed processors. Meanwhile, the Windows Server 2012 Standard dual processor license will allow two VMs of the Server OS to run for each license.

3. Identical licensing and branding. You might have noticed that Windows Server 2012 and System Center 2012 will have almost identical licensing and branding. Both products will be condensed to only have Standard and Datacenter versions, and both are dual processor licenses. The only difference is in the virtualization rights. With this product, Microsoft has abolished workload differentiation for different versions.

With these changes, Microsoft is paving the way to unlimited virtualization and enhanced management on a global scale, from the internal data center, to the private cloud, to the public cloud, and whatever might come beyond.

So my only question to you is: Are you ready for one of the biggest changes in licensing and feature sets in the history of the Windows Server OS?

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