Windows Server 2012 Licensing Questions - School Environment

Discussion in 'Operating Systems' started by ElectroPulse, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. ElectroPulse

    ElectroPulse Limp Gawd

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    Hello, all!

    I am spending the next 9-10 months at a low-budget Mission School outside the US. Still trying to get used to the super slow internet here...

    Anyway, the computer teacher last year didn't know much about computers, so the network was in a shambles when I arrived. So, I am currently in the process of trying to overhaul it... It has been set up like a workgroup, all individual computers with two user accounts (student and administrator). There have already been students who have deleted other students' files, so this has to change in the next week or so.

    Anyway, I have never dealt with anything newer than Windows Server 2008 R2, and even my experience with that and Windows Server 2003 was relegated to maintaining user lists, and just browsing through the menus to see what all it could do (rather than dealing with the purchasing of, or installing of, the OSs).

    So, on to my questions... I have been reading about the differences between Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2, and I am leaning toward trying to obtain Windows Server 2012 (that and the fact that it may be harder to get 2008 R2 anyway). However, I am a bit confused about licensing...

    First off, let me start out with what I have in mind: Since we don't have any servers that were initially designed to be used as servers (just a regular computer that had Untangle installed on it (switched to pfSense due to cost of required features)), I would like to have a backup server ready to swap in any time needed. So here we go: Two computers, running the (what appears to be) free Server 2012 Hyper-V, which will be running 2 VMs: 1 will be Windows Server 2012, and the other will be pfSense. Each will have 3 (or maybe 4 to mirror the OS) HDDs in them: 1 (or 2) smaller one(s) for the OS, and the other two would probably be 1tb drives mirrored in RAID 1 for student files.

    So, how would this work? If we are only using one server at a time, and the only one is only there to be a backup in case the primary server dies, are we required to have two separate licenses? (I am not familiar with how Windows Server licensing works) Also, I am a bit confused as to how Windows Server 2012 licensing works with the CAL... We have about 130 students, so with staff I am figuring about 150-160 user accounts (that would be an absolute maximum... I am envisioning 100 being a more realistic number, since not every student is in a computer class, nor would they need to access the computers). What version of 2012 would we need to get, and I'm guessing we would need to purchase extra CALs for the additional users?

    And how do the CALs work? Are they for individual servers, or are they per-organization? If we had a backup server, would I need to purchase additional CALs just for the backup server?

    Also, I ran across a website (http://www.creationengine.com/html/ld.lasso?ld=46)... Is it really as simple (and cheap) as it appears? $232 for license, then an additional $1 per user? (Oh, and it looks like per device as well....) Or is there something else to it that I'm not aware of?

    Now, another question that I have that is unrelated to licensing: What sort of capabilities are there for using one VM at a time, while the other is just being mirrored? For example, I have two VMs on each server (one VM would Server 2012, the other would be pfSense). If I wanted to have the primary pfSense server be Server 1, and the primary Server 2012 (with AD, file storage, etc.) be Server 2, would this be possible? This is all new to me (I've never dealt with virtualization), so I am trying to learn everything on the fly as quickly as possible.

    And as a side note, the computers that have been donated here all came with Windows 7 Professional, so connecting them to the domain will not be an issue.

    Thanks in advance! Any help or advice that can be provided would be greatly appreciated
     
  2. Demon10000

    Demon10000 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Licensing is tricky, and it would be in your best interest to seek some professional assistance if you are not 100% comfortable with it (and I don't know anyone who is comfortable with Microsoft licensing!).

    In regards to your architecture --
    You should be able to get by with Server 2012 Standard. It will allow you to host two Windows Virtual Machines (you can host more, you would just need to license those VMs separately -- linux distributions would not be an additional license).

    You can provide different levels of redundancy.

    Server 2012 has can replicate a virtual machine to another Server 2012 machine. This is a great way to keep backups of your VMs. I would recommend looking into this if your budget allows for additional hardware. This will provide you hardware level redundancy -- if one server powers off, you just need to go to the other one and turn it on.

    Server 2012 also features Clustering. This lets a machine "fail" between to different servers. The hardware needs to be identical (or very, very close) and it's much more in depth than Hyper-V replication. However, you can move VMs between hosts without downtime. And if one host fails, the VM will migrate to the other host automatically. There is a HUGE learning curve with this method, and it will requite shared storage (a third server or some sort of SAN).

    You should also consider carefully where you are placing your data. I recommend putting it outside of your VM and keeping it out of the VHD if possible. If you can, budget for some sort of SAN/NAS device that you can easily backup and put the data there.
     
  3. ElectroPulse

    ElectroPulse Limp Gawd

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    Hmm... Is it really that non-straightforward that I could need professional assistance? I had just imagined the response would be something like "Yea, you just buy X license, then if you need additional users, buy X." I'm curious, what sort of extra complexity is there to the mix?

    Also, could you clarify what you mean by that second paragraph just a bit more? Do you mean that the license is good for two separate VMs on the same computer, or can it go on one VM on two separate physical computers? I have been doing some reading, and it appears that it is limited to one physical machine, so if I wanted any sort of redundancy, I would need two licenses.

    Of those two redundancy options, I would probably need to go with the first one. I don't believe that it would be possible to get funding to buy two identical computers, so I am probably going to just have to use a couple that we have laying around here... So, that, and also because of the difficulty of learning the Hyper-V replication (since I am hoping to do this in the next few weeks).

    As for the idea of a NAS, that's actually not a bad idea... I need to look into some different options. I may try setting up a Raspberry Pi with that (due to the low cost)...

    And lastly, another question that I forgot to ask: When it says that it limits the licenses by processor, does it actually mean processor, or does it mean cores? (I would assume the former, but am unsure)
     
  4. bigdogchris

    bigdogchris [H]ard as it Gets

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    Licensing depends on the country. You need to speak with a Microsoft license partner that sells to the country you are located in. Try setting up an account with CDWG.
     
  5. The Cobra

    The Cobra 2[H]4U

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    I don't know how much licensing costs for outside of the USA for server 12, but here in Washington State @ the school I work at, we get a server license for $232 bucks each. This gives us one physical server license or 2 virtual licenses. Sorry I can't be of more help.
     
  6. Demon10000

    Demon10000 [H]ardness Supreme

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    Yes. Becuase there might be some odd-ball discount you are elidgible for that you might miss, or you might interpit something incorrecly. A quality reseller should have someone that will help you out with this. There are people who's entire careers are dedicated to understanding Microsoft Licensing.

    In regards to Server 2012 Standard Hyper-V Licensing -- you are licensed for two microsoft operating systems running on the physical box. If you replicate elsewhere, using Hyper-V, the machine will be off and won't consume a license, however, you need to replicate to a 2012 box so it will be licensed regardless.

    This isn't a hard limit -- if you install 50 windows servers, it won't prevent you -- you'll just be out of compliance. THere is no cost (from microsoft) to run non-MS operating systems. You could run 100 Linux VMs and it wouldn't cost anything additional.

    There are third party utilities that will allow you redundancy. If you don't want to purchase another server license, you could use something non-microsoft. Might be cheaper, might not.

    There really isn't much to Hyper-V Replication. You basically right click the vm and choose to configure replication. Then you tell it who the replication partner is (where the VM is going to be copied) and you're done. There are other options, but they are pretty self explanatory. Once you have two Server 2012 machines and a VM on one box, it shouldn't take you more than 3 minutes to get replication going, even if you have no experience with Hyper-V.

    What exactly are you referring to? Server 2012? This is where the professional is going to help you out. I know microsoft really mixed up their licensing this year. Previous to this gen or products, everything has been licensed per physical proc. I know SQL is now per core (or going to be soon?), but I haven't heard of any changes with windows. And MS also can change this at any time.