ESXi Hosts & Windows Server 2019 Standard Licensing – How many?

Hey all,

We currently have a setup where we have 2 ESXi hosts, and each host has 28 cores (2x Intel Xeon E5-2660 v4). This totals to 56 cores overall. The site that this equipment is at currently has 5 Windows Servers, with the potential to upgrade to 6.

1. I presume that each host needs to be individually licensed, and we can’t simply license both hosts?
2. Does it matter whether we were to get 14 2-core packs, or 1 16-core and 6 2-core packs per host?
3. How many operating systems would we be able to run ?

Thanks for helping me understand this!

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  1. You need to purchase (42) 2 core packs up front.

    The math gets complicated with Standard. In your case it’s going to be:

    * Cores per host (28) x # of hosts (2) = 56 total cores
    * Total cores (56) / 2 VMs per Standard license = 28 licenses required per 2 VMs on the cluster
    * 5 or 6 VMs = (3) sets of licenses required (you need to round up to 6 if you have 5)
    * 28 licenses per two VMs * 3 sets of licenses = (84) licensed cores required
    * 84 licensed cores = (42) 2-core packs

    In a nutshell, you need to license (and re-license) every core on the cluster for every two VMs you have.

    Confused yet?

    I decided to forego Standard licensing as much as possible because Datacenter allows you to run an unlimited number of VMs per host. You just license the total number of cores on the cluster. I’m sure this is Microsoft’s goal. The math for us is much closer than it would be for you though since we run 7-8 VMs on each host on our least dense clusters and many more than that on our primary cluster.

    As for your second question, it doesn’t matter how you get there as long as the core count is sufficient. Good luck!

  2. With Standard licensing according to the licensing datasheet, you would need to buy 14 x 2 core packs (2-core packs are the same per-core prices as the 16-core packs so that shouldn’t matter) for each host. This would allow you to run 2 OSEs (Operating System instances of Windows) on each host. In order to run more than that, you will need to re-license each host with another full set of 28 Standard licenses for each additional 2 OSEs you want to run.

    EDIT: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/cloud-platform/windows-server-pricing

  3. With 28-cores per server, you have to buy in increments of 28, for each physical system. Doesn’t matter how you get to 28.

    Each time you increment, you’re allowed to run 2 instances of Windows Server Standard.

    If you have shared storage, however, you have to license each host to accommodate the total number of Windows a Server Guests that may potentially run on each host. So in your case, 5-6, so 3 licenses cover that. So, base license in a shared-storage environment is 3x-28cores, x2 servers. For a grand total of 168 Windows Server Standard cores (84x-2core packs, or combination of 16 and 2 or whatnot).

    Compare against 56-cores of Datacenter edition, if you want to determine if DC is worth it.

    Don’t forget you also need Windows Server CALs that match the version of Server being deployed.

  4. I always thought that with Standard licensed VMs you simply add up the number of used v-cores, divide by two, and buy that many license packs. So if those five VMs each use only, say, 10 cores each, you’d need 25 two-license packs. However, if each VM is assigned 28 cores, that’d be 70 two-license packs – at which point going Datacenter is likely cheaper. (I don’t recall the exact point at which Datacenter becomes cheaper.)

    At least, that’s what I’m seeing with 2016 – not sure about 2019.

  5. The breakpoint where datacenter starts to become a savings is around 13 VM’s. Standard edition is easy.

    You have to license the metal physical server. The minimum license you can by is 16 physical cores. So even if you have 8 cores in a physical server you have to purchase 16 cores. From there you increment up and use division to divide the number of cores by 2. In your case if you have 28 cores you would purchase 14 2_core pack licenses per physical server.

    Now that gives you rights to run 2 standard edition VM’s assuming the host isn’t running any server roles in the case of hyper-v. Let’s say you want to run 6 VM’s per host you’d need to buy 42 core packs per host to run 6VMs. If the servers are clustered and can vmotion/live migrate VM’s and have to potential of running 12 VM’s then you’d buy licensing for 12 VM’s or 96 cores per physical server. Now you can see why around 13 VM’s is where you’d want to go datacenter. Purchasing SA gives you some failover rights where you don’t have to license DR.

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