Windows Server 2016 Per Core Ready

Microsoft have confirmed the launch Windows Server 2016 in October.

Windows Server 2016 is already available for evaluation since September 26 and will be on the October price list, with Volume licensing customers able to download fully licensed software at General Availability in mid-October.

Windows Server 2016 is a next generation operating system with cloud enabled security features, and ‘cloud ready’ protection of VMs. Microsoft have developed software-defined infrastructure features across compute, storage and network, based on an Azure model; and aim to support a cloud enabled application layer, with new ways to deploy and run existing and cloud native applications, whether on-premise on in the cloud, with new capabilities like Windows Containers and lightweight Nano Server deployment options.

Microsoft will depart from consistent feature parity between Windows Standard and Datacenter Edition for 2016, and some notable limitations on supported applications at GA. The new release will have over 86 new features and choices for deployment and service branches, with new management extensibility with System Center 2016 and OMS

Importantly, Microsoft will  re-align licensing from a processor to a per core metric, thus enabling a consistent licensing model across on-premise and cloud infrastructures, and securement of revenue growth by ‘riding the wave’ of the proliferation of cores at host level. The new pricing schema will equate the cost of a processor to 8 cores per CPU.


Our Microsoft Advisory Services practice have completed some independent research which suggests a possible 22% spend increase at renewal, with a possible 4 in 10 servers already in excess of the pricing equivalent 8 cores per CPU, and a current host server average already estimated at 8.59 cores per CPU. This could represent a material increase in software spend at point of renewal, or over the next contract term, as hardware is upgraded with more powerful chipsets.

Microsoft have advised customers to complete an inventory and document the number of physical cores in each processor in use, that are licensed with Windows Server to ensure compliance. My team are already assisting our customers with a strategy to be ‘per core ready’ now, and save money by securing available license grants at SA renewal.

I recognise that the clients I work with are looking to drive licensing cost savings, and drive efficiencies by smart, tailored investment in cloud services. There is value in seeking expert advice to ensure a business is ‘Windows Server Per Core Ready’, enabling license spend reduction in Windows Server, securing available license grants, and identifying smart opportunities for hybrid or Azure investments.

There are also opportunities by identifying license spend optimisation, by looking at Azure Hybrid Use Benefit which to only require payment of the Azure base instance (up to 16 cores, and a minimum of 8) on Azure D Series VMs; and the expected ‘reserved compute’ option within Volume Licensing, allowing purchase of compute at a discounted rate versus hourly billing. Notably, Microsoft are expected to harmonise pricing with both EA and MPSA to provide a more transparent and comparable offering with competitors like AWS.

Strategic partners, like SoftwareONE can also provide access to a digital platform to support intelligent management of cloud resources, with  PyraCloud Pro and a useful Azure consumption and analytics module. Enabling a business to on-board to cloud services with a “digital ready” management and analytics platform at outset, and avoiding the pitfalls of overage and service sprawl which are increasingly important to maintain the advantages of dynamic access to cloud resources.

In conclusion, the processor to core metric change will drive an increase in revenue based on prevalent emerging CPU architectures, driving double digit growth (as it did with SQL Server). The opportunity for customers is to be ready for this change and look at the immediate impact at renewal, but the wider strategy, inclusive of consolidation, upgrade and target candidates for cloud. There is a significant opportunity for spend reduction, but organisations need to align license design authority with technical design authority to drive effective and achievable spend reduction.

I will be running a series of webinars on Windows Server 2016 and these topics over the coming weeks:

  • Webinar Series (Thursday October 6th, Thursday October 20th) Register Here

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This website is a way to give back to the licensing community and as an information resource for all customers that work with Microsoft software and licensing. I hope you find it of value.

Tony Mackelworth is Head of Microsoft Advisory Services at SoftwareONE

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