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Licensing System Center 2012: It’s really that easy!

Microsoft | Posted on January 18, 2012 by Faisal Mumtaz

There’s no question that System Center is Microsoft’s flagship product that supports the management of virtual and physical IT environments. Unfortunately, up until now, the Licensing for System Center has been a difficult thorn to manage despite the benefits.  Good news for System Center customers this week. With recent changes announced by Microsoft to the licensing model for System Center 2012, things just got easier.

In the past, users of the System Center products have been required to license multiple components individually for different pieces of the solution. A license for the server; a license for the servers being managed and a license for all the clients being managed. This is all further complicated by the fact that System Center is a bundle of more than five technologies.

The products involved could be any of the following: Data Protection Manager, Configuration Manager, Operations Manager, Service Manager, Virtual Machine Manager. The end result means many sku’s to choose from.  As if that’s not complicated enough, a variety of different bundles also exist (Enrollment for Core Infrastructure, Server Management Suite Datacenter, Server Management Suite Enterprise, System Center Essentials). These bundles often make using the different technologies under the System Center brand a very cost effective solution but knowing how to properly assess the licensing requirements  is a daunting and overwhelming task.  Microsoft took notice and made things simpler.

  • There are no longer any standalone management licenses.  They will now be sold through one of two suites for managing servers: Standard or Datacenter.
  • Everything you need to run System Center is included with each of these suites (yes, even SQL). 
  • Server Management Suite Datacenter (SMSD) and Server Management Suite Standard (SMSS) will be licensed per physical processor.  Each license will cover 2 physical processors.
  • SMSD will allow for the management of unlimited virtual OSEs.  SMSS will allow for the management of 2 virtual OSEs. The real distinction therefore becomes whether you want to manage a physical environment or a virtual one.

And it’s really that simple. There are of course implications to those who’ve already invested in these a la carte options for purchasing System Center. For customers invested in Software Assurance (SA) rest assured that there is a migration path that exists. The below table describes at a high-level what to expect.


The rest is history.

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