Microsoft System Center Licensing and the Private Cloud
January 15, 2013

Introduced in March 2011, Microsoft System Center 2012 was launched with the intention of enabling IT managers to build private clouds using infrastructure with which they are already familiar. Infrastructure management is one crux of building a private cloud, as managers must be able to maintain a handle on resources from several server components and endpoints.

System Center 2012, which was released for public use in late 2011, consists of several server products aimed at helping IT administrators manage their networks, including Virtual Machine Manager, Service Manager, Orchestrator, and Operations Manager. Each of these components addresses an aspect of the infrastructure management process to simplify theĀ deployment and configuration of the private cloud.
Server Management Licensing
With System Center 2012, Microsoft has aimed to make licensing as easy as possible, enabling administrators to maximize their private cloud value while simplifying purchasing. The company offers two editions of server management licenses: Datacenter and Standard. The former is intended for larger projects and allows the management of an unlimited number of operating system environments (OSEs) per license. The Standard edition allows for the management of up to two OSEs per license.

Server management licenses for System Center are processor-based, with each license covering up to two physical processors. To determine the number of licenses needed for the Datacenter suite, count the number of physical processors on the server, divide that number by two, and round up to the nearest whole number. For the Standard edition, count the number of physical processors on the server and the number of managed OSEs. Then, divide the greater of the two numbers by two and round up to the nearest whole number.

For example, a non-virtualized server with one processor would need one license for both the Datacenter and Standard editions. However, a two-processor server with three virtual OSEs would need one license under the Datacenter edition and two for the Standard edition.

Both editions offer licenses for all System Center components needed for managing services, including Configuration Manager, Virtual Machine Manager, App Controller, Endpoint Protection, and others. Licenses for each component cannot be purchased separately.

Client Management Licensing
Client management licenses are required for devices that run non-server OSEs. Microsoft offers three client management license suites: Configuration Manager Client ML, which includes Configuration Manager and Virtual Machine Manager; Endpoint Protection Client ML, which includes Endpoint Protection; and Client Management Suite Client ML, which includes Service Manager, Operations Manager, Data Protection Manager, and Orchestrator.

Client management licenses are also available through Core and Enterprise Client Access License (CAL) Suites, which are the most cost-effective way to purchase client management products, Microsoft says.

Customers with earlier versions of System Center and active Software Assurance can upgrade to System Center 2012 and its new licensing models. Microsoft also offers options for customers using earlier versions of System Center to add licenses for non-server and server devices.