System Center 2012 Licensing

Now you have pre-ordered your Microsoft Private Cloud book *cough*, you’ll want to figure out the licensing for System Center 2012.  Those details were announced tonight in the “transforming IT” webcast.

The good news: licensing for System Center is getting easier:


A big change is that you cannot buy individual SML products by themselves.  You must buy SML suites.  To be honest, people who run virtualisation have been typically buying a System Center Management Suite because it was cheaper than buying individual “2007” management licenses (MLs), so this isn’t a big deal (or a little on either).

You will now license it using one of two System Center 2012 suite editions, Datacenter and Standard.  They are referred to as Server Management Licenses or SMLs.  Datacenter gives you unlimited management rights for licensed hosts.  That’s perfect for virtualisation and private clouds.  The Standard edition is aimed at very small virtualisation deployments or physical servers. 


It is per-processor licensing based on physical (host) processors.  You can over-license a host, e.g. assign multiple Standard SMLs to a host.  You can see some examples here:


All System Center licensing with SA can upgrade to System Center 2012 SMLs.  Note that the System Center Management Suites include SA. 


Remember that you can also manage clients with System Center.  There is new licensing for these as well:


Microsoft has published a datasheet on System Center 2012 licensing.  There is also a System Center 2012 licensing FAQ.  Please contact your reseller, distributor, or LAR if you have any questions on this licensing.

6 thoughts on “System Center 2012 Licensing”

  1. How Microsoft will deal with System Center customers using VMware as their hypervisor? How does one count the physical processors for server MLs then? I’m assuming they’ll ask that vmotion be disabled or something and count only the hosts’ physical procs that System Center could potentially be on, but I haven’t found anything official yet. Any ideas?

    1. Joe, take off the hat. Stevie B isn’t stealing your brainwaves to power his data centers 😛

      MSFT licensing for Windows VMs or System Center doesn’t care what hypervisor you use. You count physical processors. 2 processors = 2 processors on Hyper-V, VMware, XenServer, RedHat, and on. No, you do not need to disable vMotion; you can actually run it from System Center.

  2. Any word on what’s happening with System Center Essentials, especially for those who have Software Assurance on the sucker?

  3. Hi there. Could you please share the light on clustering licensing? If, for example, we have 2 clustered physical servers for fail over, both running ESX, and on top some VMs, how should we license these servers? Do we need to license both servers, even though there is only one having the load at anytime? Or we can license only one of the physical servers, of course with the necessary number of MLs according to the number of physical CPUs.
    Thanks a lot for your answer and help.

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