Another Reason to Use Azure IaaS – System Center Licensing

I just had a conversation with a customer about a Hyper-V/System Center deployment that they are planning. They have multiple branch offices and they want to deploy 2 VMs to each, and manage the hosts (hardware included) and guest OS/services with System Center. The problem was: the cost of System Center – not a new story for SMEs, even larger ones, thanks to the death blow served by MSFT to System Center sales in the SME space in 2012.

This customer was looking at purchasing 1 Standard SML per site. The lack of density was increasing costs – using a centralized deployment with Datacenter SMLs would have been more cost effective. But they needed VMs for each site.

But I knew a trick:

Customers can use the license mobility benefits under Software Assurance to assign their System Center 2012 license to a Windows Server instance running on Azure. A System Center Standard license can be used to manage 2 VM instances; a System Center Datacenter license can be used to manage 8 VM instances.

What if the customer did this:

  • Deployed the VMs in Azure instead of on-premises Hyper-V
  • Shared the services via RemoteApp
  • Managed the guest OS and services using Datacenter SMLs, thus getting the cost/density benefits of the DC license.

As it turns out, the solution wasn’t going to work because the regional sites suffer from Irish rural broadband – that is, it sucks but not enough to download faster than a few MB, let alone upload.

But this is something to keep in mind for getting density benefits from a DC SML!

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