Windows Server 2008 Enterprise Licensing

We have a client that has 2 servers that they want to install Windows server 2008r2 enterprise on.  On server 1, they will have 2008r2 enterprise installed with hyper-v and then 4 virtual servers.  So, a single enterprise license handles that.  On server 2, they want it for redundancy purposes in case server one ever crashes. They will restore the virtuals to this server.  So, do they need a separate enterprise license for the redundant server?  It will always be up and running just in case they need it.  The reason that it has to be running is Acronis will run a backup on the main host and put the virtual servers backup files on the backup host so if the main host dies, I can start up the hosts on the backup server.  THanks for your help.

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luconstaConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Hi jruskey,

Here is a document that will confirm part of the motnahp00 discussion posted above: Your Ultimate Quick Reference Resource for Licensing.

Is an "official" document from Microsoft that states:

may move a virtual instance of the server software to another server that
is properly licensed to support such added instance. For Volume License
customers, the actual license may also be reassigned to another server
every 90 days.

With other words, in my opinion, means that you can move you virtual machine assuming:

1. The destination server must have the licence level "high enough" to allow that number of VM's - for example you cannot move 2 VM's from an Enterprise version to a Standard version of Windows Server
2. In case of hardware failure or other technical needs, you could move the licence to other server but you cannot move it again (even back to the original server) earlier that 90 days.

So, in your case if the second server is ALWAYS off, meaning you have a full system backup on another device you could restore it on the other server without any licencing problem.

But if the backups are stored regulary on the second server, meaning that you have to start that server to allow the transfer, then you MUST have the same level (Enterprise) on the second server. In this case, having 2 Enterprise servers you already have the ability to create a cluster with 2 nodes - all you need is just a "common storage" for this 2 servers and you could configure the VM's to be restarted automatically on the other server when a problem arives.
AnuroopsunddConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Yes, should be additional license as this server is in production or part of cluster.

then also should be confirmed with Microsoft.. no harm in calling their customer support.
Lee W, MVPConnect With a Mentor Technology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Yes, you will need two Enterprise licenses at least and keep in mind:

*OEM licenses CANNOT be transferred to new / different hardware.
*If using 4 VMs, the host OS CANNOT run anything other than virtualization management software.
*Retail and volume licenses can only be transferred once every 90 days unless there's a hardware failure
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arnoldConnect With a Mentor Commented:
Presumably you want the backup server to be ready to go I.e. you would backup the vms from the live server into a storage space on the backup in which case both have to be licensed.
motnahp00Connect With a Mentor Commented:
See if this helps. Here's my recent chat with a Microsoft sales rep:

Rachel: Thank you for contacting Microsoft presales and licensing.
Rachel: I see from the description that you're inquiring about licensing VMs with Windows Server 2008 R2.
ME: Yes, I need some clarification about licensing for a proposed configuration.
Rachel: All right.
ME: I have two physical servers running W2K8R2 Enterprise with 3 VMs on each. If one of the hosts failed, can the second host legitimately run 6 VMs in any situation?
Rachel: As each license can only be assigned to one physical server at a time, you would need to reassign your second Windows Server Enterprise license to the working machine in order to remain compliant.
Rachel: There are also rules regarding license reassignment. With the exception of some sort of hardware failure, licenses can't be reassigned more often than every 90 days.
ME: How would I assign two licenses to the working server?
Rachel: Unless the license is OEM, in which case it cannot be reassigned.
Rachel: It's just a matter of paperwork, really. It's not something you physically do to the server (like an activation), you just need to know which license goes with which server.
Rachel: I assume you would have other considerations from a technical perspective, but as I'm not a technical agent, I would recommend visiting for information about moving the VMs, if you need it.
ME: So for short outages, migrating the 3 VMs to a failure node is perfectly acceptable?
Rachel: I apologize for the delay. I'll be right with you..
Rachel: Not quite. You could reassign the license to another machine, but you wouldn't be able to move it back (reassign it yet again) for 90 days. The specific language from the product use rights is:
Rachel: Generally, you may not reassign:
Rachel: • licenses on a short-term basis (i.e., not within 90 days of the last assignment)
Rachel: • licenses for the Windows desktop operating system
Rachel: • licenses for Rental Rights for Office or Windows
Rachel: • Software Assurance coverage separately from the underlying license.
Rachel: In all cases, when you reassign a license from one device or user to another, you must remove the software from the former device or from the former user’s device or block further access by or to the former device or by or to the former user’s device.
ME: That really doesn't help with my failover cluster solution. I'm assuming a datacenter license would suite my needs for this situation if I wanted to transfer the 3 VMs back to their original host. Right?
Rachel: Windows Server Datacenter allows you to have an unlimited number of virtual instances on the licensed server, but I believe the restrictions for license reassignment are the same. I'll just be a moment while I see if there are any exceptions.
ME: Okay.
Rachel: All right. If you had Datacenter on the working server, you wouldn't need to reassign the license at all, since Datacenter supports an unlimited number of virtual instances. So you should be able to move the VMs from the failed machine to the working server without exceeding the allowed number of instances, whereas with Enterprise, there's a limit of 4 VMs per license.
jruskeyAuthor Commented:
Thanks to all of you!
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