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Windows 2003/2008, virtual server licensing.

I have;

 -1 windows server 2008 STD volume license with backward compatibility  to Windows server 2003 STD.
-100 windows server 2003 CALs

With these licenses, as I understand, I can install any 2003/2008 windows server on a host and uses as a VM management only, then I can install another 2003/2008 on a guest serving client access as a file server or any other purpose. In this case, should the host and guest have the exactly the same OS? For example, can I install 2008 on host, 2003 on guest?

I'm also wondering what is the exact boundary of saying 'host as only management'. can I keep files? what about the backup process where other servers need to access the host to back up files on the host?

The virtual server is Oracle VirtualBox.
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crcsupport
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crcsupport
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2 Solutions
 
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Usually, I close with this, but here, I'll start:

DISCLAIMER: Licensing advice offered here is a "best effort" and based on the understanding of the respondents. Licenses can change and we may not be aware of these changes or may misunderstand them. Further, licenses can differ by country and/or region and what we understand to be true in our region could be false in your region. "they told me on Experts-Exchange" will not be a valid defense in a software audit.  All licensing questions should be confirmed with the appropriate licensing authority (the maker of the software/issuer of the license).  

Now, why are you using VirtualBox? It's a SLOWER type 2 hypervisor and Windows Server 2008 already includes Hyper-V which should be a much faster type 1 hypervisor.

As for what you can do with the host, backup of the host and VMs only should be ok.  Running tools that explicitly manage the hypervisor (VMs/VM system) should be ok.  A file server, DHCP server, DNS server, AD server, or anything else is NOT ok if you're exercising your 1+1 rights.  As for the version, you SHOULD be able to downgrade to n-2 where n is the version of Windows you have purchased (So 2008 R2 can be downgraded to 2003 R2, 2008 (non-R2) and go to Windows 2003 (non-R2).

But remember the disclaimer.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
I agree 100% with leew, but I also see one big gotcha here. Your CALs are 2003. And any authentication requires a CAL.

So no 2008 on the host. Thus no hyper-v (although I still agree with leew that hyper-v/esx would both be superior to virtualbox.)

And no 2008 as a guest since you don't have the CALs.

In short, you should really upgrade your CALs, and as long as you are doing that, unless you have an application compatibility reason, there is no reason to install 2003 in either environment. Mainstream support for 2003 ends *very* soon. I can't in good conscience recommend doing any new installations with it, physical or virtual, at this late date.

-Cliff
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crcsupportAuthor Commented:
Because right now I have only one machine to run virtual server and it's already in virtualbox. If i need to expand  to multiple guests, that probably may be the time I think of using hyper-v.

Anyway,,, I just want to confirm.

1. So with the single volume licensing of windows 2008 R2 STD, I can have 1+1, which means, one host and one guest. And the host is only for purpose of managing the virtual environment and access from our backup server to back up.

2. What about installing different versions on host and guest? for example, 2008 R2 on host and 2003 R2 on guest with the single license. Am I still compliant with MS licensing?
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crcsupportAuthor Commented:
Cliff, that's another reason why I have to use virtualbox instead of hyper-v. Currently I have only Win 2k3 CALs, but want to set up a virtual environment with 2008 for future expansion.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
With no 2008 CALs, I think you'll run into licensing issues even for things like remote backup. VL versions of 2008 R2 do (usually, again, refer to leew's disclaimer) allow for running a different physical edition and virtual edition when exercising your 1+1. OEM licensing is a bit more stringent. You'll really want to call MS licensing to hammer out exactly what you can do, and get them to give you written documentation as such which you can put with your licenses and CALs to protect yourself legally down the road..

-Cliff
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crcsupportAuthor Commented:
I just talked to MS vol licensing department spending 1 hr. MS doesn't seem to have documented having different versions of windows with single volume license of windows server. Instead, MS says, the downgrade user right should explain it.

So, what I understood is, I have Single volume license of Windows 2008 R2 STD. Then I can install different version of windows on host and guest with host as only management platform. For backup process to access the host, I need single CAL depending on the Windows version installed on the host.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Cliff,

I'm not sure I agree that the CALs would prevent using 2008 as the parent and 2003 as a child.  Consider: a Parent that is using 1+1 doesn't have anyone authenticating to it other than the local admin (unless you join it to the domain but even then you'd still only have one or a handful (administrators) accessing the server.

I understand you have the guest OS already in a Virtual Box VM, but if you don't understand the two types of hypervisors, I would recommend researching them.  Type 1 are bare metal (kind of like an OS in themselves) and perform much better than type 2 which are effectively programs that run on top of a host OS.
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