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Windows Server 2012 Essentials running in Windows Server 2012 Hyper-V Host

Posted on 2014-01-12
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I am setting up a domain with approximately 45 users, which rules out Windows Server 2012 Essentials as the Active Directory Domain Controller.  I want to retain the features of Essentials, specifically client backups and Remote Web Access.  I have read some whitepapers indicating that I can setup Windows Server 2012 as a Hyper-V host and run Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 Essentials as virtual instances.  This concept is blogged in the following link: Using Windows Server 2012 Essentials with more than 25 users


I intend to purchase a Dell Windows Server 2012 with 45 Standard user CAL's.  Is this all I need to buy?  Will the Dell OEM version work?  Do I need to buy RDS CAL's instead of regular CAL's to use Remote Web Access?  Am I missing anything?

Thanks,

Jon
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Question by:baggio8
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by:Mahesh
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With Windows 2012 Standard edition you can install 2012 essentials edition as virtual guest without purchasing extra license

So, you need to purchase windows 2012 standard edition and 45 licenses only.

In normal scenarios, RDS and Server Standard CALs are different and needs to be purchased separately. However, for the Essentials edition, as with previous versions, the use of Remote Web Access does not require an RDS CAL
http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/briefs/terminal-services.aspx

Essentials only supports 2 Active sessions, regardless of how many RDS CALs you own
If you need to have 45 users logged on to the server via Remote Desktop (RDS) then you will need to have a separate Server 2012 standard (not Essentials) for this purpose.  
This does not need to be a separate physical machine.  For example, you could have Server 2012 Standard with Hyper-V installed on the physical box, with two VMs:  one VM running Essentials and a second VM running Server 2012 Standard with RDS Role Services.  A single Server 2012 Standard license would allow the above since it allows two virtual instances plus physical for hyper-v only.

In that case you would require RDS CALs separately for those 45 users.

Mahesh
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by:baggio8
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Thanks for your response Mahesh.  I would like to clarify a few issues.
If I understand correctly I will be configuring a physical Windows 2012 Server with the roles of an Active Directory Domain Controller, DNS, File Server and Hyper-V.  I will have 45 standard CAL's to access the Server. I will also have one VM running Windows 2012 Essentials.  This will provide my users with client backup and Remote Web Access.  I would only need to add another VM running Windows 2012 Server and 45 RDS CAL's if I wanted to use advanced features like RemoteApps or Remote Virtual Desktops.  Is that correct?

Thanks,

Jon
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Cliff Galiher earned 500 total points
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Unfortunately Mahesh is incorrect in this instance. But first, let's cover a few things.

Hyper-V will not help you keep the essentials features with more than 25 users. There are plenty of legitimate reasons to run hyper-v, so I'm not saying don't do it. I'm just saying it won't achieve your stated goal.

Here is what you need to do. You need a server standard license, not an essentials license. You can then exercise your downgrade rights to install essentials. You can do this in a VM or on the physical server... like I said, hyper-v won't matter here. Which one you choose is is to you, your other needs (other VMs, disaster recovery, etc.)

Once essentials is installed, you run the transition wizard, using your server standard key, to remove the 25 user lock and other essentials restrictions. Now you will have most of the essentials features without the limits,

Now, licensing. You will need user CALs for each user. You *will* need RDS CALs to use the remote desktop access feature. This is because you are operating under the server standard license and not the essentials license which you have to do to be above 25 users. Server standard (even through the essentials features) foes not give you the "free" access that the essentials license gives you.  Yep, that'll cost. And finally, to install essentials, like I said, you'll need to exercise downgrade rights to get media and an installation key. That is a pain to do via OEM. Buy VL if possible.

Note that all of the above pertains to 2012. If you can, get 2012 R2 standard. It'll vastly simply everything. The essentials features are just an installable role. No downgrade hassles. No transition magic, just install the server. Enable the role. Buy CALs.
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by:baggio8
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Thanks for your response.  This all makes my head hurt!
If I understand correctly I can run Windows Server 2012 on the machine and an additional two copies on the VM with the purchase of the Server. That plus user CAL's, of course.  
I was under the impression that both OS's needed to be installed to accomplish what I'm trying to achieve.  Would that be Server 2012 on the physical machine and downgrade rights to Windows Server Essentials 2012 on the VM?  
Then add the User CAL's.  
The link I specified in the blog in my original post refers to being able to use regular CAL's not RDS CAL's.  I was reading something that recommended not running Active Directory and RDS roles on the same instance.  
My physical machine would be running Windows Server 2012 with the roles of Active Directory Domain Controller, DNS, File Server and Hyper-V.   I would then install Windows Server Essentials 2012 in a VM instance with the downgrade rights option.  Since I am not installing the role of RDS why would I need to use RDS CAL's?

Thanks for your answers!

Jon
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by:Cliff Galiher
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"I was under the impression that both OS's needed to be installed to accomplish what I'm trying to achieve."

So far, the only thing you've listed as a goal is to run an installation with the essentials features and 45 users. If THAT is your only goal, you only need to "transition" an essentials install into a standard install, and that could be a physical or VM. I don't see why you need two VMs. You may need two VMs to reach other, unstated, goals. Which is why, in my previous comment, I said your choice to use Hyper-V would be dictated by other factors not related or listed in your question.

"If I understand correctly I can run Windows Server 2012 on the machine and an additional two copies on the VM with the purchase of the Server."

2012 Standard does allow 1+2 licensing. 1 physical install, only for Hyper-V, and 2 VMs. If you choose to take advantage of 1+2.

"I was reading something that recommended not running Active Directory and RDS roles on the same instance. "

True. RDS is always best run "clean" without mixing other server roles. This is also true for Hyper-V and, to a lesser extend, ADDS.

"My physical machine would be running Windows Server 2012 with the roles of Active Directory Domain Controller, DNS, File Server and Hyper-V. "

THREE problems with this.
Problem one. Not sure why you'd put ADDS, DNS, and a file server role there when you get all that with your essentials VM. Rather redundant.

Problem two. It is always a particularly bad idea from a technical perspective to run hyper-v and other roles. Always put them in a VM. Otherwise you severely limit hyper-v's ability to manage resources.

Problem three. You break licensing with standard. 1+2 ONLY kicks in if you keep the host hyper-v only. The moment you install another role, like file services or DNS, you lose rights to license ANY VM. Not just one VM, but both of them.


"Since I am not installing the role of RDS why would I need to use RDS CAL's?"

I was specific here. You will need an RDS CAL in addition to a windows CAL (in addition, not instead of) *if* that user will be using the remote desktop feature of essentials to log into their work machine from out of the office. That feature uses RDGateway behind the scenes, and the use of any RDS role feature on server standard (including a transitioned essentials install) requires an RDS CAL (including using RDGateway.)

So whether you need RDS CALs or not is entirely dependent on whether you plan on using that specific feature of essentials.
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by:baggio8
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Thanks for your answer, but I am still having a hard time understanding the options.  Would this work? Run Windows Server 2012 R2 on the physical machine with the roles of AD, DNS, File Server, and Essentials Experience.   Add the CAL's for all users and add RDS CAL's for users that will be using Remote Web Access.
As an alternative I might run Windows Server 2012 R2 on the physical machine with the role of Hyper-V only.  On the first VM I would run Windows Server Essentials with down grade rights with the roles of AD, DNS, and File Server.  On the Second VM I would run Windows Server 2012 R2 with the role of RDS so I could have users connect to RemoteApps.  
Again, I would need to have user CAL's and RDS CAL's.  
Have I gotten that right?
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by:Cliff Galiher
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Well, except for throwing 2012 R2 in the mix, you have it right. If you do indeed choose R2, here would be no need to exercise downgrade rights. That is an option, but would change your deployment scenario slightly.
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Author Closing Comment

by:baggio8
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Thanks for the responses.  I have acquired the R2 version based on your suggestion.
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by:Mahesh
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Good question and great answers, thanks to both of you

Mahesh
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