Clarifications about Windows Server 2012 R2 Licensing

Hi all,
I need to implement a "blackbox" as a web front-end for a massive archive system. However, I don't expect a big traffic as this is old historical information.
I am looking at different WS2012R2 flavors and have many doubts about the terminology:
- When it is mentioned 'allowed physical processors', what about 2 or 4 cores CPUs? (i.e. Intel Core i7) Are they considered a single physical processor?
- WS2012 Essencials and Foundations have 25- and 15-user limitation. Does this comprise clients using the web application? Can I have 100 web users with those versions?
Some notes:
- I would like to use the smallest version as possible
- I don't need to provide authentication or file services, I will use a token provided by another server.
- I will run a SQL database which is only an index for the archive
- I don't need to be part of a domain (in the Microsoft sense), so the machine can be reached by associating a sub-domain name with its IP address
- I may require SSL for securing the line
LVL 55
Jaime OlivaresSoftware ArchitectAsked:
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
When Microsoft talks about CPU, read carefully.  If they say cores (I believe SQL has changed to cores but for years it was socketed CPU) then you read it as cores.  If they say CPU, then it's Sockets on the motherboard and unlimited cores (whatever is available) in the socket.

All windows servers provide web server and according to this Technet article - http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj679892.aspx - there are no limits on it's usage.  If the web server wouldn't require anything special in 2012 Standard, then, in theory, it could be used here IS MY INTERPRETATION.  Though honestly, I don't think MS intended this.

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Joshua GrantomSenior Systems AdministratorCommented:
Multi-core processors are considered one single physical processor because they only use 1 physical socket.

As for Server 2012 Essentials, it is similar to SBS Server so it must by the primary domain controller in the root of a forest.

Server 2012 Foundations would be your best bet because the incoming connections to IIS are not limited by the CAL's
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Joshua GrantomSenior Systems AdministratorCommented:
Take that back, Foundation must be a PDC also

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/jj679892.aspx
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
- When it is mentioned 'allowed physical processors', what about 2 or 4 cores CPUs? (i.e. Intel Core i7) Are they considered a single physical processor?

CPU refers to "socket".  You can have up to two CPU sockets per license and as many cores as you want per CPU.

- WS2012 Essencials and Foundations have 25- and 15-user limitation. Does this comprise clients using the web application? Can I have 100 web users with those versions?

IIS users typically do not count towards licensing.  If they start authenticating, that is a different story, but web access is not limited by the license, and I believe this is the case in all versions of Server.

I believe Essentials will require it to be the domain controller, while Foundation doesn't have that restriction.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
Take that back, Foundation must be a PDC also

Here is what is said in that link:

In the Windows Server 2012 Foundation operating system, the server must be a member of a workgroup or, if joined to a domain, joined at the root of the forest as a domain controller.
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Joshua GrantomSenior Systems AdministratorCommented:
oops, skipped over that part. That's what I get for reading too fast.
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Jaime OlivaresSoftware ArchitectAuthor Commented:
Hi guys, thanks for the help so far. There are some contradictory comments, though. Regarding the PDC, can I use Foundation without domain controller at all? This is, reaching it only by IP?
In that case I can still mask the IP with a domain name by configuring the CNAME in the domain name provider. Please confirm.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
As PowerEdgeTech cited in the link:
In the Windows Server 2012 Foundation operating system, the server must be a member of a workgroup or, if joined to a domain, joined at the root of the forest as a domain controller.

One downside, you CANNOT buy Foundation separately, it's only available preinstalled on servers.  So you cannot run a VM with it.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
can I use Foundation without domain controller at all? This is, reaching it only by IP?

Yes, Foundation can be used in a workgroup, and it can be accessed by IP address (or by name with a DNS entry).
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Joshua GrantomSenior Systems AdministratorCommented:
Yes you can use Foundation in a workgroup and configure a cname in the dns to point to the server to make it accessible by name.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
One downside, you CANNOT buy Foundation separately, it's only available preinstalled on servers.

Good call ... I meant to mention that and forgot :)
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Based on your list of items, and in particular this authentication token from another server, I believe you will need Server Standard and an External Connector license. That is the smallest edition that can legally run the workload as described.
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Jaime OlivaresSoftware ArchitectAuthor Commented:
hi guys, thanks, I don't need it to run in a VM, this is a small appliance. Dell offers rackmount servers with WS Foundation pre-installed for as low as $1,250.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
Is there a reason I was not credited in the selected answer?
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Jaime OlivaresSoftware ArchitectAuthor Commented:
yes Lee, your answer was highly speculative and didn't give me any certainty.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
I want to stress again that I do NOT believe Foundation can be legally used here. Foundation does *not* get the "web workloads" clause that standard and datacenter get. Nor is an external connector available. The only exemption from the foundation user count is for "internet access" which is very narrowly defined as a user that is not uniquely identifiable. Which would not meet the "token" mentioned in your original question.

You can search for and read the full Foundation EULA here:

http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/legal/IntellectualProperty/UseTerms/Default.aspx

Note section 2b in the agreement for internet access.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I disagree - I definitively answered your question regarding Cores vs. CPUs.  The only thing I was uncertain about was which way SQL goes these days.

Further, NO ONE ABOVE can be TRUSTED AS CERTAIN about licensing.  NO ONE should be taking licensing advice from a web site as definitive, especially a forum web site.  Licensing documents are basically legal agreements.  There's an entire profession that makes LOTS of money arguing what they mean and TEAMS of legal professionals putting them together to try to ensure they get the point across.  THIS IS WHY YOU ASK THE LICENSE GRANTING AUTHORITY AND GET THEIR STATEMENT.  Having their statement then can be used as an argument that you didn't quite understand what was being said and asked the grantor how to interpret - if they give you a favorable explanation in writing, even if they're later wrong, they have a difficult time enforcing the license.  Don't be foolish - consider ANY licensing advice given here as a BEST EFFORTS GUESS and CONTACT MICROSOFT!

Further, Cliff has now further backed up my opinion regarding the use of Foundation for a web server.
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Henry DunnCommented:
Essentials should work for what you're looking for.  It is the second smallest version and the smallest version available for a black box.  It allows for authentication and file services and can run SQL as any other server would.  It doesn't need to be a member of a domain, but can be and can also serve as a DC of it's own domain or child domain.  SSL is available.

Foundation is only available via OEM, which means it will come with a server you purchase, but not as an installable OS.

Essentials is what used to be Small Business Server, minus Exchange and SharePoint.  Microsoft sells O365/Exchange Online.  It allows 25 users and 50 devices to access, this is for users and devices within the directory services of the machine.
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Jaime OlivaresSoftware ArchitectAuthor Commented:
@Cliff,
Hi Cliff,
This blackbox is basically a protocol converter, the web application is indeed a REST service that interfaces another web service. The UI application is in another web server. All them have Standard licenses and will handle the authentication, authorization and validation of the token. The token is opaque for me and I just pass it to the backend.

@Lee,
How this answer can be clear?
"When Microsoft talks about CPU, read carefully.  If they say cores (I believe SQL has changed to cores but for years it was socketed CPU) then you read it as cores.  If they say CPU, then it's Sockets on the motherboard and unlimited cores (whatever is available) in the socket.".
The fist clear answer regarding CPU is from Joshua:
"Multi-core processors are considered one single physical processor because they only use 1 physical socket."
I didn't ask for advices on how to read Microsoft documentation. I asked for a clarification, about what I already read and Joshua provided a clear and concise one-line answer for that item.

@CSIT, I will read more about differences between Essentials and Foundation, and come back with more specific questions about the web stuff, based on my comment above.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
Essentials also does not have the "web workloads" clause. For the described workload, it is functionally limited just as foundation would be. I stand by my answer that Standard is the smallest acceptable edition.
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Cliff GaliherCommented:
I understand that the token is opaque to you, but it still falls under the "uniquely identifiable" clause. Unless your web workload allows anyone and everyone to access the data, it will not meet the internet access clause of foundation. Other servers may be handling the authentication, and you may "inly" be passing a token to the back end, but if the back end will return different data to your web server based on that token, it is uniquely identifying a user based on the token. Any suggestion otherwise is really trying to game the system and companies like Microsoft and Oracle are known to actually request more punitive legal damages when companies get caught intentionally misusing systems in the way you describe. It isn't worth the $500 difference in licensing costs.
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PowerEdgeTechIT ConsultantCommented:
CSIT_EA012014-07-31 at 13:51:24ID: 40232704
Essentials should work for what you're looking for.  It is the second smallest version and the smallest version available for a black box.  It allows for authentication and file services and can run SQL as any other server would.  It doesn't need to be a member of a domain, but can be and can also serve as a DC of it's own domain or child domain.  SSL is available.
I'm pretty sure that Essentials has to be a domain controller.  Only Server 2012 Standard or Datacenter with the Windows Server Essentials Experience role installed can join a workgroup or domain as a member server.

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dn486837.aspx
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Henry DunnCommented:
I meant Windows Server 2012 R2 Essentials, my mistake.
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Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
I fear for you.  A License is NOT documentation.  It is a legal document.  If you're not willing to protect yourself appropriately, then somewhere down the line, you're going to have serious problems in your business.  Best of luck.  I've given you the Same information the others have, first while acknowledging I am not a legal expert - and neither are the others.
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