Win Server 2016 licensing for vmware vsphere HA

  I am working on a new installation (my first) of VMWare vSphere HA for several windows virtual machines. I have two servers with shared storage. When the hosts are placed into the cluster, there is essentially one server where all the virtual machines are running. I have that setup and running well so far. :)
  My question is about licensing those 5 windows 2016 server STD machines. Since there are two physical hosts do I have to have a license for each machine on both hosts?
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Patrick BogersDatacenter platform engineer LindowsCommented:

Yes you need licenses for all machines, if you would consider a multi volume license with software insurance you are allowed to license a hot/cold failover situation with one server license.
Another option, but more expensive, is installing 2016 datacenter on the physical hosts, with this you can run unlimited server 2016 vm's.
dgerlerAuthor Commented:
Not sure I made my question clear.
I have 5 VMs running in the cluster on two physical hosts. Do I need 5 vm licenses (1 for each running instance) or 10 VM licenses (1 for each vm for each physical server it might run on)
Cliff GaliherCommented:
There is no such thing as a 'vm license' in windows. You must license based on physical servers, physical fire counts per server, and the number of VMs. To try and tie that back to your question, you mist have enough licenses to cover the 5 VMs on EACH machine. Not just 5VMs total.

But 5+5 does not equal 10. If you go with server standard, which covers 2VMs, you'd need 3 (or me depending on core counts) per server. So you'd end up with enough licenses for 6 VMs per server since that is the only way to cover the 5VMs. You can't split licenses, so you can't cover just 5VMs.
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dgerlerAuthor Commented:
Thank you Cliff, I am aware of the 2 VMs per Window 2016 license. I was trying (not very well) to simplify down to the VMs. As if anyone can simplify Microsoft's Licensing program. Realizing I would need 3 Win2016 std licenses (16 cores ea) to cover the 5 VMs with one left over.
My question had to do with any requirement to double the number of licenses to 6  Win 2016 STD license (allowing 12 VMs) because I have two physical hosts and effectively licenses each of the VMs for both physical hosts even though a particular VM will only run on one host at a time and in fact only one instance of the VM exists on the shared datastore.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
In a cluster, yes, you effectively license for the number of VMs that *could* end up on the node. In small clusters, that usually means doubling.

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dgerlerAuthor Commented:
Thank you Cliff. Not what I was hoping to hear but I had already purchase the "double" licenses. Just thought about it more and wanted another opinion.
Looks to me like an indirect attack by Micorsoft on VMware via the users. I think I'll be making an effort to move to Linux as much as I can.
Cliff GaliherCommented:
Not an attack on VMWare at all. Hyper-V and role-specific failover clustering has had the same requirements for eons. Wanted a 2003 2-node active/passive fine server cluster? Each node needed licensing. The passive node didn't get a free ride. There is no nefarious purpose or "attack" anywhere. High availability hasnalwqys come with a premium price tag.
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