Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs

No constraints, just keep spawning them until you run out of disk – but remember that you can just add more disk, courtesy of iSCSI at the cost of a basic NAS box.

Windows Server 2012 R2: how the Datacenter edition could change SMBs

Consider how good it would be to get a deal where you could just keep blatting out server VMs ad infinitum

“Come off it, Steve,” I hear you say, “this is what you get from hanging around with hyper-rich corporate buyers all the time. Remember us little guys who don’t get open licensing contracts and infinite yearly budgets.” And I’m forced to retort, “that’s exactly what Datacenter edition gives you!”

Read the licence carefully and you’ll see that you can have up to two sockets per licence, and that said licence permits you to make and run as many VM guest server instances as you want. Paradoxically, it’s in the big data centre where the various GUI-less and even free editions (such as Hyper-V Server) have both a place and a following, where servers are counted by the thousands.

This is a case where the language is leading everyone astray – this deal sounds like it’s the same as VMware’s larger offering, where you can stick up a VM based on any OS, get it licensed, and off you go.

The difference is that while VMware will run almost any server OS, and has made it something of a speciality to collect the ghosts of previous physical servers, the main strength of Hyper-V (and therefore Datacenter) is just the opposite – it’s superb for putting up new, unsullied guest VMs, each of which is simply a virtual version of the main Datacenter installation, and all of which are covered by the one Datacenter licence.

Radically different

Let’s say that in a mid-sized company it would be safer and more comfortable to push out three or four test VM servers for each live one you rely upon, with the free option to flip between these disk images by firing up and shutting down machines in Hyper-V Manager.

I discussed this with one client as perhaps the easiest route to updating a middle-aged Remote Desktop server, allowing for several different mixes of applications for a small group of users.

By using Datacenter he can build four VMs just for Remote Desktop, with shared drives for profile and application data, all within a single box. When he wants to try mixing together previously poorly behaved apps, it’s a few clicks to clone an existing (shut down!) VM, try the installs, and if they go badly, throw it away…

This is a radically different way of thinking about your licensed server. It opens up the IT world of the mega-corporation and puts it right there in front of you: and that’s even before we consider the possibilities for spawning multiple, fully licensed VMs into the Azure cloud.

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