Microsoft Licensing: Part 4 (System Center products)

This content is 16 years old. I don't routinely update old blog posts as they are only intended to represent a view at a particular point in time. Please be warned that the information here may be out of date.

Last week, I wrote about licensing Microsoft Server products but I deliberately ignored Microsoft’s family of systems management products. This post continues the series on Microsoft licensing, taking a look at the licensing considerations for the main System Center products.

System Center products that rely on SQL Server for database functionality, for example System Center Operations Manager (SCOM) 2007 and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) 2007 are available both with and without SQL Server 2005 standard edition included (which option to select will depend on the database arrangements in use). No SQL client access licenses (CALs) are required if the per-processor model is used, or if the inclusive SQL Server license is used; however SQL CALs are required for every managed device if SQL Server is licensed using the server and CAL model.  It’s also important to note that if the included SQL Server licensing is used, then SQL Server may only be used for System Center products – not as a standalone server or with any other application.

The main System Center products do not require CALs but a Management License (ML) is required for each managed device.For SCOM, there are some exceptions:

  • Devices that SCOM has merely discovered the presence of but for which SCOM is not being used for management.
  • Devices functioning only as network infrastructure devices (layer 3 and below).

Different MLs exist for client devices and servers with two server MLs available for SCOM – standard for monitoring basic workloads such as the operating system, networking, file and print services and management of the hardware, enterprise for other workloads (referred to by Microsoft as application and premium workloads).

In a virtualised environment, each operating system instance (OSE) is considered as a device and requires an ML. If the OSE is running a client operating system, then a client ML is required; if the OSE is running a server operating system, then a server ML is required.

SCCM follows similar rules, with a standard server ML being limited to operating system and basic workload desired configuration management, whilst an enterprise server ML is required for full application and server desired configuration management, including the proactive management of systems for configuration settings.

System Center Data Protection Manager (SCDPM) 2007 also has two types of server ML – standard for recovery and backup management of file servers and enterprise for applications including SQL Server, Exchange Server, and Office SharePoint Server. The Enterprise server ML also includes the Microsoft System Recovery Tool (SRT), DPM to DPM replication, and host-based virtual server backup functionality. In the case of host-based virtual server backup, a single enterprise ML on the host is required for performing virtual hard disk (.VHD) backups of any guest OSEs running on that host; however this does not include granular recovery of files or applications in the virtual machines and an individual ML is required if a DPM agent is installed on a guest to support granular application or file backups.

The most cost-effective way to license multiple System Center products is generally through the purchase of a System Center server management suite licence:

It’s important to note that SCVMM 2007 is only available as part of the enterprise suite and cannot be purchased as a standalone product; however there is a standalone workgroup edition that is limited to management of 5 physical host servers per management server console.

System Center Essentials 2007 replaces Operations Manager 2005 Workgroup Edition and is designed for management of mid-sized organisations, with some limitations to restrict it to a single installation per domain, managing up to 500 client OSEs and 30 servers OSEs. Licensing follows the same rules as for the full SCOM 2007 product – i.e. that System Center Essentials is available with or without SQL Server standard edition, that MLs are required for each managed OSE and that SQL Server CALs are not required if per-processor or inclusive SQL Server licensing is in force but are required if SQL is licensed on a client/server basis. Third party solutions can be managed and do not count towards the limits but do require an appropriate ML. A ML is not required for the OSE that is running System Center Essentials.

System Center Mobile Device Manager (SCMDM) 2008 is licensed with the standard server license plus CALs model, with both per-user and per-device CALs available. SCMDM is available with or without SQL Server licensing included and is subject to the same rules as the other System Center products that are sold with SQL Server.

The last member of the System Center family is System Center Capacity Planner (SCCP) 2007.  This is actually a free download, with capacity planning models currently available for Exchange Server 2007, SCOM 2007, Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) and Office SharePoint Server 2007.

In the next post in this series, I’ll explain how licensing works for Microsoft software running in a virtualised environment.

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