Windows Server 2016

  • The Latest Improvements and Changes with Windows Server 2019

    licensing for windows server 2016

    Windows Server 2019 was released earlier this year and, with it, there are a number of new features to be considered. This new server OS provides the latest benefits from Microsoft for companies in need of upgrading physical servers as well as taking advantage of improvements for security, application environments and more. Here's a look at what is new and improved.

    The desktop experience is available again in the 2019 version whereas it was not in the server versions 1709, 1803 or 1809. Similar to the 2016 version, the 2019 version offers an option during setup between Server Core and Desktop Experience installation.

    Microsoft has developed a new feature for predictive analytics named System Insights in Windows Server 2019. This new function provides machine-learning for local analysis of system data in order to offer fine-tuning of a server with predictive analysis based on performance counters and events. These insights create an opportunity to reduce expenses from issues surrounding server deployments.

    Hybrid Cloud optional features are now included in Server Core installations for improved application compatibility. Using Server Core App Compatibility feature on demand (FOD) creates a subset of binaries from Desktop Experience for improved functional compatibility for the leaner installation option and is available on a separate ISO which can be added to the Server Core installation.

    Microsoft included a number of security improvements:  

    • Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) & ATP Exploit Guard with improved Application Control are new developments which protect against memory and kernel level attacks. Advanced Threat Protection can both suppress and terminate malicious files and processes. Meanwhile, Exploit Guard uses its components to lock down a device from numerous attacks while blocking common malware intrusion attacks. Four components of the Exploit Guard work cohesively for best use of resources between security and productivity.
    1. Attack Surface Reduction (ASR) is a set of controls which block lateral movement of suspicious code including ransomware.
    2. Network protection uses Windows Defender SmartScreen and negates exposure to untrusted hosts and IP addresses used in web-based attacks.
    3. Controlled folder access cordons off important data from ransomware attacks by blocking suspicious processes.
    4. Exploit protection provides Microsoft customers with the ability to enable at a set of mitigations against exploits for increased protection.

    Microsoft also added default Code Integrity (CI) policies to the Windows Defender Application Control for improved ease of use over the original version released with Windows Server 2016.

    • Security improvements also arrived with Software Defined Networking (SDN). This enhanced group of features improves running workloads on both cloud-based services and on-premise environments. SDN arrived with Windows Server 2016 but now includes encrypted networks for virtual machines, firewall auditing, virtual network peering and egress metering (for monitoring data transfers outside of secure networks)
    • Shielded VM'S with branch office improvements, troubleshooting improvements & Linux support.
    1. Branch office improvements now provide shielded VM's with options for intermittent connectivity with fallback HGS and offline mode. The fallback includes options for alternate sets of URLs for Hyper-V connectivity while offline mode provides the ability to start shielded VMs even if HGS is unavailable (the VM must already have previously started and experienced no configuration changes).
    2. Additionally, troubleshooting for shielded virtual machines is improved with VMConnect Enhanced Session Mode and PowerShell Direct, both of which assist with lost network connectivity of VMs. Once enabled, these support features require no configuration when in use on a Hyper-V host running Windows Server version 1803 or later.
    3. For customers running in mixed-OS environments, Windows Server 2019 now supports an operation of a variety of popular Linux versions inside shielded VMs.
    • HTTP/2 has been introduced for more web security and includes the following:
    1. Connection improvements for uninterrupted encrypted browsing over coalesced connections.
    2. Upgrades to cipher suite negotiation which provides ease of deployment and corrections to connection failures.
    3. More throughput with a new TCP congestion provider using Cubic.

    Storage improvements were not overlooked by Microsoft with Windows Server 2019:

    • Storage Migration Service is a new feature which migrates servers to newer versions of Windows Server with ease. A graphical tool enables easy management of migrations through inventories which can then be shifted to newer server versions, even optionally migrating server names for the transition of apps that do not interrupt user experience.
    • Storage Spaces Direct includes improvements to deduplication and compression of ReFS volumes, native support for persistent memory, nested resiliency for dual-node, hyper-converged infrastructures, Windows Admin Center support, scaling for up to 4 PB in a cluster and much more.
    • Storage Replica is now available on Windows Server 2019 Standard Edition while a new feature named Test Failover can mount destination storage for validation of replicas. There are also improvements to replica log performance and additional Windows Admin Center support.
    • Failover Clustering improvements have been made to cluster sets, Azure-aware clusters, migrations of cross-domain clusters, cluster infrastructure with support for Storage Spaces Direct, cluster hardening. Additionally, failover cluster dropped usage of NTLM authentication.

    Microsoft included application platform improvements with an eye toward the following:

    • Windows server 2019 now provides support for running Linux-based containers which will provide both flexibility to application developers and consistency to the host container environment.
    • Now included on Windows server 2019 are computing, networking and storage improvements to support Kubernetes. With other improvements to container networking, Windows Server 2019 creates a resilient, enhanced platform performance with the latest networking plugins. New workload deployments via Kubernetes includes network security support that protects Linux and Windows containers.
    • Other container improvements include:
    1. Microsoft addressed numerous limitations of prior Windows server editions with an improved integrated identity which provides a more reliable authentication experience
    2. Application compatibility where applications based in Windows are easier than ever to organize into containers, especially when considering the core server installation. Additionally, API dependent applications now have a third image available.
    3. Issues with startup times, size on disk and download sizes for base container images have also been improved for speedier workflows.
    4. Accessing the containers extension in the Windows admin center public feed provides experience improvements to container management and performance.
    • Encrypted networks also experienced changes for the better. Now virtual network traffic between VMs will communicate when designated as encryption enabled using Datagram Transport Layer Security (DTLS) which will prevent security breaches by anyone with access to a physical network.
    • Performance for VM workloads has always been a concern and Microsoft has addressed these for improved network performance. New features such as Receive Segment Coalescing in vSwitch and Dynamic Virtual Machine Multi-Queue allow for vastly improved provisioning of VM hosts while decreasing operation and maintenance costs even with an increase of host density.
    • A new network congestion control provider was designed which will yield automatic improvements to applications and users. Low extra delay background transport (LEDBAT) addresses bandwidth concerns especially for use in deploying large updates to avoid impact on customer services.
    • Windows time service got an update in the latest version of Windows Server with the inclusion of a true UTC-compliant leap second support via a newly designed time protocol entitled Precision Time Protocol.
    • The aforementioned Software Defined Networking (SDN) received a boost with high-performance SDN gateways. UI deployments using the Windows Admin Center extension provides deployment and management capability
    • Microsoft also took a step forward by harnessing the power of Hyper-V with improvements to throughput as well as the low latency of persistent memory in VM's. The new persistent memory support for Hyper-V VMs jolts performance with drastic reductions of memory latency issues in database transactions.

    Microsoft stepped forward once again with the release of Windows Server 2019 by addressing a wide range of issues and amid fast-changing technology developments. The changes, improvements and new features over Windows Server 2016 make this latest server version a tantalizing wealth of reasons for upgrading.

    To learn more about Windows Server 2019, contact our experts at RoyalDiscount.com- Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.


  • Windows Server 2016 VM Licensing Considerations

    remote desktop licensing

    As recently as the releases of Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows Server 2014 and Windows Server 2014 R2, the Standard and Enterprise editions have been licensed much the same way by Microsoft by counting CPU's. However, with Windows Server 2016, while there is no difference with these previous versions in regard to editions, licensing changed.

    With regard to licensing, the change with Windows Server 2016, as with a number of other products, Microsoft has shifted from licensing based on the number of processors to the number of cores for a more accurate accounting. This is a big shift from the previous editions of Windows Server and applies to both Standard and Datacenter versions.

    Additionally, with the arrival of Windows Server 2016 previous feature parity is no longer available. Earlier versions of Windows Server operating systems basically included the same available features with the exclusion of VM licensing. Below is a quick list of categories and further information regarding availability between these two main editions.

    Windows Server 2016 edition Licensing model CAL requirements Pricing Open NL ERP (USD)
    Datacenter Core-based Windows Server CAL $6,155
    Standard Core-based Windows Server CAL $882

    With this newer licensing model, Microsoft has also changed somewhat with regard to licensing VM's. Again, the cores must be licensed but the number of VM's will vary based on the edition and cores to be licensed. Licensing rights for Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition only provides for all physical cores in the server to be licensed and includes only 2 OSE's or Hyper-V containers. In the instance of additional OSE's or Hyper-V containers, Microsoft allows for multiple licenses to be assigned to the same cores.

    And here's a summary of features for the affected levels of VM support:

    Feature Datacenter Standard
    OSEs / Windows Server containers with Hyper-V isolation Unlimited 2
    Windows Server containers without Hyper-V isolation Unlimited Unlimited
    Shielded Virtual Machines

    That table gives you a thumbnail of how the new licensing model affects VM's and their licensing. Standard has minimum limits and shielded VMs cannot be used. Here's a full explanation:

    • When all physical cores on a server are licensed, with a minimum of 8 cores per physical processor and a minimum of 16 core licenses per server.
    • Datacenter provides rights to use unlimited Operating System Environments (OSEs) or Hyper-V containers and Windows Server containers on the licensed server.
    • Standard provides rights to use up to two Operating System Environments (OSEs) or Hyper-V containers and unlimited Windows Server containers on the licensed server.
    • For each additional 1 or 2 VM's in a Standard OS edition, all the physical cores in the server must be licensed again.

    When considering core-based licensing, Windows Server and System Center 2016 are licensed by physical cores, not virtual cores. Therefore, customers need only to inventory and license the physical cores on their processors.

    Windows Server 2016 will support nested virtualization where a VM runs inside a VM.

    Windows Server 2016 Datacenter licensing allows for unlimited virtualization and so would easily cover this scenario. Windows Server 2016 Standard Edition licensing is designed for no-to-low-virtualization scenarios and supports up to two virtual machines. A virtual machine running inside a virtual machine counts as two virtual machines from a licensing perspective so any additionally nested VMs would require additional licensing of all cores on the physical server.  

    What does it all mean? Microsoft licensing for the Standard edition provides for two VM's to be licensed at a minimum. For more VM's to be hosted, additional licenses must be purchased. With the Datacenter edition of Windows Server 2016, an unlimited number of VM's are licensed. This means you should be prepared to license additional VM's on standard if you need more than two of them but that may still be cheaper than a licensed server for Datacenter. In fact, you may be able to add more than a few depending on the capacity of the server. However, remember the licensing is by cores so a high-end server will be licensed accordingly and Datacenter may end up being the best choice, especially for those servers used for VM farms.

    To understand licensing for Standard even more, here's a description of what you'll need when adding additional VM's on server with a Standard server OS. Even if you have as few as eight cores on the physical server, you must license for the minimum of sixteen. That means if you want an additional VM on the server beyond the 2 allowed, you must license for the minimum of sixteen cores again on that server, but you get rights to 2 more VM's. Also, when considering core licensing and VM's with the Standard Edition, if you have 4 processors on the server, the same conditions apply. You will be licensing the minimum of 32 cores for each 2 VM's you want to run on Standard edition. This can be cheaper but it bears checking the pricing and considering the growth of your VM environment over time since the Datacenter Edition may be the better option over time.

    Licensing for Windows Server 2016 and hosted VM's requires extra considerations. It's well worth gaining a thorough understanding of requirements for core licensing, especially with the Standard edition of Windows Server 2016. To learn more about Microsoft Windows Server 2016 licensing, contact our experts at RoyalDiscount.com - Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products


  • How Much Does Windows Server 2016 Cost?

    windows server 2016

    Windows Server 2016 is the newest version of Microsoft's server operating system available on the market. Costs and pricing for this latest OS version has changed in some ways versus earlier versions. Let's take a look at what those changes included along with what is the same. Here are the categories of editions available:

    • Datacenter Edition for highly virtualized private and hybrid cloud environments.
    • Standard Edition for non-virtualized or lightly virtualized environments.
    • Essential for small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices.

    Microsoft previously released Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 as well as the Windows Server 2014 and Windows Server 2014 R2 with Standard and Datacenter (Enterprise) editions. Windows Server 2016 is no different than these previous versions in regard to editions so you can expect to have two basic types of pricing.

    However, in regard to licensing there are some changes with Windows Server 2016. As with a number of other products, Microsoft has shifted from licensing based on number of processors to the number of cores for a more accurate accounting. This is a big shift from the previous editions of Windows Server and applies to both Standard and Enterprise versions.

    Additionally, with the arrival of Windows Server 2016 previous feature parity is no longer available. Earlier versions of Windows Server OS's basically included the same available features with the exclusion of VM licensing. Below is quick list of categories and further information regarding availability between the versions.

    Windows Server 2016 edition Ideal for Licensing model CAL requirements [see below] Pricing Open NL ERP (USD) [See Below]
    Datacenter [see below] Highly virtualized and software-defined datacenter environments Core-based Windows Server CAL $6,155
    Standard [see below] Low density or non-virtualized environments Core-based Windows Server CAL $882
    Essentials Small businesses with up to 25 users and 50 devices Specialty servers (server license) No CAL required $501

    The new licensing model of physical servers requires all physical cores on the server to be licensed. Microsoft requires that a minimum of eight core licenses with every physical processor loaded in the server. A minimum of 16 cores will be licensed for servers with only one processor.

    Here are some further notes of interest between Windows Server 2016 Datacenter and

    Standard editions:

    • Pricing for 16 core licenses of Windows Server 2016 for both Datacenter (Enterprise) and Standard editions will have the same price as the license which corresponded to the same editions of the Windows Server 2012 R2 version for 2 processors.
    • Licensing rights for Windows Server 2016 Standard edition only provides for all physical cores in the server to be licensed for only 2 OSE's or Hyper-V containers. In the instance of additional OSE's or Hyper-V containers, Microsoft allows for multiple licenses to be assigned to the same cores.
    • Access by users or devices to Windows Server Standard or Datacenter editions requires a Windows Server CAL. However, access to multiple licensed Windows servers is allowed for each Windows Server CAL.
    • A Windows Server CAL is retroactive to earlier Windows Server versions with regard to right to access by users or devices.
    • Additional CAL's are required for such functions as Remote Desktop services or Active Directory Rights Management services as has been the previous case with earlier Windows Server versions.

    Windows Server 2016 also has some feature differentiation:

    Feature Datacenter Standard
    Core functionality of Windows Server · ·
    OSEs / Windows Server containers with Hyper-V isolation Unlimited 2
    Windows Server containers without Hyper-V isolation Unlimited Unlimited
    Host Guardian Service · ·
    Storage features including Storage Spaces · o
    Shielded Virtual Machines · o
    Networking stack · o

    FAQs

    Why has Microsoft instituted its licensing changes?

    The new licensing model assists Microsoft with delivering consistency between on-premise and cloud environments for improved licensing benefits within hybrid implementations or for transitions to cloud-based computing. Customers with Software Assurance will find that the Azure Hybrid Use Benefit (AHUB) is now available to leverage for cost savings, especially when shifting Windows Server virtual machines to Azure with base compute rates.

    How are virtualization rights different with Windows Server 2016?

    Datacenter provides unlimited rights for OSE's or Hyper-V containers with minimum physical core licensing (8 cores/physical processor with a minimum of 16 cores licensed per server). Standard edition is limited to up to 2 OSE's or Hyper-V containers (unlimited Windows Server containers are included on the licensed server and additional VMs will require additional licensing for all physical cores).

    Are existing customers with Software Assurance affected by changes to the licensing model when deploying Windows Server 2016 or System Center 2016?

    Software Assurance customers can deploy Windows Server 2016 or System Center 2016 at any time.

    How does the new licensing model affect hyper-threading?

    Only physical cores on processors are considered and inventoried with consideration to core-based licensing for Windows Server 2016 or System Center 2016. Virtual cores are not considered in the licensing parameters.

    Can Windows Server 2016 support VMs running inside a VM and how are these nested virtualizations licensed?

    Unlimited virtualization is covered in the licensing model for Windows Server 2016 Datacenter. However, the Standard Edition covers no-to-low-virtualization so only two VMs are allowed in this scenario where a VM nested inside a VM would count as two VMs in the licensing model.

    When continuing a subscription for System Center Software Assurance with Azure rights to manage instances as well as for third-party cloud providers, how many cores should be licensed with this benefit if no on-premise OSE's are being managed using System Center?

    A minimum of 16 cores, which is the equivalent of System Center 2012 R2 2-processor licensing, is needed for continued Software Assurance benefits for Azure and other cloud providers.

    To learn more about Microsoft Windows Server 2016 licensing, contact our experts at RoyalDiscount.com - your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.


  • How to Connect to Azure VM to RDP (Remote Desktop Protocols)

    azure vm rdp connection

    Azure cloud services are perfect for hosting VM's and offer ways for businesses to drive IT costs lower. The advantages of VM's cannot be minimized so creating and accessing them are very important to get up and running as soon as possible as well as gaining access to them with Remote Desktop. If you are getting started with Azure here are instructions to accomplish creation of a VM and then connect to your virtual environment.

    For anyone in need of testing VM's, Remote Desktop is part of the mix of helpful tools for using Azure hosting services or even developing a virtual footprint.

    • Everything begins with accessing the Azure Portal and creating a virtual machine. Once an account is established on Azure, it is then time to lay some foundations with testing over a remote connection.
    • Within the dashboard, build a VM by clicking on New from the menu.
    • This action will bring you to a choice of operating systems. After clicking your choice, you are then presented with a form where you will name and configure your VM.
    • Among the other settings you will choose are type of disk (SSD or HDD), the login credentials, the type of subscription, a resource group type and name, as well as the region where the VM will reside. Be aware that SSD is costlier than HDD if budget is a concern. If this is a test configuration, it may be best to stay with a HDD configuration and put your money into SSD-based VM's for your high-end server needs.
    • The next step in the process is choosing your machine type. There will be several choices based on subscription and your choice of disk types. Once you have chosen the type and the amount of vCPU and memory, you're ready to move to the next step.
    • Networking is the third step, where you will be presented with options to define your virtual network, subnet and other settings. The Auto-Shutdown feature is helpful because up-time is part of you cost in Azure. If the VM is not needed at all times, then this choice can cut costs, especially in a developmental environment. If you choose this setting you can define when the VM will be shutdown.
    • Once you complete all these steps, you are presented with a summary at which point you confirm and launch the VM creation process. After the VM build is completed, you are ready to begin working in your Azure environment. Once the VM is running, RDP (Remote Desktop) is now a primary tool to manage your virtual machine.

    However, if you first try to use the connect button, you may find that it will be grayed out. In this case, you need to configure a Network Inbound Rule which will allow connectivity to the machine (via the firewall created with the VM). Creating these rules can be very important since you may have a variety of security configurations and concerns. The main idea is to create a rule that you will be able to use for a number of different VM's. Also, regarding security, consider how many different IP addresses will be allowed to connect to your VM environment. For security purposes, the fewer addresses you allow the better, so plan appropriately.

    To access Network Inbound Rules, find Network Security Group in your Azure Portal dashboard. You may well find that applying some basic rules to your future VM's will be helpful. To complete creating the rule, you will need the port number used by RDP which is 3389. With this inbound rule now defined, you can use RDP to connect to your VM.

    When using RDP be aware that there are a number of options available. These can range from local accounts to domain logons. It will be up to you to use Azure's security to manage what accounts will have access over RDP to your VM's. Policies can be set in place which allow regular users frequent access via domain accounts over the RDP client. Accounts used for support and management can be placed in a separate policy since these may have administrative access. Other account level access can also be managed through security policies which you can create.

    Here are some quick instructions to connect with the RDP client:

    • From your Azure dashboard, click into Virtual Machines.
    • Select a VM to log onto with RDP.
    • There will be a connect symbol to click at the top of the VM page.
    • Clicking the symbol will trigger the "Connect to Virtual Machine" page from which you choose options and then click to "Download RDP file".
    • Once downloaded, click to open the file and connect (there may be a notice that the file is from unknown publisher but this is not unusual).
    • The Windows security page will appear where you will enter login credentials for the local VM or domain account you intend to use.

    Note that, unless the VM is a domain controller you will either use a local VM account or a domain user account. This means that if you are using a local account, you will enter the name of your VM as the domain name (vmname\username). Otherwise, if the VM is a domain member, you will enter the domain name and account (domain\username). In both cases there should be a password for the account being use which you already have. If your VM is a domain controller you must login with the credentials for a domain administrator account. Click "Yes" to verify connectivity and you should be logged onto your VM.

    VM's are extremely handy tools for creating virtual desktops and servers, so when you begin your Azure experience make sure you understand how to create and access them. Using security best practices will help you manage users accessing the virtual network appropriately while keeping intrusions to a minimum. Because of the nature of the VM's, RDP becomes an essential way to access them, so managing inbound rules with security groups and appropriately assigning user account security policies is most important. However, you can create and run VM's very quickly in your environment with little trouble and begin building your virtual network.

    To learn more about Azure products, RDP or RDS, contact the cloud experts at RoyalDiscount.com.


  • RDS Licensing

    remote desktop licensing (rds)

    Accessing your remote server implementations is highly important. With Microsoft server 2016, this is accomplished with Remote Desktop Services so that administrators can access and manage servers. This management is especially vital when servers exist in the cloud as virtual deployments. However, RDS is subject to licensing so let's take a look at how this process works as well as how you can implement license access to your virtual server environment. Before we get into how to setup the license server, let's discuss the types of licensing and other requirements.

    Licensing Modes and Other Concerns

    Every server comes with two Client Access Licenses (CAL) for accessing the operating system which is useful depending on the number of people who will log on your VM's. To start your RDS licensing, make sure you install the RDS role on all your servers. Next you need to make sure you have a license server installed on your network within 120 days of implementation or RDS will stop functioning. Once you have your license server installed then you must activate it and add your purchased CALs.

    With RDS licensing, there are two different modes which you can use. First is per user mode which means you must purchase a CAL for each and every person who will be using RDS to access your VM's. In this mode it does not matter how many devices are being used, but rather the number of users that are licensed. You must make sure that your CALs are added so that affected users can all log on and manage servers remotely. Using this mode, a licensed user can even use more than one device at a time since the licenses are associated with specific accounts. A server will accept any and all connections in this mode, however it is important to remember to buy the correct number of licenses and that they remain current with the agreement.

    The second mode of licensing is per device. Since licenses can be expensive, if you have a large number of people who will be accessing VM's but not constantly, then you may want to consider CALs per device. Licensing on a per device basis means that only a certain number of devices will be allowed connection via RDS at any given time. Your pool of CALs will provide the access until they are all used up, then other users will not be able to logon and will have to wait for an available CAL. But multiple users can still login from the same device if you wanted to purchase one license for a specific computer to be used for the purposes of RDS access.

    Other details to keep in mind for your Remote Desktop Services licensing are as follows:

    • CALs must be the same Windows server version as that to which the user or device will be connecting.
    • Your chosen RDS licensing server must be version 2016. Licenses for any previous versions can be hosted on Windows server 2016. The compatibility runs backward but not forward, meaning that a licensing server using Windows server 2012 could not host licenses for Windows server 2016.
    • There is no way to convert old licenses to 2016.
    • Upgrading the license server requires the need to delete the license database and then upgrade the server. This means it's better to create a new server and install the licensing role with the newest CAL version.

    Installing Remote Desktop License Manager

    Installing the Remote Desktop licensing role is a straightforward process, especially if you have installed roles on servers previously. A best practice is to install the license server on your domain, commonly done on domain controllers. Here are the instructions to follow:

    1. From Server Manager, click on the RDS node.
    2. Then click on RD licensing.
    3. Where you are logged on, click Next and Add RDS Manager
    4. Soon after you have added the role it will complete installation.
    5. Activate RD licensing by opening the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager (open Server Manager, click Tools, click Remote Desktop Services, click RD Licensing Manager).
    6. Right-click on the name of your RD license server and then left click on activate server.
    7. A wizard will appear and you will click next, then leave the next setting on "Automatic connection if the license server is connected to the Internet".
    8. Enter all the required information and any optional information that you wish to include, then click Next.
    9. Note that Start Install Licenses Wizard now will be checked by default so you can just click Next.
    10. Another welcome page will appear on which you can click Next to view the license program page where you will pick the type of license to be installed. Here you must choose the type of license which has been purchased, then click Next.
    11. Now you will be given the opportunity to enter all of the license codes which have been purchased. Once complete click Next.
    12. At this point, you will see all of the licenses by description in the right window pane when you click on the license server on the list in the left pane.

    License Management

    There are several considerations of which you should be aware for managing your licenses:

    • Any new licenses purchased must be added to the RDS license server from the Remote Desktop Licensing Manager where you will use much the same process to add them.
    • Once you have installed your license manager, if you see a yellow triangle warning beside your server you may need to add the licensing server to your active directory domain (if you have not done so already, which is a good reason to install it on a domain controller). To add the licensing server, simply right-click on your server list and select review configuration where you will have the option to add it to an Active Directory group. This action should resolve your problem. You can also confirm that your license server is correctly added to the proper AD group by using Active Directory Users and Computers (ADUC) to navigate to built-in groups and checking the subgroup for Terminal Server License Servers.
    • Otherwise there may be times when you need to migrate your CALs to another server. This is done from the Licensing Manager where you will right-click on the name of the licensing server and then select manage licenses. This action will open a wizard and you will click Next on the welcome page and then choose the first option on the Action Selection page. You can then choose that you are replacing your license server and, after clicking Next, you will enter the name or IP address of the replacement server. At this point you will be required to enter in your server key or agreement number, then confirm all the licenses you are migrating by adding all of them, then click Next. The licenses will be transferred to the new license server. If the new license server is offline, you will have to obtain the license server ID by logging onto the new server and obtaining it from the license server properties and entering the information into the wizard on your original license server.
    • You may also need to remove specific license packs from your license server. This is done by accessing the license server database with PowerShell (use the command: Get-WmiObject Win32_TSLicenseKeyPack, to see the list of license packs, then use the number of the license pack, or PackKeyID, with the command: wmic /namespace:\root\CIMV2 PATH Win32_TSLicenseKeyPack CALL UninstallLicenseKeyPackWithId [PackKeyID]). Once these series of commands are completed, you will need to rebuild the database either manually or automatically using the wizard from right clicking on the server name in the license manager. Choose manage licenses and this time in the action selection page choose the second choice for rebuild database. After you click next you will confirm that the database will be deleted after which you have the opportunity to reinstall your licenses with the wizard. Rebuilding manually means that you must stop the licensing services and rename the database file from TLSlic.edb to something like TLSlic.old, then restart the service.

    Those are the basics for understanding CALs for RDS, installing the Remote Desktop license manager and managing your CALs. To learn more about Azure Services, VM's and Remote Desktop Client access, contact our experts at RoyalDiscount.com- Your online source for cheap OEM, Retail & Cloud products.


  • SQL Server 2008 End Of Life - Backing Up to Azure

    sql support life azure

    Technology moves fast, so much so that the newest versions of software often become out of date in a matter of a few years. Older versions of Microsoft products can be daunting to manage from a support and licensing perspective. While 2008 versions of Microsoft products were innovative and new at the time, some of these products are now nearing the end of their support life. SQL Server 2008 is now several versions back so many clients are wondering what to do for their upgrades. Other SQL Server customers who still retain databases on the 2008 version may not even have decided on their precise upgrade plans. Here's the latest news from Microsoft which may assist with decisions regarding SQL Server 2008.

    Support Concerns

    Licensing and support for SQL Server 2008 was originally intended to last 10 years. We are now into that end-of-life support so what are the options for organizations still running databases on this now decade-old version?

    SQL Server 2008 brought a number of new innovations to the marketplace for databases. These new features were incredibly useful for database development at the time, so much so that many businesses have not needed to upgrade some of their databases to the newest versions. In fact, some of these clients still on the 2008 platform may not feel there is an immediate need to upgrade their databases. There may be other factors involved with such a decision such as budgetary concerns. Organizations may still be trying to determine how to upgrade their databases to the latest SQL server platform and may need more time to make all the decisions necessary.

    However, Microsoft does intend for support of SQL Server 2008 to end. This means that software and security updates will no longer be available after the support life for this product ends. While organizations are not necessarily caught flat-footed with this reality, actually completing the upgrades before the end of licensing support may well prove daunting to some organizations.

    Originally, Microsoft planned to deal with end-of-life support issues regarding products such as SQL Server 2008 with a Premium Assurance Program which was implemented last year. This program was intended to add six years of support licensing to the current ten-year limit. The intention was to provide continued compliance and security to existing databases though at an increased cost of five percent which would have maxed out at twelve percent over current licensing costs.

    Previously Existing Options

    But Microsoft has made a more recent change that affects even this Premium Assurance Program with a recent announcement. Previously, there were several options available for organizations choosing to continue using this older version of the SQL server platform. Options for SQL Server 2008 customers who wanted to remain on this version ranged from simply accepting that there would be no future security updates. The downside of this option is that databases may no longer be compliant in various industry requirements.

    Another available option has been to simply upgrade to a newer version of SQL though at some costs unless an organization already used a product assurance program. But with this option, businesses choosing to upgrade the 2008 version might face additional costs with licensing or further upgrade support while not being entirely prepared for such a change for some databases.

    The last option for current business and organizational clients of SQL Server 2008 has been to purchase a custom support license which can also be costly. This third option requires that companies provide a migration plan of some sort to Microsoft rather than keeping open-ended support available for an indeterminate amount of time when newer versions provide better solutions.

    The Latest Option: Cloud Migration with Free Security Support

    Since there are any number of detrimental effects from remaining on the 2008 SQL version, Microsoft has chosen to offer yet another option which many businesses may find extremely helpful. The recent announcement by Microsoft has been to allow product platforms like SQL Server 2008 to be migrated to Azure Cloud Services. Essentially, Microsoft is offering organizations the opportunity to remain under software support for the 2008 version until 2022 if the workload is migrated to Azure Cloud Services. The actual security support and updates are free of charge on the cloud platform and does not require that a company provide a migration or upgrade plan.

    The opportunity is quite useful for many businesses and organizations as this even allows them to use Azure stack which is Microsoft's version of the on-premise cloud system. This option is quite a flexible and useful offer for many businesses and a way for them to move into cloud computing even with this older SQL version. Microsoft is even allowing those customers who purchased the Premium Assurance Program to migrate into the Azure cloud platform on a grandfathered basis since this plan will be discontinued.

    Additional Benefits

    Now corporate and organizational customer can take advantage of Azure Cloud Services for older databases. All Azure features will be available that are relevant to SQL Server 2008. Security across the environment is consistent and provides telemetry for any intrusions. A myriad of backup features are additionally available which can also cut costs as customers look to upgrade these databases to newer versions. Workloads can be more easily managed and even scaled over the next several years while migration planning can continue.

    Additionally, the hardware for currently hosted SQL Server 2008 databases may be aging out of their lifecycles. Consequently, hardware replacement will create higher costs for new equipment, continued security and other business consistency concerns. Azure provides a less expensive way to maintain aging databases until they can be migrated to newer platform versions. Instead of struggling along with both hardware and software concerns, businesses now have the option of implementing Azure versions of their SQL databases where the hardware is no longer a concern since the cloud service keeps all of the instances up-to-date and secured. Business consistency is also addressed when migrating to Azure for this additional time period of support. Azure provides stable backup systems and support for additional security compliance needs.

    With all the additional benefits of Azure cloud services, SQL Server 2008 customers will find that implementing a workload migration to this new option can be highly beneficial as their decisions about upgrades are made over the next several years. Since the security support will remain free, there is an important savings already built into using Azure cloud services to host these older databases. Azure provides business consistency with less concern for hardware changes as well as a high level of cloud-based features which can be beneficial in assisting with upgrades to newer database platforms. Companies and organizations can easily find that their migration concerns are eased by shifting SQL Server 2008 workloads into the Azure cloud. Since Microsoft's cloud services through Azure are proven to already cut costs, Microsoft has generously offered a highly beneficial means of retaining security support for several years to come, one which is far less expensive compared to other immediate options and concerns.

    If you are currently running an outdated version of Microsoft SQL Server and want to explore options, you don't want to leave anything to chance. Contact the Microsoft licensing experts at Royal Discount - your source for all things MS SQL.


  • Azure SQL DB vs Amazon RDS

    amazon sql db vs rds

    Cloud computing business customers now have new advantages which can be leveraged against on – premise systems. Companies can now implement additional infrastructure through cloud consoles without lengthy hardware procurement. Large investments of capital for IT projects are no longer a hurdle with cloud-based technology. Database as a Service (DBaaS) is now the important factor for applications in the business community.

    With the cloud in mind, it is important to understand the differences between major providers such as Amazon RDS and Microsoft Azure SQL. Both of these offerings can be surprisingly similar and different at the same time. Here is an exploration of what you can expect between the two.

    Intended market

    Microsoft Azure SQL is clearly intended for enterprise class business applications of 5 GB or less. There are more details to Azure SQL than targeted customers so what may seem limiting but  this is actually more than meets the eye.

    Amazon RDS admittedly targets a wider range of business customers. However, the Amazon offering does have its own limitations and drawbacks when all factors are considered.

    Platform

    Microsoft's cloud-based DBaaS product was designed for the cloud specifically in mind. As such, Azure SQL runs natively as a service on the Microsoft cloud platform and leverages the cloud specifically because of this design.

    Amazon RDS does not run natively on the cloud platform and is instead cloud capable. Most applications which were developed in MySQL will likely run without problems in Amazon RDS. But there is a big difference between the two in this respect.

    Deployment

    Azure SQL server database instances are not actually individual virtual servers. Since Azure SQL runs as a service natively on the cloud, these database instances are logical containers provisioned and customized for the customer's needs. This leverages cost and performance on the part of Microsoft and only the customers databases are hosted in these instances. This is based on a multi-tenant hardware architecture which does not allow for specific server level customization. Instead of focusing on hardware, Microsoft's DBaaS product focuses on cloud performance to fully leverage the intended advantages of cloud computing as previously noted. Microsoft focuses on only charging for what a customer needs, so sharding is advocated through the use of elastic pools and databases are therefore limited to 10 GB so that performance and cost can be achieved.

    Azure RDS also works on multi-tenant architecture which is the key element of cloud-based computing. However, RDS uses EC2 instances for its relational database services. This design allows RDS to allocate compute resources to databases while provisioning storage capacity separately. Since RDS charges storage separate from compute, there is a different cost to be factored versus Microsoft Azure SQL. The RDS standard level provides up to 6 TB of storage, and while RDS does not provide automatic resizing, Amazon's Aurora does scale automatically in 10 GB increments up to a total of 64 TB.

    Performance

    Not only are Microsoft Azure SQL and Amazon RDS different in terms of deployment, they are also different in approaches to performance.

    Microsoft Azure SQL includes storage units price, charging for different tiers and performance levels. While services do allow for a database size of 1 TB and up to 2.9 TB total storage elastic pools, it is important to remember that Microsoft advocates the use of sharding with elastic pools in order to achieve performance and cost goals. Since SQL database on Azure is tiered, each level is suited to different workloads and broken down into further different performance levels ranked by Microsoft's Database Transaction Units (DTU). It is with DTU and elastic pools that Microsoft customers can address performance at cost. With the elastic pools, fluctuations in workload are shared over collective resources for hosted databases and can be spread across a single customer's databases for maximum utilization that also reduce costs.

    Amazon Relational Database Services works on the EC2 concept. Database instances are allocated to compute resources with storage provisioned separately. As mentioned earlier, RDS charges separately for storage and compute so that cost is approached very differently. To achieve improved query performance, Amazon RDS allows for added replicas in its supported read-only horizontal scaling. In this way, performance is achieved. However, in comparison to Microsoft Azure SQL, there are fewer tiers and separate pricing for storage and compute. It is more likely that an Amazon RDS customer may switch to improved database instances and not use the full amount of resources.

    Scaling

    Microsoft Azure SQL includes storage in its tiered pricing and performance levels. While it seems limiting that Microsoft allows for a limit of only 10 GB per database, it reduces the likelihood of performance issues from a single bloated database server. For this reason, Azure SQL is highly scalable and very price sensitive. With the latest introduction of elastic pools, Microsoft's concept of sharing databases means that growth and performance with cost in mind is as highly available as Azure itself.

    Amazon RDS, as mentioned previously, charges separately for storage and compute. It is very easy to scale the size of a database on the Amazon platform. Aurora as a database product is easily scalable in automatic increments, making RDS single database growth easy to achieve.

    Conclusion

    Perhaps the best way to approach making choices between Microsoft Azure SQL and Amazon RDS as cloud-based database platforms is to actually measure performance. Since each platform measures performance differently, it may be important for prospective customers to use free offerings of these products in tandem with third-party performance measurement tools in order to clearly measure and compare corresponding resource performance for identical databases.

    Additionally, it is also important to keep in mind what technologies are in use in a particular organization. Amazon is not a software developer, so they offer a wider variety of database engines including Microsoft SQL server. Meanwhile, Microsoft Azure SQL is a specific product from the software developer, so they offer it exclusively as a DBaaS product.

    It is reasonable to expect that organizations which already use other database products than Microsoft SQL Server may well find Amazon RDS friendlier to their specific needs. On the other hand, organizations which are already Microsoft houses will find that Azure SQL will suit their needs best. However, it is important to consider how cost and performance are achieved on each platform and whether it suitably meets budgetary goals.


  • Windows Server 2016 Licensing Explained

    windows server 2016 licensing

    Licensing Changes & New Features

    As expected with a new release of windows, Windows Server 2016 arrives bundled with a huge array of new features. From Nano-Servers to Docker support, these new offerings work together to form a well-balanced, flexible enterprise Operating System.

    One of the most important releases found in the 2016 version is the hyped Nano Server feature. Nano Server is a stripped-down version of Windows Server that’s designed specifically for cloud environments. Nano Server offers headless installation with up to 92% less footprint of the core server GUI.

    Aside from NANO Server, other newly unlocked features include Server and Hyper-V containers, nested virtualization, Linux secure boot and virtual memory management.

    Licensing - Per Core Vs CAL

    Similarly, the licensing models have also changed. Windows Server 2012 Standard and Datacenter were actually very similar in functionality. The only difference was the number of installations allowed. Previously, with Windows Server 2012, one license covered two processors. Every Processor was licensed separately in the machine (regardless of the number of cores). But with the release of Windows Server 2016, Microsoft is moving to per-core licensing. This means Microsoft only cares about the number of cores in your processor.

    Theoretically you could have a single processor with multiple cores. Another way Microsoft has changed licensing over the years with respect to WS.

    Editions Overview: Windows Server 2016 comes in three editions - Datacenter edition, Standard edition and Essential edition. Apart from the differences in licensing, these editions differ in features as well. Datacenter edition is suitable for big companies and highly virtualized data center environments. Standard edition is for customers with smaller, non-virtualized environments. Essential edition is the most bare bones version of the three, suitable for only small businesses with 25 devices or 50 users. Datacenter and Standard edition require Client Access Licensing (CALs). CALS are offered in core licensing model. Essential edition does not require purchase of CAL licenses.

    innovation with windows server 2016

    Other Licensing Information: To meet licensing requirements, each server must license a minimum of 2 processors with 8 cores each i.e: 16 cores. If your server specs are less than 2 processors, Microsoft still requires the purchase of the 16 core instance. The good news is that licensing costs typically remain the same when compared to Server 2012. Prices do increase when the the number of cores exceeds 8 cores.

    This per core licensing model was designed to increase from high consumption clients. Lower tiered infrastructures will not be affected. This change makes Windows Server very similar to SQL server with respect to licensing.

    Feature Differences: Both Standard and Datacenter edition come with different feature sets. Datacenter is the fully unlocked version and has unlimited hyper-V controllers. Both the editions offer Nano Server and unlimited storage containers.

    Pricing & Versions

    Pricing:

    Purchasing the right version of Windows Server should be simple. Contact Royal, the Microsoft Certified experts to help with all of your licensing needs.

    Have questions about licensing your Windows Server environment? Speak with our licensing department at 1-877-292-7712. Royal Discount is the best place to buy legal, cheap computer software online for over 15 years running.


  • Windows Server Now Part of Microsoft's Semi-Annual Release Schedule

    Windows Server Moves to Semi-Annual Releases

    Windows Server, part of Microsoft’s Windows NT family, is a server operating system used for enterprise level management. Windows server provides the same features of a normal OS, but with several additional server management features. Windows Server 2016 is the latest and greatest in the long line of these Server operating systems, and is the first major release since Windows Server 2012. With Windows Server 2016, instead of a release every few years Microsoft moves to the semi-annual release cycle.

    In accordance with this semi-annual release cycle, the Microsoft will release Windows Server updates every Spring and Fall, over 18 months. This new release method is in cadence with the Windows 10 and Microsoft Office 365 release strategy. Microsoft’s goal is to bring new, cutting-edge features to customers, faster. This update cycle will enable the software to react quickly to changes in market demands and reduce the number of unsupported use cases.

    Windows Server 2016 News

    Want to Upgrade for Free? Opt for Software Assurance

    These updates will be accessible to all users who are part of Microsoft’s Software Assurance Program along with Windows Server Standard edition users. Datacenters without the access to the Software Assurance Program however, will not be able to update. These updates will be automatically become available on Azure Cloud as software images. Enterprises can opt out of this update cycle and Microsoft will continue to offer Windows Server in LTSC (Long Term Servicing Channel) with 16 years of support.

    This new update cycle will also include Server Core and Microsoft’s data center tool. MS now encourages the use of Server Core for hosting virtual machines and for infrastructure workloads. This will ensure consistency in hybrid IT environments. Nano Server, Windows Server designed for containers, will not be a part of this update cycle. It will have a consistence release every 6 months. Microsoft aims to make Nano Server even smaller, claiming to reduce its size by 50% in the next update. Microsoft is emphasizing the use of Nano Server only for building containers and away from infrastructure related roles.

    Added Linux Support

    Perhaps most anticipated, is included support for Linux containers. Microsoft is also bringing bash support for windows server just like with Windows 10. Additionally, Windows Server users will get to choose when to update. As with Windows 10, there will be a preview program for the users who want accelerated updates and are willing to take the risk of running beta software. Such users can opt for this functionality by joining the Windows Insider Program.

    Microsoft Windows Server 2016 is a part of the company’s recent push into cloud space along with Azure stack. This new release cycle will address one of the biggest breakthroughs in Microsoft unified Windows Development.

    Royal Discount is a certified Microsoft Partner specializing in licensing and sales of Windows Server. To learn more, or to speak to one of our Certified Licensing Experts, contact us.


  • New Features Found in Windows Server 2016

    Why Buy Windows Server 2016?

    Windows Server, part of Microsoft’s Windows NT family, is a server operating system. This Operating system offers enterprise level management and provides the same features of a normal OS, alongside side several management features. Windows Server 2016 is the latest and greatest in the long line of server operating systems.

    New Features in Windows Server 2016

    As it is expected with a new release of windows, Windows Server 2016 arrives bundled with a huge array of new features. The fully baked version of Windows Server illustrates a strong emphasis on security and cloud services. From Nano-Servers to networking improvements, all the new features work together to form a well-balanced and extremely useful enterprise level Operating System. Some of the top new features of Windows Server are:

    Nano Server:

    Nano Server is a stripped-down version of Windows Server that’s designed specifically for cloud environments. Nano Server offers headless installation (No local UI and no local console).  The overall footprint of Nano Server is 92% less than Windows Server Core GUI    (Graphical User Interface). Nano Server comes with a minimal UI called Nano Recovery Console that can be used to perform initial configuration tasks. Some advantages of using Nano Severs are:

    • Nano can easily be ported across Servers and data centers.
    • Few reboots are necessary as less updates are required.
    • Nano can host the common Windows Server workloads like Hyper-V host.

    Docker-based Containers:

    Container provide the users with a way to isolate the application and services in an easy to administrator way. Such Containers were only a part of Linux/Unix based OS but now Microsoft in collaboration with Docker is bringing Docker-based containers to Windows Server 2016. Microsoft’s new approach is of open-source technologies.  This feature comes with two different types of controllers:

    • Hyper-V Container which offers a super-isolated containerized instance of Windows Server that is completely isolated from the host server and other containers. Such Containers are preferred for high-priority workload.
    • Windows Server Container is usually preferred for low-trust workloads. Such Containers are isolated from one another but use some common resources.

    buy-windows-server-2016-2012

    Resilient File System (ReFS)

    Windows Server 2016 comes with a stable version of the Resilient file system which is intended as a high-performance file system to be used with Hyper-V workloads and Storage Spaces Direct.

    Nested Virtualization

    This feature allows a virtual machine to host virtual machines itself. This feature was previously not available with Windows Server Hyper-V, but with version 2016 this feature is available to users.

    Advanced Remote Desktop Configuration

    Depending on what kind of setup you have, you can configure the Remote Desktop Services (RDS) solution for two types of virtualization. Session-based virtualization and VDI.

    • Session-based virtualization: Utilize the processing power of the compute power of Windows Server to provide a cost-effective multi-session environment to drive your users’ everyday workloads
    • VDI: Leverage Windows client to provide the high performance, app compatibility, and familiarity that your users have come to expect of their Windows desktop experience.

    Linux Secure Boot

    Secure Boot is a UEFI standard which protects the machine against the boot-time malware or rootkits injection. Windows Server 2016 now allows users to deploy Linux VMs under Hyper-V without the need of disabling this Secure Boot Feature.

    Hyper-V HOT-Add Virtual Hardware

    Lastly, Hyper-V Server allowed users to add virtual hardware and allocate resources to a virtual machine with a catch of first powering down the machine. Users can now add virtual hardware to a running machine without the need of turning it off in the latest version.

    The aforementioned features are just some examples of the new and innovative features in Windows Server 2016.  

    For more information, or to speak to a licensing expert, contact us today.