Microsoft Windows Licensing can be very expensive and tricky to navigate for organizations, but it is a vital piece of the technology infrastructure. The good news: there are discounted options for non-profit organizations and churches. The bad news: the structure of these discounts is fairly complicated. In this post we will break down servers, licenses, and provide a guide for how non-profit discount pricing works.
It’s Time To Buy
It’s time to buy a new server for your church. You know you need a way for users to log in to any of your computers, share printers, run your church management system, and access things from off-campus locations. You decide to purchase 6 total Windows servers to achieve this.
In the past, this situation would require the purchasing of six separate physical servers. However, there is now a much more cost-effective method. You can buy one powerful server that will host the different workloads on virtual servers. This is where Windows Server Hyper-V comes into play. Hyper-V is the virtualization platform that allows a single physical server to host multiple virtual machine servers.
The concept of hosted virtual servers can be compared to a duplex home. According to the blueprint, it is one construction. But within that single construction is everything that two families need to make separate homes. It is cheaper for the builder, it takes up less land than two separate constructions, and it is easier for the landlord to manage. In the same fashion, virtually hosted servers are an efficient and cost-effective option. It is cheaper to purchase one set of powerful hardware than six moderately efficient servers. It takes less energy, space, and very importantly, less licensing.
Microsoft Windows Licensing Editions
If you buy a server and install the Windows Server operating system, there are two main editions: Standard and Datacenter. Standard is the everyday work horse, and Datacenter is for large enterprise (generally). Both editions allow you to run virtual servers. Standard allows two virtual machines and Datacenter allows an unlimited amount of virtual machines. While unlimited sounds like a great option, going from two to unlimited is a very large jump, and that jump is matched with a significant price increase. Thankfully, non-profit organizations have some options here!
Non-profit organizations, including churches, have access to an incredible amount of savings through the Microsoft partner TechSoup. TechSoup is a reseller of Microsoft (and other) products to non-profits at greatly reduced prices. They have two types of pricing: donation and discount. Donation pricing takes the form of a grant from Microsoft to the non-profit organization or church. It comes with a list of requirements and several stipulations on how many of a certain class of product can be bought at the donation price per two-year term. The discount pricing option on TechSoup is in line with Microsoft’s Open Charity pricing structure. TechSoup resells other distributors with competitively priced non-profit discounts as well, but the Microsoft donation pricing is the cheapest option on the market.
Putting It All Together
Up to this point, everything is fairly straightforward. Save money and space by combining servers. Buy some donation licenses on non-profit status. However, the structure of these purchases is not quite as simple as “1 server, 1 license.” Navigating the amount and type of licenses your organization needs can be quite tricky.
Here are the key factors (all pricing for donation and discount pricing is current as of November 2018):
- Windows Server is licensed per processor core (example: quad-core processor).
- But, you must buy at least 16 cores per physical host, whether or not it has that many.
- Licenses are sold in two-packs.
- Windows Server Standard allows two virtual servers, but you can buy multiple instances of Server Standard for a single host.
- 16 total cores = 8 two-packs = 1 Complete Server Standard License, which allows 2 Virtual Servers.
- To cover four Virtual Servers, you need: 2 Complete Server Standard Licenses = 16 two-packs
- You can only buy 25 two-packs in a two-year term from TechSoup on Donation pricing at $8 each.
- If you need more than that, additional licenses may be bought via the Open Charity licensing at $71 each on TechSoup.
- Even when you buy the server licenses, you still have to buy a special user license (CAL) for each person who uses the system.
- You can only buy 50 of those per two-year term on TechSoup Donation pricing at $3 each and each additional user must be covered via an Open Charity license, which are $13 each on TechSoup.
- To offer some services to your guests (like DHCP or DNS), you need an External Connector License for $795.00 on TechSoup with discount pricing (there is no donation pricing for this product).
The donation and charity pricing options that TechSoup and Microsoft offer are very generous, but they aren’t doing anyone any favors in the simplicity of their structure. We hope this guide will be helpful to your organization if you are attempting to understand the options for license purchasing! If you are a church or a non-profit and would like help navigating the tricky waters of Microsoft Licensing, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be more than happy to assist you in this area, and with any other technology needs you may have!