Document copyright 2016 Mark Minasi; please see below for info on subscribing, unsubscribing or copying portions of this text. (Thank you for respecting my intellectual property rights!)
Hi all —
Thanks for all of the kind thoughts last month when the Newsletter returned from its perambulating! I am working on Part Two, a look at Secure Boot, but I hope you'll permit me to delay it just a bit, as I wanted to pass along some very important news about the next version of Windows Server. Microsoft announced just today (12 July 2016) when Server 2016 would arrive and, much more importantly (to me, anyway), how they're pricing it. If you're a regular reader then you may recall that I did a similar piece in mid-2012 about Server 2012 pricing, and that it was really good news. This time, well... you decide. Before we get into the details, however first, a word from our sponsor...
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Server Ships in September... If You Can Afford It
Microsoft has been working on Server 2016 for a few years now, and I feel no reticence in admitting that I Cannot Wait For It To Ship. You'll read on the Microsoft info pages that Server 2016 comes with a few neat tools, like
Those are all great, but once you get your hands into Server 2016, you constantly run across little tweaks that make it even more desirable.
Microsoft Has Set the Date... And the Price... And the Gotcha's
Today, Microsoft announced that they will release Server 2016 during their Ignite conference, which runs on the week of 26 September. Thus, the waiting is almost over, a bit over two months away. Good news!
They also, however, announced pricing at https://www.microsoft.com/en/server-cloud/products/windows-server-2016/ . There is also an FAQ at http://download.microsoft.com/download/7/2/9/7290EA05-DC56-4BED-9400-138C5701F174/WSSC2016LicensingFAQ.pdf. Here's the basics.
As far as I can see, the number of cores a Xeon holds varies from 4 to 24, and so some of us will do better than others.
For people buying Standard Edition, it's probably a wash.. I'm no expert on the panoply of SMB server hardware, but I'm pretty sure that a fair number of low-end servers hosted a one- or two- socket motherboard and four-core processors.
For those buying Datacenter, again anything related to enterprise licensing is murky -- what exactly does a Windows 10 Enterprise CBB license, cost, anyway? -- but remember, Datacenter's list price was $4809 for two sockets, and now it's $6155 for 16 cores. Good deal? Well, let's see. Basically,
One Reason to Upgrade, or Not: You Can Buy a "Forever" License, the CBB
I haven't mentioned another factor that may just convince some people that "hang the cost, it's worth it" is the way to think of it -- the license.
2016 will be licensed like Windows 10 along a method called the Common Branch for Business (CBB). This is a long story and I'll cover it in a future newsletter (or my Server class when I get it done), but here's the short version.
By default, when you buy or upgrade to Windows Server 2016, you will be on the CBB. That means that roughly twice a year, Microsoft will roll out nifty new features and capabilities. Instead of having to wait two to four years for new Server features -- and having to pay for them -- you get them free in Windows Update. Thus, if those of us who bought Server 2012R2 could have bought it on the CBB, we'd be sitting back waiting for September and the arrival of a free new version of Server. Not only that, CBB owners never have to buy a copy of server again on an existing system. If you don't decommission that server for 12 years, no problem -- you're licensed and legal, and you get security updates as long as you like. For some folks, I'm sure that would sound pretty nice.
The down-side is that you don't get the option whether or not to upgrade. At least once a year, you've got to upgrade your servers to the new build, and if you don't, you stop getting security updates -- just as if you had a Server 2003 system running today and weren't paying for the special extended patch support.
I'm sorry... is that your hair on fire? Apologies... let me stress that there is an alternative. You can purchase 2016 with the Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB). The LTSB version (I'm simplifying) does not get the semi-annual new features, but it does get security patches for ten years. In other words, a $6155 purchase of the LTSB version of Datacenter (assuming that the CBB costs are the same as the LTSB costs... can't guarantee it yet as they've not yet said) buys you a copy of Windows Server 2016 and ten years of patch support.
What Should I Do?
Well, first of all, you don't have do anything. Server 2012 and 2012R2 are going to be supported for several more years... there's no rush.
Personally I like the "always moving forward" aspect of 2016 CBB, but I also depend on non-Microsoft software and third party vendors are understandably cautious and conservative in supporting new versions, so I'd hate to be in a position where on the one hand I must upgrade my server OS while knowing at the same time that I would be losing some important backup tool or the like.
On the other hand, I suppose I could go with an LTSB Datacenter buy. But I'd be committing to a "1.0" version of Nano Server, containers, Storage Replica and Storage Spaces Direct. I'm sure they're all good, but most of us are happier with a buy of a 1.1 version of a feature than a 1.0. LTSB would require me, as far as I know, to have to re-buy Datacenter.
(Along those lines, there's an interesting note in Microsoft's discussion of CBB versus LTSB for Server. It appears that no matter how you buy Server 2016, your Nano Server instances will have to upgraded. Here I'm going to applaud Microsoft, as it is still so new and the team that's working on it is feverishly creating new scenarios for it. No matter how you slice it, Nano is going to be a fast moving target. I'd hate to get locked into the September 2016 Nano Server for the next ten years, and it sounds like no one needs to worry about that.)
This CBB/LTSB stuff first appeared in Windows 10. I bought Windows 10 as soon as I could and found the July 2015 release a bit wobbly, and in fact Microsoft was quite open about warning us to that effect. The November 2015 release really worked out many of the kinks, and the upcoming August 2016 build will offer a lot of nice tweaks and some real improvements in the Edge browser.
It's my job to live with the latest OS, so I'll probably go CBB, and as soon as I can. But I imagine that many folks will wait at least one CBB cycle. Meanwhile, I really do hope that Microsoft decides to drop this "you must upgrade every 12 months" policy and stretch it out a bit to at least two years.
As always, I'd love to hear your opinion and what you're planning. Thanks for reading, see you again soon!
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All contents copyright 2016 Mark Minasi. I encourage you to quote this material, so long as you include this entire document. Thanks very much for reading, and see you next time.