System Center 2016

System Center 2016 delivers a simplified datacenter management experience to keep you in control of your IT—whether on-premises, in the cloud, or across platforms. It builds on the experience and depth of the previous versions, and you can take your management capabilities even farther with Microsoft Operations Management Suite, giving you visibility and control of data and applications that live across multiple systems from a single solution. The following information provides an overview of the editions and licensing options.

System Center 2016
Licensing editionsFAQ

Licensing editions

System Center 2016 server management licensing maximizes your private cloud value while simplifying purchasing. All server management licenses (server MLs) include the same components and the ability to manage any workload. System Center 2016 server MLs are available in two editions, Standard and Datacenter, which are differentiated by virtualization rights only.

Server management editions

EditionIdeal for…Licensing model

Datacenter

Managing highly virtualized serversManagement servers*
(Core-based)

Standard

Managing lightly virtualized or non-virtualized and serversManagement servers*
(Core-based)

*All physical cores on the server must be licensed, subject to a minimum of 8 core licenses per physical processor and a minimum of 16 core licenses per server.

Server management features

Server management licenses (server MLs) are required for managing server operating system environments (OSEs), including virtual machines (VMs), Hyper-V containers, and Windows Server containers. The following table compares the two System Center 2016 server ML editions:

DatacenterStandard

Number of managed OSEs/Hyper-V containers

Unlimited2*

Number of managed Windows Server containers

UnlimitedUnlimited

Management of Nano Server**

Configuration Manager***

Data Protection Manager

Endpoint Protection

Operations Manager

Service Manager

Virtual Machine Manager

Right to run management server software and supporting SQL Server Runtime (SQL Server Standard Edition)

Manage any type of supported workload

Note: Components included in the server MLs are not available separately.

*Standard edition permits management of the physical OSE on the licensed server (in addition to two virtual OSEs), if the physical OSE is used solely to host and manage virtual OSEs.

**Software Assurance on server MLs is required to manage Nano Server in production.

***Customers with active Software Assurance on System Center Configuration Manager licenses, or with equivalent subscription rights, may install and use the Current Branch option. (Current Branch is a product release model that involves a higher cadence of releases.)

Client management licenses and features

Client management licenses (client MLs) are required for managing devices that run non-server operating system environments (OSEs). The following table compares the three System Center 2016 client ML offerings:

Configuration ManagerEndpoint ProtectionClient Management Suite

Components included

Configuration Manager

Virtual Machine Manager
Endpoint ProtectionService Manager

Operations Manager

Data Protection Manager

Orchestrator

License requirements

Client ML*
(per user/OSE)
Subscription*
(per user/device)
Client ML*
(per user/OSE)

Included in Core CAL Suite

Included in Enterprise CAL Suite

Note: Components included in the client MLs are not available separately.

*Client MLs are required for management of non-server OSEs.

FAQ

Server licensing for Datacenter and Standard edition has transitioned from being processor-based to being core-based. Customers with Software Assurance will transition to core-based licensing upon their first renewal, following the General Availability of System Center 2016. Licenses with active Software Assurance on or after General Availability may upgrade to System Center 2016 at any time.


The licensing of Datacenter and Standard editions is moving from processors to physical cores, which aligns licensing of private and public cloud environments, provides a consistent licensing metric, and simplifies licensing across multi-cloud infrastructures. Customers licensing System Center 2016 on servers with 8 cores or fewer per processor and 16 cores or fewer per server will pay the same extended amount (unit price x quantity) as they did when licensing 2012 R2 with two-processor licenses. Datacenter edition provides rights to manage unlimited OSEs and unlimited Windows Server containers when all physical cores on the server are licensed. Standard edition provides rights to manage up to two OSEs or two Hyper-V containers and unlimited Windows Server containers when all physical cores on the server are licensed.

With System Center 2016:

  • Each physical server is required to be licensed for all physical cores
  • Each physical processor is required to be licensed with a minimum of 8 physical cores
  • Each physical server is required to be licensed with a minimum of two processors, totaling a minimum of 16 physical cores
  • Core licenses are sold in packs of two (that is, a 2-pack Core License)

Core licenses are sold in packs of two (a 2-pack Core License) and each processor needs to be licensed with a minimum of eight cores (four 2-pack Core Licenses). Each physical server, including single-processor servers, will need to be licensed with a minimum of two processors and 16 cores (eight 2-pack Core Licenses). Additional cores can then be licensed in increments of two cores (one 2-pack Core License) for gradual increases in core density growth.

Server MLs are required for managed devices that run server OSEs table

The move to core-based licensing came into effect upon the commercial General Availability of System Center 2016. System Center 2016 customers will begin using core-based licensing at the time of their Software Assurance renewal or when net new licenses are purchased outside of existing Microsoft agreements.

The transition from processor-based licensing to core-based licensing will not affect customers with Software Assurance until their first renewal after General Availability of System Center 2016. Prior to renewal, customers with active Software Assurance on System Center licenses may upgrade to and use System Center 2016 during the remainder of their then-current term. Net new licenses (for example, new licenses purchased through a Microsoft Products and Services Agreement [MPSA] or from an original equipment manufacturer [OEM]) will be core-based for System Center 2016. At renewal, customers who have licenses with Software Assurance will transition to core-based licensing.

To support the transition of on-premises customers to System Center 2016, customers with active Software Assurance on System Center licenses are eligible for two types of core grants: Full Core Licenses and Additional Core Licenses. For each System Center processor license with active Software Assurance, customers will receive a Full Core License grant of 16 core licenses for System Center 2016. Customers that have System Center processor licenses with active Software Assurance assigned to licensed servers with more than 8 cores per processor and 16 cores per server will be eligible for Additional Core License grants. At renewal, Software Assurance will be based on the number of new core licenses a customer has.

Microsoft is working with customers to facilitate smooth transitions. Customers should contact their Microsoft representative for guidance related to their specific situation.

  • Core licenses will be granted to on-premises customers with eligible licenses, which include System Center processor licenses with active Software Assurance as of October 1, 2016, and System Center processor licenses with Software Assurance subsequently obtained under the same agreement through a programmatic true-up.
    • Full Core License grant: Each eligible license will be granted 16 core licenses for System Center 2016.
    • Additional Core License grant: For servers with more than 8 cores per processor and more than 16 cores per server, customers will be eligible for additional core license grants.
  • Eligibility for additional core license grants requires that the customer establish and maintain a record of the physical hardware and the configuration of the licensed server to which its eligible licenses are assigned. This record must be established as of expiration of Software Assurance term for the eligible licenses or September 30, 2019, whichever is earlier.
  • To establish and maintain a record of their servers, customers may use either the Microsoft Software Inventory Logging (SIL) tool or any equivalent software.
  • Documentation should include date-stamped inventory of software, servers, processors, and cores for all production hardware on which System Center is currently installed.

Customers with active Software Assurance on System Center 2016 Standard and Datacenter edition core licenses may manage the Nano Server installation option available within Windows Server 2016. Nano Server is included within Windows Server 2016, and may be used in production by customers with active Software Assurance on Windows Server 2016 Standard and Datacenter edition core licenses. Nano Server is an opt-in installation and deployment option that provides a more active servicing model. With periodic releases of new features and functionalities, Nano Server is similar to the Windows 10 Current Branch for Business (CBB) servicing model. Learn more about Nano Server.

Yes. Core Infrastructure Suite includes Windows Server and System Center together at a discount, and is a very popular way for customers to license. Server licensing for System Center 2016 and Windows Server 2016 Datacenter and Standard editions has transitioned from being processor-based to being core-based. The move to core-based licensing came into effect upon General Availability of System Center 2016.

  • Core-based licensing. System Center 2016 server management licensing is based on the number of physical cores on the servers under management, consistent with the Windows Server 2016 model.
  • Consistent licensing model across editions. Core-based licenses for server management. User-based or operating system environment (OSE)–based license for client management.
  • Licenses required only for endpoints being managed. No additional licenses are needed for management servers or SQL Server technology used in System Center.

System Center 2016 server management licenses have two editions differentiated by virtualization rights only:

  • Datacenter: For managing highly virtualized servers
  • Standard: For managing non-virtualized or lightly virtualized servers

There is no differentiation between the types of workloads you can manage with either edition. The only difference between the editions is the number of operating system environments (OSEs) that you can manage when all physical cores on the server are licensed. Datacenter edition allows for the management of any number of OSEs (virtual machines or Hyper-V containers) when all physical cores on the server are licensed. Standard edition allows for the management of up to two OSEs (virtual machines or Hyper-V containers) when all physical cores on the server are licensed. Datacenter and Standard edition both allow for the management of any number of Windows Server Containers.

No. The System Center 2016 Server Management components are part of an integrated offering to create and manage private cloud environments. They are available only as part of System Center 2016 Standard and System Center Datacenter server management licenses.

If you have Software Assurance coverage on your current System Center client licenses at the time of System Center 2016 General Availability, you will receive the System Center 2016 client ML grants listed in the following table.


Current licenseNew license
System Center 2012 R2
Client Management Suite Client ML
System Center 2016
Client Management Suite Client ML
System Center 2012 R2
Configuration Manager Client ML
System Center
Configuration Manager 1606 Client ML
System Center 2012 R2
Endpoint Protection subscription
System Center
Endpoint Protection 1606 subscription

Note: There are no step-up paths for client MLs.

For more information on the transition from processor-based to core-based licensing, please read the System Center 2016 Licensing Datasheet (PDF, 360 KB).

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