Cloud Platform Suite

Microsoft announce a new Cloud Platform Suite which will be available through the SPLA channel from January 2014. You can download the FAQ here:, but read on to get the overview.

The Cloud Platform Suite will offer an alternative to the Core Infrastructure Server Suite; both are offerings to license the core infrastructure of Windows Server and System Center, but they’re aimed at different types of highly virtualised environments.

With CIS Suite Datacenter licensing you buy a CIS Suite Processor licence for every physical processor in the server and then you’re licensed to run as many Windows Server virtual machines, managed by System Center, as you want to on that server. For a highly virtualised environment it’s seen as a cost-effective option. Actually, it’s a cost-effective option in a homogeneous environment where all the VMs are running Windows Server. It’s a slightly different story in a heterogeneous environment where there are VMs running different operating systems; you’re paying for unlimited virtualisation but you don’t need to run Windows Server in all of your VMs.

This is where the Cloud Platform Suite will be at its most convenient. The physical machine is again licensed by processor with the new Host licences which include Windows Server 2012 R2, System Center 2012 R2, and the Windows Azure Pack for that host machine. These Host licences will be cheaper than their equivalent Core Infrastructure Server Suite licences because you’ll then separately license the virtual machines that will run on that host machine. For any Windows Server VMs you’ll purchase a single Guest licence per instance, which will license that VM to run Windows Server and to be managed by System Center. But here’s the interesting bit – if you also want to run a large number of, say, Linux VMs on the same host then there are no guest fees for those VMs at all.

So, key takeaways:

  • the Cloud Platform Suite arrives in January 2014, and
  • its new licensing model has the potential to offer Service Providers a more cost effective way of licensing a highly virtualised heterogeneous environment.