A guide to Windows server editions – which one’s right for your charity?

Getting started:

It can be tricky to suss out which Microsoft product is best for your charity. Each organisation has different wants and needs so the server selection process isn’t black and white. Below we have a table with basic examples of the relationship between processors and cores.

We’ve drawn up a quick guide to summarise what benefits you get with each edition of Windows server to help you make informed decisions for your charity. Before we get stuck in, here’s a quick look at some key terms:

Definition of a server:

A server is a physical hardware system capable of running server software. A hardware partition or blade is considered to be a separate physical hardware system, and, therefore, a separate server‘ – Microsoft.

Types of license:

  • Core-based ‘means the processor or execution core contained in the same integrated circuit within a computer’s central processing unit, whether cores are virtual or physical.’ This type of licensing required additional client access licenses (CALs)
  • CPU-based or Processor-based licenses can only be used on a single server with a maximum of two physical processors, and does not require you to purchase additional user CALs.

Choosing your server:

Essentials edition:

  • tt-exchange price: £33
  • Organisation size: A small charity that doesn’t anticipate growth in the short-term; The reason being the maximum users/devices that can access the server (see limitations, below)
  • License: CPU-based (does not require or allow CALs). The licensing process for Essentials is straight forward and doesn’t require any additional purchases. This also makes the installation process pretty easy too.

 

Overview:

The server has a built-in integration with Office 365 hosted services making it ideal if you are anticipating a move to the cloud. Solutions are also included for quick and easy remote computer and file access. Additionally, you don’t have to buy individual user CALs and the upfront cost is the entirety of what you have to pay.

The limitations: 

With this edition you are limited to 25 users or 50 devices. This means, if your organisation is planning to grow in size in the next 2-5 years, you may find yourself needing to make a switch further down the line. Thankfully, donations available through tt-exchange should keep the costs to a minimum at least!

Standard Edition

  • tt-exchange price: £7
  • Organisation size: Small-to-medium charities that don’t need to run numerous virtual machines
  • License: Core-based (requires CALs). The licensing process for this edition (as well as Datacenter, below) can be a bit tricky. The number of core licenses must equal the number of physical cores on the licensed server. The purchase must be of at least 8 core licenses per physical processor and a minimum of 16 core licenses per server (core licenses are sold in 2-packs).

Overview:

Standard edition is an ideal middle ground between Essentials (above) and Datacenter (below) as it offers a lot of the benefits of the latter at a more budget-friendly cost. These factors make it an ideal fit for small to medium-sized organisations. The Standard edition offers users capability to run 2 virtual machines (now called Hyper-V containers) . Additionally, Standard server also offers fully integrated services and direct access for users.

The Limitations:

2 virtualised environments will be enough for most. Nonetheless,  if you think your demands may increase over time, you could incur greater costs than if you had chosen to go with Datacenter from the outset, which allows multiple Hyper-V containers.

Datacenter edition

  • tt-exchange price: £50
  • Organisation size: medium to large or with extensive IT demands
  • License: Core-based (requires CALs) The licensing process is the same as that for the Standard edition (see above)

Overview:

In terms of technicalities, there isn’t a ton of difference between the Standard and Datacenter editions, but they can have significant impact on your decision. Arguably the biggest difference is that you can run far more virtual machines with Datacenter, meaning your device will run more efficiently if you have multiple demands. Take a look at our case study of how a charity put it to good use if you’re interested in learning more.

The limitations:

The biggest limitation that many find with Datacenter is the cost. At full price it is around 8 times the price of Windows Standard server. Luckily, the tt-exchange programme minimises this limitation by offering it as a donation, but it remains the more expensive of the two. It’s important to assess what demands you have for your technology before making a purchase. Additionally, think about what demand you predict for the near future.

 

This article is based on one originally published by our US partners TechSoup here under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.