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I'm planning to create a virtualized setup for a company I work for and I've been looking at server configurations. I've settled on a Dell PowerEdge R710, but I'm not sure which OS is right for me. My choices are between 2008 R2 EE (~$9,800) and 2008 R2 DC (~$12,800).

I have a friend who'se already done a similar setup for his work place and they're running 2008 R2 DC and he believes that if you're on DC then you have an 'unlimited guest os' license where as EE is limited to 4 (according to him). Is that true, and would it be beneficial to go with DC for an extra $3,000?

Also, if you go with DC, does that give you access to some super MSDN or TechNet account that allows you to download OSes for VMs as needed? Or if not, I'm assuming I just buy a product key as needed to deploy a new VM?

Thanks in advance for any help!

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As I recall, the retail license for Windows Server 2008 R2 EE comes with four VM licenses. That doesn't mean you can't create more than four VMs, but it does mean that you will need to purchase licenses for the number you create beyond four. You could purchase a license for each VM beyond four, but as explained in this blog on Microsoft TechNet

You can assign two EE licenes to the host to obtain 8 VM licenses, or three EE licenses to get 12 VMs. It all comes down to how many VMs you need as to which OS you need to purchase. And don't forget to purchase lots of RAM in your server. Hyper-V loves RAM.

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that is one excellent article, I've definitely got a better understanding now. So, as I understand it, DC gives me the ability to put on as many VMs as I could ever need, but the product keys for those machines need to be purchased separately, say like from CDW? – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 5 '11 at 0:16
No, that is not what it says. With DC you dont need separate product keys. – TomTom Jul 5 '11 at 0:18
@TomTom, ok, so now that that's been clarified, how does one gain access to the software? For example, say I need to setup a Server 2003 VM and I don't have an installation CD at all, where would I get it? My MSDN account, or does the DC come with a specific portal for the software, or does it have a built in repository, or does it just download it as needed when I make the VM? – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 5 '11 at 0:37
Well, from your licensing download location. THat simple. DC is not something you buy in a shop. They should have a volume licensing / Select in place and that would give them access to – TomTom Jul 5 '11 at 4:15
Still confused. The DC will come preloaded with the machines from wherever we purchase them... So, once again, the question is where do I get the software? Does the DC come with access to the volume licensing site? – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 5 '11 at 4:33

Is that true

Yeah, rading license conditions is SO hard. Still, your friend is right.

Also, if you go with DC, does that give you access to some super MSDN or TechNet account that allows you to download OSes for VMs as needed?

if you have to ask that, your company should hire someone who knows his way around. No, you dont. But if you are volume licensing customer, you get acces to the licensing website where you can download the production versions ;) it is different from MSDN or technet in that those are "real" full versions, obviously governed by your owned licenses.

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So, by saying that the company I work for should get someone who knows his way around, you're effectively telling me not to ask the questions I need to ask so I can become that person. I'm sorry to sound like a jerk, but that's pretty arrogant... – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 4 '11 at 23:55
Well, it also is true. Seems noone in your company cares avbout volume licensing, and given that it gives you significant savings STARTING AT 5 COMPUTERS that is extremely ignorant. – TomTom Jul 5 '11 at 0:17
I'm a contractor, and the company is a mess. Their current IT provider is horrible (domain controllers poorly configured, insufficient storage [271GB for the entire company, which ran out and they fixed it by 'moving files around'], etc.). I'm being brought in to fixed it all, and I'm pretty damn good at what I do (personal bias), but I needed more information about the licensing because I haven't had to setup a virtualized environment before (although I have worked with VMs on many occasions). – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 5 '11 at 0:33
So, perhaps in the future you may want to consider the circumstances of a company and the person speaking on their behalf without immediately making the statement to find someone else. Setting up the virtualized environment is not something I'm worried about, but I just needed to clarify how the licensing worked for myself. – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 5 '11 at 0:34
Again, not trying to be an ass here, its just that your statement got under my skin... With that being said, I'll man up and apologize to you if you took offense to my statements. – Gup3rSuR4c Jul 5 '11 at 0:38

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