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Windows Server Datacenter Edition allows many things to include Automatic Virtual Machine Activation (AVMA). Using AVMA, you can activate equal to & lower & older editions than the host. I can understand the reason to go with older editions if you have legacy applications or something similar which would be limiting. But, I can't quite wrap my head around why you would want to activate Standard Edition if you have the ability to activate Datacenter Edition. Is there some advantage to doing this? Any drawbacks of just activating everything at the Datacenter Edition level? Some special use case I'm overlooking?

  • Did someone actually do this? Have you asked them why they did it? – Michael Hampton Dec 7 '18 at 2:40
  • This isn't a question of licensing or activation, it is a question of which edition to use for guests on a host. The answer is it doesn't matter. – Greg Askew Dec 8 '18 at 14:58
  • Greg - I was thinking the same thing. Most of the extra features different between Standard & Datacenter are typically geared for host bare metal systems... but not necessarily all of them. I was wondering if there is something I've perhaps overlooked. Something bad that would be against best practices to just activate all the guest VMs at Datacenter Edition. Or, if there's something good to be gained by limiting the activation to Standard Edition. – Craig Dec 12 '18 at 4:32
  • The only feature difference between Windows Server Datacenter Edition and Standard Edition is AVMA. There are feature differences in the Hyper-V Role between the two, but that isn't the same thing. At the OS level, AVMA is the only difference. – joeqwerty Dec 12 '18 at 12:29
  • So... I guess if you were going to do nested virtualization and you needed features only available with the Hyper-V Role in Datacenter Edition then you'd deploy Datacenter Edition as the guest VM, but nobody would do that in an enterprise environment... at least not for production workloads. – joeqwerty Dec 12 '18 at 12:36
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From a feature standpoint there's no difference between the two except for AVMA. You would typically license Datacenter edition for your physical virtualization host (whether running Hyper-V or ESXi) and then deploy Standard Edition on your VOSE's because it has feature parity with Datacenter Edition (again, except for AVMA). AVMA can only be used on a VOSE as a guest. It can't be used on a guest to activate other VOSE's, so why deploy Datacenter Edition on your VOSE's? I've worked with a lot of companies using both Hyper-V and ESXi and I can tell you that I've never seen one that deployed Datacenter Edition on their VOSE's.

  • Well... there are other feature differences beyond just AVMA (Shielded VMs, S2D, Storage Replica, etc.). But, from what I gather you are saying that other than doing nested virtualization or to unlock things that are typically only applicable to a host server, there's really no reason to activate the guest VM as Datacenter Edition. But, conversely, does it hurt anything either? I can't see why it would. As I understand it, the binaries are the same so there should be no bloat or performance hits. It should just be a matter of what features you can use and if you chose to use them. right?? – Craig Dec 12 '18 at 4:21
  • You're talking about Hyper-V Role feature comparison, which is not what the crux of your question is. The only difference between Windows Server Datacenter and Standard Edition is AVMA. Also, your question was "Why would you license Standard Edition? not "Why wouldn't you license Datacenter Edition?"... which is not entirely the same question. – joeqwerty Dec 12 '18 at 12:26
  • You are incorrect that the only difference is just AVMA and I would firmly argue that S2D as a software defined SAN has nothing to do with Hyper-V. But, I'll gladly concede that virtual S2D and nested virtualization is for testing and not production use. As for why "would you go standard?" vs "why wouldn't you go datacenter?"... it's the same question from a different perspective. From all the digging I've done outside of this forum, there appears to be no particular justification for either and as Greg stated above.. it just doesn't seem to matter and is up to whatever an admin prefers. – Craig Dec 13 '18 at 2:15
  • For what it's worth, perhaps the best argument I've heard from anyone else was that if you ever transfer the VM to another host where you might not be using datacenter as the host, switching the product key from AVMA to a core license would be less costly than keeping it licensed at datacenter and it would also potentially mitigate any issues with having to downgrade the license from datacenter to standard. Second runner up was that "if you see a standard edition license, you know it's a VM, vs Datacenter, you know it's a physical host"... which wouldn't always be true either. – Craig Dec 13 '18 at 2:20
  • After looking at the Edition comparison again I'll concede that I was wrong. That doesn't change my opinion on the matter that you wouldn't deploy Datacenter Edition as a Hyper-V guest... but my opinion isn't fact, it's just my opinion. – joeqwerty Dec 13 '18 at 2:29

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