Microsoft made Windows Server 2012 R2 “generally available” in October, 2013. Today, Windows Server 2012 R2 is offered in four editions:
Let’s also don’t forget about the completely free Microsoft Hyper-V Server.
When a small company decides to virtualize its servers on the basis of Microsoft Hyper-V and consolidate them on fewer physical machines, one of the first questions is, “Which edition of Windows Server 2012 R2 is best for us?”
Despite the availability of a wide range of editions of Windows Server 2012 R2, from the licensing point of view, it’s best to discuss only three of them: Standard, Datacenter and the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server, because only these three editions offer virtualization.
In Windows Server 2012 R2 Foundation and Essentials Editions, the Hyper-V role isn’t available, so let’s leave those two editions alone for now.
Jumping ahead a bit, when I say Veeam Backup & Replication fully supports Windows Server 2012 R2, I mean only the Standard Edition, Datacenter Edition and free Microsoft Hyper-V Server where Hyper-V VMs can be created. The other editions of Windows Server 2012 R2 make no sense for virtualization admins.
What’s the difference between Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Editions, Datacenter Edition and Microsoft Hyper-V Server?
Since we narrowed the list of available options to three editions of Windows Server 2012 R2, the next step for the company is to understand the differences between them and select the most appropriate edition.
From a technical point of view, there are almost no differences between these editions of Windows Server 2012 R2, meaning you can build a large virtual environment using even the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server.
The big difference is in licensing:
- Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Edition allows the sysadmin to create unlimited number of VMs, where each of them will have the licensed guest OS (Windows Server 2012 R2).
The Datacenter Edition is the most expensive, but it removes many possible questions. If you need a new VM, simply create it. BOOM! And it’s ready. You don’t need to think about licensing.
- Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard Edition allows the sysadmin to create up to two Hyper-V VMs, each of which will have the licensed guest OS (Windows Server 2012 R2).
When I say the Standard Edition allows you to create up to two VMs, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create more VMs. Of course you can, however, only two of all of the VMs will have the licensed guest OS. As for the others, you will need to either to buy additional licenses or install another guest OS such as Linux.
The Standard Edition is cheaper than the Datacenter Edition, but you need to carefully estimate how many VMs will be deployed. For example:
- If you plan to run a couple of Hyper-V VMs, several licenses of the Standard Edition might be enough.
- If you plan to run 8 - 10 Hyper-V VMs, maybe it’s more economically to consider purchasing one Datacenter Edition license.
Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 allows you to create almost an unlimited number of VMs, but none of them will have a licensed guest OS.
These three editions of Windows Server 2012 R2 differ not only in virtualization rights, but also in the management approach. While the Datacenter and Standard Editions have both full GUI and core modes (and full GUI is easier to manage especially in small companies), free Microsoft Hyper-V Server works only in the core mode, meaning it can be managed locally only through PowerShell or command line.
However this fact cannot limit you significantly, because you can always download the free Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools (RSAT), install it on a client laptop and manage the features and roles of your Microsoft Hyper-V Server remotely.
Veeam Backup & Replication fully supports Microsoft Hyper-V
Historically, Veeam adds support for the latest hypervisor versions in a timely manner, and Windows Server 2012 R2 was not an exception. When Microsoft made Windows Server 2012 R2 “generally available” in October 2013, Veeam supported it in Veeam Backup & Replication in only one month.
But remember, Veeam specifically supports Windows Server 2012 R2 Datacenter Edition, Standard Edition and the free Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2012 R2. From a technical point of view, Veeam Backup & Replication works perfectly fine with any of these versions and provides equal functionality.
I also need to mention that with all of the things discussed above, there is no difference between the paid and free editions of Veeam Backup & Replication. This also applies to Veeam Backup Free Edition.
I hope you found this post helpful. Feel free to get in touch if you have questions or need assistance.
For more information, you can always read:
- Veeam Backup & Replication licensing
- Veeam Backup Free Edition
- Microsoft.com: Windows Server 2012 R2