The products in the System Center family help manage applications and services across physical, virtual, and cloud information technology (IT) infrastructures.
You can use this guide to find the Microsoft System Center software and licenses appropriate for your organization's needs.
System Center is a set of management server components and licenses for endpoints (servers and clients) that are being managed.
System Center management licenses (MLs) give you the right to install and run the management server components. MLs are primarily available as bundled suites that include rights to all or some subset of System Center components. Individual System Center components are not available.
All of the System Center products include SQL Server technology. Microsoft's licensing terms for these products allow you to run one instance of the SQL Server technology in one physical or virtual operating system environment (OSE) on one server, but only to support the System Center software. SQL Server client access licenses are not required for that use.
For detailed information on implementing these components, see Microsoft's resources for deploying and supporting System Center.
To use System Center software, you need the appropriate server MLs for the servers being managed or monitored and client MLs for all the end users or devices being managed. Server and client MLs are primarily available through bundled suites. The exception is the Configuration Manager client ML, which can be acquired independently.
Server MLs are required for managed devices that run server OSEs. Server MLs are available through Standard and Datacenter license suites. The primary difference between the two is the number of virtual instances of the server software you are allowed to manage. Both of these license suites offer server MLs and software for all of the System Center components.
System Center 2016 Standard allows the management of up to two OSEs per license.
System Center 2016 Datacenter allows the management of an unlimited number of OSEs per license.
With System Center 2016, server MLs are core-based. Previous versions of System Center have also been transitioned to this licensing model.
For detailed licensing information, see the System Center 2016 licensing datasheet (PDF).
Client MLs are required for managed devices that run non-server OSEs and can be licensed per OSE or per user. These license suites offer client management licenses and software for the following System Center components:
The client management license suites are
OSE Client ML and
User Client ML.
These suites offer licenses for key Microsoft server products, including System Center Configuration Manager. Licensed per user or per device, they include client access licenses (CALs) for Windows Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server Standard Edition, and Skype for Business Server Standard edition, as well as the client MLs for System Center Configuration Manager and Endpoint Protection Manager.
The core CAL suites are the
Core User CAL Suite and the
Core Device CAL Suite.
If you have earlier versions of System Center with active Software Assurance, you can upgrade to System Center 2016 versions without placing a new donation request. Since System Center 2016 has changed to a core-based licensing model, organizations with Software Assurance will be granted a certain number of core licenses, depending on how many processor licenses they have. See the System Center 2016 licensing datasheet (PDF) for details.
For help upgrading, see Microsoft's resources for deploying and supporting System Center.
Downgrade rights allow you to obtain System Center software in any version that Microsoft continues to make available for download through the Volume Licensing Service Center. With System Center, you can choose to download the 2016, 2012 R2, or 2012 versions of the software when you request System Center MLs. Downgrading does not depend on Software Assurance; it is a benefit of Volume Licensing.
However, with the release of System Center 2016, all previous System Center MLs have been transitioned to the new core-based licensing model. If you are planning on requesting new or additional licenses for a previous version of System Center, make sure you get enough licenses to cover all the cores on your licensed server according to System Center 2016 licensing guidelines. See the System Center 2016 licensing datasheet (PDF) for details.
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