Microsoft Software Licensing Microsoft licensing is about as complex as you can find. Like vmWare, Microsoft offers a free version of their Hypervisor Hyper-V , but Microsoft has a much broader set of software to offer in general. Once upon a time, we had an inexpensive Technet subscription which gave us the world in evaluation software. This is but a memory at this point so we have to find other options. There are two great options on this front that are perhaps not as inexpensive, but will still give most of us what we need.
For a homelab, this is still pretty good, because we get the latest Microsoft software at a fraction of the cost of individual licensing. There are gotchas of course. If you are lucky, you can find coupons to get that number way down. So what do you get? First, those are all current versions of the software.
Many of us are forced to work with older version of Windows and SQL Server for our internal testing an development. Second, these are again, production licenses. So we are paying a very low price, but this is software intended for a business to operate. You can find a full list of software included here. Visual Studio Subscriptions. This is really designed for a developer and is the new branding of what was once an MSDN Subscription.
The good new is that many of us with a homelab use software more like a developer anyway. So with the right subscription, we get access to basically everything, unlimited, for development and testing purposes. Of course, everything is expensive, so we have to find the right software selection at a price that we can afford.
There are two main flavors of Visual Studio Subscriptions: Cloud and Standard. Cloud Cloud is sold as a monthly or annual subscription. You only get to use the license keys while you are paying the subscription. The annual option includes subscriber benefits while the monthly service basically just includes Visual Studio-related software. So what are subscriber benefits?
It can be tax deductible for those of you that have your own business. For me, the Professional subscription gives me the two most important things, my operating systems and databases. Not only that, it gives you basically every version of both back to the year This is a bit of a bummer if you are looking for a catch-all for your homelab and productivity software.
Standard Standard is different than the cloud subscription in that it comes with a perpetual license. So, if you decide after the first year you are no longer interested, anything you licensed during your first year will still be yours to use. It of course come with a higher price. The only real benefit here is that you can continue to use your keys if you choose not to renew each year.
Educational Licensing Beyond the paid options from Microsoft, they also offer educational software for those of you that are students. They have the standard program available through Microsoft Imagine. For a homelab, the Window Server license would be a great place to start.
Many educational institutions have deals with Microsoft beyond Imagine. You can search here to find out if your school has this set up. Oracle Software Oracle software is the reason this blog exists. This has always been my primary technology to blog about. So, if you are building a homelab for Oracle software, you might need some Oracle software!
I suggest two sites: You will need to register for an Oracle account, but once you have one, you should be good to go. You can find eDelivery here. Patches What about patches? Patches are a little more tricky.
You still need an Oracle account, but generally you will need a support identifier. This can be really simply like using your Oracle account at work or becoming a partner. To make matters worse, finding patches requires an advanced degree in Oracle Support Searching.
You can find this blog here. Backup Software Now that we have the foundation for our homelab software, what about backing things up? We have a few options here. The best part about this…they are all free. Veeam Agent Veeam is the most popular provider of virtual machine backup software out there. But they do more than just virtual machine backup.
In fact, they have a free endpoint option. This option backs up both your workstations and servers alike. You can download is here. So how do we back those up? They have both a free option and a paid option, which is pretty nice.
The free option is Veeam Backup and Replication. You can find this product here. You end up needing PowerShell to automate things. Luckily, in addition to the free option, they also have something called an NFR option. Essentially if you go fill out a form, you will get your very own copy of the full solution, Veeam Availability, for free.
This has all of the cool features around applications and scheduling. You will have to get a new key each year, but it is totally worth the trouble. You can fill out the form here. So, you need to have a full license of ESXi for this to work. Nakivo, like Veeam, offers an NFR license.
Conclusion I hope this post can provide a little bit of clarity for the legitimate options out there for homelab software licensing. I plan to swap out my action pack for Visual Studio Professional when my renewal comes due, as I like having access to older versions of operating systems and SQL Server.
Revit The folks do not know if their business will work or not. They have 12 months to try, then they must buy another license or stop their business. Fair enough too. Usually, the hardware cost takes a big part of the cake so spend as-less-as-possible on VMware licensing might be an option too. Let's recap the lower cost VMware offers for small businesses: