Q: How does licensing of System Center 2012 work with Microsoft Azure?

A: System Center 2012 is typically licensed for the Standard or Datacenter edition. Both are licensed in two-processor socket increments (each license covers two physical processors) with exactly the same functionality. The difference is the Standard edition license covers up to two operating system instances whereas the Datacenter edition covers an unlimited number of operating system instances. The idea of licensing Datacenter in Azure doesn't work the same way because there's no concept of "physical sockets" in Azure and Microsoft can't really let you manage an unlimited number of services in Azure for the price of one Datacenter license.

Microsoft defines the licensing for System Center related to Azure on the Virtual Machines Licensing FAQ page. Specifically, for services in Azure:

  • Standard edition: two VM instances
  • Datacenter edition: eight VM instances