Some Major Changes to SQL Server Licensing in 2012 Version

Last month, Microsoft has published changes to SQL Server’s licensing model when the 2012 version hits gold. A number of major changes will likely catch everyone’s attention. Here are those that caught my while:

  • Editions now are streamlined to just three (3) flavors:
    • Enterprise
    • Business Intelligence (new)
    • Standard
  • Enterprise Edition will now be licensed per CPU core instead of the usual per CPU Socket (processor).
  • Server + CAL Licensing will only be available in the Standard and Business Intelligence flavors.
  • Core licenses will be sold in Packs of 2 cores.
  • Cost of per core license will be 1/4 the price of current SQL Server 2008R2’s per processor cost license
  • Cost of Server CAL Licensing has increased by more or less 25%
  • To license your server based on cores, Microsoft requires you to buy a minimum of 4 core licenses per CPU socket.

These changes will definitely impact your upgrading plans. To carefully plot your licensing strategies, you can visit SQL Server 2012 Licensing Overview.

Where I See These Changes Have An Impact

  • Scenario 1: Upgrading from Servers with dual cores or less. If you are upgrading to a very old server with 2 CPUs with single core for each, you need to buy 4 core licenses for each CPU. That means you have to buy 8 core licenses. It would be rather logical that when doing this, you might as well upgrade your hardware. Besides, your hardware upgrade seems to be long overdue.
  • Scenario 2: Upgrading from Servers with more than 4 cores. In the past, If one experiences the need to have more CPU power for SQL Server, one only has to buy a new server with as many cores per processor that money can get, reinstall your SQL Server and you are good to go … all without minding licensing issues and cost. With SQL Server 2012, you will be spending more as you go beyond 4 cores. Going 6 cores, you need 2 more core licenses. Going 8 and 10 core, you need to buy additional 4 and 6 core licenses respectively.
  • Scenario 3: Upgrading from Servers with Server + CAL Licensing. There is a 25% increase in cost for CALs.

For those of you who are still using versions 2000 and 2005 and are planning to upgrade but find these 2012 changes unpalatable, you may want to rush upgrading to SQL Server 2008 R2 instead and get stuck in that version’s perks and licensing model before your resellers remove the older SKUs with older licensing models from their sales portfolios and force you to buy SQL Server 2012.

Of course, SQL Server 2012 Express will still be FREE!