Strategies for SQL Server 2012 Licensing – Microsoft Software Assurance Holders can Benefit

By Tim Hegedus

SQL Server 2012 is available as of April, 2012. What does this mean for SQL server users? Current holders of Microsoft Software Assurance on SQL Server have until the end of their current term to trade-in per processor licenses for per core licenses as the new license model is introduced for SQL Server 2012. The following scenario affects only SQL Server deployments in the per processor license model covered by Software Assurance.

If you have a SQL server deployment using the per processor license modeled and you are covered by Software Assurance, you can get more value from your core licenses by doing a self-inventory:

Step 1: By using the Microsoft Assessment & Planning (MAP) Toolkit or another suitable inventory tool that timestamps the report, the company can identify the number of cores per server for each qualified server. If the customer does not perform this self-inventory, they will receive the minimum:

  • Four (4) core licenses for each Enterprise Edition or Standard Edition processor licenses in their inventory
  • Eight (8) core licenses for each Datacenter Edition processor license in their inventory

Step 2: Microsoft will then provide the customers with the appropriate number of core licenses that allows them to continue their current deployment with no additional licensing required. Microsoft has imposed a limit of 20 cores per server.

Example 1: A server running SQL Server Enterprise Edition is configured as 2 processors, each with 2 cores. The required licensing under version 2008 R2 is two (2) processor licenses. The customer would receive four (4) core licenses (i.e., 2 processors x 2 core).

Example 2: A server running SQL Server Standard Edition is configured as 2 processors, each with 1 core. The required licensing under version 2008 R2 is two (2) processor licenses. The customer would receive four (4) core licenses. Though the number of total cores in the server is two (2), the customer would receive four (4) core licenses because this is the minimum.

Example 3: A server running SQL Server Datacenter Edition is configured as 4 processors, each with 4 cores. The required licensing under version 2008 R2 is four (4) processor licenses. The customer would receive sixteen (16) core licenses (i.e., 4 processors x 4 core).

If the customer has SQL Server processor licenses in an existing Enterprise Agreement, they may continue to purchase processor licenses throughout the end of the term. They will then perform the self-inventory as described above.

So, in this case, Software Assurance arguably is tangibly beneficial because the customer can actually receive more core licenses than their processor licenses are worth. That is, core licenses will cost one-quarter of the processor license price. For example, if the a server has two (2) processor licenses each with eight (8) cores running SQL Server Enterprise Edition, then the customer receives sixteen (16) Core licenses, which would equate to four (4) processor licenses.

It is important to note Microsoft follows two basic baseline rules:

  1. License all cores in the physical server
  2. Start with four (4)

That means that if the server has:

  • One (1) core, the customer must buy four (4) core licenses
  • Two (2) cores, the customer must buy four (4) core licenses
  • Three (3) cores (somehow), the customer must buy four (4) core licenses
  • Four (4)or more cores, the actual number of cores in the physical server must be licensed

In some situations, the customer is over-buying, but remember that the price of a core license is ¼ the price of a processor license. So, in the case of a server configured as 2 single-core CPUs [2 total cores], the requirement is four (4) core licenses. This is half the price of two (2) processor licenses – which was the previous requirement.

I know it can be confusing, but the end result is a scenario where you get more for you money.

About the Author

Tim Hegedus is the Senior Manager / Senior Analyst for Miro Consulting, Inc.