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Limited Time Offer: Licensing by Scale for SQL Server

By Steve Jones,

Licensing your SQL Server instances has become more complex and challenging over the years. With the increasing complexity of hardware (multi-core machines) and configuration (named instances, virtualization, etc), many data professionals find themselves struggling to understand exactly what licenses they may need in their environment. When we add the complexity of the various editions available and features specific to different editions, it is a complex task to determine what purchase you should made. 

With the release of SQL Server 2014, there are new licensing documents. On the site there are:

These guides essentially let you know that you need to license the cores for your instance, with some discounts for virtual servers. In SQL Server 2012, we also had CAL licensing, which may or may not be available in SQL Server 2014.

The Offer

There is a limited time offer for you if you are purchasing a new instance, or upgrading an existing instance, to SQL Server 2014. Until April 15, 2014, you can make the decision to become part of a test group and license SQL Server 2014 by scale rather than by edition and cores. If you've ever wanted partitioning in Standard Edition or TDE in BI Edition, now you have the chance.

The limited time offer allows you to purchase the equivalent of the Enterprise Edition of SQL Server, all features, all capabilities, in bundles of cores and RAM. You can purchase as many as you like, and as long as you've acquired the license before April 15, 2014, you can upgrade in additional bundles at any time during the lifetime of your instance.

The bundles are set in terms of a single core and 16GB of RAM. That means you are purchasing bundles like these:

  • 1 core/16GB
  • 2 cores/32GB
  • 4 cores/64GB
  • etc.

As your workload grows, you can add additional bundles to support more resource usage as you upgrade your hardware. The price per bundle lists at $1299/bundle and the product is available on the Microsoft site here. The cost is subject to change depending on your customer status and volume discounts may apply.

As with all other licensing methods, you must license all of the resources that are available on the instance. In this case, all cores and RAM must be licensed. If you have 4 cores and 32GB of RAM, you will still need 4 bundles. And of course, this is an April Fool's joke and in no way represents any legitimate offer from Microsoft. It is wishful thinking on my part (Steve Jones), as I would prefer to see SQL Server licensed this way in the future.

If you agree, and you'd like this offer, I'd urge you to contact Microsoft and let them know your feelings. Perhaps we'll get scale licensing at some point in the future, saving us all the time and effort of calculating licenses, choosing editions, and spending time in meetings trying to decide what to purchase.

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Steve Jones
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Steve Jones