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Why Are There So Many Editions?

By Steve Jones,

Supply and demandEach time a new version of SQL Server comes out there are always a number of questions on pricing, licensing, and capabilities from people trying to decide which edition they need to purchase. When Microsoft added the "free editions" of MSDE/Express, there were even more questions about whether or not those versions would work in some particular application.

I've usually tried to help answer questions, and point people to the appropriate resources on the Microsoft site, but when I sawthis post from Andrew Fryer on the SQL Server editions I started to think about why there are different editions.

The bottom line, as you might have guessed, is money.  At least that's my opinion.

Movie theater ticket supply and demandIn economic theory, you have a supply and demand curve, that typically is used to describe revenue and it's based on the demand for a product and its supply. Those curves often look like the one above. You pick a price to try and maximize your profits based on demand. However if you can price your product differently for different people, you can increase the "area under the curve" and make more profits. A classic example is the pricing of movie tickets. If there were one price, there would be less demand because kids can't afford, or more likely parents wouldn't pay as often, for attendance. By charging two prices, and discriminating based on age, theaters can increase the area under the curve, or profit.

My view is that there are features in SQL Server that larger systems need more, and that larger installations are willing to pay for. If you have a 2TB data warehouse, the hardware is expensive, and increasing hardware for more performance is expensive, probably more than the difference between Standard and Enterprise edition. So you'll pay for it. The same is true for some other features, though to be honest, I'm not sure that Microsoft is sure of what's worth paying for.

More likely a group of people from various departments are making guesses about what to leave out of Standard edition to spur more sales.

Steve Jones


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