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The Price of SQL Server

By Steve Jones,

http://www.norcalblogs.com/bullfight/archives/Price%20Tag.gifI stumbled upon an interesting exchange the other day on Twitter about SQL Server. Jeff Atwood, who writes the Coding Horror blog and developed most of the StackOverflow framework had written a few posts that praised SQL Server, but then mentioned that the one bad thing is the price.

Now SQL Server might be expensive, or might be cheap, depending (I love that word) on your point of view. Oracle lists for $47.5k for the Enterprise Edition of its v11 database server (per CPU). DB2 runs about $20k/core I think. Hard to tell with them. MySQL, with support is about $5k/server/yr, and SQL Server Enterprise is $25,000/CPU. Now there are all sorts of variation for clients, sockets, add-ons, etc. that make comparisons difficult, but if you assume you are licensing 2 cores/sockets  for your application, that's a pretty hefty sum.

Or is it? You are getting some level of value with your purchase. The large database vendors include lots of sample code, support for development, technical articles, and they've spent thousands of man-hours, perhaps millions, building the product. So for this Friday's poll, I wanted to ask this question:


What's a fair price for SQL Server?

Let's say for Standard and Enterprise, per CPU socket. What do you think is a fair price for a server based product? Think about all the features, the capabilities, and the millions of lines of code in the product. What should a database product cost? I think we'd agree that $100/CPU seems low, and I'd guess that $1,000,000/socket is too high. Inside that range, what seems fair for a single database server at a small company?

I don't always like the feature breakdown between Standard and Enterprise (As well as other editions), and I sometimes feel forced to acquire Enterprise Edition for one feature. But the truth is that most of the time I can solve my problems with Standard edition. However in those places where I'm really betting my business on the product, I’m using these features to help my business run, what's a fair price? In my mind, things have inflated a bit much, and I'd actually prefer to see more SKUs that would separate out features, but if I had to put a number down, I'd like to see Standard sell for $2500 a socket and Enterprise for $10k a socket, and Data Center might make sense at $25k a socket.

I know most you don't deal with purchases, and you might not have a way to consider what a product is worth, but imagine you're starting a firm. Each developer costs you $80-120k a year with benefits, a small office costs you $25-30k a year, you might easily spend $4k on a server, so what's the fair price, with some support, for the database server?

Take a guess, and let the community see what a fair price might be.

Steve Jones

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