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What Differentiates Enterprise?

By Steve Jones,

There seems to be regular disagreement from SQL Server professionals about what features are most important for future versions and which bugs should receive the highest priority. However one thing that many customers complain about is the lack of features in the Standard Edition (SE) that exist in the Enterprise (EE) or Data Center (DC) editions.

In SQL Server 2000, it used to be that a customer had to buy Enterprise Edition (EE) to get clustering or log shipping. In SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition got clustering, but no partitioning or database snapshots. SQL Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008 R2 added new features, some of which are only available in EE and DC editions. In each case, as SQL Server evolves, some features get moved down to SE, while others do not. The distinctions between editions are arbitrarily made, with the idea that some features are "Enterprise and are used for large scale SQL Server installations. However there are also size limits on the editions that limit the number of instances, nodes in clusters, memory, processors, and more.

Is that the best way to separate the editions of SQL Server? It seems that I rarely find many people that agree with the different mix of features and limits that are built into the different editions.  This Friday I wanted to get your opinion:

What should differentiate Enterprise (or Data Center) edition from Standard edition?

Do you think there should be a feature distinction? Or a hardware distinction? What would you change about the way things are done, or what makes the most sense to you, as a SQL Server customer.

In my mind, I'd like to see SQL Server priced on scale, and not on features. I'd like to see all features in all editions above Express. However charge me by the core, or some formula of cores + RAM that might make licensing cheaper for those low end dual core systems we have now, maybe equal for 4-8 cores, and then scaling up as people move to more cores, and handle larger workloads.  Let me add licenses as I add hardware, and easily move those licenses around as I move my instances between physical servers.

Licensing is always a controversial subject, and one that we rarely agree on. However I'm curious what people think about the plan that might seem the most fair to them.

Steve Jones

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