SQL Server 2012 brings with it fewer editions and an innovative new core-based licensing model to replace the per-processor model that we've all been enjoying up till now. I have been in this game long enough not to be overly surprised at such changes, although at first glance, it seems inevitable that many customers will end up paying more to get the same features they have today, unless they respond to Microsoft's creativity with some of their own.
Up to now, under the existing per processor or Server/CAL model, it's been hard for companies like mine to justify the extra expense of Enterprise edition SQL Server. Firstly, it wasn't really necessary from a performance perspective. Standard Edition for SQL Server 2005 to 2008 R2 allows for OS-maximum memory and CPUs. For our medium-to-heavy workload servers, we were quite happy running Standard Edition on Windows 2003 or 2008 Enterprise Edition, 64-bit; this gave 64 GB of RAM and allowed us to max out on CPUs at no additional charge per non-physical processor.
Secondly, although there were many Enterprise features that I would love to have had, such as table partitioning, database snapshots, resource governor and data compression, there was never any single, feature that was so necessary that it couldn't be "compromised away" when the Enterprise bill was put on the table.
However, SQL 2012 Enterprise Edition brings with it one feature that may just be too compelling for compromise, and that is AlwaysOn Availability Groups. It seems to be the answer to a lot of my current distributed systems woes, providing not only high availability and disaster recovery but readable mirrors for reporting.
I admit, when I first saw the new licensing model, it seemed that my readable replicas would remain forever a dream, unless I could sell the idea of spending a whole lot more money to get them. Now, however, I'm starting to think of the trade-offs that might make it feasible. I would have to push for higher speed processors with fewer cores, or a move more to a virtual world. The cost is still going to be high, but at least there is more hope that it won't be immediately dismissed as too preposterously expensive. And it will mean that AlwaysOn, and of all the other Enterprise features that I have wanted desperately to implement in the past, will now be available to me.
These are the thoughts I am having before the launch has even taken place. I am already thinking creatively on the sales pitch!
Rodney Landrum (Guest Editor)