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How Do You SKU?

I’d like your opinion here.

Follow my logic here for a moment as I walk through a couple rhetorical questions.  Have you ever had a friend developed an application entirely on SQL Server Developer Edition?  (Not that YOU would ever do such a thing, but maybe you know someone who has. Right?) And has your friend’s IT department actually deployed said application only to discover that they’re only licensed for Standard Edition in their production environment?  And then was your friend’s IT management team is horrified to learn that they’ve either got to go through the very expensive process of extracting all of the Enterprise and/or Datacenter Edition features for the production application in order to remain in compliance, upgrade to the more expensive SKU licenses, or risk a potential future audit?

I’m not saying that this has happened to any of us.  We’re too smart for that, after all.  But have you ever known anyone who’s had this experience?

Having worked with a lot of customers another commercial RDBMS platforms (which I’ll euphemistically call “SEER” from Redforest City and “IB4” from Upstate City), I can tell you that auditing is a fun and exciting way for those platform vendors to make a LOT of money.  This is especially true because a production application, once successfully deployed, tends to be too valuable to disable or otherwise compromise because high-end features slipped in to the development cycle even though the production environment only a “standard edition” SKU in place.  Ouch! Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.  Now, keep in mind that this is a strategy used by SEER and not by Microsoft.  But Microsoft could implement the same sort of licensing audits if they wanted to.  (Please leave a comment here if you have ever been audited.  I’d love to hear your experiences, at least as much as NDA’s allow).

So if you use SQL Server Developer Edition (DE), of any version, would you like to see a feature that enables you to run DE not in its default “full featured mode” but at another SKU level, such as good ol’ Standard Edition?  I know I would.

If you’re on the same page as I am, there are a number of suggestions logged on Connect about this very feature!  Make your voice heard!  Check out:

https://connect.microsoft.com/SQLServer/feedback/details/496380/enable-sql-developer-edition-to-target-specific-sql-version

Of course, the more skeptical reader might say “Hey, that’s their tough luck. Developers should know the difference in the SKU licensing options and feature sets of whatever SKU they’re developing on compared to what they’ll deploy on.”  And I wouldn’t fault you for saying so.

But I would go on to point out that much of Microsoft’s success in enterprise IT settings can be traced back to their very strong relationship with developers.  And anything that Microsoft can do to empower developers to save time, money, and resources during the development phase of an IT project in turn energizes that relationship between developer and Microsoft.

It also makes the life of the DBA that much easier, because they don’t need to imply that those cowboys on the development team went off half-cocked again.  So what’s your opinion?  Should SQL Server Developer Edition include a feature that sets the SKU-level of the database engine?

Comments

Posted by Glenn Berry on 26 March 2011

One partial workaround is to query sys.dm_db_persisted_sku_features

-- Look for Enterprise only features in the current database

SELECT  feature_name

FROM    sys.dm_db_persisted_sku_features

ORDER BY feature_name;

You can also make sure you use Standard Edition in at least one of your test or integration environments to catch things before they are deployed to production.

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