When I mentioned "offload" I'm referring to where the VM lives. We have certain on prem host servers that are licensed for SQL server, and others on prem host servers that are not. We keep all SQL servers on the SQL licensed hosts for compliance. In our environment we tend to run a lot of 3rd party applications, so on the SQL hosts we have about 125 SQL server virtual machines. We are starting to approach a resource utilization level on those hosts that we want to closely monitor and don't wish to go much higher. If I were to start installing SQL developer edition on our non prod virtual machines I could "offload" those VMs to other hosts which are not licensed for SQL server which would lower the resource utilization on our SQL licensed hosts.
As part of our application testing when we would like to introduce a change to the application, or an updated version we would typically take a recent backup of the production database, restore it to our user acceptance testing environment (We typically have DEV, UA, and PROD), development would apply the change, or new version of code to the UA environment, and users perform testing to certify the application prior to promoting that updated code to PROD. It is important to test with recent production data in order to simulate the closest environment possible to the actual production environment. I believe that this is a pretty standard process in the SDLC and I have followed this method with multiple different employers. Would the act of restoring the production database to the UAT environment violate the licensing of SQL developer edition?
I'm genuinely curious, are others essentially following the process that I outlined above? If not, I'd like to hear how others are accomplishing similar tasks. Are most people using SQL server development edition in the non prod environments, and enterprise edition in PROD only?