Microsoft SQL 2012 Licensing Changes

Microsoft have this week announced some relatively major changes to the SQL 2012 product line up and it’s licensing.


There are now 3 editions of SQL Server:

  • Standard
  • Enterprise
  • Business Intelligence


Here’s the big change – there’s no more Per CPU licensing…now it’s by Core.

This is a major, although not wholly unexpected, move by Microsoft. Other vendors such as Oracle have long charged by the core but Microsoft have always stayed with physical sockets as their measure…until now.

I’ve been expecting this for a while, especially as 6-core processors become more commonplace and Intel keep making them more powerful. What once took 2 processors can now be done with 1 and what once took 4 now needs just 2, so Microsoft must have been seeing a decline in their SQL revenue over the last 18 months or so.

To break down the licensing:

Standard = Per Core or Server + CAL

Enterprise = Per Core only

Business Intelligence = Server + CAL only

You’ll notice that the new Business Intelligence (BI) edition is Server+CAL only so what should you do if you have external/anonymous users and/or a huge number of people accessing the BI server/s? SQL Enterprise Edition 2012 contains ALL features of the BI edition so use that to license by core.

Let’s go a little deeper into the licensing and see what else there is for us Smile

It’s worth noting that “Core based licences will be sold in 2 core packs.” but a big clause is:

“To license a physical server properly, you must license all cores in the server with a minimum of 4 cores required for each physical processor in the server.”

This means if you’re running with dual core CPU’s you’re going to have to buy more cores than you have. <—This will be a big cause of outrage I’m sure however it does mean that as you upgrade your server hardware and get CPUs with higher core counts, there won’t be a big extra licensing cost.

Transition to new Licensing Models

Whenever Microsoft bring out new versions of software and change the licensing rules, the big question is always “What if I need to buy new licenses in the meantime?” and we, as partners, have to work to make sure that we help customers future proof any investments they make in the run up to the new product release.

What’s the deal with the run up to SQL 2012?

  • After 30/06/12, no Enterprise Edition Server licenses will be sold. (EA/EAP customers will have until their next renewal after 30/06/12 to purchase additional server licences for current projects.)
  • All existing SQL Enterprise Editions licensed via Server + CAL with SA (Software Assurance) can be upgraded to SQL 2012 and the SA can be maintained to provide access to future updates.
  • Here’s a point to take note of:
  • Newly purchased Enterprise Edition (EE) 2012 server licenses and/or those server licenses upgraded via SA will be limited to server deployments with 20 cores or less.
  • Customers with processor licenses under SA can upgrade to SQL 2012 at no additional cost.
  • At the end of the SA term, processor licences can be exchanged for core licenses and the SA can then be renewed.
  • SQL Std & Enterprise Processor licensed covered with SA will be exchanged for a minimum of 4 core licenses or the actual number of cores in use.
  • SQL DataCenter (a version of 2008 that’s disappearing in 2012) will swap out for a minimum of 8 cores or the actual number of processors in use.

There are some other rules and guides around the ability to add core licenses mid term to an EA/EAP etc but I don’t want to make this section TOO big!


Microsoft have released estimated pricing in dollars so let’s take a look at that and see how it stacks up to current 2008 R2 costs.


So you’re looking at $7172 at a minimum for a SQL Std server which stacks up pretty well against the current processor licensing costs. I’m sure people will find scenarios where this is more expensive but they’ll surely forget to take into account all the new features like Project Crescent & Juneau that have been integrated into the new editions, and so I don’t think that price should really be the big thing here.

Any other editions available?

SQL Datacenter, Workgroup & Standard for Small Business editions are all being retired with the 2012 release.

Web Edition will only be available to hosters via SPLA (Service Provider License Agreement).

Developer, Express & Compact editions will continue to be available in the same ways as right now.

One Reply to “Microsoft SQL 2012 Licensing Changes”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: