Microsoft SQL Server 2012 end of support

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SQL Server 2012 goes end of support on July 12, 2022 – that’s about 10 weeks from the time of writing! This means even security updates from Microsoft will no longer be provided to customers running this software – a situation organisations really don’t want to find themselves in.

It only seems like 5 minutes since this was the situation with SQL Server 2008 (it was actually almost 4 years ago!) which causes headaches for a lot of organisations. I’d say that, based on conversations at conferences and training sessions etc., SQL Server 2012 is going to be at least equally painful as many businesses seem to have got to 2012 and then no further, considering it to be much more modern than 2008.

If your business is still running SQL Server 2012 – what are your options?

Remain on-premises

Assuming you want to remain up to date on security patches (which I’d say you do!), you’ll need to acquire Extended Security Updates (ESU) from Microsoft which will give you 3 more years of security updates. That however, comes at a price:

  • Year 1 = 75% of SQL Server license price
  • Year 2 = 100% of SQL Server license price
  • Year 3 = 125% of SQL Server license price

Let’s say you have a 4-core SQL Server 2012 Std box – approx. license cost of £5,000. That will mean:

  • Year 1 = £3,750
  • Year 2 = £5,000
  • Year 3 = £6,250

3 year total = £15,000

Migrate to Azure

ESUs are included free of charge for workloads running in Microsoft Azure VMs – including “regular” Azure VMs as well as:

  • Azure Dedicated Host
  • VMware on Azure
  • Nutanix Clusters on Azure
  • Azure Stack HCI/Hub/Edge

You can save a big amount of money through not having to pay for the ESUs…but cloud migrations come with their own set of costs…as well as benefits.

If you’ve not already made a decision on this, please gather the relevant people together and discuss the option. While both the above options can seem expensive, I’d suggest they’re nothing when compared to the cost of a security breach/ransomware attack.

You can see more info in the Microsoft blog post here.

Microsoft extend Extended Security Updates

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Extended Security Updates (ESUs), available for Windows Server 2008/R2 and SQL Server 2008/R2, were introduced in 2019 to extend available security support for 3 more years beyond the end of the products’ extended support periods.

It’s now less than 12 months until the end of the ESU period for SQL Server 2008/R2 and Microsoft have announced they will be providing 12 additional months of cover – but only for workloads running in Azure. This will also apply to Windows Server 2008/R2 – the end of ESU dates are:

  • SQL Server 2008/R2 – July 12, 2022
  • Windows Server 2008/R2 – January 10, 2023

End of support for 2012 Server versions

They have announced the availability of ESUs for the 2012/R2 releases of SQL Server and Windows Server. Extended Support for these ends:

SQL Server 2012 – July 12, 2022

Windows Server 2012/R2 – October 10, 2023

It’s now less than 12 months until SQL Server 2012 goes out of support so if you’re using that within your organisation, you need to come up with a plan to:

  • Upgrade on-premises
  • Migrate to Azure for free ESUs
  • Budget to purchase on-premises ESUs

See more info from Microsoft here.

SQL 2012 Core Factor Table

You may well have seen by now that SQL 2012 bring with it a big change, moving from “Per CPU” to “Per Core” licensing. (Read more here.)

Well there’s one more bit that hasn’t been widely announced but can make a fair difference in certain scenarios, and that is the “Microsoft SQL 2012 Core Factor Table”:



There is a minimum of 4 core licenses per physical processor so the above table shows that:

1 x Single Core = 4 Cores

2 x Dual Core = 4 Cores

which fits the model. However you can see that there is special dispensation for certain AMD processors where each physical core is worth just 0.75 cores when it comes to SQL. S0 that means:

6 physical cores on an AMD 32XX CPU = 4.5 SQL Cores*

*I believe this would be rounded up to 5…and you have to buy in multiples of 2 so doesn’t alter anything…but if you have an 8 core CPU of the above kinds, you’d then only need to buy 6 SQL cores (8*.75=6).

This does add an extra bit of complexity to correctly designing an SQL solution but hey, that’s what us licensing gurus are for right? Smile

I do wonder how this will affect decisions when companies are speccing up hardware for SQL deployments. Will previously 100% Intel houses start looking at AMD chips for the SQL cost savings they can bring?

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.

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