MSSQL must really love Oracle (pun intended)

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You remember everyone ranting on the Oracle licensing schemes? You remember everyone ranting on VMware last year when they announced the vTAX licensing scheme? 

Today I was reading through the new Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Licensing scheme and got struck by lightning (not in any positive way). I’ll elaborate on what happened/changed and I sincerely hope anyone will correct me soon!

I will not go through all possible differences in licensing schemes and focus on 2 examples: 
1) a single commonly configured physical SQL server Enterprise with 2×6 cores
2) a single commonly configured virtualised 
SQL server Enterprise with 6 vCPUs on a 2×6 core hypervisor.

SQL Server 2008 Licensing:
Under SQL Server 2008 a physical server was licensed per physical socket.

Microsoft offers a Per Processor licensing model to help alleviate complexity. When licensing SQL Server software under the Per Processor model, you do not need to purchase additional CALs; it includes access for an unlimited number of users or devices to connect from either inside or outside the firewall. Per Processor Licenses for SQL Server 2008 R2 are available for
Datacenter, Enterprise, Standard, Workgroup, and Web editions.

Notes:• A Per Processor License is required for each processor installed on each operating system environment (OSE) runningSQL Server or any of its components (for example, Analysis Services).• For SQL Server running in physical operating system environments (POSEs), you must license all physical processors.Per Processor License costs are the same regardless of number of cores in the processor. 

If you figure the cost of 1 SQL Server License is around €25.000 we would have a total license cost of €50.000 for our physical SQL Server Enterprise Edition because we had 2 physical sockets.

Licensing for Virtualization Under the Per Processor Model

The number of operating system environments (OSEs) in which you may run instances of SQL Server 2008 R2 under the Per Processor model depends upon the edition you license and whether or not you license all of the physical processors with a Per Processor License.

Licensing All Physical Processors
If you license all of the physical processors on the server (one license per physical processor), you may run unlimited instances of the SQL Server software in the following number of OSEs (either physical or virtual):
•  SQL Server Datacenter = unlimited
•  SQL Server Enterprise = 4 OSE’s

Licensing a Portion of the Physical Processors
If you choose not to license all of the physical processors, you will need to know the number of virtual processors supporting each virtual OSE (data point A) and the number of cores per physical processor/socket (data point B). Typically, each virtual processor is the equivalent of one core

In our case we would chose only to license the Portion of the physical processors. As we wanted 6 vCPUs in a 2×6 core hypervisor this would have a total license cost of €25.000 per virtualised SQL server. Important restriction: you cannot move this VM over a cluster of more than 4 hypervisors.

SQL Server 2012 Licensing:
Under SQL Server 2012 Microsoft changed the licensing model from per socket to per core. This changes A LOT!

SQL Server Licensing Options:
SQL Server 2012 will continue to offer two licensing options – one that is based on computing power, and one that is based on users or devices. In the computing power-based model, however, the way we measure power will shift from processors to cores.
• Enterprise Edition (EE) will be licensed based on compute capacity measured in cores.
• Datacenter Edition is being retires with all capabilities now available in Enterprise
• The Enterprise (and the Standard) Edition of SQL Server 2012 will both be available under core-based licenses. Core-based licenses will be sold in two-core packs.
• To license a physical server properly, you must license all the cores in the server with a minimum of 4 core licenses

A two-core license costs around € 20.000 per piece (incl SA for 2 year). So our physical server with 2×6 cores would have a total license cost of €120.000 (6 x 2-core license).

Virtualization Licensing – Cloud Optimized
… There will be two primary virtualization licensing options in SQL Server 2012: The ability to license individual virtual machines and the ability to license for for maximum virtualization in highly virtualized and private cloud environments.
Individual Virtual Machines:
•  To license a VM with core licenses, customers can simply buy a core license for each virtual core allocated to the virtual machine (minimum of 4 core licenses per VM).
•  Each licensed VM that is covered by Software Assurance (SA) can be moved frequently within a server farm or to a third party hoster or cloud services provider.

Lets do the math again on our 6vCPU virtualised SQL Server: 3 x two-core license would have a total license cost of €60.000.

I think I already gave you my conclusion by writing this piece. And I really think I did not exaggerate. Actually I wanted to do the same equation with a DELL R820 4×10 core server but I guess you can do the maths on your own by now.

Extra tip: 
Maybe this is the point you might want to reread my post of last December on EnterpriseDB. They have a really nice licensing scheme (subscription scheme) that if I told you the cost you wouldn’t even bother redoing all the maths above.

Micosoft SQL Server 2008R2 Licensing datasheet
Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Licensing datasheet
Enterprise DB

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