Microsoft's SQL Server 2012: Will it cost you more?

Microsoft's SQL Server 2012: Will it cost you more?

Summary: How will Microsoft's new per-core pricing affect the prices that SQL Server 2012 customers may pay? Directions on Microsoft has done the math.


Microsoft's newest version of its database may cost you more if you deploy it on machines with more than four physical cores in each processor.

That's one of the findings of the independent analysis firm Directions on Microsoft, which is hosting a free telebriefing focusing on SQL Server 2012 licensing on March 22.

Microsoft announced late last year that it would be making some changes to its SKU lineup and pricing when it released SQL Server 2012. Officials said there would be a brand-new Business Intelligence SKU, and that its existing Datacenter, Workgroup and Standard for Small Business SKUs would be replaced by other versions. Microsoft also made pricing and licensing changes with the 2012 release, adding a new core-based licensing option for the SQL Server 2012 Enterprise and Standard products, and dropping the server-CAL license model on Enterprise. The new Business Intelligence SKU, conversely, is server-CAL only, with no per-core licensing option – but has a server license price identical to what the previous version of Enterprise edition cost.

SQL Server 2012 will be generally available on April 1, 2012.

I've heard from some customers attempting to do the math that they thought some users would be paying substantially more to license SQL Server 2012 under the new per-core model.

"I can potentially see this affecting Microsoft's 'important' customers," Andrew Willett, a consultant at Eurodata Systems, said. "People deploying 2x8 or 10 core processors are going to see licensing costs double, and non-virtualized 4X8 or 10 core processors will triple. I'd expect them to make a lot of noise."

SQL Server is a foundational product for many other Microsoft servers, including SharePoint, Lync and many of the Dynamics products, it's important for users to understand the changes, said Directions analyst Wes Miller.

"In a nutshell, if you’ve got more than four physical cores in each processor, you’re going to pay more to deploy 2012 than you would have to deploy SQL Server 2008 R2 on the same system," Miller said. Final figures will vary to some degree, given a user's volume-licensing agreement terms, he added.

On a system with eight or more cores, SQL Server 2012 Enterprise now costs more (by just a few dollars) than the same system running SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter, Miller said. At every point a server running Enterprise edition of 2012 is licensed with 8 cores per processor, it now costs more than Datacenter did in the old per-processor model with 2008 R2. This could be why Microsoft eliminated the Datacenter SKU with the 2012 release, he said, since per-core helps Microsoft adjust the licensing to finally charge for systems with core-dense processors.

"With the change to per-core, Microsoft now has a more granular way to ensure that customers who are using SQL Server on higher-end servers are paying so, accordingly," Miller said. "In the end, for most customers on new high-end hardware without Software Assurance, it will cost more than it used to."

Directions analysts Miller and Rob Horwitz plan to explain the changes in SQL Server 2012 packaging, pricing, and licensing -- as well as how the new features could impact virtualization, server consolidation, and server hardware purchases going forward -- in tomorrow's telebriefing, which starts at 1 pm ET/10 am PT.

Topics: Data Management, Data Centers, Enterprise Software, Hardware, Microsoft, Processors, Servers, Software


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • that's why everybody is using Mysql these days

    M$ and oracle sql should be replaced by FOSS ASAP to save big $$$.
    The Linux Geek
    • I didn't know that eleven people constituted

      William Farrel
      • Better off with big price increases and CAL complexities?

        MySQL isn't for everybody, however where applications can be re-architectured around its limitations the reduced hassle is worth it.

        We've just completed the rewrite of our major platform replacing Windows / Win32 / SQL Server with Linux / Java EE / MySQL; performance, scaleability, recovery options and support is amazing.

        Zero cost options for the entire platform; development, testing and production.

        Our redesigned embedded hardware is off for EMC testing this afternoon. Our in-house bundled Linux & Busybox embedded OS is under 4MB and without royalties.

        Sure it requires more knowledge, but open source is redefining the market. Farrel and friends will be left behind working out the latest MS SLA changes and reaching for their chequebooks.
        Richard Flude
  • It HAD to change. Per socket licensing was getting out of hand

    with 12 - 16 core CPU's coming down the pipe, either per socket had to go WAY up or just go away. It was almost too good of a deal with SQL 2008 R2.

    Now with licenses going per core people can concentrate on right sizing their hardware instead of over purchasing on the CPU side. Take the money you would have spent on a 12 core CPU and direct the difference to better I/O, because that's where the bottle necks are now.
    • Nod.. others are already seeing this...

      VMware has slapped a limit on deployed RAM per CPU licensed with vSphere, and I doubt it will be long before Oracle follows suit with per-core licensing or some other scheme as well.
  • Clearly...

    ...they want to push people to Software Assurance options so that they're making money on a regular basis. This is smart on their side, but it's actually smart on the business customer side too, depending on the options you pick... the first three years are pretty hefty, but after that you simply pay for the Software Assurance renewal (about half cost), and you maintain perpetual upgrade rights subsequently saving a lot of money.

    In fact, I'm already planning a move to the Enterprise Desktop License for my business so that I can license my users for pretty much all Microsoft business applications and services at a substantially cheaper cost per user than buying the applications individually.

    On the server side, I typically have licensed SQL Server per processor rather than per user or device, but I typically only license Standard so not such a huge impact to me (yet).
    • Software Assurance is not smart

      For small to mid sized businesses. Te licensing fees are too high for little return, If you're paying $100 per seat, per year you coould save $100 per seat buying retail.
      Jumpin Jack Flash