Guide to SQL Server Editions and Licensing

SQL Server 2012 is relational database server software offering tools for data storage, management, analysis, and reporting. It can be used as a back-end database server for internal applications or for powering a dynamic website.

You can use this guide to help you find the SQL Server edition and licenses appropriate for your organization's needs.

  1. Editions
  2. Licensing
  3. Upgrading
  4. Down-Edition Rights
  5. SQL Server Products Available Through Stifter-helfen.de - IT for Nonprofits
  6. Additional Resources

Editions

Microsoft offers SQL Server through Stifter-helfen.de - IT for Nonprofits in the Standard, Business Intelligence, and Enterprise editions. The Standard and Business Intelligence editions are most suitable for medium-size organizations. The Enterprise Edition is most suitable for large organizations.

The Developer, Express, and Compact editions of SQL Server 2012 will continue to be available from Microsoft. The Web Edition will be offered only to hosters via the Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA).

The Enterprise Edition includes the features of the Datacenter Edition, which has been discontinued. The Workgroup and Small Business editions have also been discontinued in the 2012 version.

Standard

Standard Edition is designed for serving as a back-end database server for internal applications or powering a dynamic website. It offers basic database, reporting, and analytics capabilities. Microsoft offers this edition under the server/CAL and core-based licensing models.

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence Edition contains all of the same basic features of Standard Edition, plus tools for analyzing business and financial data. Microsoft offers this edition only under the server/CAL licensing model.

Enterprise

Enterprise Edition contains all of the same basic features of Business Intelligence Edition, plus mission-critical applications and data warehousing features. Microsoft offers this edition only under the core-based licensing model.

All Editions Compared

Microsoft provides a basic summary and a full comparison of the features offered with each edition.

Licensing

Below are some of the major licensing requirements for SQL Server. Detailed licensing information can be found in documents on the Microsoft Product Use Rights page. For more information, see the Additional Resources section below.

With the 2012 release, Microsoft has changed its licensing models for SQL Server. Some editions of SQL Server 2012 will continue to be offered under the server/CAL model. The earlier per-processor model has been replaced with a core-based model.

Server/CAL Licensing Model

Under this model, you will need a separate license for each client (client CAL) or device (device CAL) that accesses the server. This model allows you to license a physical, virtual, or cloud-based server based on the number of users or devices that access it. It is most appropriate for administrators who know the exact number of users and devices that will connect to the server.

The Standard and Business Intelligence editions are available under the server/CAL model.

Core-Based Licensing Model


Under this model, you will need to license all cores in a physical environment. It is most appropriate for administrators who:

  1. Do not know the exact number of users and devices that will connect to the server
  2. Have workloads that face the Internet or an extranet
  3. Have systems that integrate with external-facing workloads

In a physical environment, you'll need to determine how many core licenses are required. To determine this number, see the SQL Server 2012 Core Factor Table (pdf).

For more information on SQL Server in virtual environments, see the Licensing Datasheet and FAQ (pdf).
Once you've determined how many core licenses you'll need, you will need to obtain enough copies to cover the cores in the processors that you plan to use with SQL Server.

The Standard and Enterprise editions are available under the core-based model.

Virtualization

For databases using a fraction of a physical server's computing power, you can license individual database virtual machines (VMs).

To license a VM:

  1. Under the core-based model, you will need licenses for only the cores allocated within the VM. There is a minimum of four core licenses per VM.
  2. Under the server/CAL model, you will need SQL Server CALs for each user or device.


Servers licensed with Enterprise Edition core licenses that have Software Assurance allow you to deploy an unlimited number of database VMs on the server (or server farm) in a heavily consolidated virtualized deployment. Keeping your Software Assurance benefits renewed will ensure you maintain this feature.

Upgrading

If you are upgrading from SQL Server 2008 using Software Assurance, your edition and license model may change. Microsoft has discontinued its Datacenter, Workgroup, and Small Business Server editions in the 2012 version.

Microsoft has also retired its per-processor licensing model in favor of a core-based model. This means that when upgrading from 2008 under Software Assurance, you will receive a set number of core licenses for each processor license you have.

Renewing Processor Licenses into Core Licenses at the End of the Software Assurance (SA) Term (pdf)

You can use Software Assurance to upgrade the SQL Server operating system and associated licenses for two years after you obtain the products in the left column.

Using Software Assurance to upgrade directly through Microsoft means that you don't need to request the new version through Stifter-helfen.de - IT for Nonprofits, so it won't count as an additional title toward your two-year title limit.

CALs work for the version equal to or earlier than their server software. They must be upgraded only for use with newer server software. When you upgrade to the next version of SQL Server, you will also need to use Software Assurance to upgrade the CALs. CALs offered through Stifter-helfen.de - IT for Nonprofits are always for the currently offered version.

Down-Edition Rights

If you need an additional server license for SQL Server 2008 R2 or earlier version of Standard Edition, or any version of the Workgroup or Small Business editions, you can use an SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition license.

SQL Server Products Available Through Stifter-helfen.de - IT for Nonprofits

The following servers are in the SQL Server family.

  1. SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition (Server/CAL)
  2. SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition (Core-Based)
  3. SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence Edition (Server/CAL)
  4. SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition (Core-Based)
  5. SQL Server Device CAL
  6. SQL Server User CAL

 

Additional Resources

  1. Official Microsoft SQL Server 2012 site
  2. Supported Version and Edition Upgrades
  3. Licensing Quick Reference Guide (PDF)
  4. Licensing Datasheet and FAQ (PDF)
  5. Core Factor Table (PDF)