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Microsoft SQL 2012 Licensing Changes – Time to Get Control of Virtualized SQL

Great conversations were had at the UK SAM Networking event this week at Covent Garden. Connect with either Ian Preskett, David Phillips or the BCS to join future sessions.

One popular topic was the recent changes to SQL licensing which are likely to affect many organizations.

Paul DeGroot, Pica Communications

Paul DeGroot, Pica Communications

An ITAM Review reader has kindly provided a brief synopsis of the changes. This is not licensing advice and is likely to change as the finer points are disseminated throughout the Microsoft partner network.

Keep an eye on Paul DeGroot of Pica Communications and Directions on Microsoft for clarity in plain english.

as follows:  

“The changes for SQL Server 2012 are;

  • Now only 3 editions of SQL Server; Standard, Business Intelligence and Enterprise
  • Standard can be licensed either in server/ CAL (as it is now) or per core.
  • Enterprise can only be licensed per core.
  • Virtual Mobility is now a Software Assurance benefit. Previously it was included in the Product Use Rights as a base entitlement
  • An SQL Server CAL will allow access to either standard or BI editions.

Conversion from CPU (currently defined as a physical processor or Socket) to Cores will be done on the basis of:

  • Current deployments, with a minimum of 4 cores per CPU for existing Standard and Enterprise licenses, and 8 for Datacentre edition or
  • If licenses aren’t deployed, 4 cores per CPU for existing Standard and Enterprise licenses, and 8 for Datacentre edition. I believe the new pricing will be reflective of these ratios, but don’t have any more details now.

In itself, the move from CPU to core and the consolidation to three products are major changes.  The removal of an existing license right for Virtual Mobility is a huge change, and will cause issue for anyone with virtualized SQL Servers some problems.

An extreme example would be a customer with

  • an existing VMWare farm of 200 CPUs with 800 cores in 2 locations within the UK.
  • 10 SQL Servers, currently using 20 Virtual CPUs that use VMotion with no limits on where the server can move to. This would currently require 20 SQL Server Standard CPU licenses

Without any changes to their infrastructure, this customer would potentially need to buy 800 Core licenses to cover their deployments to guarantee compliance. This would be a tenfold increase in license costs. This is a  simplified example; there are ways to mitigate this cost, but it does illustrate the problem.”

Further Reading…

If you have any comments or new news to add for the benefit of other readers please post a comment below.

I visit a PC recycling facility when in Vegas, and talk SQL Licensing when in Covent Garden, I really need to get out more! 🙂

About Martin Thompson

Martin is owner and founder of The ITAM Review, an online resource for worldwide ITAM professionals. The ITAM Review is best known for its weekly newsletter of all the latest industry updates, LISA training platform, Excellence Awards and conferences in UK, USA and Australia.

Martin is also the founder of ITAM Forum, a not-for-profit trade body for the ITAM industry created to raise the profile of the profession and bring an organisational certification to market. On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.

He is also the author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management. In addition, Martin developed the PITAM training course and certification.

Prior to founding the ITAM Review in 2008 Martin worked for Centennial Software (Ivanti), Silicon Graphics, CA Technologies and Computer 2000 (Tech Data).

When not working, Martin likes to Ski, Hike, Motorbike and spend time with his young family.

Connect with Martin on LinkedIn.


  1. Heather Garner says:

    I think the fact that SQL Server DataCenter Edition no longer being available when 2012 is released is also a great change….

  2. Filipa Preston says:

    Word from MS is you will still be able to buy SQL Server Enterprise CAL’s for your legacy SQL Servers that you’ve assigned a Svr/CAL model to. Tip Buy SQL CAL’s and in fact any new SQL server products you may require prior to GA.

  3. dheeraj says:

    What is for DEvelopers ? is there any change on MSDN ? Do developer need to buy CAL production License in order to do the development ? any change there ?

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