SQL Server 2012, an integral component of Microsoft’s comprehensive data platform, introduced a significant shift from its traditional licensing model. The most prominent change was the introduction of the per core licensing scheme.
This article will delve into the depths of this new paradigm, offering a comprehensive understanding of how SQL Server 2012 per core licensing works, its benefits, and considerations for businesses.
Understanding the Per Core Licensing Model
In the past, Microsoft primarily utilized a per processor licensing model. With the advent of SQL Server 2012, this was replaced by the per core licensing system to better account for advancements in multi-core technology. The primary reason for this shift was to ensure customers pay for computing power, rather than the physical features of the server.
Under this model, licenses are required for each physical CPU core in the server where SQL Server 2012 is running. For instance, if a server has two processors, each with eight cores, a total of 16 core licenses would be required. This means that the cost of licensing for SQL Server 2012 is directly proportional to the processing power of the server.
Benefits of Per Core Licensing Model
The Per Core model offers a variety of benefits:
- Simplified Licensing: With the per core model, there’s no need for counting the number of users or devices accessing the SQL Server, making it easier for organizations to manage their licenses.
- Cost-Effective Scaling: It’s possible to add more users or devices without incurring additional licensing costs. This model is particularly beneficial for internet-facing or public-facing scenarios where it can be challenging to count the number of users.
- Optimized for Cloud: This model aligns well with cloud computing models that scale resources up and down according to demand, ensuring businesses only pay for the computing power they use.
Per Core Licensing Rules
Several key rules govern the implementation of SQL Server 2012’s per core licensing:
- Minimum Core Licensing Requirement: Each physical processor must be licensed with a minimum of four core licenses. Even if the processor has less than four cores, it still needs to be licensed with four core licenses.
- Physical Cores Count: Licenses are based on the number of physical cores, not logical cores. In case of hyper-threading or similar technologies, only the physical cores need to be licensed.
- Core Factor Table: Microsoft provides a core factor table to help determine the number of core licenses required for servers using specific processors.
- Virtual Environment: In a virtual environment, licensing can be applied either to the physical cores on the host or to virtual cores (v-cores) assigned to virtual machines (VMs). A minimum of four core licenses is required per virtual machine.
SQL Server 2012 Editions and Licensing Options
SQL Server 2012 offers two main editions that utilize per core licensing: Enterprise and Standard. The Enterprise edition is ideal for high-end, mission-critical applications and large-scale data warehousing, while the Standard edition is suitable for basic database, reporting, and analytics capabilities.
In addition to the per core model, SQL Server 2012 also offers a Server+CAL (Client Access License) model for the Standard edition. Under this model, a license is required for the server, and each user or device accessing the SQL Server needs a separate CAL. However, this model does not provide the same level of scalability and simplicity as the per core model.
SQL Server 2012’s per core licensing model brings an innovative approach to database server licensing. While the model may initially seem complex, it ultimately offers greater flexibility and scalability, particularly for organizations that need to support a large number of users or devices.
It’s essential for businesses to conduct a thorough analysis of their SQL Server usage patterns and requirements to choose the right licensing model. This includes understanding their current environment, future growth plans, and the potential impact on total cost of ownership.
While this article provides a comprehensive understanding of SQL Server 2012’s per core licensing, it’s recommended to consult with a licensing expert or Microsoft representative to ensure your organization is correctly licensed and getting the most from your SQL Server investment.