Let me start with the good news. The Microsoft SQL Server Licensing Guide is only 53 pages long. The bad news: the guide references many other documents, such as the SQL Server Virtualization Guide, Volume Licensing Guide, Capacity Guide, and more. If you want a thorough understanding of Microsoft SQL Server licensing, I would suggest you read them all, since the guidelines are highly complex and also quite specific. Microsoft SQL Server Licensing, oh my!
Imagine you and are driving to work. As you enter the parking garage, there is a sign that tells you where to park. If your car has a six-cylinder engine, was built prior to 2015, and you are a male driver, you’ll park on level three. However, if your car has a four-cylinder engine, was built after 2014, and has four-wheel drive, you’ll park on level six. Unless of course you have a monthly parking pass—then you can park on any level.
The complexity of the parking rules above would drive us crazy on a daily basis. That’s exactly how Microsoft SQL Server licensing makes me feel. Here’s a typical scenario:
If I buy one Microsoft SQL Server license it will license two cores. So if I have a server with one processor and two cores, I need to buy one license? Wrong! Microsoft requires that you license a minimum of four cores per processor even if the server only has two cores. What floor do I park on?
But we’re just getting started with our scenario. Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Enterprise edition is only licensed by core but Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Standard can be licensed by core or server/CAL (Client Access License). Unless you are upgrading from previous versions—in which case, there may be some exceptions. The virtualization rules are different for both (as if things weren’t complicated enough!). Then there are downgrade and upgrade rights that vary based on the type of Microsoft Agreement you have and what Microsoft SQL Server edition and version you are upgrading or downgrading. Let’s not forget cross edition rights. Oh, and don’t forget passive server rights! What floor do I park on?
Determining your license position for Microsoft SQL Server is not an easy process.
That’s why this month, Cherwell Software is releasing Cherwell Asset Management 13.2, which is designed specifically to assist customers with evaluating their license position for Microsoft SQL Server. The new release takes into consideration cores, processors, and server licensing models, and also factors in your Microsoft contract rights and passive server rules. If you’re already using Cherwell Asset Management, visit the Cherwell University Video Learning Library to see what’s new in the 13.2 release.