SQL Server 2012 Licensing Changes


Until recently SQL Server 2012 has been referred to by its code name SQL ‘Denali’. Microsoft recently released SQL Server 2012 RC0. While this is not the final shipping release it should be pretty close. You can download it at Download.

What I am covering here are the high level license changes to the various SQL Server 2012 Editions. We will also provide an overview of the pricing changes associated with the various license changes. This is not an all-inclusive write-up but an overview to provide some clarification to the upcoming changes including the related pricing changes. DISCLAIMER: These are just current price estimates as published as of 12/18/2011. I recommend that you check with your license resource before budgeting for any of your purchases.

SQL Server 2012 Editions

  • Enterprise Edition
    • Only available through Core-based licensing
    • High Availability (AlwaysOn)
    • Optimized for private cloud
    • Large-Scale partitioning
    • Plus all the Standard and BI features
    • Unlimited VM License (you must license all cores on the physical machine for this)
  • Business Intelligence Edition
    • Only available through Server+CAL licensing
    • Power Pivot and Power View
    • Master Data Services
    • Collaboration with SharePoint
    • Managed self-service analytics
    • 1 SQL Server license per VM
  • Standard
    • Available through Server+CAL as well as Core-based licensing
    • Basic BI functionality
    • Basic Audit functionality
    • 1 SQL Server license per VM (if not licensing by Core)
  • Web
    • For hosting partners with a Service Partner License Agreement (SPLA)
  • Developer
    • FREE as a download with MSDN Subscription or approx. $50
  • Express
    • FREE, limited functionality
  • Appliance
    • Available to high end hardware vendors such as HP and Dell


Key Changes to SQL Server 2012 to License and Price

  • Retired SQL Server
    • Datacenter – these capabilities are now in Enterprise Edition
    • Small Business
    • Workgroup and Web Editions
  • New Additions
    • Business Intelligence Edition
  • Core-based licenses will replace Processor licenses
    • Core license price has been adjusted to make it comparable to the Processor license in SQL Server 2008 R2
  • SQL CAL Price increase of $25 – $45
  • You can purchase new EE Server license until June 30, 2012
  • If you have SA you can continue to purchase EE Server license through end of your term and you will get new versions
  • SQL Server 2012 EE Server licenses will have a 20 core per server limit
  • License per core: min of 4 cores/processor(socket)
  • EE Servers will have a 20 core server limit in transition to new License model
  • EE Server will be removed from price list on June 30, 2012
    • NOTE: The only exception is if you are on SA and


Core-based pricing for SQL Server 2012 in 2 steps

  1. Count the number of cores per processor
  2. Purchase the adequate # of core licenses – minimum of 4 core licenses per processor


  • Enterprise Edition (approx. $7000 per Core with a Min of 4 cores = $27,000)
  • Standard Edition (1/4 the price of Enterprise)

Server+CAL pricing for SQL Server 2012 in 2 steps

  1. Purchase a Server license
  2. Count the # of usres/devices that access the SQL Server database


        Server License

  • BI Edition (approx. $7026)
  • Standard Edition (approx. $734)

    SQL CAL License

  • CAL for either of the 2 Editions (approx. $207)
  • You can use the CAL’s against previous versions of SQL Server as well


NOTE: The price increase is due to the additional BI functionality that is delivered in the product.


If you currently own SQL Server it is imperative that you do some research on your upgrade path. There are some time constraints on the various new Editions and prior versions. These constraints are different depending on what version of SQL Server you are on today. The constraints are different if you have Software Assurance or you are an Enterprise Agreement customer. I recommend that you read the Detailed FAQ and Licensing Datasheet on the Microsoft site at http://www.microsoft.com/sqlserver/en/us/future-editions/sql2012-licensing.aspx.


Additional Resources for SQL Server 2012

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