SQL Server 2017 is here, the licensing principles
Microsoft launched SQL Server 2017. Normally we update you on any licensing changes. But this time, no changes were applied in the change from SQL Server 2016 to SQL Server 2017. But since SQL Server licensing can be complex, we provide you with some basis SQL Server licensing principles.
SQL Server Developer and SQL Server Express
These two editions of SQL Server remain ‘for free’. This doesn’t mean you do not need a license, because you do. The only thing is, you do not have to pay for the license. However; Use Terms apply and have to be accepted before installing and using the product.
SQL Server and CAL
SQL Server Standard is the only edition available in server + CAL (client access license) licensing method. Every server (physical or virtual installation) needs a SQL Server 2017 Standard license. Every device or every user (choice) who accesses or uses the SQL Server (direct or indirect) needs a corresponding SQL Server 2017 client access license.
SQL Server Core Licensing
Both SQL Server 2017 Standard and SQL Server 2017 Enterprise are editions available in the ‘core licensing’ method. Do you install SQL Server within a physical Operating System Environment (OSE) you simply license all the physical cores in all the CPU’s in the server. No exemptions.
Do you install SQL Server within an virtual OSE, you only need to license the physical cores assigned and used by the operating system with a minimum of 4 cores. We call this the ‘processor affinity rule’.
Are you using a very dense virtually installed SQL Server environment? Then licensing all the physical cores in the server for SQL Server Enterprise 2017 with active Software Assurance might be a cost saving option, because with this licensing option you do get unlimited virtual installation rights for SQL Server Enterprise and SQL Server Standard.
There are more benefits from Software Assurance to SQL Server, such as active-passive fail over rights, disaster recovery rights, license mobility rights and more.
Remember, the information provided here are just the highlights. Always read and follow the appropriate official licensing documents, such as the Product Terms.
SQL Server licensing is covered in our 2 day training Microsoft Licensing and Cloud for Small and Midsized Organizations (Dutch, international delivery on request). You will find more information here.
A good read, the Microsoft SQL Server 2017 Licensing Datasheet (click for the PDF).