As with any installation of SQL server we start with the licensing of SQL Server 2014. Most DBAs are unaware of the implications of licensing costs on the overall project. But over the years these costs have been increasing more importantly the options have been decreasing as well. Like with SQL 2012 we still have Core and CaL based license. Core based License means you pay for the number of CPU cores installed on the hardware. This gets a little bit tricky when working with VM where you can even License individual VMs too. Normally Core based license is what customer in enterprise use because EE of SQL only support Core based license to begin with. Cal base license is where you buy one server licence for your installation (not instance) of SQL and 1 CAL per user or 1 device access license per device.
So why is licensing cost so important now? Well with the last few releases MS has made it very easy to consolidate servers and this has resulted in better hardware utilization. Naturally since you can get more for your buck with hardware it means the cost of the software that enables it will go up. In the grand scheme of things you still save money but it makes your wonder where SQL is headed.
Notice how BI edition can only be licenced with CAL since it typically has more users you need to plan carefully between going for BI and simply using Enterprise edition with core based model. Additionally there has been a big push from MS to offer customer who pick up Software Assurance much more than then those who do not. This translates to better mobility and VM support as well as more flexibility with future upgrades. Bottom line it’s better to get SA now.
So overall there is no major change compared to SQL 2012 licensing but keep in mind that you need to be a lot smarter about your topology now. Without Always ON availability groups in standard edition and not solid replacement for mirroring we are looking at Standard edition slowly becoming a non-viable option for most companies. It will provide basic features and help get the job done but frankly you’re getting less for more.
What options does this leave us then? Well naturally those who can afford it will continue to use Enterprise edition , those who are on the edge will virtualize big time and the rest will need to move to the cloud to reduce the overall impact.
By the way MS has provided cloud backups with SQL 2014 so that is definitely once option that could mitigate the TCO.
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At Enabled Business Solutions we are currently helping some of our client evaluate the right choice for them e.g. downgrading based on critical feature list, moving to the cloud or consolidation and Virtualizations on VMware or HyperV. Need more info click here