Licensing Changes on the Horizon for SQL Server 2012

We all knew the dream had to come to an end at some point. Effective with licensing changes for SQL Server 2012 is the end of licensing based upon CPU sockets as an option for SQL Server. Since I’ve only ever had to deal with processor licensing (low CAL diet for me, thanks) I’m focused solely on the changes for processor licensing at the moment.

Good friend and equally good drinking partner Denny Cherry blog|twitter has taken the time and effort to distill the changes presented last Thursday by Microsoft and their Redmond Whitepaper Factory into plain text after a lengthy phone call to those back at the MotherShip. Rather than re-presenting his information I’d rather highlight his efforts and let you read the news in his own words:

Denny Cherry on SQL Server 2012 Licensing Changes

I will add that while this seems like a major shift in licensing fundamentals, and while we’re likely to immediately reach for our pitchforks, torches, and lighter fluid for the most part this will be a non-event – kind of like Back to the Future 2 or the Star Wars prequels level of non-event. My issues will lie with the individual servers that don’t fall into the 4-core per socket structure.

Strictly discussing retail pricing at the moment, the plan will be to essentially cut the license cost by 1/4 for processor licensing and then license per-core. (This is a very very very distilled analysis of Denny’s blog and I still say check it out before you run screaming to your licensing partners.) While most of our environment will transfer in our next Software Assurance true-up at an net-zero balance we will have to work through issues with Microsoft and our licensing partner to ensure the outlier situations where we have 8 cores per processor, or in our virtual environment where after doing all the fun Maths Magiks we’re currently driven to a 6:1 ratio under our current VM host hardware architecture transfer at no net increase in licensing costs to us. It is in cases like this it will be very important for you to draw upon your best negotiation techniques to ensure you transfer from current to new licensing with a zero net increase in the number of licenses you will need to purchase in order to stay current with your existing SQL Server footprint. While I can’t speak for Microsoft directly or any other licensing partner, from my experiences in the past none of the parties are out to taint relationships and will generally work with customers to ensure that changes in licensing don’t affect your current arrangements.

Again, check out Denny’s post on the subject and take the time to inform your procurement team to make them aware of the changes now before they become a surprise later. Licensing calculations are difficult enough without the element of surprise.