What you need to know about SQL 2016 licensing

 In Microsoft, Software, Volume Licensing

SQL 2016 was released on June 1 and licensing will remain mostly consistent for customers; however, there are a few changes that organizations must consider when purchasing or migrating to SQL 2016.

At a high level, there are three differences in licensing SQL 2016:

  • Reduction in SQL 2016 Edition options.
  • New license grant rules for migrating from SQL BI Servers to SQL Enterprise Servers.
  • A simplified virtual core licensing calculation to align with physical core models.

Compared to the SQL 2014 license models, this round of changes is less complex, but it will still have an impact on your organization. Let’s break down each of these adjustments and how to proceed.

SQL licensing changes

The changes to the SQL lineup

Within its volume licensing programs, Microsoft has reduced the available SQL licensing options down to only two offers, Standard or Enterprise. SQL Standard remains the choice for basic database needs with reporting and analytics, while SQL Enterprise is the preferred database for mission critical apps, big data, mobile BI, and advanced analytics.

What about the rest of the options? Microsoft has made some changes to the other SQL services.

  • SQL Developer is now a free download with Microsoft’s Visual Studio Developer Essentials.
  • SQL BI will no longer be available as a standalone offering and customers must move to SQL Enterprise for the same features and functionality.
  • SQL Parallel Data Warehouse (PDW) for OEM appliances no longer needs a separate license. Customers requiring big data processing can leverage the same functionality by acquiring the SQL 2016 Enterprise licensing SKUs.

Your licensing choices

Relatively speaking, licensing for SQL remains the same between the 2014 and 2016 version. But there are a few exceptions. Here is a summary of the SQL 2016 licensing models and the slight difference from 2014.

Server + CAL model

  • No changes for SQL Standard Server + CAL licensing.

Core Licensing model

  • Physical Cores: There are no changes to the core licensing model on physical OSEs. All cores must be licensed and there’s a minimum of four cores per processor.
  • Virtual Cores: Microsoft removed the Core Factor Table that determined the amount of licenses needed and simplified this licensing option by making it consistent with physical core licensing, at a four-core minimum per virtual OSE.

SQL BI Server transition and grants

  • SQL BI: With the discontinuation of SQL BI, customers will have to transition to the Enterprise Edition through a mix of Server + CAL and Core Licensing. For BI customers, the licensing migration path may need special attention. Microsoft will provide license grants, retroactive to May 1, 2016, for qualifying BI Server licenses with active SA to SQL Enterprise Server licenses with active SA at a 1:1 ratio. This allows existing BI customers to subsequently renew their existing SA purchases into the Enterprise Server/CAL model at the next renewal.
  • EA customers have the option to submit a single true-up order for SQL Enterprise Server licenses (not Core licenses) at a maximum cap of 25 percent above their existing SQL BI Server license count. For example:
    • On May 1, 2016, a customer had four BI Server licenses with active SA. The organization decided to exercise the true-up license option, with the maximum 25 percent cap over their existing BI Server licenses with SA (so 4 x .25 = 1). Now, IT can renew SA for a maximum total of five Enterprise Server licenses in the Server/CAL model (four original BI server licenses and one through the Enterprise Edition Server true-up).

Licensing to optimize virtualization and mobility rights

Software Assurance rights are unchanged. To recap the benefits of adding Software Assurance to SQL Licenses, organizations with active SA receive these additional rights:

  • Passive and failover rights that enable flexibility for planned or unplanned downtime.
  • License mobility gives organizations the ability to reassign and move data in a public, private, or third-party environment.
  • Under Enterprise Edition, when all physical cores are licensed with active SA, organizations can deploy unlimited VMs.

It’s important to have a partner help evaluate your options with SQL 2016, its implications to your current license entitlement, and how to best take advantage of the license grant. Please reach out to your SHI Account Representative for more information.

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