Pricing and Licensing SQL Server - Questions

Updated: Aug 15, 2019

Sometimes as DBA's, we can manage all types of issues, simple ones, ORA-600, performance or slow queries. One of my current experiences was a good friend and colleague asked me about SQL Server and Oracle licensing, and by my surprise, I did not know anything about, I do not have an idea or at least nothing I had reading recently, so I'm going to take the research job.


SQL Server 2017 offers customers a variety of licensing options aligned with how customers typically purchase specific workloads. There are two main licensing models that apply to SQL Server:


Provides the option to license users and/or devices, with low cost access to incremental SQL Server deployments.

• Each server running SQL Server software requires a server license.

• Each user and/or device accessing a licensed SQL Server requires a SQL Server CAL that is the same version or newer – for example, to access a SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition server, a user would need a SQL Server

2012 or 2017 CAL.

• Each SQL Server CAL allows access to multiple licensed SQL Servers, including Standard Edition and legacy Business Intelligence and Enterprise Edition Servers


Gives customers a more precise measure of computing power and a more consistent licensing metric,

regardless of whether solutions are deployed on physical servers on-premises, or in virtual or cloud environments.

• Core based licensing is appropriate when customers are unable to count users/devices, have Internet/Extranet workloads or systems that integrate with external facing workloads.

• To license a physical server —when running SQL Server in a physical OSE — all physical cores on the server must be licensed.

• A minimum of four core licenses are required for each physical processor on the server.

Software Assurance coverage helps customers take full advantage of their SQL Server license investment.

Licensing for virtualization and containers

SQL Server 2017 offers use rights for virtual machines and containers, to provide flexibility for customers’ deployments. There are two primary licensing options for virtual machines and containers in SQL Server 2017 the ability to license individual virtual machines and containers and the ability to license for maximum densities

in highly virtualized or high-density container environments.


As hardware capabilities grow, it continues to be more common for each database to use a fraction of its server’

computing power. When deploying databases on Virtual Machines (VMs) or containers that use just a fraction of a physical server, savings can be achieved by licensing individual VMs or containers.

• To license a VM or container with core licenses, purchase a core license for each virtual core (virtual thread)

allocated to the VM or the number of cores configured for access by the container (with a minimum of 4 core

licenses per VM or container).

• To license a single VM or container with a server license (for Standard Edition only), purchase a server license

for each VM or container, and a CAL for each user or device.

• Each licensed VM or container covered with SA can be moved frequently within a server farm, or to a third-party hoster or cloud services provider, without the need to purchase additional SQL Server licenses.