SQL Server Analysis Services Editions


Software licensing is a complex subject and can be considered an area of practice in itself. As a SSAS Administrator, one needs to know the basics of licensing to be able to talk to the license custodian and ask for the appropriate license. License cost is influenced by edition, number of cores, number of servers, topology, hosting environment, and many other factors. A detailed discussion is beyond the scope of this tutorial, but we will take a look at the different editions and identify the best version for the job.


Starting with SQL Server 2014, SQL Server is available in these different editions - Enterprise, Business Intelligence, Standard, Web, Developer and Express. The key editions of interest are mentioned below.

Enterprise Edition - This edition can be considered as the ultimate edition having all the features available in the SQL Server eco-system. The features available exclusively in this edition are related to Advanced security, In-Memory processing and high availability. This version is typically employed for core data sources like transactional databases and data warehouses.

Business Intelligence Edition - This edition can be considered a scaled down version of the Enterprise Edition. This edition is suitable for servers that are playing the role of different BI functions like ETL / Reporting / Data Marts / Self-service BI etc. depending upon the technology / service deployed on the server.

Standard Edition - This edition contains the least number of features of all three editions. This edition is suitable for lower environments of medium complexity.

The Web edition is only available for service providers hosting public websites that use SQL Server. Developer edition is a fully featured edition, but meant for development use and not allowed for use on production systems. Express edition is a free entry-level version of SQL Server geared toward small applications with local data requirements.

Ideally when dealing with SSAS, it's advisable to start with the Business Intelligence edition, but it's not always the case and there are exceptions depending upon factors like servers, cost, topology, etc.

Its advisable to conduct a detailed study of the features required for the solution, and then identify the edition that supports those needs. For an exhaustive comparison of all the features supported by each edition of SQL Server, consider reading this article on MSDN.

Additional Information
  • For a more detailed understanding of SQL Server licensing, consider reading SQL Server 2014 licensing guide.
  • For a better insight on factors that influence licensing costs, consider reading this article on MSDN.

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