SQL Server Licensing Model and Costs


For the purposes of this tutorial we will just look at the licensing models available for SQL Server 2017.  Previous versions have similar models but for specific details you can check the links in the additional information section.  With SQL Server 2017 there are two basic models for the Enterprise and Standard editions, Core and Server+CAL. 

In the core-based model, servers are licensed based on the number of cores (minimum of 4 must be licensed).  This model is useful for large workloads where you are unable to account for the number of clients that will be accessing the server.  It is also beneficial in virtualized environments as with a virtual setup as long as you have enough licenses to cover each core on the host server you can run any number of VMs (up to the number of cores on the host) irrespective of the number of cores on each VM. 

The Server+CAL model is best suited for small to medium workloads where the number of clients is known.  In this model each server running SQL Server requires a license and each user/device connecting to the server requires a CAL that is at least the same version or higher than the server version.  Note: each SQL Server CAL allows access to multiple licensed SQL Servers.  

The Developer and Express editions are not mentioned in these models as both of these versions are freely downloadable.  The table below outlines high level costs for each of the models.

Edition Model Price
Enterprise Per Core $14256
Standard Per Core $3717
Standard Server + CAL $931

When it comes to Azure, the pricing becomes much more complicated.  Whether you are using virtual machines or SQL database the pricing model takes into account the service tier, number of cores and amount of storage you select in order to determine your monthly rate.  The Azure pricing calculator can be used to give you an idea of your estimated monthly costs based on different selections.

Additional Information

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