Price changes to SQL Server Standard: what you need to know

From 1st April 2018, Microsoft made some changes to its donated software programme. Some products are no longer available as donations, but instead are sold as discounted products through Microsoft authorised resellers.

One of the products that’s changed is SQL Server, Microsoft’s relational database management system.

SQL Server Standard Edition on core-based licensing is no longer available as a donated product for just an admin fee on tt-exchange, but instead will be sold as discounted software at a considerably higher price.

SQL Server Standard Edition on server/CAL licensing, however, is still available as a donated product on tt-exchange.

Both offer exactly the same functionality, so the decision comes down to the cost of each licensing type.

To find out which option is more cost-effective for you, check out the graph below.


SQL Server Core vs CAL licensing

This graph compares the pricing of the two different licensing models for SQL Server Standard, based on a simple set up of 8 processors, with no virtual machines.

It shows that SQL Server Standard on server/CAL licensing is always cheaper than choosing the per-core option, for organisations with under around 600 users.

SQL Server Standard Edition – Per-core

SQL Server Standard on per-core licensing is now no longer listed on tt-exchange and is only available as a discounted product. A discounted per-core license is available at a price of £1,800 compared to the previous price of £205 on tt-exchange.

However, the per-core licensing model is complicated by the fact that you must buy a license for each physical processor core you have. In order to use these products, you will need to obtain enough copies to cover the cores in the processors you plan to use with SQL Server. Different processor chips have different numbers of cores – click here to download the Microsoft documentation with more information.

SQL Server with core-based licensing requires a minimum of eight core licenses to function, and licenses are sold in two-core packs. Therefore, you will need to buy a minimum of four license packs at £7,200.


SQL Server Standard Edition – Server/CAL

For Server/CAL licensing you only get one server license for each donation request you place through tt-exchange, as that’s all you need.

Server/CAL licensing requires one license for the server itself, and one for each user or device that accesses the server. These user licenses are known as Client Access Licenses (CALs).

SQL Server Standard on Server/CAL licensing is available as a donated product on tt-exchange for £51 (this covers the admin fee). CALs are available for £12 each. That means the minimum you pay is £63.


A word on virtual machines

The number of core licenses you need also depends on if you are licensing the physical server or individual virtual operating system environments (OSEs).

If you plan on running virtual machines on a physical server, you will need to purchase a core license for each v-core (or virtual processing core) as well as each physical machine – for further information on licensing for virtual machines, click here.

Windows SQL Standard allows you to create two virtual machines on each server, which is more than enough for a smaller charity.

If you have larger computing needs and are planning on running many virtual machines, you may want to look at Windows Server Datacentre, which supports unlimited virtual machines. This is only available as a discounted product, and you will need to license per-core and also buy CALs as it only runs on a per-core/CAL licensing model.

SQL Server Enterprise also comes with unlimited virtual machines, supporting larger databases. It is only available as discounted product on per-core licensing. A discounted per-core license is available at a price of £5,713.