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Standard vs. Enterprise: Comparing Microsoft SQL Server 2017 Licenses

Understanding the differences in editions of
Microsoft SQL Server licenses can help you determine which one offers the best solution for your business. Choosing between the SQL Server Standard Edition and the SQL Server Enterprise Edition means taking a deeper dive into each licensing method to make sure you’re getting the right option for your organization’s workload.

Standard or Enterprise Edition?

The differences between the Standard and Enterprise editions are designed to accommodate the varying needs of business customers and ensure you get the tools your operation requires.

With the SQL Server Standard Edition, you’ll get basic data management and a business intelligence database designed with the smaller business in mind. The Standard Edition supports common tools for development of both on-site and virtual systems.

The Standard Edition can be a good option for maintaining effective database management while using minimal IT resources. It allows a maximum of 24 processor cores, and some of its defining features include 128 GB memory buffer pool, basic reporting, basic analytics, end-to-end database security and enhanced memory performance.

The SQL Server Enterprise Edition is Microsoft’s premium offering and has capabilities designed for the high-end data center. It offers fast performance, an unlimited amount of virtualization, advanced analytics, maximum memory utilized per instance, adaptive query processing and end-to-end business intelligence.

The Enterprise Edition can provide the solution for businesses that demand high service levels for their workloads and also require end-user access to data insights.

These two editions of Microsoft SQL Server 2017 come with two licensing options: server and CAL (client access license) and per core.

  • Standard
    • Server + CAL: Yes
    • Per Core: Yes
    • Maximum Cores: 24
    • Analytics: Basic
  • Enterprise
    • Server + CAL: No
    • Per Core: Yes
    • Maximum Cores: Unlimited
    • Analytics: Advanced

Considerations of Server and CAL Licensing

The SQL Server and CAL option is only available on the Standard Edition. In this model, every server being used by your company — whether it’s a physical server or a virtual one — is required to have a license. Each device or user who is accessing the server, whether directly or indirectly, will need a corresponding license as well. It allows for unlimited uses on the operating system environment.

In a virtual environment, this model requires the purchase of one server license per virtual machine running, but the number of virtual processors running on that machine will not affect the cost. For example, if you have two virtual machines, and one has three users accessing it but the other has five users accessing it, you will still only need two server licenses.

This can be a good licensing option for businesses that use SQL as the supporting database for another application or for their intranet. It may also be the most cost-effective choice if you have a specific number of users or devices using the SQL server.

To evaluate if the server and CAL option works best for your business environment, you’ll want to gauge your technical requirements as well as the server role and amount of access required. Depending on your workload, you may need to consider per core licensing.

When to Consider Per Core Licensing

Core-based licensing can be a better option for companies that have many different users on the system but can’t specifically quantify that number of users. If you have several different internet and extranet workloads, or if your system integrates with external-facing workloads, you might find that per core licensing makes more sense.

This model requires that licenses are purchased for every physical core that is operating on the server, with a minimum purchase of four core licenses per processor. (Licenses are sold in pairs.)

To determine the number of licenses needed, you’ll factor in how many processors your company has, then count the total number of cores being used by each processor. This will tell you exactly how many licenses will be required for your company.

Per core licensing is available for both the Standard and the Enterprise editions, and it may be worth considering for your company if the amount of server access required puts the cost of the Standard Edition’s server and CAL out of range.

In addition, Aventis offers Academic and Charity pricing levels on Microsoft SQL server licenses for qualifying customers. Academic licenses are sold in a bundle of 10 cores to meet Microsoft’s minimum requirements for volume pricing. Eligible charity organizations may qualify for Microsoft’s Open License for Charities pricing, but should review the eligibility requirements first.

With the cost of enterprise software increasing, selecting the right license for your business or organization can help you keep costs in line while providing all the services needed. Evaluating database needs and consolidating your options is a good start toward making sure you select the tailor-made solution for your specific uses.

As a leader in meeting the IT requirements of small- to medium-sized organizations, Aventis Systems can help you make the right choice. We have worked with thousands of customers to design unique hardware, software and services solutions, and can help you determine which Microsoft SQL Server license is best designed to suit your organization’s needs.

For help in determining which license is right for you, contact our expert team at 1-855-AVENTIS.

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