Chapter 4 - Choosing How to License SQL Server

Note The information presented here was current at the time the Resource Kit was written. For the latest pricing and licensing information, visit the SQL Server How To Buy page.

If your organization is evaluating deployment of Microsoft® SQL Server™, you will find there are a number of different options for licensing this database technology, and some changes have recently been made to the licensing model at Microsoft. This chapter helps you determine the type of SQL Server licensing to implement. Based on extensive input from customers, partners, and analysts, Microsoft has introduced a processor-based licensing model for the .NET Enterprise Server products (including SQL Server). This new licensing model was designed for today's e-business customers who are building business-to-business, business-to-consumer, and business-to-employee Web-based applications. Such hardware-based models have become standard in a Web-based world where traditional measures of users or connecting devices are impossible to track.

For customers using SQL Server in non-Web-based scenarios, per-seat licensing is still available.

Licensing Model Changes

Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Microsoft is standardizing processor-based licensing with the .NET Enterprise servers to improve consistency and to simplify how customers license certain software products. Under this new model, a customer acquires a Processor License for each processor running their server software. A Processor License includes access for an unlimited number of users/devices to connect from either inside the corporate LAN or WAN, or outside the firewall. Customers do not need to purchase additional Server Licenses, Client Access Licenses (CALs) or Internet Connector Licenses.

This kind of license can be used in any Internet, extranet, or intranet scenario, and is designed especially for e-business customers. These licenses are appropriate when traditional measures of users or connecting devices are impossible to track.

Separate server licenses and per seat CALs (Client Access Licenses) will continue to be offered to customers using SQL Server. The Server Licenses allow access for a single device (for example, a personal computer, pager, or cell phone). SQL Server 2000 CALs can only be used in the per-seat mode. One CAL is required for each device that will be accessing the server software. This method of licensing may be most cost-effective to non-Web-based businesses with a limited number of users that are easy to track.

What is a Processor License?

Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

A Processor License gives you the right to install one copy of the server software on a single server, as long as you have purchased Processor Licenses for all of the processors on that server. For example, if you have a server with a single processor, one Processor License is all you need to install and use the server software on that computer. If you have a server with four processors, you will need to purchase four Processor Licenses in order to install and use the server software on that server.

A Processor License for SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition gives you the right to install any number of copies of the server software on any processor that has a license.

In addition to the installation rights to the actual server software, Processor Licenses also grant any number of users the rights to access and use the server software running on those processors. These access rights are available to all users, regardless of whether they are inside the organization (for example, in an intranet scenario) or outside the organization (in an extranet scenario).

The Processor License is all you will need. With this license, you do not need to purchase separate Server, Client Access, or Internet Connector Licenses.

You must have a separate Processor License for each processor on a server, even if some processors are not intended for running server software. This is because all processors on a given server will be used to run server software in the vast majority of scenarios. There are, however, larger, multi-processor servers that give you the ability to partition groups of processors within a single computer, allowing you to run the server software on a subset of the total processors. For this case, an exception in licensing is made for servers with sixteen or more processors. For those servers, Processor Licenses are required only for those processors actually running the server software.


Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

Existing SQL Server customers can upgrade to SQL Server 2000 at approximately 50 percent of the full license price.

  • Customers with Upgrade Advantage licenses for servers running SQL Server and CALs are entitled to upgrades to those licenses at no additional charge.

  • BackOffice CAL Upgrade Advantage customers are entitled to access SQL Server 2000 servers with those CALs.

Internet Connector Upgrade Advantage customers are eligible to receive SQL Server Processor Licenses as upgrades, either in SQL Server 2000 Enterprise or Standard editions, depending on what edition of the server software the Internet Connectors use.

Choosing a Licensing Model

Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

What licensing model to chose depends on your specific business requirements. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • The Per Seat CAL model is likely the most cost effective choice in environments inside the firewall where client-to-server ratios are low. 

The listing below indicates the number of seats you would need, to make buying Processor License(s) less expensive than buying Server Licenses. Therefore, if you have more seats than shown in the list, you should buy the Processor Licenses.

Mixed License Environments

There are no restrictions prohibiting you from having a mixed-license environment. There may be scenarios when this is the best solution for your business. For example, if the Internet servers for your organization are segregated from the servers used to support internal users, you could license the Internet servers with Processor Licenses and purchase separate Server Licenses for internal customers, and CALs for each internal user's devices. However, you should not purchase CALs to allow users to access a server already licensed through Processor License, since those Processor Licenses allow access to that server for all users. In addition, you should never purchase Processor Licenses for a server that will be accessed exclusively by users for whom CALs have already been purchased.

Licensing for a Failover Cluster Configuration

If your organization uses SQL Server 2000 in a failover cluster configuration, this means servers are clustered together to pick up each others' processing if one computer fails, in this situation, you have special licensing considerations. This option is only available in SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition.

Failover clustering support can be configured two ways:

  • Active/Active. This option allows all servers in the failover cluster to regularly process information. When a server fails, one server or more takes on the additional workload of the failed server.

  • Active/Passive. This option is characterized by at least one server in the cluster that do not regularly process information, but waits to pick up the workload when an Active server fails.

All Active servers in a cluster must be fully licensed, with either Processor Licenses or Server Licenses. However, if a server is strictly Passive, and works only when an Active server has failed, no additional licenses are needed for that Passive server. The exception to this is if the failover cluster is licensed under Processor License, and the number of processors on the Passive server exceeds the number of processors on the Active server. In this case, additional Processor licenses must be purchased for the additional processors on the Passive computer.

For more information about failover clustering, see SQL Server Books Online.

Licensing for a Multi-Instance Configuration

SQL Server 2000 includes the ability to run multiple instances of the server software on a single server. Multiple instances are used by organizations that have several applications running on a server, but want them to run in isolation. Running them in isolation protects each from a failure on another instance. SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition Processor Licenses and Server Licenses allow you to install multiple instances of SQL Server on the same computer without requiring additional licenses. SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition supports multiple instances, but you must have a separate license for each instance.

For more information about multiple instances of SQL Server, see SQL Server Books Online.

Licensing in Multi-Tier Environments (Including Multiplexing or Pooling)

Sometimes organizations develop network solutions that use various forms of hardware and/or software to reduce the number of devices that directly access or use the software on a particular server. This particular solution is often called multiplexing or pooling hardware or software. It is particularly common in multi-tier environments. For example, say a client computer is using a server application that calls Component Services, available with Microsoft Windows 2000 Server, on one server, which in turn pulls data from a SQL Server database on another server. In this case, the only direct connection to SQL Server is coming from the server running Component Services. The client computer has a direct connection to the server running Component Services, but the client computer also has an indirect connection to SQL Server because it is ultimately retrieving and using the SQL Server data through Component Services. Use of multiplexing or pooling hardware and/or software does not reduce the number of CALs required to access or use SQL Server. A CAL is required for each distinct input to the multiplexing or pooling software or hardware front end. If, in the above example, 50 client computers were connected to the server running Component Services, 50 SQL Server CALs would be required. This is true no matter how many tiers of hardware or software exist between the SQL Server and the client devices that ultimately use its data, services, or functionality.

SQL Server 2000 Personal Edition Licensing

SQL Server 2000 Personal Edition is not a separate product, but rather a client component of SQL Server (included as part of Enterprise and Standard editions) that is designed to bring SQL Server functionality to non-server hardware, including workstations and laptops. SQL Server 2000 Personal Edition can be installed on any client device running the Microsoft Windows operating system within an organization, and is to be used in conjunction with the server software. Licensing is governed by the same rules as licensing for the Enterprise and Standard editions.

SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine Licensing

SQL Server 2000 Desktop Engine is fully compatible with other editions of SQL Server and is available through various Microsoft products beyond SQL Server 2000 Enterprise, Standard, and Developer editions. These include MSDN® Universal and Microsoft Office Developer Edition 10. The Desktop Edition, sometimes referred to as MSDE 2000, is intended to be a stand-alone desktop device and does not require any CALs when used on a purely stand-alone basis. Some Microsoft products grant MSDE redistribution rights to the licensee; please see the End User License Agreement for the software package that included MSDE 1.0 or MSDE 2000 to determine your eligibility to redistribute these versions of MSDE.

Customers using the Processor licensing model have unlimited connections to the server running the licensed SQL Server. Customers using the Server/CAL (versus Per-Processor) licensing model must have a CAL dedicated to any device using the Desktop Engine—either in stand-alone form, or as part of one of the products mentioned above.

Switching Licenses

Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif Cc917620.spacer(en-us,TechNet.10).gif

It is possible to switch from SQL Server CALs to Processor Licenses, or from Processor Licenses to CALs. To do so, you must purchase the appropriate new licenses. Generally, the most logical time to do this is when you upgrade to a new version of SQL Server; however, switching from a combination of Server Licenses and CALs to Processor Licenses may make sense when you need to allow Web usage (either Internet or extranet), or when the number of users is expected to grow significantly. Moving to Processor Licensing could offer financial benefits in this case.

For more information about SQL Server licensing, answers to commonly asked questions can be found at