SQL 2016 Licensing: A Preliminary Report

sql 2016On May 2, Microsoft announced that SQL Server 2016 will be generally available on June 1, 2016. Here’s what we know and don’t know yet, as far as licensing goes.

What We Know

There will be four editions of SQL Server 2016:

  • Enterprise Edition: This will contain all available features.
  • Standard Edition: This will contain a limited set of core features.
  • Express Edition: This is a free edition that will contain an extremely limited set of features.
  • Developer: This is a free edition that will contain all available features, but it is to be used only for test and development purposes.

What is missing from this list is the Business Intelligence (BI) edition that was available in SQL Server 2014. The BI edition held the middle ground between Enterprise and Standard, but it will no longer be an option in SQL Server 2016.

A feature set of each of these editions is available here. Here is a copy of the comparison chart:

SQL 2016 Edition Features

What We Don’t Know

What we don’t know yet is significant:

  • We don’t know what the Enterprise and Standard versions will cost. We may not know that until the product is released on June 1.
  • We don’t know how the Enterprise and Standard versions will be licensed. In SQL 2014, Enterprise was only available through core-based licensing, but Standard was available through either core-based or Server+CAL licensing.
  • We don’t know if license mobility rights will continue to be a Software Assurance benefit. This is the right to move your SQL license from one physical server to the next when you move your virtual machine around the server farm (a.k.a., “vMotion rights”). In SQL 2012, Microsoft made that a SA benefit and kept it the same in SQL 2014. My guess is that will continue to be the policy.
  • We don’t know what will happen to clients who have Software Assurance on their SQL Server Business Intelligence licensing. My guess is that Microsoft will grant them upgrade rights to SQL 2016 Enterprise. But since BI was licensed under the Server+CAL model and Enterprise will probably continue to be licensed under the core-based model, the upgrade process may involve a calculation to figure out how many Enterprise licenses you receive.

I’ll be writing a follow-up post next month when we have more information. In the meantime, you can check out these resources that Microsoft has posted:

If you are still on SQL Server 2005, you should read this post on how to upgrade to a newer version.

If you have questions about your Microsoft licensing, don’t hesitate to send us an email or give us a call at 502-240-0404!