In my last post, I covered the basics of SQL Server 2014 licensing. We discussed the three main versions: Enterprise, Business Intelligence (BI), and Standard. We also covered the “Per Instance” model vs. the “Per Core” model of licensing the product. If you’re a small business, you probably are just going to get a Standard server license with some CALs; and if you’re a large business, you probably are going to get the core-based Enterprise licenses.

But what if you fall in between those two extremes? How do you decide which option is most cost effective for your company?

Per Instance or Per Core?

If you are considering buying the Standard version, you may be wondering: At what point is the Per Core model cheaper than the Server + CAL model?

Let’s run the numbers for a single server with one dual-core processor. (Remember that a machine with two cores is still going to need four core licenses because of the four-core minimum rule.)

sql server 2014 licensing


So the answer to our question is 31 users.  If you have exactly 30 users, it is basically the same amount of money to go either direction. If you have less than 30, you will want to go with the Server + CAL model. And if you have over 30, you will want to go with the Per Core model.

Now this is the simplest example we could have used, so you will need to look at details of your particular situation. For example, if you have a six-core processor in your server then that will change the calculations. Or if you plan on doubling your work force in the next two years, then you will need to plan on buying a CAL for all those people and that may swing the pendulum towards a Per Core model. Our software licensing experts here at Mirazon can help you weigh your options and run the numbers.

Enterprise or Business Intelligence?

The Enterprise and Business Intelligence versions have similar feature sets, and you may be sitting on the fence between the two.  If cost is the determining factor, then the question comes up: When is it cheaper to buy the core-based Enterprise license versus the instance-based BI license?

Again, let’s run the numbers for a single server with one dual-core processor:

sql server 2014 licensing


So in this scenario, the answer is 91 users. With 90 CALs or less, it is cheaper to get SQL Business Intelligence, but with 91 or more it is cheaper to get SQL Enterprise. And remember that with Enterprise you are also getting additional features.

Again, the details of your particular scenario will need to be examined, but this gives you an example of how to tackle the issue. In our next post, we will discuss the two changes that were made to the SQL use rights with the release of SQL 2014. In the meantime, you can check out Microsoft’s “Buyer’s Guide” for SQL here.

Need help planning your next SQL deployment or improving your current deployment? Mirazon is here to help with both the licensing side and technical side of the project. Give us a call at 502-240-0404 or send us an email at