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SQL Server Licensing on a VM Environment

Posted on 2011-02-22
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
We currently have a 3 node ESX Cluster with a SAN Backend, with several VM running, one of which has a windows 2003 with SQL 2005 Standard running (it has one CPU assigned). The ESX cluster is for hardware redundancy so no vm server should move unless hardware or ESX OS  failure.

Our Microsoft Reseller is trying to tell us that because ESX is clustered we need 3 SQL CPU Licenses one for each physical host. I personnel disagree with this because the VM is only ever assigned to one physical host at any one time and would only migrate to another host in the event of hardware or ESX OS  failure.

If anyone could clarify this it would be very helpful before I have to spend 10K on license I will never use.

Many Thanks
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Question by:GardIT
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Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 2000 total points
ID: 34950837
I'm afraid your reseller is correct.

You will need 3 x Windows 2003 licenses and 3 x SQL 2005 licenses, because each license purchased is for a particular host and stays with that host, because you can move to another host, means you need another license.

A 3 node cluster with total of 1 VMs needs 3 Windows 2003 standard licenses and 3 SQL because you can only transfer the OS license from one node to another every 90 days.

http://download.microsoft.com/download/F/C/A/FCAB58A9-CCAD-4E0A-A673-88A5EE74E2CC/Windows_Server_2008_Virtual_Tech-VL_Brief-Jan_09.docx 

Contact Microsoft Licensing, and they will tell the same.
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by:GardIT
ID: 34950957
But the host will not be moving and will stay on one physical host unless of hardware failure. it’s crazy if I need 3 license for every Windows VM what happens if I had a 20 physical host environment 20 windows license for every one windows VM....
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by:kemi67
ID: 34951105
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Expert Comment

by:rxdeath
ID: 34954729
yes i just went through this myself.  you can move hosts a limited amount of times (once every 90 days or something)  with the basic license.  have 2 hosts running the same way you are, but since the os only sees 4 procs and that is less than the total number of cores each proc has, i only have to buy 1 standard license.   i got this information from a microsoft licensing specialist at cdw.  honesty you could assign 4 cpus, as long as each physical processor has 4 or more cores (on the esx host).

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by:rxdeath
ID: 34954753
this is 2008 though
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LVL 123
ID: 34954831
reading this document, if could be worse!

WIndows 2003, you need three licenses. one per vm, per host server.

this is an interesting statement with reference to SQL 2005.

"For Workgroup, Standard and Enterprise Edition, each virtual operating environment running SQL Server 2005 must have a processor license for each processor that the virtual machine accesses."

So how many physical processors does your Host have, because the vCPU assigned could use any of the processors in the host.

So how many processors do you have in the host?
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by:rxdeath
ID: 34954858
again as i said i spoke directly to a microsoft licensing specialist at cdw.  i know it sounds very un M$ like, but they actually give us vm people a break.  its based off of the host box, not what you assign to the vm.  my boxes have 2 procs with 8 cores each.  since the vm will only see at most 4 cores, and that logically cannot be more than 1 host proc, i am well under the 1 cpu limit.

 if i'm reading correctly he has only 1 machine running sql, he's just using ha to move it around in case of failure.
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ID: 34954887
"must have a processor license for each processor that the virtual machine accesses."

does this mean if you have a quad processor host, you need four licenses?

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by:rxdeath
ID: 34954915
probably not unless each is single core.  standard edition sql/windows will at most see 4 processors, so as long as each  proc is 4 or more cores in the host esx box, it will conceptually never use more than 1 processor worth of resources, even if one thread happens to come from a different processor.  i spent days researching this because it sounded too good to be true, and i dont work for microsoft, but that's what a team of people that are supposedly microsoft specialists at cdw said.
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