Help with SQL Server licensing

Hi Experts,

Really struggling to get my head round all this and my boss is needing a solution!

We have an access front end, with tables currently on a XP pro machine running SQL express.
Our database is currently 1gb large and can be used constantly for up to 15 people.

We are investing in a new server running Windows Server 2008 R2 with a "Intel Xeon E3-1220, 4C/4T, 3.10GHz, 8M Cache, 80W TDP, Turbo"

Using this information, roughly how much will a full version of SQL server cost?
I don't understand CALS in the slightest. If I know I could have 15 people accessing it at any one time, I understand I need 15 CALS - How much is one CAL on top of the license for SQL server?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. It seems there's just short of 16 billion different licensing options and I can't get my head round any of it.
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Bill LouthSystem EngineerCommented:

Yes MS has many licensing programs out there. First off if your running express I would assume that MS SQL 2008 Standard will suite your needs. if that is the case then you have too options. a processer license which covers unlimited connections. or you buy just the SQL server software and then buy CALs MSRP are about $150 a CAL and SQL is about $800 and a processer licensing version is about $6,500 to $7,000. So for 15 users I wouldent reccomend that
INHOUSERESAuthor Commented:

Thanks for the reply.

I just found this via t'internet:

The workhorse SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition remains the staple of the product line for serious database applications. It can handle up to 16 cores with an unlimited amount of RAM. The major change in licensing from SQL Server 2008 to SQL Server 2012 is that a per core option is now available for the Standard Edition. This means that you have two choices: purchase per core licenses at $1,793 or purchase a server license at $898 and client access licenses at $209 per client.

$898 + (15 * $209)  = $3135
$1793 + $0 = $1793

I'm now even more confused. If you have more than 5 people accessing the SQL (which I imagine 100% of companies that need to buy SQL server would have), CAL licensing looks utterly UTTERLY pointless.

I can't have got this right... surely?
You have to be clear about one thing, and that is the licence is just a piece of paper, as a proof that you own what you're using.

Having said that, for core licensing, if you have a server with 4 cores, that means, if you want to purchase a processor license, you have to pay

$1793 x 4 = 7172 plus $800 for server licence = $7972

but if you purchase 15 device CAL's (for every concurrent connection), that would be

$209 x 15 = $3135 plus $800 for server licence = $3935

The border between buying processor license and CAL is 30, which means, if you have less than 30 users accessing, then it's cheaper to purchase CAL's, rather than a processor license.

Note that you have to buy a license for every core that you SQL server might use, there's no limit depending on the license of how many cores can you utilise, so in your case, you would have to pay for 4 cores.
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Bill LouthSystem EngineerCommented:
that was 7,000 not 1,700
INHOUSERESAuthor Commented:
Thanks Slakic,

That's beginning to make more sense now.
I'm a software based kinda guy, I know a little bit about hardware in order to buy a desktop computer/laptop and not get ripped off, but In know nothing about the server stuff.

So the processor that I posted up there has 4 cores. That makes much more sense now.

Looking back at the size of the database and the limitations of Express, what is $4000 going to improve for me?
It's not a massive database (1gb can't be big), and it's not dealing with masses of queries per second.
Is there a way I can find out if my database speed or my users are affected by this limitation of 1GB ram?

We're only looking into this because we *think* it might help.
Seeing as it's going to be a $4000 decision, I need to get some results to prove if it will be better.
You have to keep in mind that all data sets and query results which would normally be in RAM will be paged to disk, which could pose a performance issue. Also, I think the size of the database cannot go over 4 GB on disk.

I would say go for Express, you can upgrade anytime, if you feel that performance is dropping significantly because of limitation of Express.

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INHOUSERESAuthor Commented:
Thanks slakic,

It does seem that Express is the way to go.
I don't suppose there is a way I can run a performance test on the database to see if the performance is hindered by the limitations?

We've looked into 10,000 rpm hard drives. Could this make a big difference?
Of course it could, having faster hard drives means shorter time of reads/writes, but also good performance improvement would be to put database and log files on different hard drives, well, to different spindles, because databases are very  I/O intensive, and separating writing log files from records in database is always a good practice.
Have a look at
INHOUSERESAuthor Commented:
Thanks buddy,

I've got enough information here to save the company $4000.
It looks like it might be necessary in future, but we're now specing our server with 10,000 rpm drives so we can get a little bit more out of SQL Express before we upgrade.

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