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SQL 2008 R2 Licensing

Posted on 2013-02-06
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I am looking to license a database-mirroring plus log-shipped secondary setup using 3 identical servers.

SQL 2008 R2 Enterprise being used and will be licensed on a 'per processor' basis.

Both the mirror and log-shipped servers will be completely passive (no reporting or database snapshotting).

On this basis, can I simply license the principal only, leaving both the mirror and log-shipped instances unlicensed (unless they exceed the 30-day limit for being in active use)?

Or does the log-shipped server need to be licensed on the basis that there is a maximum of 1 failover partner per instance?

There's some very contradictory advice flying around ....
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Question by:campbell1972
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Ryan McCauley earned 2000 total points
ID: 38862984
According to the official Microsoft licensing guide, it sounds as though these standby servers don't need to be licensed:

http://download.microsoft.com/download/1/e/6/1e68f92c-f334-4517-b610-e4dee946ef91/2008%20SQL%20Licensing%20overview%20final.docx

In particular, this segment from page 2, referring to Database Mirroring, Failover Clustering, or Backup Log Shipping:

When doing failover support, a server is designated as the passive server. The purpose of the passive server is to absorb the data and information held in another server that fails. A passive server does not need a license, provided that the number of processors in the passive server is equal or less than those of the active server. The passive server can take the duties of the active server for 30 days. Afterward, it must be licensed accordingly.

I interpret that to mean that, as long as you're not actively querying the passive servers for any business processes and their dedicated purpose is failover protection, you don't need to own a license for them. If you do have processes or reports accessing them, then you'd require a license for these instances.

Of course, Microsoft has certified licensing resellers particularly because it can be complicated and occasionally unclear, but this case seems pretty straightforward. Where did you see contradictory explanations that made you believe that you might be required to license those standby servers? In an official licensing document, or in some forum conversations somewhere?
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by:campbell1972
ID: 38864712
Mostly in forums but it's reassuring to see that your interpretation of the licensing rules is the same as mine, the key points being:

the servers must be truly passive at all times
there is a 30-day limit on the passive server being active before it must be licensed

I'll run it by a licensed reseller at some point but, as you say, this does appear to be cut and dry.

Thanks for the input!
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