SQL server licensing

Posted on 2014-03-26
Last Modified: 2014-03-31
I have a question about licensing and hope there are MS Licensing experts around.

I have (or am planning to have) the following setup, all servers are VPS:

1 MS Windows 2008R2 webserver hosting mainly 1 website (ecommerce)
1 MS Windows 2008R2 server with SQL Server standard  (2008 or 2012)

Currently only the webserver is active with on the same server SQL express 2008.

The performance of SQL server is not sufficient anymore so I want a separate server for it with more memory.

The only function the SQL server will provide is as a database for the website with occasional use of Management Studio on the SQL server itself.

The question is which version of MS SQL server should I buy and how many Cals will I need.

Question by:gillisdelangen
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Assisted Solution

mlsbraves earned 500 total points
ID: 39957095
I would warn that MS SQL 2008 R2 and 2012 has a database size limit of 10GB. If your budget permits I would look at the Standard version.

I would always suggest you check with your vendor when it comes to CAL questions. They can even get MS on the phone to make sure you will be in compliance.

Author Comment

ID: 39957106
Yes I know about the limits, I'm looking to buy the standard version, thats what the question about Cals is about.

Assisted Solution

mlsbraves earned 500 total points
ID: 39960816
The question is which version of MS SQL server should I buy and how many Cals will I need.

By version do you mean 2008 R2 or 2012? If so I would check with any third party software vendors (CMS for your eCommerce) you are using that use the SQL server. If they support 2012 then use 2012. If for some reason they don't, then use 2008 R2. As long as your buying Volume Licensing you can always upgrade later at no cost since you will be buying 2012.

As for CALs, this is the answer I get from my Microsoft sales rep.

User CAL
Any user that uses the SQL server, whether Front End or Back End requires a CAL

Device CAL
Any device that uses the SQL server, whether Front End or Back End requires a CAL

The problem is this can sometimes be interpreted differently and may be difficult to know whether your in compliance. Your best option is to contact your vendor where you order your Microsoft products and ask them how many CALs you would require. Most Microsoft Sales reps. should be able to answer this question for you. If not they will get Microsoft on the phone and make sure they quote you the right amount of CALs. Depending on cost, you can decide which CAL is best for you, User or Device.

Hope this helps.
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Author Comment

ID: 39960866
Tx both for your answers but let me explain. I don't have a "Vendor", I don't need volume licensing. I don't have a readymade CMS. We have a webshop hosted by two virtual servers with Windows Server 2008R2 with on one of them SQL Server Standard, whether it's 2008R2 or 2012 is still unclear, depends on the price and features. I just need to know whether I need 1 CAL (for just the website talking to the database) or 2 CALS (for the website talking to the database and me using Management Console to access the database.
Hopefully you understand the situation better now.

Accepted Solution

mlsbraves earned 500 total points
ID: 39968255
Are you trying to buy a box copy including CAL's? Even if you don't have a "Vendor" you still need to purchase the product from some company. Any professional company will have support you can contact and can give you more assurance that you are purchasing the right amount of CAL's.

I don't know if Microsoft would consider your web guest as USERS since technically they are using the SQL database(backend). Your safest option is to buy Device CALs vs. User CALs.  So buying device CALs for your servers may be your best option.

That being said, whoever you buy your SQL Server from, contact their support to verify that you are obtaining the correct number of CALs. They can make sure you are in licensing compliance and make sure you don't spend more money than you need to,

Author Comment

ID: 39968497
I'll split the points among you although I didn't get an answer. The Vendors (including MS itself) I've spoken to have all given me a different answer too so it's obvious M$ wants to keep everyone in the dark and hold on to the "Don't ask,don't tell" motto.
Buying the "per device" option just to be on the safe side is also a bit strange don't you think?  I'll buy the cheapest version available since there are no technical limitations.
No wonder most people use Usenet to get their MS products, it's just too difficult to buy them in a normal way.

Tx for your trouble guys

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