Max# free SQL Server databases / Server? 30 ok to avoid buying SQL Server?

We reached the 10 gig max size for the free MS SQL Server database.

Our vendor suggested we just create a separate database for each department, to avoid spending the $12,000 for a full copy of SQL Server.

We have 30 departments so I guess I'm asking if it's reasonable to have 30 (ten gig free MS SQL Server instances on one server), as opposed to spending the money for one copy of Sql Server Std.


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Vitor MontalvãoMSSQL Senior EngineerCommented:
If there's historical data in your database you can create a database to where you can purge old data.
Otherwise a single database by department should be the best solution to make you save money.
Yes, you should be able to do that. Express can also only use 1GB of RAM and doesn't allow you to do a failover cluster. If you aren't hitting any performance problems and are comfortable with just backups for recover, that should be fine. If your data continues to grow, however, it might be time to bit the bullet and spend the $3k (Standard with 10 CALs, $6k for 1 proc). You might also be jumping into a maintenance nightmare if you have your own code (procs, functions, triggers, etc.): you'll need to update any code on all 30 databases.

Depending on your application, you might also want to look into switching to an open source database, like PostGres or MySQL.

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mike2401Author Commented:
Thanks.  The old system was:  Canon Document Management.  We have about 300 gigs of data in it.  That system has reached end-of-life and Canon if migrating us to their current offering.

The scanned pages are supposed to be outside the database (in a ..\..\content sub-folder).  During the cut-over, it died after migrating only 30 gigs of data (20 gigs was indeed outside the database in the sub-folder, but for some crazy reason, the canon database in the sql instance had 10 gigs (the max) ).

We are having a conference call with Canon today so I wanted to ask about any pitfalls to their suggestion we have 30 instances of free sql server running.

@grendel777 raises a great point about memory requirements.  If they really mean separate SQL instances, then each will require memory and CPU resources.

The database that spaced out at 10 gigs was a catch-all canon database, it wasn't geared to departments so it really seems like they were suggesting separate sql instances.

Our environment is 4 VMware hosts, each with 4 procs.  

Canon's requires 4 procs minimum so we'd need to buy two 2-packs of SQL Server core licenses and buy Software Assurance (so we have rights to run it on a different host should one host fail).

The CAL model wasn't cost-effective since we have 60 users.

If we have to buy it, we'll have to buy it.  

We are furious that Canon who inspected our data and environment prior to the cut-over didn't foresee this issue.

They kept assuring us not to worry, they are the experts with an obnoxious "don't worry your pretty little head" attitude.

This cut-over has been a complete disaster.
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Vitor MontalvãoMSSQL Senior EngineerCommented:
We are furious that Canon who inspected our data and environment prior to the cut-over didn't foresee this issue.

 They kept assuring us not to worry, they are the experts with an obnoxious "don't worry your pretty little head" attitude.

 This cut-over has been a complete disaster.
Unfortunaly a lot of suppliers act like that. I would suggest you to go for SQL Server Standard Edition if you want to keep with SQL Server. Managing 30 instances of SQL Server Express can be a bigger headache.
mike2401Author Commented:
Is it reasonable to be using SQL Express for 30 databases of 10 gigs each (300 gigs total)?

What if in 3 years we expect it to be 90 databases of 10 gigs each (900 gigs total): is that reasonable?

It sounds like the application is managing the database, so you won't need to worry about replicating code between the different databases, so honestly it might not be that bad. But...I'd still push to get Standard or, again, look into an open source db like PostGres: easy enough to test if it works. It will not work if they use TSQL code rather than ansi-compliant SQL. It just sounds like managing this one aspect of your job will become your full-time job, and that's a great way to sell the company on how it will actually save them money. Your time = money!
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process AdvisorCommented:
You're creating a mess with 30.  As has been noted, SQL Express has performance limitations.  4 GB of RAM and SINGLE CPU.  You could easily pull two CPUs to reduce the costs.  The more databases you have the more places you have to look for your data.
Looking at the Canon site - are you now using "Therefore (tm)"? They're pushing Microsoft integration as a selling point, which probably kiboshes the idea of using an open source db. FYI.
David ToddSenior Database AdministratorCommented:

Is Canon suggesting 30 instances of SQL Express (I hope not!) or 30 different databases within the one SQL Express instance?

I suggest that the time and effort of managing those 30 instances, and stitching together consolidated reporting, you are better off biting the bullet and upgrading to SQL Standard. And for all the reasons mentioned above.


PS You also have the option to drop Canon and go elsewhere. Especially if Canon screwed up so badly with no suitable explanation, what will they be like down the track? 'tis gotta be a seriously considered option.
mike2401Author Commented:
Thanks everyone.  I just got off the conference call with Canon.  They acknowledged their screw-up but implied it was really our fault because usually they do everything and in this case, we built the server and installed the product.

They didn't have a good excuse for seeing SQL Express and our existing system with 300 gigs of data and not saying anything.

Nonetheless, they suggested separate databases within one sql express instance as a work-around for our cheapness but then said that they ALWAYS recommend full blown SQL SERVER (not express).

They had no answer during the call as to why 20 gigs of imported data should result in 10 gigs of indexes and 20 gigs of scanned pages stored outside the database.  A canon engineer will remote in and try and figure out what is happening.

I asked them what the suggested max size for SQL express would be.  If we have 300 gigs in our old system does that mean we should expect 150 gigs in the database and 300 gigs of scanned images outside the database?

All in all, this is a complete #FAIL for canon.  Presently, we locked users out of the old system during the export and the new system is now offline since every cabinet was set to be in one database and that database is now full.

Anyway, thanks everyone!

Really the last thing I think I need to justify not using express is if the sum of all the data in the express database exceeds best practices.

mike2401Author Commented:
Ironically, the minimum requirements for Canon's document management product is 4 cores.  

As pointed out above, SQL Express is limited to 1 core & 1 gig ram.

So, even suggesting express for such a database intensive application is just crazy.

We will go with SQL Full.


mike2401Author Commented:
Thanks everyone!
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