Microsoft® has made some significant changes to the way SQL Server® 2012 will be licensed as opposed to SQL Server® 2008:

1.   The first change is that the editions have been streamlined. There are three main editions:

  • Standard: Basic database, reporting and analytic capabilities
  • Business Intelligence: Corporate and self-service Business Intelligence
  • Enterprise: Mission critical applications and large scale data warehousing

The SQL Server® Developer, Express and Compact editions are still available but Datacenter, Workgroup and Small Business Edition have been discontinued.


2.   Secondly, the editions will follow a tired model in that the Enterprise Edition will contain all of the features of Standard and Business Intelligence and the Business Intelligence edition will include BI as well as the Standard Edition features.


3.   The third and probably the most significant change is that the per processor (otherwise known as per socket) model has been converted to per core licensing. The Enterprise Edition can only be licensed per core whereas the Standard Edition can be licensed in per Server and CAL mode or per Core. The Business Intelligence Edition is only available in a Server and CAL mode.

Details regarding Core-based licensing


  • The core based license is available for the Standard and Enterprise Edition.
  • Core licensed are sold in two-core packs. It is priced at ¼ the cost per core as compared to the SQL Server® 2008 per processor license.
  • The Standard edition is physically limited to 16 cores
  • If you are licensing a physical server (as opposed to a virtual environment), you are required to license all cores on the physical server. You are also required to license a minimum of four core licenses regardless of the actual number of cores in the processor, as per the table below.


   1 Core 2 Cores 4 Cores  6 Cores 8 Cores

Physical Cores in the processor






Core Licenses required







Details regarding Virtualization

The Product Use Rights for SQL Server® 2012 allows for the licensing of specific virtual cores or all of the physical cores.

  • Licensing individual Virtual Machines: As processing power increases, it has become a viable option that Virtual Machines (VMs) only use some of the physical server. To license the virtual machines, you can purchase a core license for each virtual machine (1 VM = 1 Core).

If the core licenses include current Software Assurance, you are also able to move the licensed VM within the server farm.

  • Licensing all of the Physical Cores: A second option is to license all of the physical cores on the server and add software assurance with Enterprise Edition core licenses. Under these conditions you will be able to deploy an unlimited number of virtual machines. The SA will also allow you to dynamically transfer the VMs within the server farm.


Server / CAL licensing


  • Server / CAL licensing is available for the Business Intelligence and Standard Editions. The SQL CAL allows you to access the Standard Edition or Business Intelligence Edition as well as any previous edition of SQL Server® (Including Enterprise Editions).
  • The SQL Server® 2012 CAL price will increase by about 27%.


Making the Transition to SQL Server 2012

Microsoft® is offering the following options to help you to make the transition:

  • If you have existing SQL Server® Enterprise Edition or Datacenter edition licenses with SA, you will be able to exchange these licenses for SQL® 2012 Enterprise licenses.
  • If you have SQL Servers® currently being licensed through the Enterprise Agreement or Enrollment for Application Platform (EAP) in Server / CAL mode, you will be able to purchase additional SQL Server® 2012 Enterprise Edition licenses in Server/CAL mode as part of a renewal until the 30 June 2012.
  • New server licenses for the SQL Server® 2012 Enterprise Edition can be purchased in Server / CAL mode until 30 June 2012 as well. After that, licenses will only be available as core licenses.
  • Each previous SQL Server® Enterprise and Standard processor licenses with SA will be exchanged for four Core Licenses; Datacenter Edition per Processor licenses will be exchanged for 8 Core Licenses.
  • If the previous SQL Server® Enterprise Edition is licensed in Server / CAL mode, the number of SQL Server®® 2012 Enterprise Edition core licenses provided will be limited to 20.

Nov 2016