New SQL pricing changes virtualization affordability

Microsoft must see a lot of virtualized SQL Servers in their crystal ball, and have updated their pricing for SQL Server 2008 R2 to close a loophole on the affordability of SQL Enterprise Edition in virtualized environments.

On a webcast I gave this week, one of our customers commented:

we have 60 SQL VMs in our environment.  more prod than not. we use sql enterprise to license the esx hosts at the cluster level to save significant cost.

We hear this a lot from current customers who virtualize SQL.

So What’s Has Changed in SQL Server 2008 R2?

In SQL Server 2008 Enterprise, Microsoft allowed unlimited virtualization on a physical server provided all processors were licensed.  Now, Enterprise edition is capped at 4 virtual SQL instances and the new Datacenter Edition is required for the unlimited virtualization benefit.  Datacenter is twice the price of Enterprise.

What Does This Mean?

For shops that want to virtualize and consolidate a lot of SQL, it essentially got twice as expensive. Pricing here.  The overwhelming majority of people following this story recommend that SQL shops buy SQL 2008 Enterprise now, and avoid the penalties for R2 (if you pay for maintenance / software assurance).

From the “By The Bell” blog:

What is the scenario for grandfathering unlimited virtualization rights for SQL Server 2008 Enterprise?

SQL Server 2008 Enterprise licenses with Software Assurance acquired prior to the release of SQL Server 2008 R2 will be granted the right to run in unlimited VMs. This right is remains in effect as long as Software Assurance coverage remains active and until the SQL Server version that follows SQL Server 2008 R2 is generally available. If you acquire new licenses (on a new or existing contract), you will also be granted similar rights to run unlimited VMs if you acquire Software Assurance.


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