How to license SQL Server and Pricing


SQL Server 2019 is offered in two main commercial editions to accommodate the unique feature, performance and price requirements of organizations and individuals:
Enterprise Edition is ideal for applications requiring mission critical in-memory performance, security and high availability.
Standard Edition delivers fully featured database capabilities for mid-tier applications and data marts.

The editions are offered in a straight forward, tiered model that creates greater consistency across the product editions, features and licensing. Enterprise Edition includes all the capabilities available in SQL Server 2019.

SQL Server 2019 now comes with Apache Spark and Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) for intelligence over all your data. With SQL Server 2019 Enterprise and Standard edition, customers can deploy Big Data Clusters. SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters makes it easier to manage a big data environment. It provides key elements of a data lake—Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS), Spark, and analytics tools—deeply integrated with SQL Server and fully supported by Microsoft. SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters can be easily deployed using Linux containers on a Kubernetes-managed cluster. A SQL Server 2019 Big Data Cluster consists of two distinct components:
SQL Server Master Instance is SQL Server 2019 Enterprise or Standard Edition on Linux with all the typical features.
Big Data Nodes are the worker nodes with HDFS, Spark and SQL Server engine for scale-out storage and compute.

Comparison of key capabilities across the main SQL Server 2019 editions.

SQL Server 2019 new featuresStandardEnterprise
Compute and storage
Maximum number of cores 24OS Max
Maximum memory utilized per instance128 GBOS Max
Maximum size524 PB524 PB
Intelligence over all your data
SQL Server 2019 Big Data Clusters with Apache Spark and HDFS built into SQL Server engineXX
Data virtualization using PolyBase (including additional data sources like Oracle, Teradata,
MongoDB, and other SQL Server databases) 
Unified AI platform to train and operationalize models with SQL Server ML Services XX
Choice of  language and platform
Compatibility certificationXX
UTF-8 supportXX
Support for SQL Server Java extensionXX
Industry leading  performance and availability
Free DR replicas in Azure and on-premisesXX
Intelligent Query processing: Scalar UDF inlining, table variable deferred compilation, approximate count distinctXX
Intelligent Query processing features: row mode memory grant feedback, batch mode for row store and automatic tuningX
Automatic read-write connection re-routingX
In-Memory Database: memory-optimized tempdbX
In-Memory Database: Persistent Memory supportXX
Accelerated Database recoveryXX
Secure and reliable
Always Encrypted with secure enclavesXX
Transparent database encryption XX
Data classification and auditing XX
Vulnerability assessment XX
Quick business insights
Azure Data Studio to manage SQL Server including support for T-SQL using NotebooksXX
SQL Server Analysis Services Direct QueryXX

Other specialty editions of SQL Server 2019 include Developer Edition, which is licensed for non-production use; the freely downloadable and distributable Express Edition. SQL Server Web Edition remains available only under the Microsoft Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA).

Comparison of the key capacity limits across the SQL Server 2019 editions

Database Engine (DBE) capacity limits

SQL Server
2019 Edition
Max compute capacityMax memory utilization – DBEMax DB Size
Enterprise Per CoreOS max12 TB524 PB
Standard Per CoreLesser of 4 sockets or 24 cores128 GB524 PB
Standard Server + CAL24 core limit128 GB524 PB
ExpressLesser of 1 socket or 4 cores1 GB10 GB
DeveloperOS maxOS maxOS max

Analysis Services (AS) and Reporting Services (RS) capacity limits

SQL Server
2019 Edition
Max compute capacityMax memory utilization – DBEMax DB Size
Enterprise Per CoreOS maxOS maxOS max
Standard Per CoreLesser of 4 sockets
or 24 cores
16 GB (Tabular)
64 GB
Standard Server + CALLesser of 4 sockets
or 24 cores
16 GB (Tabular)
64 GB
ExpressLesser of 1 socket
or 4 cores
N/A4 GB (Advanced
Services Ed.)
DeveloperOS maxOS maxOS max

SQL Server 2019 – Pricing

EditionsOpen no level price (US$)Licensing modelChannel availability
Enterprise$13, 748*2 core packVolume licensing, hosting
Standard – per core$3,586*2 core packVolume licensing, hosting
Standard – server$899*ServerVolume licensing, hosting
Standard – CAL$209CALVolume licensing, hosting
DeveloperFreePer userFree download
WebSee your hosting partner for pricingNot applicableHosting only
ExpressFreeNot applicableFree download
* – Pricing represents open no level (NL) estimated retail price. For your specific pricing, contact your Microsoft reseller.

Subscriptions and add-ons

Subscriptions and add-onsPrice (US$)Licensing modelChannel availability
SQL Server Enterprise5,434 USD/year2 core packVolume Licensing
SQL Server Standard1,418 USD/year2 core packVolume Licensing
Big data node cores*400 USD/year*2 core packVolume Licensing
* –  Big data nodes can only be used with Enterprise and Standard editions, are purchased separately and priced per two-core pack.

SQL Server 2019 – Licensing Models

Server+CAL licensing model provides the option to license users and/or devices and then have low-cost access to incremental SQL Server deployments.

Core-based licensing gives customers a more precise measure of computing power and a more consistent licensing metric, regardless of whether solutions are deployed on physical on-premises servers, or in virtual or cloud environments.

Compares the licensing options for each of the main SQL Server 2019 editions:

SQL Server 2019Server+CALPer Core

Core-based licensing – Under the Per Core licensing model, each server running SQL Server 2019 software or any of its components (such as Reporting Services or Integration Services) must be assigned an appropriate number of SQL Server 2019 core licenses. The number of core licenses needed, depends on whether customers are licensing the physical server or individual virtual operating system environments (OSEs).

Core-based licensing
Core-based licensing

Server+CAL licensing – When licensing the SQL Server 2019 Standard Edition software under the Server+CAL model, customers purchase a server license for each server, and a client access license (CAL) for each device (Device CAL) and/or user (User CAL) accessing SQL Server or any of its components. A CAL is not software; it is a license granting users and devices access to the SQL Server software.

Server+CAL licensing
Server+CAL licensing

Licensing SQL Server 2019 in a virtualized environment

Microsoft SQL Server is increasingly being deployed in virtualized environments, which enable running instances of SQL Server concurrently in separate virtual OSEs (or virtual machines).
SQL Server 2019 offers expanded virtualization rights, options and benefits to provide greater flexibility for customers deploying in virtual environments. When deploying SQL Server 2019 software in virtualized environments, customers have the choice to license either individual virtual machines as needed, or to license for maximum virtualization in highly virtualized, private cloud, or dynamic environments. Maximum
virtualization can be achieved by licensing the entire physical server with Enterprise Edition core licenses and covering those licenses with Software Assurance (SA).

Licensing SQL Server 2019 in a virtualized environment
This figure depicts two virtual machines, each containing two virtual cores.

How to license individual virtual machines using the Per Core licensing model

Similar to the Per Core licensing model in physical OSEs, all virtual cores (v-cores) supporting virtual OSEs that are running instances of SQL Server 2019 software must be licensed accordingly.

To license individual VMs using the Per Core model, customers must purchase a core license for each v-core (or virtual processor, virtual CPU, virtual thread) allocated to the VM, subject to a four-core license minimum per VM. For licensing purposes, a v-core maps to a hardware thread.

Note: Licensing individual VMs is the only licensing option available for SQL Server 2019 Standard Edition customers who are running the software in a virtualized environment under the Per Core model.

For customers with highly virtualized environments who want to move VMs dynamically across servers to reallocate resources as needed, Microsoft permits License Mobility as an exclusive SA benefit available for all SQL Server editions. For more information on licensing for application mobility, refer to the Advanced licensing scenarios section of this guide.

  1. License the virtual cores in each virtual machine
  2. There is a minimum of four core licenses required for each virtual machine
How to license individual virtual machines using the Per Core licensing model
How to license individual virtual machines using the Per Core licensing model

How to license individual virtual machines using the Server+CAL licensing model

To license individual VMs using the Server+CAL model, customers simply purchase one server license for each VM running SQL Server software, regardless of the number of virtual processors allocated to the VM.

For example, a customer who wants to deploy Standard Edition running in six VMs, each allocated with four vcores, would need to assign six SQL Server 2019 Standard server licenses to that server.

Note: Each user or device accessing SQL Server 2019 software, regardless of a virtual or physical deployment, requires a SQL Server 2019 CAL.

How to license individual virtual machines using the Server+CAL licensing model
License individual virtual machines using the Server+CAL licensing model

Published by Abdul Samad

Having 17+ years of extensive experience in IT industry, enabled to enhance the team performance and maximize customer satisfaction by strategically managing calls and implementing process improvements. Demonstrated ability to solve problems, meets challenging goals, and expedites delivery. Skilled MSSQL administrator guide team during the crisis situation. Apply Creative thoughts process in re-designing the workflow system to eliminate duplication of effort and increase productivity.

Leave a Reply