Only a few days remain for customers to take advantage of some exceptional SQL Server purchasing opportunities until April 1, 2015.
Key opportunities include:
- Capturing 40% discounts on some server licenses
- Stocking up on inexpensive SQL Server Enterprise server licenses, for companies that have SQL Server + CALs
- Taking advantage of processor-core conversions to get big discounts on cores.
How big are these opportunities? We’ll show you how to save as much as $100,000 on a single SQL Server.
Microsoft customers with Enterprise Agreements (EAs) or Enrollments for Application Platform (EAPs) that are up for renewal at the end of March, 2015, still have two weeks left to take advantage of important SQL Server purchasing opportunities. These customers will have certain SQL Server licenses listed in their true-up tables.
Starting April 1, 2015, several discounts will disappear for these customers. The EAP has been discontinued and customers will be offered renewal in the Server and Cloud Agreement (SCE) instead.
The 40% Discount Opportunity
In Software Licensing Advisors’ experience, none of our customers got much out of the EAP. Just last week, we reviewed one customer’s EAP and found that it cost them 280% more to purchase SQL licenses through the EAP than otherwise. They threw half-a-million dollars down the drain by signing an EAP. If they renew SQL in an SCE, the wad will be even larger.
But there’s one time when the EAP really shines: in the final year’s true-up, which is to say right now.
True-ups happen when you decide to purchase additional licenses in the agreement. The true-up price is a combination of the cost of the license plus Software Assurance through the remainder of the agreement, so the cost goes down as the time remaining in the agreement decreases. The lowest price is in the final year of the EAP.
Add to that a special EAP feature—40% discounts on licenses for premium products, like SQL Enterprise Edition—and you have a steal of a deal.
In the SCE, in contrast, Microsoft offers only a 15% discount on premium products, so this opportunity disappears in April.
For example, let’s compare various ways to purchase a set of two 2-core SQL Server Enterprise licenses, which are the equivalent of a single processor license in the EAP.
(Note that you won’t be able to true-up two SQL Server Enterprise 2-core licenses in the SCE at that great year 3 price until April, 2017!)
SQL Enterprise Server License Savings
SQL Server has long been the only Microsoft product that could be licensed using two different models.
First, you could purchase a license for each server and then license each workstation with a SQL Client Access License (CAL). This is the same model Microsoft still uses for Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, and Project Servers.
The other model is to license each processor or, since 2012, each core. CALs aren’t required to access SQL server when it’s licensed this way, but the server licenses are much more expensive.
With SQL Server Enterprise 2012, Microsoft decided to drop the server/CAL option, and offer SQL Enterprise only as core licenses. They’ll still let you renew SA on SQL Server Enterprise server/CAL licenses you already own, and have delivered 2012 and 2014 versions of the product, but the licenses aren’t for sale any more.
That’s too bad, because server/CAL can be a great way to tap SQL’s power very inexpensively.
Let’s say you have a server with 2 processors, each with eight cores.
If you have an EAP that includes SQL Server Enterprise for use with CALs, you could license that entire server for as little as $4,023, using your third-year true-up licensing.
Licensing those cores, in contrast, will cost you $67,938. That’s nearly 17x as much.
Now there are some differences here if you’re getting into virtualization. That $67,938 investment in cores will cover up to 16 SQL VMs if you don’t renew Software Assurance on it and unlimited SQL VMs if you do renew Software Assurance, while the Enterprise server license covers only four VMs (with or without Software Assurance). It also covers only 20 cores. However, we can assign multiple SQL Enterprise server licenses to one physical server. For a bit more than $20,000 we could true up five licenses and run up to 20 SQL VMs on that 2-proc by 8-core machine.
And get this: because the Enterprise server license doesn’t care how many processors you’re using and you get coverage for another 20 cores with each license you add, you could run those 20 VMs on a great big 4-processor server with 16 cores per processor for the same $20,000. Licensing that same monster server in the SCE after March 30 will cost you (let’s see, counting on all fingers and toes), $271,753. That’s 15x more expensive!
So if you’re one of the lucky ones who still has SQL Enterprise per server in your EAP you’ll want to seriously look at truing up some—maybe even a lot—of those licenses. They could save you hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next few years.
There’s one caveat here—if you upgrade SQL Server Enterprise per server past SQL 2014, to say, SQL 2017, you would also have to upgrade your SQL CALs. The workaround for that is to purchase future versions of SQL per core, which eliminates the requirement to upgrade the CALs. In the meantime, you’ll get five to 10 years of useful life out of your SQL Enterprise 2014 server licenses, especially on large servers where a dollar goes up to 15x further than with core licenses.
SQL CAL Savings
Speaking of CALs, if your business is growing and you think you’ll need to license more users or devices to access those SQL Server Enterprise server licenses, now is the time to do it. Microsoft has raised the price of CALs from $106 when you signed your EAP to $135 today, a 27% increase. And there are rumors of another 15% added for user CALs in July.
You can true-up CALs in your EAP for the next couple of weeks at $103 (level D), or wait until April 1 and pay $135 in Select or $200 in the SCE. The SCE price includes SA, but since, as we described the strategy above, you may never upgrade the CALs past SQL 2014, you get almost nothing for that SCE premium. The SCE also programmatically requires you to cover your entire SQL footprint.
SQL Server Enterprise per Core Conversion Savings
We don’t want to neglect those core licenses, however, because some serious savings opportunities are available for a few more days. It’s a little more work to get this, but tell your SQL team to work overtime for a few days and you’ll send them to Hawaii in April.
You’ll easily save enough money to pay for that trip.
The key point to keep in mind is that your true-up table still has processor licenses on it. It was generated in 2012 just before SQL 2012 core-licensing came out.
By default, Microsoft will convert each of those processor licenses to four cores. However, if you can show that you have SQL Server running on processors with more than four cores, you get cores equal to the number of cores each processor really has.
To use a simple example, if you installed SQL Enterprise licensed per processor on a server with two processors with eight cores each, you’ll cut the cost of new core licenses by nearly two-thirds. That discount comes from two things—the EAP’s 40% discount on new licenses and the fact that you’re getting eight cores per process rather than the default four cores.
Here’s how you do it:
You install SQL Server Enterprise it on a physical server or move a VM to a host that doesn’t have SQL Server on it at the moment. Note that it does not need to be running a workload of any kind. It only needs to be running and visible to an inventory tool like Microsoft MAP or any other inventory tool that can detect it and record the SQL Server edition and how many procs and cores are on the physical server.
Because the physical machine has two processors on it, you’ll need to true up SQL Server for both, at $12,877.14 each, and $25,754 for the two of them.
These two processor licenses are instantly converted to 16 cores, the number of cores on the server. That works out to an average price of $1,610.
Let’s see how that compares with alternatives. Note that because all of these strategies except Select have at least some Software Assurance included in the price, we’ve done some extra math to get at the underlying license price, stripped of SA, to get a fair comparison.
And to add it all up again, how much does it cost for the full server, paying for all 16 cores?
You can do the math on that if you like, but the answer is anywhere from $25,754 to more than $124,000.
That means that if you do this right, you can save nearly $100,000 on just one server.
Book those trips to Hawaii. Now.