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Discover Microsoft SQL Server 2012: A Quick Primer

Features

SQL Server 2012 has three key functional improvements that set it apart from earlier versions of SQL Server:

  • Better high availability disaster recovery (HADR)
  • Improved Business Intelligence (BI)
  • More support for deploying apps and data to the cloud

SQL Server 2012 includes AlwaysOn, Microsoft's branding for the platform's HADR features. With AlwaysOn, it is possible to treat groups of databases as a unit (called an Availability Group), fail them over as a unit, and use a flexible failover policy to dictate exactly what causes a failover on a per unit basis. AlwaysOn also allows for Active Secondaries - mirrored server copies that can handle backup operations and reporting activity, and can be spread across data centers to provide a buffer against catastrophic site failure. AlwaysOn includes a configuration wizard and a dashboard for monitoring database health.

The improved BI capabilities in SQL Server 2012 come chiefly through Power View, a Web-based, highly interactive, data exploration, visualization, and presentation tool. Power View includes drag and drop ad-hoc reporting functionality, interactive storyboarding, the ability to create and track Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and a powerful querying tool. Power View is integrated with SharePoint, which allows users to secure, and share BI reports with other users.

Cloud support in SQL Server 2012 has improved with DataSync, a cloud service that provides bi-directional data synchronization between on-premise machines and SQL Azure, Microsoft's cloud platform for SQL. DataSync can be used to deploy and manage database assets across servers, private clouds, and public clouds ensuring broad geographic availability of enterprise data and apps. Integration with SQL Azure enables organizations to scale out their services rapidly without having to add or change platforms.

Licensing

SQL Server is available in three main editions:

  • Standard Edition
  • Business Intelligence Edition
  • Enterprise Edition

The Standard edition includes basic database capabilities, reporting, and analytics, and is licensed per core, or per server. The Business Intelligence Edition includes all the features of Standard, plus premium corporate and self-service BI capabilities, and is licensed per server. The Enterprise edition includes all of the features of the Business Intelligence edition, plus advanced security and data warehousing capabilities, and is licensed per core.

SQL Server 2012 is also being offered in Developer, Express, and Compact editions with no licensing or pricing changes from the 2008 version. SQL Server Web Edition is also available, but only through a Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA). Datacenter, Workgroup, and Small Business editions of SQL Server are discontinued with the 2012 release of SQL Server. Customers using Datacenter Edition and upgrading to SQL Server 2012 are encouraged to move to Enterprise, and customers using the Workgroup or Small Business editions and upgrading are encouraged to switch to Standard Edition.

Licensing options for the three main editions of SQL Server 2012 are outlined below.

Core-Based Licensing

License all cores in each SQL server with core licenses. A minimum of four core licenses per processor is required, regardless of the actual number of cores.

For virtual machines (VMs), license all virtual cores in each SQL VM with a minimum of 4 core licenses per VM.

This licensing option is available for Standard and Enterprise editions of SQL Server 2012. Core-based licenses are sold in two-core packs.

Server-Based Licensing

License each SQL server with a SQL Server License and license each individual user or device accessing the server with a SQL Server Client Access License (CAL).

For VMs, license each SQL VM with a SQL Server License and license each individual user or device accessing the VM with a SQL Server CAL.

This licensing option is available for Standard and Business Intelligence editions of SQL Server 2012.

Maximum Virtualization

License all cores in each SQL server with Enterprise Edition Core Licenses and Software Assurance. This entitles you to deploy an unlimited number of VMs.

This licensing option is only available for SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition.

Current pricing information for the three main editions of SQL Server 2012 is provided below. All prices are in US dollars, under an open agreement with no discount level.

SQL Server 2012 Standard Edition

$3,586 per two-core pack OR $898 per server plus the cost of CALs

SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence Edition

$8,592 per server plus the cost of CALs

SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition

$13,748 per two-core pack

CALs

$209 each

Caveats

If you are considering upgrading from an earlier version of SQL Server, there are several caveats to be aware of:

  • If you are in an Enterprise Agreement initiated prior to June 30, 2012, then you may purchase new Server Licenses for SQL Server Enterprise Edition up to the end of your agreement term. After that, all new SQL Server Enterprise Edition Licenses must be purchased per core.
  • All SQL Server licenses under Software Assurance may be upgraded to SQL Server 2012 at no additional cost.
  • SQL Enterprise and Standard processor licenses under Software Assurance will be exchanged for a minimum of 4 core licenses per processor or for the actual number of cores in use.
  • SQL Server Enterprise Edition licenses under the Server + CAL model with Software Assurance can be upgraded to SQL Server 2012 and remain under the Server + CAL model. However, they are subject to a 20 core per server license maximum.
  • SQL Server Datacenter processor licenses under Software Assurance will be exchanged for a minimum of 8 Enterprise Edition Core Licenses per processor or for the actual number of cores in use.
  • In order to establish the number of cores in use, Microsoft recommends performing a self-inventory using the Microsoft Assessment and Planning (MAP) Toolkit or another inventory tool will provide a time-stamped inventory of hardware tied to SQL Server installations. Microsoft will provide Enterprise customers with access to the MAP Toolkit.
  • With a SQL Server CAL, the licensed user or device may access any licensed instance of SQL Server Standard or SQL Server Business Intelligence Edition.
  • Under SQL server 2012 (unlike in previous versions) VM license mobility is a Software Assurance benefit. Without Software Assurance, VM licenses can be moved only once every 90 days.

If you are considering upgrading from an earlier version of SQL Server, or purchasing new SQL Server licenses, ask your customer service representative about setting up a Purchase Optimization call with one of our Analysts.

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