Microsoft SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition licensing changes makes it less attractive to SMBs

I always keep on eye on the evolution of SQL Server. As I was going through that article from Jeremiah Peschka at Brent Ozar Unlimited I got the sinking impression that Microsoft wants SMBs to move to Azure and stay there.

In short, here is how I see the changes from SQL Server 2012 to SQL Server 2014 (not everything is there, only what caught my attention):

SQL Server 2012 Standard EditionSQL Server 2014 Standard Edition
High Availability (HA)
(Log shipping, mirroring and Failover clustering)
1 Hot standby that can takeover unlicensed for 28 daysSA is required to have a hot standby
Core licensingNot all core need to be licensedAll cores need to be licensed
Memory limitation64GB128GB(raised after protests)
Buffer pool Extensions(SSD speedup when RAM maxed-up)N/AYes
Note that there are a lot of other improvements that are detailed here.

How I see it, by requiring SA to access HA features, Microsoft adds a significant cost to companies wanting to run business-critical apps on the Standard Edition (Yes, Software Assurance is not cheap). Another blow to SMBs: all CPU cores need to be licensed which puts more pressure on sizing the hardware correctly.

As a result, the Standard Edition is not really cost efficient for SMBs to run their business-critical apps. From there, the options are:

  1. Pay a premium for the Software Assurance, to renew every year
  2. Move to Azure, if possible. Probably the simplest solution and most cost efficient solution
  3. Move to another technology such as PostgreSQL or HBase if the skills are available.

More information


  1. Brent Ozar April 8, 2014 5:16 pm  Reply

    Hi! Just for clarity, the ability to move a VM has always required SA. It’s called License Mobility, and it was in the 2012 licensing guide.

    • Martin DENIZET April 8, 2014 5:25 pm  Reply

      Thank you Brent for your comment! I corrected. Thank also for what you do for the community, big fan here 😀

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