SQL 2012 per-core licensing clarification

Last month I posted about the licensing changes to SQL 2012 and how it may impact those looking to virtualize SQL.  One of the most confusing parts of the new licensing was the limit of 20 cores in a system when using the per-core licensing of SQL 2012 Enterprise Edition.  It made no sense to introduce such a low limit when modern processors with 10 or more processor cores are becoming more and more common.

I’ve spoken to some folks who have stated that their Microsoft reps have clarified that the 20 core limit only applies to those upgrading to SQL 2012 Enterprise from SQL 2008 Enterprise when using Server+CAL licensing.  The licensing datasheet that was released in November had language that made it seem like that applied to everyone.

Luckily the folks I spoke to were correct – in December, Microsoft released an updated copy of the licensing datasheet that includes language that is much more clear and definitive.  It is now clear that the 20 core limit only applies to licenses that have been upgraded with Software Assurance that use the Server+CAL licensing model.

For reference, here is the somewhat confusing language from the November licensing datasheet (emphasis is Microsoft’s):

Both newly purchased server licenses for SQL Server EE 2012 or EE server licenses with SA upgraded to SQL Server EE 2012 will be limited to server deployments with 20 cores or less.

Here is what the December edition of the licensing datasheet says (emphasis is Microsoft’s):

Legacy SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition Server deployments licensed in the server + CAL model will be subject to a 20 core per server license maximum. This core maximum applies both to new server licenses and to prior version server licenses upgraded to 2012 with SA.

To me that is much more clear and definitive on what the 20 core limit applies to.  I’m happy to see this doesn’t apply to all licenses..

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