SQL Server 2012
Licensing Overview

The SQL Server 2012 release will simplify customer options with three main editions that are closely aligned with how customers use SQL Server across workloads. SQL Server 2012 will also deliver licensing which enables customers to more easily take advantage of the benefits of public and private cloud through virtualization and license mobility. Our new model will provide:

Simplified Licensing

SQL Server 2012 will offer two licensing options - one that is based on computing power, and one that is based on users or devices (see table below for the mapping of the new licensing options per edition).

Flexibility and Innovation

Cloud-optimized licensing with the ability to license a single Virtual Machine (VM) or license a server for maximum virtualization as well as the flexibility to move your VMs from server to server, or to hosters or the cloud.

Industry-leading TCO

We continue to provide outstanding value at any scale among all major vendors. SQL Server 2012 will offer compelling product features and capabilities within three main editions with no costly add-ons required to run your Mission Critical and Business Intelligence applications.



 Server + Client Access License (CAL)Core-based



Business Intelligence




* Refer to Datasheet and FAQ for more details

SQL Server 2012 Licensing Models

Below, we take a more detailed view of the licensing models with the release of SQL Server 2012:

  • Licensing by computing power - Core based licensing

    With the release of SQL Server 2012, the licensing for computing power will be core-based.

    • Enterprise and Standard will be available under core-based licensing. Cored-based licenses will be sold in two-core packs. The Standard Edition will also be available as a Server+ CAL licensing option.
    • To license a physical server, you must license all the cores in the server, with a minimum of 4 core licenses required for each physical processor in the server.
  • Licensing by users - Server + CAL licensing

    The Business Intelligence and Standard Editions will be available under the Server + Client Access License (CAL) model.

    • This licensing model can be used anytime the number of users can be readily counted (e.g., internal database applications).
    • To access a licensed SQL Server in the server + CAL model, each user must have a SQL Server CAL that is the same version or newer (for example, to access a SQL Server 2008 SE server, a user would need a SQL Server 2008 or 2012 CAL).
    • Each SQL Server 2012 CAL can provide access to multiple licensed SQL Servers, including the new SQL Server 2012 Business Intelligence Server as well as prior versions of the Enterprise Servers.
    • To help with the transition to the new licensing model, the SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition will be available under the Server + CAL model through June 30, 2012.
    • All existing licenses of the Enterprise Edition in the Server + CAL licensing model with Software Assurance (SA) can be upgraded to SQL Server 2012, and SA can be maintained to provide access to future software updates. These licenses will continue under the Server + CAL licensing model.
    • Existing Enterprise Edition licenses in the Server + CAL licensing model that are upgraded to SQL Server 2012 and beyond will be limited to server deployments with 20 cores or less. This 20 core limit only applies to SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition Server licenses in the Server + CAL model and will still require the appropriate number/versions of SQL Server CALs for access.
  • Database virtualization - Cloud optimized licensing

    With databases that use just a fraction of the compute power of a physical server, you can save by licensing individual database Virtual Machines (VMs).

    • To license a VM with core-based licenses, simply pay for the virtual cores allocated within the virtual machine (minimum of 4 core licenses per VM).
    • To license a VM under the Server + CAL model (for the Business Intelligence and Standard Editions of SQL Server 2012), you can buy the server license and buy associated SQL Server CALs for each user.
    • Each licensed VM that is covered with Software Assurance can be moved frequently within your server farm or to a third party hoster or cloud services provider.
    • Servers fully licensed with Enterprise Edition Core licenses with Software Assurance allow you to deploy an unlimited number of database VMs on the server (or server farm) in a heavily consolidated virtualized deployment to achieve further savings.

    Contact your Microsoft representative or partner for more information, including what the Software Assurance and migration benefits your company is eligible for as well as how to purchase new or renew your existing licenses before these changes take effect.