SQL Server 2016 Licensing

SQL Server 2016 delivers mission-critical performance across all workloads with in-memory technologies built in, faster insights from any data with familiar tools like Excel, and a platform for hybrid cloud that enables organizations to easily build, deploy, and manage solutions that span on-premises and cloud.

SQL Server 2016 Licensing
Licensing editionsHow to buyBuyer's GuideFAQ

Licensing editions

SQL Server 2016 has two main editions that closely align with the way that customers use SQL Server across workloads. SQL Server 2016 delivers licensing that enables you to more easily take advantage of the benefits of public and private cloud through virtualization and license mobility. Our new model provides simplified licensing, flexibility and innovation, and industry-leading total cost of ownership (TCO).

Simplified licensing

SQL Server 2016 offers two licensing models: one that is based on computing power, and one that is based on users or devices.

Two main editionsLicensing model
Server + Client Access
License (CAL)



Flexibility and innovation

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

Industry-leading TCO

SQL 2016 continues to provide outstanding value at any scale among all major vendors. SQL Server 2016 offers compelling product features and capabilities within two main editions, with no costly add-ons required to run your mission critical and business intelligence applications.

How to buy

SQL Server 2016 is available in two main editions, which are aligned with how customers deploy database solutions.

Enterprise Edition

Enterprise Edition delivers an enterprise-class mission-critical and tier-1 database solution. With in-memory technologies built in across workloads, it accelerates performance for transaction processing, data warehousing, and business intelligence. Enterprise Edition is available through core-based licensing.

Standard Edition

SQL Server 2016 Standard is a complete data platform for departments and small organizations. It provides core data management functionality, limited business intelligence for operational reporting and functional data marts, and built-in developer tools. Standard Edition can be licensed in either the core-based licensing model or the Server + CAL licensing model.

Licensing by computing power: Core-based licensing

With the release of SQL Server 2016, the option for licensing for computing power is core-based.

  • Enterprise and Standard are available under core-based licensing. Cored-based licenses will be sold in two-core packs. The Standard Edition is also available under the Server+ CAL licensing model.
  • To license a physical server, you must license all of the cores in the server. A minimum of four core licenses is required for each physical processor in the server.

Licensing by users: Server + CAL licensing

Standard Edition is available under the Server + Client Access License (CAL) model.

  • This licensing model can be used any time the number of users can be readily counted (for example, 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 2012 server, a user would need a SQL Server 2012 CAL or a SQL Server 2016 CAL).
  • Each SQL Server 2016 CAL can provide access to multiple licensed SQL Servers, as well as prior versions of the Enterprise Edition Servers.

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 four core licenses per VM).
  • To license a VM under the Server + CAL model (for Standard Edition of SQL Server 2016), 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 that are 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 local reseller for more information and for assistance with purchasing.


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