The 3 licensing questions you should ask your SQL Server DBAs

We want to share a few insights into some of the things that drive unnecessary Software License Use. Sometimes all that is missing, is a dialogue between the people installing and managing the software (DBAs) and the people managing the Microsoft contract.

Question #1: Which of these SQL Servers are running in a Active/Passive failover cluster?

In the fine print of the SQL Server licensing documentation, you can find, that if you are running an Active/Passive failover cluster, you need only license the active side of the cluster. Most Software Asset Management tools are unable to detect this, and without user input, will report the license requirement for both the active AND passive side of the cluster. Keeping in mind that each SQL Server Enterprise server drives Software Assurance costs of at least $8,000 a year, you don’t need to find a lot of these in order to reduce costs substantially.

Question #2: Which of these SQL Servers are Test or Development servers, only used by users with a Visual Studio Subscription (Formerly MSDN)?

Another thing that does not show up in SAM tools is the nature of the environment. Many development users and departments have Visual Studio Subscriptions. These include rights to use most Microsoft Software – including all versions of SQL Server – for test and development purposes. Non- Visual Studio Subscription end-users may access these systems as part of acceptance tests. Reviewing your list of SQL Servers with this perspective, we often find a number of test servers you shouldn’t be licensing separately.

Question #3: Could this database run on fewer, faster cores?

Looking at hardware utilization, we normally see nearly all SQL Servers being memory constrained. With the core-based licensing terms, having unused or underutilized CPU capacity is very, very expensive. Replacing existing multi-core CPUs with fewer-core CPUs, often with higher clock-frequencies, can reduce costs while boosting performance. Your DBA may balk – but 2-hour downtime to replace CPUs dwarfs compared to the multi-thousand dollars a year savings.

Kostner creates machine-based analytics software for optimizing license costs in Virtual Server environments. With our data analytics engine, it takes just 2 hours to get a complete picture of your current costs, and optimization potential. Contact us at or +4522339933 to learn how.