SQL Server 2008 R2 Pricing and Feature Changes


At #SQLPASS this week, Microsoft unveiled a couple of new editions that got a lot of attention, but there’s some really interesting things going on if you dig a little deeper.

Standard Edition: Now with Backup Compression

SQL Server 2008 introduced backup compression, but it was only available in Enterprise Edition.  At the time, Enterprise Edition cost around $20,000 more per processor than Standard Edition, so companies couldn’t justify upgrading to Enterprise Edition just to get backup compression.  Companies had to need Enterprise for multiple features in order to stomach the price.  If all a DBA needed was compression, they could buy backup compression software much cheaper than the price of Enterprise Edition.

In SQL 2008 R2, even Standard Edition gets backup compression.  That’s a game-changer, and I’d expect to see smaller companies that do backup compression – and nothing else – to start falling by the wayside.

In addition, Standard can now be a managed instance – it can be managed by some of the slick multi-server-management tools coming down the pike like the Utility Control Point (read my SQL 2008 R2 Utility review).  It can’t be the management server itself – it can’t be a Utility Control Point – but at least we can manage Standard.  It’s good to see that Microsoft recognizes all servers need to be managed, not just the expensive ones.  Big thumbs up there.

Enterprise Edition: CPU Limits

In Enterprise, Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away.  SQL 2008 R2’s BI tools include a new Master Data Services tool.  It’s targeted at enterprises with data warehouses that need to manage incoming data from lots of different sources, and that data isn’t always clean or correct.  MDS helps make sure data follows business rules.  This isn’t a common need for OLTP systems, so it’s only included in Enterprise, not Standard.  Makes sense.

A little less easy to stomach, however, is a new set of caps on Enterprise Edition.  The current SQL 2008 comparison page shows that Enterprise has no licensing limit on memory or the number of CPU sockets.  SQL 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition is capped at 8 CPU sockets, and there’s a memory cap as well, but I haven’t been able to track down a public page showing the cap.  The only hint is the SQL 2008 R2 edition comparison page, which notes that Datacenter Edition (more on that in a second) is licensed for “memory limits up to OS maximum.”  If that wasn’t a unique selling point, it shouldn’t be included in the feature list.

The more expensive Enterprise can act as the management server (Utility Control Point) for up to 25 instances.  However, that doesn’t mean you need to buy one Enterprise per 24-25 Standard servers, and then manage them in pools – there’s an app edition for that.

Datacenter Edition: For, Well, Datacenters

The new Datacenter Edition picks up where Enterprise now runs out of gas.  It supports more than 8 sockets, up to 256 cores, and all the memory you can afford.  Or can’t afford, for that matter.

If you’re going to manage over 25 instances with the Utility Control Point stuff, Datacenter Edition can manage “more than 25 instances” according to Microsoft’s edition comparison page.  I like how they worded that – they didn’t say “unlimited instances,” because there will be performance impacts associated with using Utility Control Points.  The performance data collections gather a lot of data, and storing it for hundreds of instances will take some pretty high performance hardware.

Parallel Data Warehouse Edition: Sold with Hardware Only

The big new fella in town getting all the press is the artist formerly known as Project Madison, formerly known as DATAllegro.  It’s a scale-out data warehouse appliance, but you won’t find this appliance at Home Depot.  This version of SQL Server is sold in reference architecture hardware packages from Bull, Dell, HP, EMC, and IBM.  Write one check, and you get a complete soup-to-nuts data warehouse storage engine that includes everything from the servers, SAN, configuration, and training.

I had the chance to talk with Microsoft’s Val Fontama, and I’ll post more details of that interview next week, but I have to share one quick snippet.  I asked what happens when a Parallel Data Warehouse system starts to have performance issues, and he explained that the DBA will need to call in specialized Parallel engineers.  You won’t be popping open this rack and installing another drawer of hard drives yourself or adding additional commodity hardware boxes to scale out your datacenter.  It’s more of a sealed solution than something you have to build yourself.

I have mixed feelings about this – as a guy who loves hardware, I want to dive under the hood.  However, as a guy who’s managed data warehouses, I know it’s one heck of an ugly skillset to learn on the job, and when data gets into the 5-10 terabyte range, you can’t afford to make configuration mistakes.

How Much Would You Pay For All This?

Ginsu. Accept No Substitutes.
Ginsu. Accept No Substitutes.

It slices.  It dices.  And if you call now, you can get all this for the low, low sticker price of:

  • Standard Edition – $7,499 per processor (socket)
  • Enterprise Edition – $28,749 per processor
  • Datacenter Edition – $57,498 per processor
  • Parallel Data Warehouse Edition – $57,498 per processor (but you’ll be buying this in combination with hardware anyway)

Eagle-eyed readers will note it’s about a 20% price increase from SQL Server 2008.  That’s probably easy to justify on Standard Edition because Microsoft can say they’re throwing in backup compression, a feature that normally would have cost extra from third party vendors.

SQL 2008 R2 Enterprise Edition, however, won’t have quite as easy of a time justifying its price increase given that it now has CPU caps and already had backup compression anyway.

Previous Post
#SQLPASS Keynote Day 2
Next Post
#SQLPASS Keynote Day 3 Liveblog

32 Comments. Leave new

  • The Editions seem to get more complicated and confusing as time goes on. This of course reminds me of: http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/archives/001283.html

  • Ross Mistry, SQL MVP
    November 5, 2009 9:06 am

    Ironic, weren’t we chatting about moving more of the Enterprise feature sets 2 into Standard a few night back? Good move MS and great blog Brent!!!!

  • Honestly? I would have preferred that for the extra $2500/proc that Standard pick up Data Compression instead of Backup Compression. I’m way happier with 3rd party backup solutions than SQL Server’s native compression and I’d prefer something that did a better job of mitigating IO overhead.

    • Yeah, but they won’t give you data compression in Standard. That’s something that’s definitely Enterprise-ish. It’s not a click-once-and-you’re-done solution like backup compression is – it requires lots of attention from a skilled DBA.

  • I cannot see the jump in pricing from SQL Server 2005 to 2008, much less this price increase. A lot of organizations will stay on SQL Server 2000, and leave this jewel to the big boys with the deep pockets.

    MySQL looks better all the time.

  • How is the upgrade process from 2008 to 2008 R2. Would it be closer to a service pack update or a version upgrade (ie 2005 to 2008)?

  • Brent,

    I am a little confused. I thought Microsoft released a statement months ago that SP2 was going to be a free upgrade. Is this not true or is this only for people now upgrading to SQL Server 2008 SP2?


    • SP2 is free, but not R2. R2 is free if you’ve got software assurance.

      • Hi Brent,

        When you upgrade from SQL Server 2008 Ent with more than 8 CPU Sockets to SQL 2008 R2, are your required to reduce your CPU Sockets to 8 if you had Active Software Assurance by the time of upgrade?

  • Thank you for clarifying. Sorry, I meant R2 not SP2.

  • MS is sure getting greedy. As the gap closes in price with Oracle the easy wins for MS because SQL was a value are going to evaporate. Sure SQL can compete, but MS had value as a big plus that many shops used as key determining factor. Now the Oracle bigots will have better chance at holding thier ground becasue no one will be able to argue that Oracle is so much more expensive!

  • We are migrating this summer to 2008, the obvious thing is to wait for R2. But what version is better suited, our specific need is disaster recovery with log shipping. Any suggestions?

    • Hi, Gabriel. Log shipping has been available for the last few versions, and I don’t think there’s anything dramatically newer in R2 for that. The one change that will affect you if you’re using Standard Edition is that R2’s SE includes backup compression. If you’re using SE with the native log shipping tools, you might want to wait for R2 or use a third party product like Quest LiteSpeed to get backup compression today.

      • Hi Brent

        In the log shipping wizard the compression option is missing in the standard edition…Is it a *feature* or am i missing something? The column is present in log_shipping_primary_databases.

  • This page shows that SQL 2008 R2 Enterprise is capped at 2TB memory, and 8 CPUs: http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc645993.aspx

    Can you confirm that “CPUs” is sockets, not cores? I.e., will SQL 2008 R2 EE exploit all 12 cores on a server with 2 6-core CPUs?

  • Pavel Nefyodov
    May 27, 2011 6:08 am

    Hi Brent,
    Hope you are ok.
    Somehow you have missed out the most popular Express Edition. It is worth mentioning that Intelligence feature is removed from SQL Server 2008 R2 Express Edition, so it’s not worth upgrading from SQL Server 2008 Express Edition. Full text search is also removed from SQL Server 2008 R2 Express.

  • Hi Brent,

    I am planning to put up an all-in-one, load-all-network loading business that requires a system for fast loading request and solutions. My target memberships in the next five years would be 1-2M. What is most suitable version for this requirement? thanks.

    • Hi, Sam. In order to give you a good recommendation, I would need more information than we can cover in comments. If you’d like to talk through a consulting engagement, you can email us at help@brentozar.com. I’d be wary of anyone who can give you a five year technology plan for your business for free. 😉

  • Hi Brent, Our company purchased SQL Server 2005 Workgroup edition in around 2006 and now we are looking at upgrading our database to SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Edition with 64 Bit Support. Wondering what the cost might be to upgrade? Are there upgrade versions that we can purchase which are cheaper? Do we have to license our production server with Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Retail DVD Package – 1 Server 10 CALs English 32/64-BIT which covers 2 CPUs and 20 GB of Ram? Just wanted to determine our cost and figure out if we have upgrade options. If we do not have upgrade options do business typically just sell their original version of SQL Server 2005 Workgroup edition via ebay, Kijiji, or other classifed type sites?

    • Howdy Brad,

      Your best bet on licensing questions is going to be to contact your Microsoft sales rep. Licensing costs are variable and there’s a lot of legal ramifications behind that decision. Rather than give you (potentially wildly incorrect) advice, I’m going to punt on this one and suggest that you reach out to Microsoft or a Microsoft reseller (like Dell or HP) to work with you on licensing upgrades.

  • Justin Steele
    June 21, 2013 9:15 am

    Anyone know what the cost impact is to upgrade from SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard Processor Licensing to SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise Processor Licensing? (2 Processors (4 cores each))

    Would it make more sense to upgrade to SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Processor Licensing (8 cores)?

    • Depends on where you buy it from. As far as I know (which isn’t much on licensing, honestly), I don’t think you can still buy SQL 2008 from Microsoft. I think they only sell 2012 from here on out. You may still be able to get 2008 from resellers though.

  • Justin Steele
    June 21, 2013 9:20 am

    Or actually…

    I’m interested in utilizing Snapshots and they are only available for SQL 2008 R2 Enterprise.

    Perhaps I’m misunderstanding but it appears Snapshots might be available in SQL 2012 Standard. Is this correct? If so what is the upgrade costs to upgrade from 2008 R2 (2 Processors) to 2012 Standard (8 cores)?

  • 2012 is even worse. It’s so convoluted and confusing AND EXPENSIVE that I would not use MS SQL server going forward. Crazy prices for what value?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.