RAM and Sympathy

With the release date for 2016 finally announced

Everyone can start gearing up to gaze upon its far shores from the 2008R2 instance they can’t or won’t upgrade for various reasons. I’m excited for a lot of the improvements and enhancements coming along, and generally hope I’m wrong about customer adoption.

One annoyance with the new release is the increase in CPU capacity for Standard Edition, with no increase in RAM capacity. You can now have up to 24 cores on your Standard Edition box. Yep, another $16k in licensing! And they’ll all be reading data from disk. Don’t kid yourself about Buffer Pool Extensions saving the day; nothing is going to beat having your data cached in memory. How many people on Standard Edition have CPU bound workloads?

Alright, now set MAXDOP and Cost Threshold to the right values. Anyone left?

Alright, check your missing index requests. Anyone left?

But Enterprise needs to be different

It’s already different. It already has a ton of features, including a plethora that smaller shops can’t or won’t ever touch. Full blown AGs, Hekaton, Page/Row Compression, ColumnStore, Online Index Create/Rebuild, Encryption, really, the list goes on and on. And c’mon, the HA/DR parts are what define Enterprise software to me.

24 cores and nothing on.
24 cores and nothing on.

Having a fast ship is way different from having a ship that’s hard to sink.

So what’s the solution?

Microsoft needs to make money. I get it. There’s no such thing as a free etc. But do they really need to make Enterprise licensing money off of people who will never use a single Enterprise feature? Should a small shop with a lot of data really have to make a $5000 jump per core just to cache another 128-256GB of data? That seems unreasonable to me. RAM is cheap. Licensing is not.

I wouldn’t suggest à la carte pricing, because licensing is already complicated enough. What could make sense is offering higher memory limits to shops with Software Assurance. Say up to 512GB on Standard Edition. That way, Microsoft can still manage to keep the lights on, and smaller shops that don’t need all the pizzaz and razzmatazz of Enterprise Edition can still hope to cache a reasonable amount of their data.

If Microsoft doesn’t start keeping up with customer reality, customers may start seeking cheaper and less restrictive solutions.

Thanks for reading!

Brent says: Adding 8 more cores to Standard Edition answers a question no one was asking. It’s almost like raising the number of available indexes per table to 2,000 – hardly anybody’s going to actually do that, and the ones who do are usually ill-advised. (Don’t get me wrong – there’s some good stuff in 2016 Standard – but this ain’t one of ’em.)

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15 Comments. Leave new

  • Cody Konior
    May 5, 2016 7:42 am

    I would really like to see MDS move into Standard edition.

    Hear me out. Nobody is upgrading to Enterprise for MDS alone. But it’s such a cool and versatile tool for developers and admins alike because anywhere you have data that needs a simple UI and editing and versioning is a likely match. I’ve seen lots of Enterprise users trying it for proof of concepts.

    Moving it into Standard would boost upgrades from Express to Standard and also boost adoption of MDS (which we need more of to help build best practices). It also needs a little success because MS is letting it die on the vine a little – I know they’ve added a lot for 2016 but it’s still missing some basics (batch import of files, longer text fields, and better admin support for installation, patching, and password changes).

    It worked for SSRS. It would work for MDS.

    • Erik Darling
      May 5, 2016 7:54 am

      I’m not sure SSRS is the comparison route I’d take if I wanted people to use a feature.

    • I agree with you Cody. I had my customers go to SQL Server 2012 BI edition and had them using MDS with great fanfare and now they are stranded since they can’t afford enterprise edition.

  • Is it fair to say that the feature set of Postgres is between SE and EE? If that is the case SE has a problem in the market because Postgres is free.

  • Colby Dillion
    May 5, 2016 10:00 am

    2014 and 2016 releases have both been “meh” at best. I would much rather throw money at acquiring and training DBAs than waste it on upgrading SQL for the sake of upgrading SQL.

    MS needs to realize that there are now solutions that are not only more cost effective, but that are actually better for some use cases. It is going to be difficult for them to keep riding the coat tails of “best management tools” if they can’t even upgrade SSMS past the VS2010 framework.

    • Kristian Gruttemeyer
      May 5, 2016 10:40 am

      While a good point that I agree with, the new SSMS 2016 is built on VS 2015 shell. So they are in process of upgrading it.

      • Colby Dillion
        May 5, 2016 10:52 am

        Great to know that they are finally updating it as it didn’t look like they were when I read about it a while back.


  • Mark Freeman
    May 5, 2016 1:55 pm

    Database encryption should be in standard edition. Even if a shop only has a 1GB database on a 2 core 4 GB RAM server, that doesn’t mean they don’t need to keep their data secure. The same with encrypted backups.

  • Ruggiero Lauria
    May 5, 2016 4:36 pm

    I do totally agree, and let me add something more:
    1) MS has introduced the BI Edition, why don’t Cut off the SE price as Well as the BI features?
    2) MS is still selling SQL Server as a product (licenses) and as a service (Software assurance), then is giving free licenses to customers migrating from Oracle, But They still Have to pay the service (SA). Come on let ‘ s go a step forward and decide to sell the whole product as service eliminating the initial price.
    3) Standard Edition price is growing too much, by my opinion, and I wouldn’t like to reskill myself on PostGress. Please take in consideration that there are millions of small customers that your pricing strategy is pushing aWay (not only from SQL Server . I Think you have a wonderfull products, But a discutable marketing view.

  • Reply
  • I agree the SA route for additional memory would make sense. I imagine they up’ed the core count to get more money from Standard Server users. If they had charged by the Gb of RAM they would have increased that instead.

  • Andrew Peterson
    May 16, 2016 11:16 am

    The big take-away is that it seems that the staff at MS seem to be totally clueless about how their product is used, who is using it and why. We all get that a great product is not free – or we would all be using PostGreSQL (in all its non-multi-threaded glory).

    1) MDS should really be part of every version. It never has really be a great tool. Yes, the 2016 revamp adds very nice interface tools, but it is still primitive. See RedPoint if you want an awesome tool.
    2) Agree with the memory point.
    3) I never did fully understand their BI version in the past. it was missing so many key BI features that it was more of a “BI tease.”
    4) perhaps the team here can create an opinion poll or another way to influence what should be in the versions.


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