SQL Server 2000 Licensing Changes--What You Need to Know

SQL Server 2000 licensing options are noticeably different from SQL Server 7.0's options. In some cases, SQL Server 2000 costs about the same or slightly more than a similar SQL Server 7.0 configuration. In other, more extreme cases, such as high-traffic Web sites that run large SMP boxes, you could see SQL Server 2000 costs increase by as much as 500 percent. Your costs probably will lie somewhere in the middle. But I encourage you to fully understand SQL Server's new licensing models before you submit your final SQL Server 2000 budget. You'll find a comprehensive license FAQ section on Microsoft's Web site.

You should also thoroughly review the End User License Agreement (EULA) included in the license.txt file on your SQL Server 2000 CD-ROM. Until then, I've summarized the basic SQL Server 2000 license changes. First, say goodbye to per-server licensing. Under this licensing mode, Microsoft assigned SQL Server 7.0 Client Access Licenses (CALs) to an individual SQL Server database and were used based on the number of SQL Server concurrent connections. This model made great economic sense if you had a large user base with low levels of concurrent users. However, the number of concurrent users was almost impossible to monitor in a Web-based world.

For SQL Server 2000, however, Microsoft applies CALs to a device, which could be a desktop, a laptop, or—in the future—even your mobile phone. With the CAL license approach, you pay a flat fee for the server and n number of CALs. For example, you can buy SQL Server 2000 Standard Edition with a package of five CALs for $1489, which is only $90 more than the cost of the same SQL Server 7.0 configuration. However, Internet sites or corporate applications that have a low user-to- concurrent user ratio will find the CAL model expensive.

Because per-server licensing isn't available for SQL Server 2000, you might consider processor licenses, SQL Server 2000's other licensing model. With processor licenses you simply pay a flat fee ($4999 for the Standard Edition or $19,999 for the Enterprise Edition) for each processor in your box. You get unlimited client and Internet access to the server and don't need to purchase any CALs. SQL Server 2000's final, major licensing change involves the Internet Connector license. This SQL Server 7.0 license option costs $2999 per processor and provides unlimited access to the server for "unknown" user Web access through intranet or extranet connections not covered by the Internet Connector license. SQL Server 2000 doesn't offer an Internet Connector license; instead, select the per-processor license model.

As I mentioned earlier, SQL Server 2000 prices can start to add up for certain classes of high-end Web sites that run large SMP hardware. Running SQL Server 7.0 Enterprise Edition on an 8X SMP box costs roughly $32,000 ($8009 for the server and $2999 per processor for the Internet Connector). However, running SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition on the same box will cost almost $160,000 (eight per-processor licenses at $19,999 a pop).

I really like two things about the new licensing model. First, it's much simpler. Few people ever had a complete grasp of the per-server, per-seat, and Internet Connector licenses. Processor licensing is much simpler to understand and plan for. Second, Microsoft no longer charges SQL Server license fees for the passive side of an active/passive clustering configuration. On the downside, Microsoft requires that you license each instance of SQL Server 2000 installed on a single physical machine, unless you’re using Enterprise Edition. Your reaction to these pricing and licensing changes will probably vary based on how much you have to pay for SQL Server 2000. Some of you will undoubtedly feel that the potential 500 percent increases are outrageous. Others will recognize that the old licensing model didn't let Microsoft collect its due for certain configurations. And still others will have mixed reactions. In the end, the market will vote with its pocketbook and tell Microsoft whether SQL Server 2000 provides fair bang for the buck. One final note: The EULA prohibits you from renting or otherwise using the SQL Server 2000 Enterprise Edition license to provide commercial hosting services. No, Microsoft isn't insanely staying out of the application service provider (ASP) market, but you need a specialized ASP license to run SQL Server 2000 in an ASP environments. Contact Microsoft if you plan to use SQL Server 2000 in a commercial ASP model.
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