Microsoft changes SQL Server virtualization licensing

In the obscure world of virtualization licensing it’s a pretty well-known fact that Microsoft allows to have just one virtual instance for each Windows Server 2008 Standard Edition, up to four virtual instances for each Enterprise Edition and unlimited virtual instances for each Datacenter Edition.

Customers would expect a similar approach with other Microsoft backend server products that have Standard/Enterprise/Datacenter licensing editions, but there’s at least one exception: SQL Server 2008.

So far Microsoft allowed one virtual instance of its database server for the Workgroup, Web and Standard editions, while the Enterprise Edition allowed customers to have unlimited virtualized SQL Server instances.

No more: with the new SQL Server 2008 R2, to be released next week, the Enterprise Edition will be limited to just four VMs, pretty much like Windows.

The upcoming version of SQL Server in fact will introduce a new Datacenter Edition, and the unlimited virtual instances right will be binded to just this SKU.

Microsoft doesn’t believe that this is going to make a big difference, according to a comment published by TechTarget:

“We think that this will affect a very few customers,” Joanna Sharpe, Microsoft senior marketing manager for worldwide licensing and pricing, said via email. “We don’t believe anyone who is virtualizing is doing more than four VMs per processor.” readers are welcome to comment on this change. Maybe Microsoft will have some surprises.