Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Licensing Changes – CALs Also!

(Updated 5/18/10 based on info from Microsoft)

I heard an ugly rumor yesterday about Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 from Gaby Amar at Softmart saying that in order to use SQL Server 2008 R2 in a server/CAL model you will have to have 2008 R2 CALs as well (typically for R2 releases you don’t need an updated CAL). Well…checked it out with Microsoft licensing and he was absolutely correct (I should have known better than to be surprised, LOL)!

Basically, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 is a major release (think in terms of a release such as Microsoft SQL Server 2000 to Microsoft SQL Server 2005) so don’t let the lack of year change in the naming convention fool you.

Customers who have active Microsoft Software Assurance on their exisiting SQL Server products will have the new release rights, but those that don’t will need to purchase new licenses in order to run the software (for those who run in Server/CAL mode this means both new server licenses and new CAL licenses).

CAL Requirements

  1. If you have Microsoft Software Assurance currently in effect on your SQL Server CALs, then you are entitled to SQL Server 2008 R2 CALs
  2. If you do not have Software Assurance, you must have SQL Server 2008 R2 CALs to run SQL Server 2008 R2 using the Server/CAL software licensing model (in other words…don’t try to run with your older SQL Server 2008 CALs).

You may be wondering why I’m making such a big deal about this…after all it is a new release, of course new licenses are required. My point is this: it is a departure from how Microsoft has licensed Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2 where the Windows Server 2008 CAL can still be used on the newer version Windows Server 2008 R2.

Additionally, there are changes to the processor licensing for SQL Server 2008 R2. You might want to check out some of these resources for more information on this and other SQL Server 2008 R2 changes.

Microsoft has provided the following links for further information on licensing:

For more information on virtualization and SQL Server 2008 R2 check out Andrew Fryer’s blog.

If you have any questions – let me know! This is a huge change in Microsoft’s licensing trend.

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