4 Questions to Ask to Optimize Your SQL Server Investment

March 9, 2017
Editorial Staff

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Editorial Staff

Microsoft has continued to invest heavily in SQL product development with its SQL offerings for IMDBMS, NoSQL (Doc and K-V), multiple cloud dbPaaS offerings, built-in access to analytics (supporting HTAP), and mobility support. But as SQL Server evolves, so does the complexity in its licensing.

SQL 2012 was a major product release with enterprise features like Always On Availability Groups. Sustained innovation then led to SQL 2016, with massive support for Linux, and deeper cloud integration with features like SQL Stretch (on-premises databases “stretching” with partitions in the cloud) allowing for hybrid database environments.

It’s easy to see how this can all lead to very complex licensing, yet it’s important to stress that Microsoft has received some of the highest scores for ease of management, implementation, and programmability. The business benefits of SQL can be big, and customers who understand the nuances of SQL Server licensing can actually take advantage of those to reduce costs and lock-in.

One of the most expensive software investments in your IT shop is SQL. Here are some things to consider in getting that spend under control.

1. Are you running the ideal SQL Server Edition for your environment?

It’s essential to look at your requirements in terms of performance, availability, etc. to make the right choice of SQL Server Edition. If you make the wrong choice, you’ll definitely pay with several years’ worth of hassle trying to make the system perform better, and more easily recoverable than your choices allow. In short, SQL sprawl is often a challenge, and when the Edition is wrong, costs can quickly get out of control.

2. SQL Server in Azure or SQL Database… What’s the scoop?

Because much focus in today’s world of business applications is data driven and involves databases, one of the primary entry points to Azure is as a cloud hosted instance for SQL Server. Databases are huge infrastructure investments and are critical to data driven business applications. For this reason, Azure is often mentioned in the same sentence with SQL Server as its cloud-based alternative, i.e, Database as a Service (BDaaS).

DBaaS may be a wise choice for your business in a few scenarios:

  • Your IT organization is looking to focus on competitive differentiation – not tech infrastructure
  • You are looking for greater scalability
  • You want part of your operations in the cloud

Since DBaaS is a fraction of the cost of new staff, it relieves any burden that may arise from deploying database apps.

3. What’s new in SQL Server 2016 and how does it impact my licensing?

SQL Server 2016 is the biggest leap forward in Microsoft’s data platform history. Users can now gain real time insights across transactional and analytical data with a scalable database platform that has everything built in.

The different SQL Server 2016 Editions each have different licensing models. The SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition provides the option for Server + CAL licensing. Under this model, each server running SQL Server software requires a server license, and every user and/or device accessing SQL Server requires a SQL Server CAL. Core licensing is an option for the SQL Server 2016 Standard edition and is a requirement for the SQL Server 2016 Enterprise edition. Core-based licensing is appropriate when you don’t know how many users/devices will be connecting to your SQL Server system. There is no need for CALs with Core licensing. If you are using the SQL Server 2016 Enterprise Edition on a physical server, you must license all of the cores in that system.

4. High Availability Groups sound great, but how does that fit into my environment?

As the name implies, SQL Server high-availability solutions hides the downtime of any hardware or software failures, minimizing the perceived downtime for end users. High-availability options include:

  • Failover clustering
  • Database mirroring
  • Log shipping
  • Replication
  • Scalable shared databases

Allow us to help you assess these options and how they impact your SQL investment in our end-to-end Microsoft Advisory Services.

Looking for more information on SQL Server 2016 licensing? Then join our upcoming webinar on Thursday, March 16 at 2:00pm EST to learn:

  • SQL Licensing basics
  • SQL Architecture licensing implications
  • How SoftwareONE helps optimize SQL spend

In addition to learning about how to optimize your SQL spend, one lucky attendee will win a $100 gift card! Click below to register today!

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