Just what comes in the box?

As a SQL Server architect/consultant/advisor/advocate/you name it, one of my roles is to advise clients on the best solution for their requirements and their budget.  That last piece may seem like common sense but people often forget with SQL Server where the dividing line between the Standard and Enterprise editions sits. 

Knowing what comes in each edition, or more commonly what doesn’t come in Standard Edition especially in the area of high availability, is critical for me when I’m designing solutions for clients.  So, with the recent public release of SQL Server 2012 my hunt for the “official SKU breakdown” began.  There have been licensing datasheets released since late last year but they were too high level for me and the marketing terminology didn’t always translate into technical features. 

Fortunately, TechNet has a feature by edition breakdown well documented on a web page here.  Some of what the page shows you could guess, such as AlwaysOn Availability Groups being Enterprise Edition but 2-node FCIs remaining in Standard, however there were lots of surprises, caveats and footnotes which caught my eye.

I’ve yet to test some of the exact scenarios the web page described, but here is a list of the licensing breakdown which caught my eye:

  • Database mail, SSDT, Intellisense, and version control support are not available with the 64-bit version of Standard edition
  • There are a lot of advanced SSIS features and adapters only in the Enterprise edition and not in the BI edition
  • Database mirroring is still listed as being supported in Standard and BI editions, just deprecated
  • Database Tuning Advisor has limited functionality in Standard Edition
  • The BI and Standard editions are limited to lesser of 4 Sockets or 16 cores
  • Standard edition also has a “Maximum Compute Capacity” limit, explained in a complex way here
  • The database engine in BI edition is limited to 64GB of memory but SSAS and SSRS have no memory limitation

I don’t intend to review each observation, instead make a general observation that if you’re looking in Microsoft’s words to deploy more than “non-mission critical” workloads on Standard or BI editions you should check the SKU breakdown first.


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