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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

Thinking about signing up for $100 Windows 2008 Virtual Machine Hosting Account I am going to be running a Web Server (IIS) and ASP.NET site that taps into a SQL Server what license am I supposed to buy? Never had to pay for SQL before. Always been paid for by my company. How do CALs get factored into the situation when you are running a web server hosting pages to 1000s of users.

new egg - CALs and Cost

Would I just get the 1 processor license? That seems expensive.

marked as duplicate by voretaq7 Feb 11 '12 at 4:04

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For a web server like this you need a per CPU license, and no client access licenses.

Depending on the spec of the (virtual) machine you are using, and the size the application database is expected to grow to, in the near future you might find SQL Express Edition suitable. This is free to use, even in a public facing commercial setting, but has the following technical limitations:

  • it will only use one physical CPU (though I am told it will use multiple cores on one physical CPU), though this is unlikely to affect you in a VM
  • the server will not use more than 1GB of memory, which might affect performance if your dataset and VM are large enough for this to be an issue
  • it will not allow any one database to have data files larger than 4Gb in total (though "data files + transaction log files" can breach this 4Gb limit)
  • extra services such as full-text-indexing and OLAP are not present
  • some other advanced features (like indexed views) are not present, though that are not present in standard edition either

With SQL2005 and SQL2008 there is not longer an extra query rate governor, as was found in the SQL2000 equivalent (MSDE). So essentially you are getting the same base engine as found in Standard Edition, just with the extra CPU/memory limits.

So if you project is small enough and doesn't make use of advanced features. If your project is small but expected to grow, you can start with SQL Express and upgrade later - databases can be freely transported between editions.

Edit: some extra detail that I stumbled over this evening: there are some other small memory handling defaults in Express edition that optimise it for desktop use and may affect performance if your DB use pattern is bursty. See here for details.

  • quick follow up - then that $3k option is the next level up? cheapest option? other than just using MySQL or Postgres – Tyndall Jul 14 '09 at 13:38
  • I believe so, though we get out production SQL licenses via out manages hosting arrangements so I am shielded from some of these details and there might be another option that I am not aware of. – David Spillett Jul 14 '09 at 14:41
  • 2
    Great answer, the only thing I have to mention is that SQL Server 2008 Express does support Full Text Search: microsoft.com/express/sql/download – Lazlow Jul 14 '09 at 20:16
  • I didn't know that Express supported full-text. And reporting services too. +1 for the useful update. – David Spillett Jul 14 '09 at 22:34
  • The newest versions of sql express allow up to 10gb per database. – Grant Jun 23 '12 at 15:58

You have a variety of options here...

  • Keep a dedicated box for your IIS/App server, but rent DB space on a shared SQL Server server run by the hoster (only advisable if you really don't need much from the DB)

  • On a dedicated box, or even the web server itself, run SQL Server Express. Running that on your web server isn't really recommended though...

  • Pay for a dedicated box, and pay monthly for the SQL license. If you're building a website, this one might be particularly interesting because you might be able to get SQL Server 2008 Web Edition through the hosters at around ~$30 per month. That's likely to be amongst the most cost effective options for fully fledged SQL Server. Be aware that there are some things Web Edition won't do for you (some of the more advanced HA features, BI ... )

  • Buy a SQL Server license straight out, probably on a proc basis

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