21 October 2011 12:00
You do not need a separate SQL Server license for a Standby or Passive server - this Microsoft White Paper explains all
Updated 29th may 2012 for sql server 2012 (below)
Microsoft have changed the licence model for multiple passive machines, you can now only have one secondary passive failover per primary - see http://download.microsoft.com/download/7/3/C/73CAD4E0-D0B5-4BE5-AB49-D5B886A5AE00/SQL_Server_2012_Licensing_Guide_Apr2012.pdf
Personally I don't agree with this move, like previous editions you should be able to have multiple passive failovers.
If you were in any doubt at all that you
need to license Standby / Passive Failover servers then the White Paper “Do
Not Pay Too Much for Your Database Licensing” will settle those doubts.
I’ve had debate before people thinking you
can only have a single instance as a standby machine, that’s just wrong; it
would mean you could have a scenario where you had a 2 node active/passive
cluster with database mirroring and log shipping (a total of 4 SQL Server
instances) – in that set up you only need to buy one physical license so long
as the standby nodes have the same or less physical processors (cores
So next time your supplier suggests you
need a license for your standby box tell them you don’t and educate them by
pointing them to the white paper.
For clarity I’ve copied the extract below
from the White Paper.
Not Pay Too Much for Your Database Licensing”
often implement standby server to make sure the application continues to
function in case primary server fails. Standby server continuously receives
updates from the primary server and will take over the role of primary server in
case of failure in the primary server.
are comparisons of how each vendor supports standby server licensing.
Customers does not
need to license standby (or passive) server provided that the number of
processors in the standby server is equal or less than those in the active
customer to fully license both active and
standby servers even though the standby server is essentially idle most of the
IBM licensing on standby server is quite complicated and is different for every
editions of DB2. For Enterprise Edition, a minimum of 100 PVUs or 25 Authorized
User is needed to license standby server.
following graph compares prices based on a database application with two
processors (dual-core) and 25 users with one standby server.
Note All prices are based on
newest Intel Xeon Nehalem processor database pricing for
purchases within the United States and are in United States dollars. Pricing is
based on information available on vendor Web sites for Enterprise Edition.
Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise Edition
25 users (CALs) x $164 / CAL + $8,592 / Server = $12,692 (no need to license standby server)
Oracle Enterprise Edition (base license without options)
Named User Plus
minimum (25 Named Users Plus per Core) = 25 x 2 = 50 Named Users
Plus x $950 / Named Users Plus x 2 servers = $95,000
IBM DB2 Enterprise Edition (base license without feature
Need to purchase 125
Authorized User (400 PVUs/100 PVUs = 4 X 25 = 100 Authorized User + 25
Authorized Users for standby server) = 125 Authorized Users x $1,040
/ Authorized Users = $130,000