SQL and the like

Dave Ballantyne's blog. Freelance SQL Server database designer and developer at Clear Sky SQL

February 2011 - Posts

“Apparently, you signed a software services agreement without fully understanding it.”

I am not a lawyer. Let me say that again, I am not a lawyer.


Todays Dilbert has prompted me to post about my recent experience with SqlServer licensing.

I'm in the technical realm and rarely have much to do with purchasing and licensing.  I say “I need” , budget realities will state weather I actually get.  However, I do keep my ear to the ground and due to my community involvement, I know, or at least have an understanding of, some licensing restrictions.

Due to a misunderstanding, Microsoft Licensing stated that we needed licenses for our standby servers.  I knew that that was not the case,  and a quick tweet confirmed this. So after composing an email stating exactly what the machines in question were used for ie Log shipped to and used in a disaster recover scenario only,  and posting several Technet articles to back this up, we saved 2 enterprise edition licences, a not inconsiderable cost.

However during this discussion, I was made aware of another ‘legalese’ document that could completely override the referenced articles, and anything I knew, or thought i knew, about SqlServer licensing. Personally, I had no knowledge of this.  The “Purchase Use Rights” agreement would appear to be the volume licensing equivalent of the “End User License Agreement” , click throughs we all know and ignore. 

Here is a direct quote from Microsoft licensing, when asked for clarification.

“Thanks for your email. Just to give some background on the Product Use Rights (PUR), licenses acquired through volume licensing are bound by the most recent PUR at the time of license acquisition. The link for the current PUR and PUR archive is http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/product-licensing.aspx. Further to this, products acquired through boxed product or pre-installed on hardware (OEM) are bound by the End User License Agreement (EULA).

The PUR will explain limitations, license requirements and rulings on areas like multiplexing, virtualization, processor licensing, etc. When an article will appear on a Microsoft site or blog describing the licensing of a product, it will be using the PUR as a base. Due to the writing style or language used by the person writing areas of the website or technical blogs, the PUR is what you should use as a rule and not any of the other media. The PUR is updated quarterly and will reference every product available at that time working on the latest version unless otherwise stated.

The crux of this is that the PUR is written after extensive discussions between the different branches of Microsoft (legal, technical, etc) and the wording is then approved. This is not always the case for some pages explaining licensing as they are merely intended to advise and not subject to the intense scrutiny as the PUR.”

So, exactly what does that mean ?

My take :  This is a living document, “updated quarterly” , though presumably this could be done on a whim and a fancy.  It could state , you are only licensed if ,that during install you stand in a corner juggling and that photographic evidence is required. A plainly ridiculous demand but,  what else could it override or new requirements could it state that change your existing understanding of the product or your legal usage of it.

As i say, im not a lawyer, but are you checking the PURA prior to purchase ?