New SQL Server 2008 R2 editions, features and licensing

Become an expert on the features, functions, pricing and licensing models of the four new SQL Server 2008 R2 editions.

Microsoft has tentatively scheduled four SQL Server 2008 R2 editions to ship in the first half of 2010. Solutions providers working with SQL Server should prepare for the new release by becoming familiar with their different features, functions and licensing models -- especially the new premium editions. This tip gives you an overview of the enhancements and pricing you can expect with the different SQL Server 2008 R2 editions.

More on SQL Server 2008 R2 features:
New SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP set for November

SQL Server 2008 R2

Microsoft releases SQL Server 2008 R2 CTP

Microsoft will offer four SQL Server 2008 R2 editions:

  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter (New)
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse (New)
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise (Enhanced)
  • SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard (Enhanced)

SQL Server 2008 R2 Datacenter edition

For the first time in SQL Server history, Microsoft will introduce a Datacenter edition with its newest release of SQL Server. Although the Datacenter edition is built on the existing Enterprise edition code base, it is designed to support incredibly large SQL Server implementations. Solutions providers should be aware of the following key Datacenter features:

  • support for up to 256 logical processors
  • the ability to centrally manage more than 25 SQL Server instances
  • the potential to sustain up to 2 TB of RAM when running on top of the Windows Server 2008 R2 Datacenter operating system

Moreover, this edition will be optimized to support large-scale virtualization workloads and large-scale consolidation efforts.

SQL Server 2008 R2 Parallel Data Warehouse edition

Another new SQL Server 2008 R2 edition is Parallel Data Warehouse, previously referred to as project Madison. It's a data warehouse hardware appliance that provides maximum scalability by using a technology referred to as massively parallel processing (MPP) architecture. By using a symmetric multiprocessing architecture and partitioning large tables across multiple physical nodes, solutions providers can help scale their data warehousing services from tens to hundreds of terabytes without sacrificing performance, availability or reliability.

SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise edition

The Enterprise edition will continue to the deliver the same features and functionality included in SQL Server 2008, including failover clustering and transparent data encryption. However, Microsoft has made many enhancements to this edition that sets it apart from its previous version. Using this edition, solutions providers are able to centrally manage up to 25 SQL Server instances, which is a new capability that wasn't included in the previous edition. This edition also offers PowerPivot for SharePoint, Master Data Services and data compression (with UCS-2 Unicode support).

SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard edition

The SQL Server 2008 R2 Standard edition is typically tailored toward smaller organizations and implementations. One of the most notable features in this release is the Backup Compression feature, which has had a successful past with solutions providers. It was widely adopted by many organizations because it drastically reduced the size of backups by up to 60%. Previously, this feature was only available with the Enterprise edition of SQL Server 2008, so this is a significant addition to the Standard edition.

SQL Server 2008 R2 licensing

The database community is very excited about the new features in the upcoming release of SQL Server 2008 R2. Solutions providers implementing the new version in the upcoming year should be prepared to have informative discussions with their customers on pricing. Unfortunately, the new Premium editions, Datacenter and Parallel Data Warehouse, come with a hefty price tag. The two premium editions will not be offered via the Server Client Access Licenses (CAL) model. Currently, the estimated retail price for the Datacenter and Parallel Data Warehouse is $57,498 per processor.

The Enterprise edition is rumored to be around $28,749 per processor, and the Standard edition will come in at approximately $7,499 per processor. Both the Enterprise and Standard editions will be offered via the Server CAL model. The Enterprise edition will be $13,969 with 25 CALs, and the Standard will be $1,849 with 5 CALs. Of course, when compared to other competitors' prices, these numbers may not look all that bad. Remember that reseller prices may vary, and it is best to check costs with your Microsoft license specialist.

About the expert
Ross Mistry is a principal consultant at Convergent Computing, a best-selling author and a SQL Server MVP. Ross focuses on implementing SQL Server, Active Directory, Exchange and Hyper-V services for Fortune 500 organizations in the Silicon Valley. His SQL Server specialties include high availability, security, migrations and virtualization. Mistry's recent books include SQL Server 2008 Management and Administration (Sams) and Windows Server 2008 Unleashed (Sams). He was also a contributing writer on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 Unleashed. His latest title, Windows Server 2008 R2 Unleashed (Sams), has been finalized and is available for preorder. Mistry frequently writes for TechTarget and speaks at international technology conferences around the world. His blog can be found at RossMistry.com and you can follow him on twitter @RossMistry.

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