What IT Providers Must Know-SQL Server 2016 Licensing

Microsoft SQL Server 2016 is now live. The new database software became available as of June 1, and it boasts incredible functionality at breakneck speed. Here is a summary of what service providers need to know about SQL Server 2016, as well as what it means for SQL Server 2016 licensing requirements.

Joseph Sirosh, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President, Data Group, said SQL Server 2016 is the fastest and most price-performant database for hybrid transactional and analytical processing (HTAP).

“The integration of advanced analytics into a transactional database is revolutionary. Today a majority of advanced analytic applications use a primitive approach of moving data from databases into the application tier to derive intelligence.

“This approach incurs high latency because of data movement, doesn’t scale as data volumes grow and burdens the application tier with the task of managing and maintaining analytical models. And deep analytics on real-time transactions are next to impossible without a lot of heavy lifting.”

SQL Server 2016 Specifications

SQL Server 2016 requires .NET Framework 4.6, installed during the process if it is not already present. The SQL application must run on 6GB of hard drive space and at least 1GB of RAM memory although it is recommended to have more. Also noteworthy, SQL Server 2016 does NOT support x86 CPUs. Users must have an x64 processor with a recommended clock speed of at least 2GHz.

Microsoft Announces New features of SQL Server 2016

SQL Server 2016 supports enterprise-scale data warehousing with enhanced in-memory column-store technology that increases query performance by more than 100x versus disk-based solutions. This includes applications requiring security through the Always-Encrypted technology that protects data at rest and in-motion without compromising database performance.

Business intelligence (BI) features on mobile devices are available through an end-to-end, built-in mobile BI solution. Furthermore, new “big data” solutions that require relational data to be combined with non-relational data are supported by PolyBase technology. This allows users to query structured and unstructured data with the simplicity of T-SQL, an extension to SQL.

New Stretch Database technology now targets hybrid cloud solutions to reduce storage costs, simplify IT operations and improve overall availability. This ultimately results in more historical data accessible by transparently and “securely stretching” warm and cold OLTP data to Microsoft Azure on-demand without application changes. Lastly, faster replicas can be placed in Azure to provide cost-effective disaster recovery and backups.

For additional information, read the SQL Server 2016 Release Notes and SQL Server 2016 datasheet.

Biggest Takeaway for Service Providers

Among the bevy of new features included in SQL Server 2016, the added security benefits are front and center. This is significant for service providers, who by now are asked constantly by their end user clients how to achieve stronger data security from malicious and everyday hackers. SQL Server 2016 includes a new feature called “Always Encrypted”. This feature lets users encrypt data all the way from server to client, since it depends on client-side keys, which are distributed to clients. A new Always Encrypted-enabled driver is required, but the encryption is transparent to applications.

This added level of security is significant because of the costs now associated with data breaches. According to the Ponemon Institute’s 2015 Cost of Data Breach Study, the average cost of a data breach where sensitive data is compromised is $154 per record, with an average incident cost of $3.8 million. The cost of even a small breach could easily exceed the cost of upgrading to the latest version of SQL Server.

This feature allows a service provider to sell a higher-layer of protection to an end-user business, in any vertical market. This is a significant competitive advantage, which elevates a service provider’s chances of growing his or her business expansion opportunities.

Other features now available on SQL Server 2016 make the software more cloud-friendly, which again could be a key marketing point for service providers sitting in front of their clients. With SQL Server 2016, service providers can split the database to exist both “on prem” and in Azure using a feature called Stretch Database. This is a hybrid cloud technology that keeps current data on-premises for high availability, but stores older, less accessed data in the Azure cloud. The data stored in Azure is still just as visible to users interacting with the database. Service providers can use this as a selling point when end-user clients are looking for redundancy and disaster recovery-rich options.

SQL Server 2016 Revenue Potential for Service Providers

SQL Server 2016 offers new revenue possibilities for service providers, beginning with additional security features, and managed services for client databases. Additional revenue scenarios become available as end-user clients increasingly rely on outsourced service providers to help with database migration to cloud environments. As a result, service providers can build deeper, more trusted relationships with their end-user clients through expanded cloud services, highly secure database solutions that deliver Big Data and Business Intelligence (BI) as-a-service.

  • Proactive managed services support with Query Store
  • New solutions with Native BI and analytics capabilities with R (open source predictive analytics)
  • Dynamic data masking for increased security
  • Row-level security
  • End-to-end mobile BI on any device

Key Verticals for SQL Server 2016 & Service Providers

Service providers operating in, or considering entry into vertical markets such as Healthcare and Financial Services could greatly benefit by offering SQL Server 2016. As an example, Healthcare clients need access to vast amounts of data, which can reside in different locations and databases from several different doctors. With SQL Server 2016 you can bring all of that data together in a single-point, highly secure environment, accessible at today’s breakneck speed of business.

SQL Server 2016 Licensing Requirements

Service providers should consult with an DXC SLMS Hosting expert on the best way to license the new SQL Server 2016. That being said, there are changes to the licensing structure for SQL Server 2016 compared to previous versions. For example, Microsoft offered six different editions of SQL Server 2014, each with its own intended use. The licensing costs varied from one edition to the next, as well as the capabilities of each. SQL Server 2014 Express Edition was available for free, but it was typically intended for use with small database applications with minimal performance requirements. Conversely, SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition was designed to delivers high performance and scalability, and it was offered at a premium price per core.

In SQL Server 2016, all cores are treated the same for their licensing requirements. Additionally, service providers can no longer license the Business Intelligence (BI) version specifically. This version has been included in the main SQL Server 2016 edition.

An expert on the DXC SLMS Hosting team can also help with service provider SQL Server 2016 licensing requirements in virtualized environments. In previous editions, administrators had two options for licensing virtualized SQL servers: A per core basis, in which a core license is required for each virtual CPU; or a license for each virtual machine running SQL Server.

With SQL Server 2016, each license is on a per-core basis. An DXC SLMS Hosting expert can help in this instance, particularly since administrators may be able to run more SQL Servers on the same hardware for the same licensing cost. The DXC SLMS Hosting team can also assist in licensing for Azure environments, where small business users are looking to gain benefits of the Enterprise version while keeping budget options flexible.

Have Questions About SQL Server 2016?

Are you interested in learning more about hosted licensing opportunities with SQL Server 2016? The DXC SLMS Hosting team is available to help service providers grow by consulting on a wide range of Citrix- and Microsoft-based license and hosting environments. What questions do you have for us? Schedule a session today by clicking on this link. And don’t forget to join our social communities for additional conversation on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.