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Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Licensing Explanation

SQL Server 2016 is the biggest leap forward in the Microsoft data platform history with real-time operational analytics, rich visualizations on mobile devices, built-in advanced analytics, new advanced security technology, and new hybrid cloud scenarios. Find out what's new in SQL 2016.



SQL Server Standard provides core data management and business intelligence capabilities for non-critical workloads with minimal IT resources.


SQL Server Enterprise delivers comprehensive datacenter capabilities for mission-critical database, business intelligence, and advanced analytics workloads.
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Licensing Information
Microsoft SQL Server licensing made simple. Learn more about Software Assurance and Per Core licensing. Per user and device CALs are also available.

License type:


The most affordable way to get sql, this option is great for small (1 – 30) users or devices.

  • 1 users CAL for each user in the organization that accesses the information
  • 1 device CAL for each server accessing the system outside of the host system

Open License
Your price: $999.99 Purchase

Open License with Software Assurance
Your price: $1,499.99 Purchase

Software Assurance only
Your price: $424.99 Purchase

Standard 2 Core

Microsoft SQL 2 Core license comes with unlimited users and can be enhanced by speeding up storage and memory. Cost effective when you have more than 31 users on a system.

  • Minimum purchase of 2 licenses, each covering 2 cores for a total of 4

Open License
Your price: $3,999.99 Purchase

Open License with Software Assurance
Your price: $5,899.99 Purchase

Software Assurance only
Your price: $1,899.99 Purchase

Enterprise 2 Core

Microsoft SQL Enterprise 2 Core license comes with unlimited users and can be enhanced by speeding up storage and memory.

  • Minimum purchase of 2 licenses, each covering 2 cores for a total of 4

Open License
Your price: $14,999.00 Purchase

Open License with Software Assurance
Your price: $23,189.99 Purchase

Software Assurance only
Your price: $6,499.99 Purchase

Device Client Access License
(1 Device CAL)

Your price: $249.99 Purchase

User Client Access License
(1 User CAL)

Your price: $249.99 Purchase

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What's New for 2016
  • Always Encrypted – a new capability developed by Microsoft Research that is designed to protect data “at rest and in motion”
  • Stretch Database – new technology that lets allows users to dynamically stretch warm and cold transactional data to Microsoft Azure
  • Enhancements to Microsoft’s “Hekaton” in-memory technologies for real-time analytics
  • New in-database analytics with R integration
  • Polybase — an engine that, to date, has been part of the SQL Server
  • Parallel Data Warehouse Appliance, for more easily managing relational and non-relational data
  • Row-level security, allowing users to control access to data based on characteristics of the user, without modifications to applications
  • Dynamic Data Masking — supports real-time obfuscation of data to prevent access to unauthorized dataTemporal database support for tracking historical data changes
  • Query Data Store — a “flight data recorder” for database administrators
  • Enhanced server management for Master Data Services
  • Enhanced hybrid backup to Azure and faster restores to SQL Server in Azure virtual machines
Download the SQL Server 2016 Datasheet (PDF)

  Standard Enterprise

Mission critical performance

Mission critical performance

  • Disk-based OLTP
  • 24 cores max and 128 GB max memory
  • 2-node single database failover (non-readable secondary)
  • Query Store
  • Temporal
  • Operating system max cores and memory
  • Enhanced in-memory
  • OLTP performance
  • Operational analytics
  • Enhanced AlwaysOn with no domain join (WS 2016)
  • Query Store
  • Temporal



  • Row-level security
  • Dynamic data masking
  • Basic auditing
  • Separation of duties
  • Policy-based management
  • Always Encrypted
  • Row-level security
  • Dynamic data masking
  • Enhanced separation of duties
  • Enhanced SQL Server auditing
  • Transparent data encryption
  • Policy-based management

Data warehousing

Data ware-housing

  • PolyBase (compute node only)
  • Support for JSON
  • Enhanced in-memory ColumnStore
  • PolyBase in scale-out configuration (head and compute nodes)
  • Deployment rights for APS
  • Distributed query processing
  • Support for JSON

Business intelligence

Business intelligence

  • Basic tabular (16GB memory per instance)
  • Web portal experience
  • Modernized reports
  • Pin reports to Power BI
  • Enhanced multidimensional models
  • End-to-end mobile BI on all major platforms
  • Enhanced direct query
  • In-memory analytics
  • Advanced data mining
  • Advanced tabular
  • Web portal experience (all reports in one place)
  • Modernized reports
  • Pin reports to Power BI
  • Enhanced multidimensional models

Advanced analytics

Advanced analytics

  • Single-threaded for RRE
  • Connectivity to R Open
  • In database advanced analytics
  • R integration with massive parallel processing for performance and scale
  • Works with in-memory technology
  • Run in database or standalone
  • Connectivity to R Open

Hybrid cloud


  • Stretch Database
  • Backup to Azure
  • Stretch Database
  • Enhanced backup to Azure
  • Enhanced HA and DR with Azure – ease of use, no domain join (Windows Server 2016)
  • SSIS integration with Azure Data Factory and Azure SQL Data
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Compare Versions
  Features Standard Enterprise
Mission critical performance
Maximum number of cores
24 cores Unlimited
Maximum memory utilized per instance
128 GB OS Max
Maximum size
524 PB 524 PB
Basic OLTP
Manageability (Management Studio, Policy-Based Management)
Basic high availability (2-node single database failover, non-readable secondary)
Enterprise data management (Master Data Services, Data Quality Services)
Advanced OLTP (In-memory OLTP, Operational analytics)
Advanced HA (Always On - multi-node, multi-db failover, readable secondaries)
Basic security (Row-level security, data masking, basic auditing, separation of duties)
Advanced security (Transparent Data Encryption, Always Encrypted)
Data warehousing
Advanced data integration (Fuzzy grouping and look ups, change data capture)
Data warehousing (In-Memory ColumnStore, Partitioning)
Business intelligence
Programmability & developer tools (T-SQL, CLR, Data Types, FileTable, JSON)
Basic reporting & analytics
Basic data integration (SSIS, built-in connectors)
Basic Corporate Business Intelligence (Multi-dimensional models, Basic tabular model)
Mobile BI (Datazen)
Advanced Corporate Business Intelligence (Advanced tabular model, Direct query, in-memory analytics, advanced data mining)
Advanced analytics
Basic “R” integration (Connectivity to R Open, Limited parallelism for RRE)
Advanced “R” integration (Full parallelism for RRE)
Hybrid cloud
Stretch Database
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Compare Years
Features 2016 2014 2012 2008 R2
Performance In-memory OLTP*
In-memory ColumnStore*
Real-time operational analytics*
Resource Governor*
Query Store
Availability AlwaysOn*
Enhanced virtualization support and live migration
Security Always Encrypted*
Transparent data encryption*
Row-level security
Dynamic data masking
Backup encryption support
Fine-grained auditing
Separation of duties
Programmability JSON support
PolyBase queries over Hadoop data**
Cloud-ready SQL Server Stretch Database
Backup to Azure
Disaster recovery to Azure*
Optimized virtual machine images in Azure gallery
Management Distributed replay
Policy-based management
Business intelligence Modernized reports
Mobile BI*
Integration services managed as a server
Pin reports to Power BI
Multi-dimensional semantic models
Enhanced tabular BI semantic models*
Master data services*
Data quality services*
Advanced analytics In-database advanced analytics with R Services
Multi-threaded processing of R queries and streaming memory*
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Software Assurance
Software assurance in the Microsoft realm has always meant buy the next version for half off with purchase of a current version license and the software assurance licensing at once time. In SQL it holds a special meaning as well, it allows users to receive Microsoft support on their SQL server installations as well as granting audit data base server abilities. Software Assurance must be purchases within 90 days of your original open license purchase and grants 2 years of upgrades as well as standard support.

Benefits of Software Assurance

  • Latest Technologies - access to new product versions that are released during your term at no additional cost.
  • E-learning - offers self-paced interactive online learning for end-users and IT professionals
  • Home Use Program - provides employees with the latest version of Microsoft Office for their home computer, via low-cost download (around $10)
  • 24x7 Problem Resolution Support - provides specific product fixes on a per customer incident basis, beyond the standard product support
  • Backup for Disaster Recovery - for each licensed instance you run under qualifying licenses with SA and related CALs, you may run one instance of the software on a backup server for disaster recovery purposes
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    Per Core Explanation
    SQL Server Core Factor Table*  
    Processor Type Core Factor
    All processors not mentioned below 1
    AMD Processors 31XX, 32XX, 33XX, 41XX, 42XX, 43XX, 61XX, 62XX, 63XX Series Processors with 6 or more cores 0.75
    Single-Core Processors 4
    Dual-Core Processors 2
    * This is an example of how to calculate core license requirements and the core factor table. The core factor table is subject to change.
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    Feeling a little lost? Have some questions? Call us at 949-520-1876 (between 6am and 5pm PT), or use the handy form below and one of our Microsoft Certified Professionals will get back to you as soon as possible.

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