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SQL Server Editions

I recently got a comment on my blog complaining about all of the editions of SQL Server, so why don’t Microsoft just stick to one?

SQL Server gets everywhere, from a smart phone to a data centre and now the cloud (with SQL Sever data services). If you are using media player the metadata is in SQL Server and if you follow any of my links to a resource then chances are that the link is a row in a SQL Server database. My point is that the scale of the underlying database and the platform it runs on are very different.  So the editions reflect the intended use of that edition and have the appropriate features included.  For example only standard and enterprise editions include analysis services, as small workgroups, web servers and developers simply won’t use the tool. 

The next bit of flak I usually get on this is around all of the goodies in Enterprise edition i.e. “why isn’t feature X in standard edition?”  I don’t believe it’s about forcing users to adopt enterprise edition I think it’s about recognising that in many organisations the database engine is just an appliance that is left in the corner, it’s not under significant load and there’s no dedicated support for it.  In this very common scenario all of these features aren’t going to be used and if they are they may well cause more problems than they solve..

  • Transparent Data Encryption is easy to turn on but you can loose your whole database if you loose the keys.
  • Resource Governor could make a database appear very slow to the wrong group of users
  • Data compression needs to be thought through and tested to get the benefits intended.

So the editions are there so you only pay for what you use, if indeed you do pay as two of them are free (compact and express), but again intended for different uses.  I  have pasted  a short summary of the editions below from the SQL Server site:  

Core Editions Specialized Editions Free Editions
Enterprise Standard Workgroup Web * Developer ** Express Compact 3.5
Target Scenarios Enterprise workloads that need redundancy and built-in Business Intelligence Shared data scenarios in departments and small to large businesses Remote offices that need local instances of company data For web application hosting Full featured edition for development and testing only Entry level database, ideal for learning and ISV redistribution Embedded database for developing desktop and mobile applications
CPU OS Maximum 4 CPU 2 CPU 4 CPU OS Maximum 1 CPU OS Maximum
Memory OS Maximum OS Maximum 4 GB OS Maximum OS Maximum 1 GB OS Maximum
DB Size Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited 4 GB 4 GB
Additional Resources Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More Learn More
How to get it How to Buy | Try it now Download now Download now
Pricing & Licensing See our Pricing overview page for more details Free Editions.

* Web Edition is only available for web workloads. Please see the licensing section for more details.

** Developer Edition to be used for Application Development and Testing only. Please see the licensing section for more details.


and for more details on what is in each edition go this page on TechNet.

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