SQL Licensing for a Two Tier Automated Process

Q: (from Seth)

We have a customer who has a Web Server (hosted) which keeps a separate data file, not SQL Server for inventory data.  They also have a premise-based Windows Server running SQL server.  The Windows SQL Server has a copy of the data from the Web Server, stored in a SQL Database.  There is a service running on the Windows (premise) Server that communicates 4 times per day and syncs the inventory with the Web Server.

Does the client need a processor/core based licensing model on the premised-based server or can they use CAL licensing?



I would recommend getting a 2nd opinion on this from our Licensing Desk, but here are my thoughts based on our Licensing PDF (http://download.microsoft.com/download/B/4/E/b4e604d9-9d38-4bba-a927-56e4c872e41c/SQL_Server_2014_Licensing_Guide.PDF):

  • If the end-user was accessing a website that was directly supported/fed data from SQL, you would either need a CAL for each user or use the core model to cover the SQL.
    Page 6:
    Deploying Internet or extranet workloads, systems that integrate with external-facing workloads (even if external data goes through one or more other systems), or when the number of users/devices cannot be counted easily.
  • If a human extracts the data from the SQL server and redistributes it (via email/post/etc) the user who does the extraction needs a CAL, but the recipients of the distributed information don’t need any access licenses.
    Page 18:
    Manual transfer of data from employee to employee does not necessitate the requirement of a CAL for the receiving employee.
  • You are somewhere in between: but the key factor is that there is automated process and according to the Multiplexed Application section:
    Earlier on page 18:
    Multiplexing does not reduce the number of Microsoft licenses required… Any user or device that accesses the server, files, data or content provided by the server that is made available through an automated process requires a SQL Server CAL.

But as I said, I would go to the SQL site and get a second opinion. When you do that, DON’T predispose the support person with this information or your opinion. Let them give you an answer based on your situation and make sure they cite a published reference with the reason for their answer (like I have above). Or you can contact your distribution partner for their answer – but I would still follow the same guidelines.


SDeming Face   Steve

Comments (2)

  1. Wes Miller says:

    The use rights for SQL Server 2012 and 2014 that now allow for batch-replicated data may also prove useful here and still allow Server+CAL to cover it.

  2. Wes Miller says:

    I should add – that would only apply for BI edition of both. If it isn’t BI, then this wouldn’t apply at all.

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