I Want Features Not Cost!

Recently Brent Ozar (blog|twitter) wrote a post SQL Server Standard Edition Sucks, And It’s All Your Fault. Needless to say, he isn’t happy with the price and what you don’t get in Standard Edition of SQL Server 2012. Brent seems to be mostly upset that since SQL Server 2008 Standard edition has been restricted to 64GB of ram. Adding additional insult, Always On is an Enterprise only feature with Database Mirroring on the green mile Microsoft will have to do something in the near future to fill this gap.

What about the rest of his list?

  • Database snapshots (a huge lifesaver when doing deployments)
  • Online reindexing, parallel index operations (wouldn’t you like to use more than one core?)
  • Transparent database encryption (because only enterprises store personally identifiable data or sell stuff online, right?)
  • Auditing (guess only enterprises need compliance)
  • Tons of BI features (because hey, your small business doesn’t have intelligence)

Yep, it sure does suck not to get any of those features and get stuck with a nice price increase.

But, Microsoft Says The Increase Isn’t That Bad(tm)

Imagine you are going from Enterprise per server to Enterprise per core on a 64 core system. At $7,000.00 a core that’s $448,000.00 bucks. If you were on SQL Server 2008 R2 Enterprise server licensing you paid just $13,969.00 and got it with 25 CALs. That is a 3100% increase in cost if you want to move to SQL Server 2012. Now that is something to bitch about. I can buy an HP DL580 with four 10-core processors and 128GB of ram for $24,259 retail, then pay $280,000.00 to license it. The days of hardware being a significant part of your IT deployments are gone. Hardware is getting cheaper and more powerful while software is getting more expensive. It’s almost an exact inverse equation.

So, What Are My Options

Well, few unfortunately. To license Oracle with the same features as SQL Server 2012 Enterprise you would be looking at 40% or more in licensing fees. On the open source front things aren’t much better. There just isn’t a single RDBMS with all the features of SQL Server or any other commercial offering for that matter.

Lets take a look at our options out of the box:

PostgreSQL

  • Can use maximum server memory – Yes
  • Database snapshots – Nope
  • Online reindexing, parallel index operations – Yes/Nope You can do an online operation but not parallel.
  • Transparent database encryption – Nope
  • Auditing – Nope
  • Tons of BI features – Nope

MySQL/MariaDB

  • Can use maximum server memory – Yes
  • Database snapshots – Nope
  • Online reindexing, parallel index operations – Nope
  • Transparent database encryption – Nope
  • Auditing – Nope
  • Tons of BI features – Nope

Now What?

Heck the only open source database that has a parallel query execution core is written in Java. On the plus side HyperSQL runs on Windows. All of these offerings also have things that SQL Server doesn’t. PostgreSQL is incredibly powerful for GIS and its unique among database engines for the large amount of indexing options available. MySQL/MariaDB has a nice feature that allows you to write your own storage engine and let MySQL act as the query processor.

If you don’t need all the feature add-on’s like Reporting Services, Integration Services or Analysis services for SQL Server then I recommend PostgreSQL every time. If you don’t mind doing some grunt work you can assemble a BI stack, reporting stack and all the other wiz-bang stuff you get out of the box with SQL Server to some degree.

If you want SQL Server’s set of tools AND its outstanding query engine you WILL have to pay for it. If you want to use SQL Sever and aren’t worried about new features, support or up to date tools you can always stick with SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition 64 bit, since it doesn’t cap memory usage and allows you to use all the memory the OS has available.

Well I’m Still Unhappy.

Yes the new licensing was a kick in the seat of the pants. Ask the Oracle guys how well they took it when Oracle did the same thing in late 2005. An article on CRN reads like it was written about SQL Server 2012 in the last month. Read it and replace “Oracle” with “SQL Server” its a hoot.

“Everyone is upset about it,” said Joe Vaught, COO of solution provider PCPC.

We sure are.

Oracle declined to comment for this story, beyond sending a short statement to CRN, which read in part: “As platforms change, and market opportunities arise, we continue to examine our pricing structure.”

Can Oracle sue Microsoft for stealing their statement? I don’t know but it sure does look familiar. I can also tell you that Microsoft used Oracle’s licensing changes to gobble up the lower end of the enterprise space and dominate the SMB space all together. Our problem is there isn’t another major up and coming software company gunning for the middle and not the top of the RDBMS business. PostgreSQL is making great strides and is my favorite front runner. They are also looking at the parallel query issue too! If you can hold out for another year or two you may be able to live without some of the bells and whistles and PostgreSQL or some other platform will be good enough to meet your needs.