Windows and SQL Server Licensing under Virtualization

Windows and SQL Server Licensing under Virtualization

Since SAP more or less supported the usage of VMWare and Hyper-V as Software Virtualization layer for Windows (see SAP OSS note #674851 and ) one question came up more and more. Which is: How do I license Windows and SQL Server in typical SAP scenarios where processor licenses are used?

Windows Licensing for Software Virtualization

For Windows Server 2003 the following licensing conditions got applied with Windows Server 2003 R2

· Standard Edition: Allows 1 Physcial OR 1 Virtual Instance

· Enterprise Edition: Allows 1 Physical AND 4 additional Virtual Instances

· Datacenter: Allows 1 Physical AND unlimited number of Virtual Instances

For Windows Server 2008 the following conditions apply:

· Standard Edition: Allows 1 Physcial AND 1 Virtual Instance

· Enterprise Edition: Allows 1 Physical AND 4 additional Virtual Instances

· Datacenter: Allows 1 Physical AND unlimited number of Virtual Instances

Note the difference in the Standard Edition between Windows Server 2003 R2 and Windows Server 2008. Please also note that only ‘running’ or active instances are counted. Please also note for the case of running VMWare ESX where no physical Windows instance is run, the limit of 4 Virtual Instances is binding. No exchange of the one Physical instance to a 5th Virtual instance is possible.

Also be aware of the fact that Windows Datacenter Editions are licensed per processor. In order to have the benefit of unlimited Virtual instances, one needs to have licenses for ALL processors of the underlying hardware.

More information can be found:

Windows Server 2003 R2 Licensing guide:

Windows Server 2008 Licensing guide:

SQL Server 2005 Licensing for Software Virtualization

These regulations listed in this section only apply to customers who did NOT purchase their SQL Server licenses from SAP. SQL Server licenses purchased from SAP are run time licenses which only may be used in combination with SAP software on as many servers as are necessary to run the SAP licensed software. We’ll cover the per processor licensing for SQL Server only since this is the most used model of licensing in case customers don’t buy SQL Server from SAP.

For SQL Server 2005 the general rule of processor licensing requires to have one processor license for every physical and every active virtual processor. The only exception exists for SQL Server 2005 Enterprise Edition where the maximum of processor licenses required is the maximum number of physical processors of the hosting hardware. Let’s look at a scenario to make the difference clear.

You run a hardware which has 2 physical Quad-Core processors. Means we are looking at 8 processor cores. You use this hardware to run 4 Virtual Images of let’s say Hyper-V. Each image is restricted to 2 ‘CPUs’. In each of the images you have SQL server running. Using SQL Server Standard Edition would require 8 processor licenses of SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition. Using SQL Server Enterprise Edition instead, only 2 processor licenses would be necessary since the hosting hardware contains 2 physical processors only.

More information can be found here:

For both cases Windows and SQL Server there is no difference in Licensing between using Microsoft Hyper-V or a 3rd party Virtualization software like VMWare ESX.

How does Microsoft support Virtulization with 3rd party software

As already mentioned in the SAP OSS note, Microsoft support for Virtualization by 3rd party software is defined in KBA:

Hope this info helps to find the way through licensing with Virtualization and SAP.

Thanks to Josef Stelzel for helping in compiling and writing up this article.