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Kevin Kline

How Do You SKU?


I’d like your opinion here.

Follow my logic here for a moment as I walk through a couple rhetorical questions.  Have you ever had a friend developed an application entirely on SQL Server Developer Edition?  (Not that YOU would ever do such a thing, but maybe you know someone who has. Right?) And has your friend’s IT department actually deployed said application only to discover that they’re only licensed for Standard Edition in their production environment?  And then was your friend’s IT management team is horrified to learn that they’ve either got to go through the very expensive process of extracting all of the Enterprise and/or Datacenter Edition features for the production application in order to remain in compliance, upgrade to the more expensive SKU licenses, or risk a potential future audit?

I’m not saying that this has happened to any of us.  We’re too smart for that, after all.  But have you ever known anyone who’s had this experience?

Having worked with a lot of customers another commercial RDBMS platforms (which I’ll euphemistically call “SEER” from Redforest City and “IB4” from Upstate City), I can tell you that auditing is a fun and exciting way for those platform vendors to make a LOT of money.  This is especially true because a production application, once successfully deployed, tends to be too valuable to disable or otherwise compromise because high-end features slipped in to the development cycle even though the production environment only a “standard edition” SKU in place.  Ouch! Talk about being caught between a rock and a hard place.  Now, keep in mind that this is a strategy used by SEER and not by Microsoft.  But Microsoft could implement the same sort of licensing audits if they wanted to.  (Please leave a comment here if you have ever been audited.  I’d love to hear your experiences, at least as much as NDA’s allow).

So if you use SQL Server Developer Edition (DE), of any version, would you like to see a feature that enables you to run DE not in its default “full featured mode” but at another SKU level, such as good ol’ Standard Edition?  I know I would.

If you’re on the same page as I am, there are a number of suggestions logged on Connect about this very feature!  Make your voice heard!  Check out:

Of course, the more skeptical reader might say “Hey, that’s their tough luck. Developers should know the difference in the SKU licensing options and feature sets of whatever SKU they’re developing on compared to what they’ll deploy on.”  And I wouldn’t fault you for saying so.

But I would go on to point out that much of Microsoft’s success in enterprise IT settings can be traced back to their very strong relationship with developers.  And anything that Microsoft can do to empower developers to save time, money, and resources during the development phase of an IT project in turn energizes that relationship between developer and Microsoft.

It also makes the life of the DBA that much easier, because they don’t need to imply that those cowboys on the development team went off half-cocked again.  So what’s your opinion?  Should SQL Server Developer Edition include a feature that sets the SKU-level of the database engine?

Published Wednesday, March 30, 2011 10:49 AM by KKline

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AaronBertrand said:

Rather than the ability to say "don't let me use any Enterprise features," what we'll probably see before this is the ability to say "don't let me use any non-cloud features." Sad to say, but I'd put money on it.

March 30, 2011 12:02 PM

Antony said:

I've thought this for a long time, that you should be able to install developer edition in different "modes" to mimic your live version.

And considering the official microsoft line on developing for sql azure is in essence "use developer, remember what you can't do", i think this is going to be pretty necessary quite soon.

March 30, 2011 3:20 PM

Michael K. Campbell said:

MSDN/Technet provide the same level of 'gotcha' in many cases.

SQL Server needs a much cleaner/easier way to let admins go in and switch out licenses to help out in cases where 'dev' systems are rushed into production without being repaved correctly and so on...

March 30, 2011 7:01 PM

Stephen Munson said:

There's not much of a question about what the "right" thing for MS to do here is, really... of COURSE they should implement such a feature.  Not doing so is nothing less than negligent.   No two ways about it...

March 30, 2011 8:40 PM

Mark Broadbent said:

Totally agree with you Kevin, and I have a nasty suspicion that Aaron is probably right with his assumption too (unfortunately).

March 31, 2011 3:50 AM

GrumpyOldDBA said:

It's not only the DEV addition that needs a "switch", and I do agree that yes this should be so, but maybe those who decide what to buy/deploy for the apps. I have a moderate sized app ( about 1TB of data in 3 databases ) which performs badly.. it's clustered on 16 cores etc. etc. but is running std edition so index rebuilds/maint tasks etc. are somewhat stunted. On the other hand there's another app, about 5GB running on enterprise 16 cores etc etc. Of course for most DBAs you only ever want the stuff that's in Ent edition anyway!

March 31, 2011 5:40 AM

Ian Stirk said:


Just thought I'd mention... If you use SQL Server 2008 and higher, you can use the DMV sys.dm_db_persisted_sku_features to determine what enterprise features are enabled. Currently, it reports on Compression, Partitioning, Transparent Data Encryption, and Change Capture.

You can discover a lot more about improving SQL performance via DMVs in this forthcoming book It contains more than 100 scripts to identify problems, and offers a wide range of solutions.

Chapter 1 can be downloaded for free and includes scripts for:

A simple monitor

Finding your slowest queries

Find your missing indexes

Identifying what SQL is running now

Quickly find a cached plan



April 4, 2011 4:36 AM

KKline said:

I love your book, Ian!  How do I get in touch with you to promote it more effectively in my sessions?

Thanks for the pointer - very useful, as ever.

Best regards,


April 4, 2011 10:42 AM

Ian Stirk said:

Hi Kevin,

Thanks for your kind words.

If you send me your email address, I’ll ensure the people at manning contact you (email me at:

The book should be out at the start of May, but manning will have more details...

Thanks again


April 6, 2011 8:47 AM

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About KKline

Kevin Kline is a well-known database industry expert, author, and speaker. Kevin is a long-time Microsoft MVP and was one of the founders of PASS,

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