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SQLBI - Marco Russo

SQLBI is a blog dedicated to building Business Intelligence solutions with SQL Server.
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Licensing and upgrade options for Analysis Services Tabular in SQL Server 2016 #ssas #tabular

With the release of Microsoft SQL Server 2016, there are several options to use Analysis Services Tabular.

  • SQL Server Standard: it includes Analysis Services Tabular, and it is available in two licensing models: Server + Client Access License (CAL) and Core-based.
  • SQL Server Enterprise: it has all the features, and is available only in a license per-core.

For a Tabular model, the limitations existing for the Standard edition affect the memory available for an instance (16GB) and the lack of these features, available only in Enterprise: DirectQuery, partitions, and perspectives. The limit of 24 cores for the standard fundamentally is a non-issue, because with the right hardware with a single socket you should have so many cores (no NUMA is still better for Tabular, at least in current release of 2016). You can find more details in this detailed matrix of the features available by the Editions of SQL Server 2016.

If you have a Tabular model in SSAS 2012 or SSAS 2014 today, you might want to upgrade immediately because of the big performance improvements available in SSAS 2016 (almost any data model and report should benefit). However, what are the options to upgrade? It depends on your current license and whether you have a software assurance (SA) in place or not.

  • SQL 2012/14 Enterprise with SA: you can upgrade today, you should be already covered.
  • SQL 2012/14 Business Intelligence with SA: for the duration of your current SA contract, you can upgrade to SSAS 2016 using a licensing model Server+CAL that is not available otherwise. At the end of your SA, you will have to renew using current SQL Server Enterprise licensing terms. You can also get new licenses (of Business Intelligence that you upgrade in this way) up to 25% of the number you had on May 1, 2016.
  • SQL 2012/14 Enterprise or Business Intelligence without SA: you have to buy a license for SQL 2016. You might consider using the Standard for SSAS Tabular in case your model does not need the features available in Enterprise, otherwise you should get an Enterprise license.

Please note this is a summary I created to recap the current situation. I suggest you to consider all details and terms explained in this PDF. You can also visit this Microsoft website with all the information about SQL Server licensing.

Finally, a very welcome news is that Microsoft SQL Server 2016 Developer edition is now free. It had a minimal cost in the past, but now it will be much easier to install development enviroments also in those companies with a very long and bureaucratic procurement process, other than for all the consultants who want to study the new environment on their workstations without using a trial version expiring in 6 months.

Published Friday, June 3, 2016 3:52 PM by Marco Russo (SQLBI)
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Robert Busch said:

"At the end of your SA, you will have to renew using current SQL Server Enterprise licensing terms. You can also get new licenses (of Business Intelligence that you upgrade in this way) up to 25% of the number you had on May 1, 2016"

I am not sure what you are saying with this. If we have BI edition with 50 CALs, How do I upgrade to Enterprise Addition after SA and what is the 25% applied against?  Is there and Enterprise Server CAL Model?

June 8, 2016 10:35 AM

_Teva said:

Hello Marco,

Thank you for this article.

I have to admit that I am impressed by the availability of Tabular in the standard edition, the reduction in the different types of licensing, I think that it's a great decomplexification for a great product. I am now waiting for the pricetag :)

However (there's always an "however"), that's infortunate that we can't buy the standard edition by a clic of a mouse, for new comers we need to find reseller in our area, and sometimes it can become complicated (compared with a clic of mouse).

In my case I had to speack with a london base MSFT commercial that had to understand my request ("SSAS Tabular ? what's that ? Why don't you go with Azure ?"), I got transfered to a french company that is reselling Azure & Office products ... :) and finally (2 months later) got the needed parisian based reseller, I really hope that one day we will be able to buy the standard edition right from the landing page of Sql Server 2016. I mean come on, isn't Microsoft supposed to be one of the leading tech company in the world, a buy button isn't that technically difficult to deploy isn't it ? :D

What's your opinion toward the intermediation in the selling process of Sql Server ?


June 8, 2016 10:39 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Robert: I report information by MS :) but I think the meaning is that if you have 12 licenses, you can increase that number up to 15 (+ 25%). The Enterprise Server CAL is available only to those customers who have Business Intelligence now.

Teva: this is strange and I think it depends on the country. In other countries you can buy it also online, even if MS does not have an online store for that (it depends on resellers).

June 8, 2016 4:52 PM

_Teva said:

Just received the pricetag for the standard edition Server + 1 Client Access License (CAL), that's very interesting (compared with the previous Business Intelligence core based licensing).

16gig of ram on a server is a pretty low limit. Does this mean that we can buy more standard licenses and launch multiple instances of Tabular in the same server in order to take full advantage of the RAM available on the server ?

June 9, 2016 11:17 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

I don't know - licensing is a complex topic :) I would ask to a MS rep just to be sure.

June 9, 2016 3:59 PM

Greg said:

Hello Marco. Thank you for sharing this article. As per MS documentation, it seems not to be possible an upgrade from SQL 2012 BI Edition to SQL 2016 Standard: am I wrong, or is it correct?

Thank you!


February 13, 2017 5:49 AM

Marco Russo (SQLBI) said:

Probably this is correct, but if you have the 2012 BI Edition, you should ask to MS how to get a license Enteprise by server (which is available only to former 2012/2014 BI edition owners). I suggest you to contact a local Microsoft account to ask more details about that.

February 15, 2017 11:57 AM

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About Marco Russo (SQLBI)

Marco Russo is a consultant, writer and trainer specialized in Business Intelligence with Microsoft technologies. He runs the SQLBI.COM website, which is dedicated to distribute resources useful for BI developers, like Integration Services components, Analysis Services models, tools, technical information and so on. Marco is certified as MCT, MCDBA, MCSD.NET, MCSA, MCSE+I.

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