SQL Server Costs Surging 10-40% for Many Customers in 2024!
11th Dec 2023
For even the most dedicated customers who license all SQL Server with maintenance, a 2024 contract renewal will start with a 10% price increase. However, if you’re still using older systems and licensing for SQL Server 2014, brace yourself for a 30-40% spending surge in 2024 due to end-of-life support and migrations.
A SQL Server 2014 licensing time bomb arrives in mid-2024.
On July 9, 2024, SQL Server 2014 will reach end of life (EOL). Organizations not migrating to new versions or platforms must pay for security patches. Previously, some organizations skipped implementing patches for risk reduction. Now, driven by cyber insurance demands and concerns over fines, penalties, and security breaches, leadership insists that IT maintains patched systems despite the associated costs.
This means that addressing SQL Server 2014 EOL is likely to cost more money than in the past because:
The price of patches after EOL, called Extended Security Updates (ESU), is the total license cost
Licenses used for SQL Server 2014 must have Software Assurance (SA) to qualify for ESU purchases.
SQL Server 2022 prices increased by 10% and now include a rule that requires a license used for a virtual machine (VM) to have SA
How much will SQL Server 2014 ESU cost?
ESU subscription costs vary by edition, licensing programs, and volume levels, though we estimate the average as follows:
SQL Server Enterprise 2-core ESU: $10,500
SQL Server Standard 2-core ESU: $2,700
Moreover, a 4-core ESU minimum can drive the cost of a single VM to a staggering amount: $21,000 for Enterprise and $5,400 for Standard. One option to avoid up-front payment is to use Azure Arc, which connects your systems to Azure and lets you buy monthly subscriptions that can be terminated when no longer needed. Unfortunately, this option isn’t always viable due to security concerns or organizational policy.
How much will SQL Server SA cost?
SQL Server 2014 instances must be assigned licenses with SA to acquire ESU. Organizations may have to re-purchase licenses: One does not simply “add” SA to an existing license. There is evil there that… well, I’m sure you understand. The Server and Cloud Enrollment (SCE), an “all-in” contract, has an annual subscription option, and Azure also has monthly subscriptions if you need a more flexible approach, though each has their gotchas. That said, general costs for a new license and up to three years of maintenance (which together may be annualized) on a typical volume license program may be as much as:
SQL Server Enterprise 2-core license & SA: $18,375
SQL Server Standard 2-core license & SA: $4,725
Are there SA costs to isolating and upgrading SQL Server?
If an existing SQL Server 2014 physical (standalone) system is licensed without SA, isolating the system by moving it to a virtual environment will require SA if the VM moves from host to host more than once every 90 days (License Mobility). Setting affinity rules and tying the VM to a single host avoids the SA trigger.
However, suppose you upgrade that same standalone system or a VM currently tied to a host with affinity rules to a newer SQL Server version requiring new licenses; SA is now required when SQL Server as a VM using SQL Server 2022 licenses:
“Licensing by Individual Virtual OSE [is] Available for subscription licenses or licenses with active Software Assurance only.”
Can support costs increase?
Yep! Microsoft Unified Support fees are calculated based on an organization’s annual spend. Acquiring new licenses with SA, ESU, or subscriptions adds to the overall budget spend and increases support costs.
Can I give in and move my systems to Azure?
Absolutely! All these costs align with Microsoft’s desire and intent to move you to Azure. They even offer ESU for free if you need to run a SQL Server 2014 in Azure. Carrot? Stick? Carrot-stick? Just remember that there are trade-offs and more costs to running a system in Azure than ESU and licenses. But, of course, you knew that already.
Ultimately, all these options can be confusing and overwhelming: we recommend you work with experts to understand the options, calculate costs, and build a plan.