Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Web

Databases and Licensing.

Databases are the backbone of even basic Internet applications these days. Generally hidden away as the final layer in all software architecture, the database is the heart of any web application that needs to store and access information.

Microsoft’s SQL Server is one of the top of the line databases that can be used for Enterprise or web related applications. It’s fast, powerful, and has excellent integration with all Microsoft products. Unfortunately, it’s adoption as a database for small web applications has been restricted till now due to a tiny stumbling block known as Licensing.

For normal SQL databases, Microsoft imposes a fee for each entity connected with the database. This was called a Client Access License (CAL) and could be processor based, user based, or device based. Essentially, it means that, if you purchased a user based CAL, you would have to pay a fee for each user accessing the database and for device based CAL’s, a license fee would have to be paid for each device accessing the database irrespective of the user.

This is reasonable in Enterprise applications within a company, but is a killer for small web applications.

Web applications and database licensing problems.

When a database is accessed by a web application, there is generally no limit on how many users can access the database. Thus, user based CAL’s are out of the question. The same goes for device based CAL’s since you can’t pay for each computer out there on the Internet. Therefore, that leaves us with Processor based CAL’s where you pay for each processor (physical or virtual) that Microsoft’s SQL server runs on.

However, we learned in the article on the Microsoft Application Request Routing Module, that web applications need to be scalable. This means that it should be easy and cost effective to add or remove resources from a web based system at will. And that includes processor power.

Processor driven CAL’s turn out to be expensive in the long run as your web site grows more and more demanding as you begin to pay for each additional CPU that is added. A normal quad core CPU can end up costing you a lot in Licensing fees.

Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Web Edition.

Microsoft’s new SQL server 2008 web edition has been specially made for small business that need to economize in cost. Essentially, it allows you to run a SQL server database on up to 4 CPU’s at a very low cost with unlimited database size and memory.

This database license can only be used for web based applications and has special technological features that optimize it for this purpose such as administration tools and tight integration with .NET technologies.

Since there are no limitations on it’s growth apart from 4 CPU’s, the standard CAL scheme of licensing does not apply to the SQL server web edition. Since the overall cost is low, even small start-ups can afford to use this powerful database.

Currently, what usually happens is that businesses on a budget start off with a free RDBMS like MySQL as a proof of concept and suffer later when they need a more professional database like MSSQL due to the fact that migration is not easy (no matter how abstracted the database is).

With the web edition, they can start using MSSQL immediately and reap the benefits of the ease of use and programming integration right from day one. 

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