Livingstone Knowledge

Microsoft Licensing: SQL Server - Licensable Components

Author: Tyrone Howland
Head of Microsoft Delivery | Principal Consultant | Microsoft SME at Livingstone Group

Throughout my career having been mentored and trained by the best in the industry, the demand for licensing insights has been constant. While I focused on client work and training, the wealth of IT Asset Management (ITAM) professionals covering licensing topics has been abundant. Today, I embark on sharing my extensive Microsoft knowledge, starting with a deep dive into SQL Server licensing nuances.

SQL Server Licensable Components 101

SQL Server licensing debates often revolve around licensable components—additional services not installed by default. These optional components, if misunderstood, can significantly impact estate licensing. Notable components include:

  • Analysis Services
  • Integration Services
  • Reporting Services
  • Data Quality Services
  • Master Data Services
  • Azure Connected Services (relatively new for seasoned professionals)


Licensable vs Supported

Distinguishing between "supported" and "licensable" services is crucial. Microsoft's documentation sometimes blurs this line but they are not the same thing. Remember:

  • Supported: Technically compatible with the edition.
  • Licensable: Requires a different grade of licensing.


Though some might argue they are the same, Microsoft, like other publishers, doesn't mandate installation but requires appropriate licensing for these services.


Determining Applicable Editions:

Referencing official licensing sources is paramount for accurate information. I have included an overview of these further down. A quick guide:

  • Analysis Services (Edition: Standard)
  • Integration Services (Edition: Standard)
  • Reporting Services (Edition: Standard)
  • Data Quality Services (Edition: Enterprise)
  • Master Data Services (Edition: Enterprise)
  • Azure Connected Services (Edition: Standard or Enterprise)


Installing an Enterprise-grade service with a basic one elevates the license to Enterprise edition. Be mindful that an email from an account manager that could contradict the license rules, which may appear helpful on face-value, does not supersede the license terms, nor is it legally binding - always validate and research the guidance provided.

Side Note: Post-2016, Microsoft inexplicably removed capability matrices from SQL Server licensing guides—an unfortunate move.


Licensing Sources

Understanding licensing terms requires consulting official sources:

  • Microsoft Agreement/Enrolment
  • Amendments to agreements (non-standard/customised terms)
  • Product Terms (formerly Product Use Rights)
  • Product-specific End User License Agreements (EULA)
  • Product-specific licensing guides (for information purposes only, do not supersede Product Terms or Microsoft Agreements)
  • Microsoft product websites (lower reliability due to frequent changes)


Unacceptable Sources: Avoid relying on unofficial sources, like Wikipedia and personal blogs. While Wikipedia is a valuable resource, its open-edit nature poses reliability concerns, especially in complex topics like Software Licensing.


In conclusion, regularly check the services running in your estate to avoid unexpected costs in the future. Accurate information from official sources is the cornerstone of effective SQL Server licensing management.

Topics: SQL Server, Software Licensing, Microsoft