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Do not Pay Twice for Bundled SQL Server Licenses

When your Enterprise Agreement true-up or renewal approaches, you are supposed to recount the licenses your organisation is using.

When you look at your SQL Server inventory, identify and exclude bundled licenses. Otherwise, you will pay more than needed.

Understanding Bundled SQL Server Licenses

Bundled SQL Server licenses are sold along with other Microsoft or third-party software. This concept resembles Oracle's Application Specific Full Use (ASFU) licenses. 

Notably, these bundled licenses do not necessitate separate SQL Server licensing, as their cost is integrated into the overall price of the software bundle.

SQL Server may be bundled with Microsoft products and third-party applications.

They may have different names, including:

  • SQL Server Runtime,

  • SQL Server ISV.

Examples of Bundled Products

Two primary examples that highlight this concept include:

  1. System Center incorporates SQL Server Standard as part of its package.

  2. Azure DevOps Server similarly includes SQL Server Standard.

SQL Server may also be bundled with third-party software of various types:

  • Accounting software,

  • IT infrastructure management software,

  • Archival solutions, and many more.

In all these instances, the cost of SQL Server is enveloped in the product's price, eliminating the need for separate SQL Server licensing.

Impact on True-Up Costs

Understanding bundled licenses is particularly impactful during the True-Up process in a Microsoft Enterprise Agreement. Recognising and accounting for these bundled SQL Server licenses can lead to significant cost avoidance.

Real-World Impact

The importance of this strategy is magnified in smaller IT estates. For example, working with a customer with around 16 SQL Servers, we found four servers were licensed as part of such software bundles. 

Removing the incorrectly counted instances from the true-up order reduced total SQL Server costs by 25%.

Identifying Software Supplied with Bundled SQL Server

Microsoft software: look it up in Microsoft Product Terms.

Third-party software: unfortunately, there is no compiled and published list of applications that include SQL Server licenses. Here is what you need to do:

  1. Identify all Cloud and on-premises estate applications that may require SQL Server licenses.

  2. For each application, find the original licensing documentation supplied with the software. If needed, contact the vendor.

  3. Note the licensed edition and the licensed version. 

  4. Create a list of such software and save it for future use in your organisation's SAM programme and procurement activities.

Enterprise Agreement True-Up and Renewal Checklist

  1. Check all bundled SQL Server instances so they are compliant with the licensed edition and version,

  2. Remediate non-compliance,

  3. Ensure you do not include bundled SQL Server licenses in your true-up or renewal order.

Common Mistakes

Helping our clients, we sometimes see that System Center is deployed with SQL Server Enterprise, and that instance is discounted. That is incorrect.

System Center, like all other Microsoft software that includes SQL Server, only comes with SQL Server Standard. If you use SQL Server Enterprise, it must be licensed separately.

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We do not sell licenses, so our only agenda is to help you reduce costs and stay compliant.