SQL Server 2016 SP1 - Licensing changes

  • Gérald Barré

This post is part of the series 'Microsoft SQL Server 2016'. Be sure to check out the rest of the blog posts of the series!

Microsoft is adopting a faster release cycle. A few months after the release of SQL Server 2016 last June, the SP1 has just been released. This update brings new features and improvements that we will surely have the opportunity to talk about again. To my mind, the most important news is reducing the differences between versions.

Until now, Microsoft allowed the use of certain features with the most expensive editions. The Standard Edition was limited in both functionality and hardware resources. And what about the Express edition…

These differences are now a thing of the past. All versions take advantage of all the features (or almost). Here is a table comparing the difference in functionality between the 2016 RTM version and the 2016 SP1 version (source):

As we can see, the Express edition is deprived of the "Change Data Capture" feature because it requires SQL Agent which is not available with this edition.

#Why is this important?

First, the security features are available to everyone. Whether you are a small company with few resources or a very large company, you can use the same security mechanisms (Always Encrypted, Dynamic Data Masking, or Row-Level Security). No more excuses for not making security!

Second, developers can use all the features provided without having to worry about the SQL Server edition available for deployment. This can save time in the development of the application. This also avoids trading to have the top edition just for a feature. For software publishers, there is more to ask the question of editing SQL Server product customers, just indicate SQL Server 2016 SP1 minimum.

#What differences remain between editions?

In terms of development, with a few details, the features are the same. On the other hand for exploitation, there are many lefts.

Of course, there remain the limitations of material resources. For example, the Express version is always limited to 10GB per base, 4 cores, and 1GB of RAM. The Standard Edition is limited to 24 cores and 128GB of RAM.

The Enterprise Edition features high availability features including AlwaysOn and Readable Secondaries, advanced BI functionality, more complete audit management, data management including Master Data Service (MDS), and more…

You can see a comparative grid on the Microsoft website: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/sql/sql-server/editions-and-components-of-sql-server-2016


This update is a big step for Microsoft. Like any update, it brings improvements and new features. But more than that it allows all developers to use a maximum of features previously reserved for the richest companies.

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