SQL End of Support – Extended Security Updates are 300% the cost of SA

In a recent interview with CIOdive.com and in InformationWeek – I highlighted a ‘compelling event’ across the Microsoft ecosystem to upgrade, re-host, or refactor legacy SQL servers to respond to SQL 2008 and 2008 R2 End of Support on July 17th 2019. With the average business running 43% of their SQL servers in extended support, it is going to drive a lot of activity.

In March of this year, Microsoft also published general availability of Extended Security Updates (ESU) to extend the life-cycle of your 2008 and 2008 R2 footprint for both SQL Server, and Windows Server 2008 and 2008 R2 (with end of support in July 2020).

Notably, the cost of Extended Security Updates coverage for 12 Months, is 300% the price of Software Assurance for SQL Server for the same period, with this price point consistent for both SQL Enterprise and SQL Standard Edition. Microsoft extrapolated the cost of extended support based on 75% of the perpetual ‘license’ cost. Arguably, the logic of this pricing model is weak, and the cost should be extrapolated based on the cost of the maintenance model – Software Assurance (SA), and not based on the current perpetual ‘License’ cost of the software. After 10 years in industry, it is hard not to see this pricing model as anything but a mechanism to drive customer behaviours towards adoption of Azure, and  undermine re-hosting of legacy software to AWS dedicated host, or GCP sole-tenant offerings. 

Here are some key takeaways you should be aware of:

  • You do need to maintain SA for Windows Server or SQL Server footprint you want to buy ESU for.
  • The EOS SKUs are Annual and can be bought at any time. Full 12 Months of coverage.
  • The price list went live on March 1st and are now available for purchase.
  • You pay for the full year, It is not pro-rated from the date you buy.
  • The ESU starts from July of 2019 to July of 2020, and then 2nd Year is purchased later.
  • If the you elect to upgrade, or move to Azure, you can reduce the ESU in future years.
  • ESU is covered when you move workloads to Azure.
  • You are billed at time of purchase.
  • There is no pro-ration and is not co-terminus with the underlying SA/LSA on a Volume Agreement Enrollment
  • The full Year of ESU may not align with your enrollment. You buy the full Year upfront that goes beyond the Enrollment date
  • You cannot buy new coverage in Year 2, If you don’t buy Year 1. So you would buy Year 1 and Year 2 in one go.
  • The underlying SA doesn’t have to be on the EA contract.

  • The published cost of ESU is 300% the cost of SA.
  • ESU is not sold under the Edu Enrollment (yet).
  • No CAL SA required, server covered.
  • Windows Proc should license the ESU by Cores
  • ESU for 2 or 16 core packs should match the license model
  • Only 1st Year SKU currently published. Microsoft have not notified of any price increases (yet).
  • Microsoft launched the offering with the ESU SKUs only available to EA customers.
  • Finally, the Product Terms states ‘for each core […] License assigned to the Licensed Server’. If I am reading it correctly, ESU is based on the license and license model you have assigned. Not the edition ‘bits’ of the instance, which would be a material impact for organizations running Standard Edition but are licensed under Enterprise.”ESU Coverage is required for each core or server License assigned to the Licensed Server, subject to the same license minimums. ESU coverage is not required (nor available) for CALs or External Connector Licenses; however, Customer must have active SA (or equivalent Subscription Licenses) for CALs and External Connector Licenses permitting access to Servers with active ESU coverage.” [Ref: Microsoft Product Terms, April 2019]

    This can have a material impact for businesses that have rationally elected to license SQL Server on the host layer with SQL Enterprise Edition with Software Assurance, but are running a subset of legacy SQL server 2008 and 2008 R2 Standard Edition VMs. In this scenario, the cost of support would be cost prohibitive.

Thanks All


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Tony Mackelworth is Head of Microsoft Advisory Services at SoftwareONE

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