SQL License in an SQL Cluster

Richard Steiner 1 Reputation point


I intend to build an SQL 2016 Enterprise Failover cluster with multiple nodes. Each node has 16Cores.

Do I need to buy a 16core license for each node in the cluster?

I have not been able to clarify this bit to proceed in the deployment.

Please help.



SQL Server
SQL Server
A family of Microsoft relational database management and analysis systems for e-commerce, line-of-business, and data warehousing solutions.
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  1. Leon Laude 85,641 Reputation points

    Hi @Richard Steiner ,

    When running SQL Server in a physical operating system environment (OSE), all physical cores must be licensed.

    To determine and acquire the correct number of core licenses needed, customers must:

    1. Count the total number of physical cores in the server.
    2. Purchase the appropriate number of core licenses required for the server. Core licenses are sold in packs of
    two, so customers must divide the number of licenses required by two to determine the actual number of
    line items (licensing SKUs) to order.

    • For more details on the per core licensing model, including key terms and licensing definitions, download
    the Introduction to per core Licensing Volume Licensing Brief https://aka.ms/LicensingByCores.

    I also highly recommend going through the Microsoft SQL Server 2019 Licensing Guide (applies to SQL Server 2016 as well).


    (If the reply was helpful please don't forget to upvote and/or accept as answer, thank you)

    Best regards,

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  2. Shashank Singh 6,246 Reputation points

    Do I need to buy a 16core license for each node in the cluster?

    As per new licensing rule mentioned in new-high-availability-and-disaster-recovery-benefits-for-sql-server you can have 3 nodes in WSFC and FCI and you would only have to pay for cores of primary machine. Like if you have 12 cores on each of 3 nodes in FCI then you only need to pay for 12 cores.

    This is subject to condition that you are buying license with Software Assurance.

    If it is more than 3 you would have to pay for 4th node.

    PS: I am not licensing expert so would suggest you to get this verified from MS licensing expert please.


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  3. Tom Phillips 17,716 Reputation points
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  4. CathyJi-MSFT 21,066 Reputation points Microsoft Vendor

    Hi @Richard ,

    > Do I need to buy a 16core license for each node in the cluster?

    Quote from SQL server 2019 License Guide;

    Two secondary server used for failover support does not need to be separately licensed for SQL Server as
    long as it is truly passive, and the primary SQL Server is covered with active SA. If it is marked to read and
    serving data, such as reports to clients running active SQL Server workloads, or performing any “work”
    except for maintenance related operations mentioned above, then it must be licensed for SQL Server.


    If you want to get more information about this, please refer to SQL server 2019 License Guide, start from the page of 27.

    By the way, suggest you speak directly to a Microsoft licensing specialist to conform this question. You can go to Volume Licensing Service Center support. Please choose region/language and choose to call or have web.

    Best regards.

    If the response is helpful, please click "Accept Answer" and upvote it, thank you.

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