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With the release of SQL Server 2014 one of the first questions that come to mind is licensing. Rather than trying to tackle the whole subject in one go we’ve decided to highlight one of the key changes, which focuses around Enterprise Edition.

Prior to SQL Server 2014, many organisations were able to deploy a single standby server without licensing SQL Server. Log shipping, mirroring, and even failover clustering was allowed for an unlicensed passive node, provided that the passive node didn’t become the primary for more than 28 days. That’s now gone.

If you want to have a standby node, you have to buy software assurance. Read the SQL Server 2014 Licensing Datasheet and at the bottom of page three, it reads “Beginning with SQL Server 2014, each active server licensed with SA coverage allows the installation of a single passive server used for fail-over support.” The passive secondary server doesn’t need to have a complete SQL Server license, but you must have Software Assurance.

In short, Software Assurance (SA) is a yearly fee that customers pay to get access to the latest and greatest versions of products as well as unlock additional features that may have complex deployment scenarios.

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