In this article I will explain what the term Edition in relation to SQL Server and do a high level comparison which might help you get a better understanding and make a better choice.
For the purpose of this article I will use SQL Server 2014 which is similar to 2012 and I make notes about changes as editions where slightly different in SQL Server 2008 R2 and earlier versions.
What is Edition?
Let's start basics. What does it mean when we say Edition? In previous article I explained the term SQL Server Version so if we have a particular Version for instance SQL Server 2014. Edition is essentially an offer that allows you to use either full feature or only a certain number of features. This allow Microsoft to set high price tag for full featured version for production server and offer cheaper editions with fewer features or make them available for free.
I will provide you with high level comparison of edition and scenarious when you can use it so you can choose the edition that is right for you. For detailed comparison visit Microsoft page Features Supported by the Editions of SQL Server
Microsoft offers free of charge editions so you can install them and use it for as long as you want. Obviously you will have to accept certain limitations so it s a good idea to read the detail comparison I mentioned earlier.
We have two version available:
- Express Edition - Which I believe is just Database Engine
- Express with Tools - Database Engine + SSMS
- Express Edition with Advanced Services - which is the same as Express with Tools but also gives you SSRS with Visual Studio for SSRS (BIDS or SSDT BI.. not sure about 2014 it may not be shipped with SSDT BI).
Express edition with Advanced Services does not offer SSIS, SSAS, MDS or DQS. You need a higher edition for that (paid or trial).
Express Edition is suitable for:
- Websites - We use it but check limitations.
- Learning - but only Database Engine and SSRS and not the rest of BI Stack.
- Work - Applicable to smaller projects if the company does not have higher edition.
- There is also Compact Edition that work with application (.net).
180 days for Free:
You can also download trial of Enterprise Edition (full featured) which is free up to 180 days (I think it used to be 90 and 30 in the old days) which is suitable for evaluation and learning purposes.
Developer Edition is a special edition that is the same as Enterprise but it is affordable (about £50) and aims for Developers so it is suitable for long term learning (180+ days), Development, Testing, Evaluation but you are NOT allowed to use it on a production server.
- Web - I believe it is only sold by hosting companies, similar to Express but with fewer limitations.
- Standard - It does have SSIS and SSAS MD (not SSAS Tabular) with limitations so quite good for tight budget projects.
- Business Intelligence (BI) - as the name suggest it is suitable for BI projects so quite a few features are available but because it requires CALs and there are hardware limits it needs carefull analysis. I would say it is only suitable for small teams and companies with tight budget. Tight budget is important because there are still some features that are highly benefitial for BI Projects like page compression but is not avialable in BI Edition.
- Enterprise - As the name may suggest it is full featured edition which you should go for if you can afford it.
Hope that helps