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Microsoft SQL Server Versions Features And Pricing

If you're a DBA or IT professional and your job involves using SQL Server, then you’ve likely encountered the challenge of selecting the right version for your organisation. With SQL Server currently in its 22nd major version - each with different features and capabilities - understanding which option is suitable for which project can be daunting. But don’t worry! In this blog post we'll give you a comprehensive overview of all the latest versions of Microsoft SQL Server to help you make informed decisions about your team's technology stack.


Introducing the Different SQL Server Versions

The diverse array of SQL Server versions available today represents the impressive evolution and robust capabilities of this highly sought-after relational database management system. As a critical component in the realm of data management, understanding the distinctions among various SQL Server iterations will empower businesses to harness the appropriate features and functionalities critical to their success. By exploring key aspects such as performance, scalability, and security, one can better comprehend the value of each version and ultimately identify the ideal system to meet the organization's stringent data requirements. From feature-rich editions tailored for large scale deployment to cost-effective, streamlined solutions for small or medium-sized enterprises, the SQL Server landscape is teeming with opportunities to optimize data management strategies for businesses across the globe.

Here is an overview of the main features and improvements introduced in different versions of SQL Server:


SQL Server 2019:

  • Intelligent query processing features such as batch mode on rowstore and table variable deferred compilation

  • In-memory technologies for optimized performance and scalability

  • Enhanced security with Always Encrypted with secure enclaves and Data Discovery and Classification

  • Big data clusters with integrated Apache Spark and Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) storage

  • Support for containers and Kubernetes

SQL Server 2017:

  • Cross-platform support for Windows, Linux, and Docker containers

  • Graph database capabilities with support for graph data modeling and analysis

  • Automatic database tuning with Adaptive Query Processing and Automatic Plan Correction

  • Enhanced security with Always Encrypted and SQL Server Audit

  • Resumable online index rebuilds

SQL Server 2016:

  • In-memory OLTP with up to 30x faster transaction processing

  • Real-time operational analytics with Always Encrypted

  • Native JSON support and integration with Azure Data Lake Store

  • Enhanced security with Row-Level Security and Dynamic Data Masking

  • Stretch Database for hybrid transactional and analytical processing

SQL Server 2014:

  • In-memory OLTP with up to 20x faster transaction processing

  • Enhanced performance and scalability with columnstore indexes

  • AlwaysOn Availability Groups for high availability and disaster recovery

  • Buffer pool extension with SSDs for improved performance

  • Backup encryption and backup to Microsoft Azure

SQL Server 2012:

  • AlwaysOn Availability Groups for high availability and disaster recovery

  • Columnstore indexes for enhanced performance and analytics

  • Support for Windows Server Core and PowerShell

  • User-defined server roles and Contained Databases for improved security

  • Sequence objects for reliable number generation

SQL Server 2008 R2:

  • Master Data Services for data governance and management

  • StreamInsight for real-time stream processing

  • SQL Server PowerPivot for self-service BI

  • Multi-Server Management for easier administration of multiple servers

  • Transparent Data Encryption for enhanced security

SQL Server 2008:

  • Resource Governor for managing and prioritizing workloads

  • Extended events for advanced troubleshooting and monitoring

  • Spatial data support for location-based queries and analysis

  • Change Data Capture for data change tracking

  • Group Policy support for easier administration

SQL Server 2005:

  • Common Language Runtime (CLR) integration for enhanced programmability

  • Service Broker for reliable messaging and queuing

  • Database Mirroring for high availability and disaster recovery

  • Dynamic Management Views and Functions for better monitoring and troubleshooting

  • Database Snapshots for point-in-time recovery and reporting

SQL Server 2000:

  • Analysis Services for OLAP and data mining

  • Distributed Partitioned Views for distributed queries

  • Indexed Views for enhanced query performance

  • DTS (Data Transformation Services) for ETL (Extract, Transform, Load)

  • English Query for natural language queries

Comparing SQL Server Versions and Their Cost

Here is a comparison of the SQL Server versions mentioned above and their estimated costs (as of March 2023):


SQL Server 2019 Standard Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $3,586 for a 2-core license

  • Features: Basic database management capabilities, some BI features

  • Suitable for: Small to medium-sized businesses

SQL Server 2019 Enterprise Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $13,748 for a 2-core license

  • Features: Advanced features such as high availability, scalability, and security features

  • Suitable for: Large enterprises with high transactional volumes

SQL Server 2017 Standard Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $3,586 for a 2-core license

  • Features: Basic database management capabilities, some BI features

  • Suitable for: Small to medium-sized businesses

SQL Server 2017 Enterprise Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $13,748 for a 2-core license

  • Features: Advanced features such as high availability, scalability, and security features

  • Suitable for: Large enterprises with high transactional volumes

SQL Server 2016 Standard Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $3,586 for a 2-core license

  • Features: In-memory OLTP, Real-time operational analytics, Native JSON support

  • Suitable for: Small to medium-sized businesses

SQL Server 2016 Enterprise Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $13,748 for a 2-core license

  • Features: In-memory OLTP, Real-time operational analytics, Native JSON support

  • Suitable for: Large enterprises with high transactional volumes

SQL Server 2014 Standard Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $3,586 for a 2-core license

  • Features: In-memory OLTP, Columnstore indexes, AlwaysOn Availability Groups

  • Suitable for: Small to medium-sized businesses

SQL Server 2014 Enterprise Edition:

  • Pricing: Starts at $13,748 for a 2-core license

  • Features: In-memory OLTP, Columnstore indexes, AlwaysOn Availability Groups

  • Suitable for: Large enterprises with high transactional volumes

Wrapping Up: A Quick Recap of the SQL Server Versions

As we reflect upon the evolution of SQL Server, it is important to acknowledge the significant strides this relational database management system has made since its inception. Originating from the partnership between Microsoft and Sybase in the late 1980s, SQL Server has grown substantially and become an indispensable tool for data management, analytics, and business intelligence.


Throughout its progression, there have been several notable versions, each contributing distinct improvements such as enhanced security features, introduction of spatial data types, and the option of deploying to cloud platforms. Ultimately, by understanding the technical advancements and successes of previous SQL Server versions, we can better anticipate the trajectory of this ever-evolving technology and harness its potential to drive data-driven insights within organizations across various industries.


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