I recently got a comment on my blog complaining about all of the editions of SQL Server, so why don’t Microsoft just stick to one?
SQL Server gets everywhere, from a smart phone to a data centre and now the cloud (with SQL Sever data services). If you are using media player the metadata is in SQL Server and if you follow any of my links to a Microsoft.com resource then chances are that the link is a row in a SQL Server database. My point is that the scale of the underlying database and the platform it runs on are very different. So the editions reflect the intended use of that edition and have the appropriate features included. For example only standard and enterprise editions include analysis services, as small workgroups, web servers and developers simply won’t use the tool.
The next bit of flak I usually get on this is around all of the goodies in Enterprise edition i.e. “why isn’t feature X in standard edition?” I don’t believe it’s about forcing users to adopt enterprise edition I think it’s about recognising that in many organisations the database engine is just an appliance that is left in the corner, it’s not under significant load and there’s no dedicated support for it. In this very common scenario all of these features aren’t going to be used and if they are they may well cause more problems than they solve..
So the editions are there so you only pay for what you use, if indeed you do pay as two of them are free (compact and express), but again intended for different uses. I have pasted a short summary of the editions below from the SQL Server site:
* Web Edition is only available for web workloads. Please see the licensing section for more details.
** Developer Edition to be used for Application Development and Testing only. Please see the licensing section for more details.
and for more details on what is in each edition go this page on TechNet.
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