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Do you use SQL Server Developer Edition on server-class machines in DEV and STAGING environments?

I am working on a large project where (if it passes the proof of concept stage) we will have several large geographically distributed enterprise class database servers running SQL Server 2012 Enterprise Edition.

We will have a production environment will initially have 3 servers, our Staging environment will have a minimum of 3 servers, and our Development environment will have 1 server (hosting three instances).

I was under the impression that we would only need to acquire Enterprise licences for the actual production servers, and we could get by with developer edition in our developer and staging environments because they are not "production".

Other sources have told me that we need to have an enterprise licence on all of the above mentioned machines, and that the developer edition is only meant for a single developer on their workstation.

Since developer edition has all the sexy features of Enterprise, I can't really see the value of it on a workstation class machine, especially for developing and testing the type of high availability system we are building.

If we have to fork out Enterprise licences for a dev server, that will just about kill our proof of concept stage, thus killing the project. Forcing an enterprise licence on a staging environment will make management just want to skip staging altogether.

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closed as off-topic by Aaron Bertrand Jan 30 '15 at 18:09

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

"Since developer edition has all the sexy features of Enterprise, I can't really see the value of it on a workstation class machine, especially for developing and testing the type of high availability system we are building." -- it's tough to develop an application that uses, for example, table partitioning, when it's not available. That's the whole point of Developer Edition. – Jon Seigel Mar 20 '13 at 17:10
Just to clarify, what I meant was that it would be a shame to NOT be able to use developer edition on a big honking server. I specifically intend on showcasing the more advanced features and do not want to try to do that on a developers laptop. – datagod Mar 20 '13 at 17:20
Oh okay, yeah, I agree completely. – Jon Seigel Mar 20 '13 at 17:26
What's your definition of a staging environment? Are you referring to a test/user-acceptance-test system or ETL type staging? Appropriate isn't the correct term here, it's more to do with the legality of a configuration. – Mark Storey-Smith Mar 21 '13 at 1:27
I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this really isn't a question peers should be answering. – Aaron Bertrand Jan 30 '15 at 18:09
up vote 19 down vote accepted

Development edition licenses can be used to install anything that isn't production, provided that everyone that connects to the server has their own development license. MSDN licenses can be used as well if everyone has an MSDN license.

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everyone that connects to the server has their own development license - does this mean everyone who connects using SSMS as developers/admins, or everyone who is a user of an application that is running on top of the SQL Server? – wwarren Sep 13 '14 at 1:07
There can't be any applications running against a SQL Server instance which is running the Developer Edition. If there's an application running against it, it is in production. Developer Edition is for test/dev, nothing else. Anyone that connects to it, either as a developer or an admin needs to have a developer license (or an MSDN license). – mrdenny Oct 21 '14 at 22:40
Makes sense. I suppose from the database's point of view even a test/dev version of an application is production in its eyes – wwarren Oct 21 '14 at 23:32
This is not correct - you can run applications and what is more your users can access them under certain conditions. From the current PUR for SQL 2014: Your end users may access the software to perform acceptance tests or to provide feedback on your programs. AND In addition to the Licensed User, any person that has access to your internal network may install and use copies of the software to demonstrate use of your programs with the software. – Stoinov Mar 6 '15 at 14:45

Short answer: yes.

Slightly longer answer: yes as long as you have one developer license for every person accessing the development and staging servers.

From the Licensing Quick Reference Guide:

The SQL Server 2012 Developer Edition is a full-function version of the SQL Server software—with all the features and capabilities of the Enterprise edition—licensed under the Developer Tools model, which is a “per user” model. One license is required for each person that accesses or uses the software.

When using SQL Server software for development, test or demonstration purposes, only the users are licensed and there is no need for a corresponding license for the actual server systems running SQL Server software in this case.

As long as only licensed users have access to the software, customers can install as many copies of the software on any number of servers that are used exclusively for development, test or demonstration purposes. This is significant, because it allows customers to run the software on multiple devices (for testing purposes, for example) without having to license each non-production server system

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