I noticed Server Fault preemptively posted a dummy question explaining that they don't give licensing advice, as you really need to figure out licensing with the company granting the license. They use the question to close licensing questions as duplicates.

Today I saw this question about SQL Server Licensing. I was under the general impression that licensing questions aren't welcome on Stack Exchange for the reasons they aren't on SF, but then again we can give some help as well.

Should we allow questions specifically about database software licensing?

4 Answers 4


Personally, I think this is dangerous to allow. Licensing is a vast landscape and there are mines everywhere. Being out of compliance is something that can get you and your company into serious hot water. Pulling up some Stack Exchange answer in the middle of an audit with Microsoft Legal is not going to get you off the hook.

Ask yourself this:

  • Do you want to bet your job, salary, or even freedom on an opinion you get from a stranger?

Then consider this:

  • The only licensing advice to trust is from the vendor who would sue you for non-compliance.

If someone has a licensing question about their specific configuration, and want peer advice in addition to what they get from the vendor, I think they should bring it up in chat. Answers to such questions should not serve as canonical answers to future readers, who may be using a different version, edition, have different software assurance agreements, etc. And if the scope is that narrow it's unlikely to be helpful to many users anyway.

  • My two other problems with licensing questions are as follows. 1: They aren't likely to be helpful to future readers as this sort of thing varies from customer to customer. 2: These questions are not very interesting and I'd rather not answer them :)
    – Zane
    Jan 6, 2015 at 16:36
  • 3
    Also licensing can change at the vendor's whim. And sometimes even among vendor employees the answers regarding licensing differ. With such a broad swing over answers and accuracy of answers, as well as the time sensitive nature of the answers, my vote would be for no licensing on this site. I can understand the desire for it. But I think it will be counter-productive and just clutter the site (with few really good answers too). Jan 12, 2015 at 19:01
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    I completely agree. Not only is it a complicated subject, it changes all of the time.
    – DForck42
    Jan 13, 2015 at 21:15
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    I strongly share this opinion. Licensing changes at the whim of the vendor and isn't something that can't be changed, unlike version X of DBMS product Y. Once released, that DBMS will (hopefully!) continue to function in highly predictable ways in response to the state we put it in. Licensing and EULAs aren't like that at all. However, I think a good answer for some questions might include some alternatives depending on which options the user has licensed (typically the Enterprise vs Standard edition distinction). Feb 16, 2015 at 14:29
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    @Colin Yes edition differences are on-topic because they're technical choices (but they should be version-specific too, as what's in what edition can change between versions). The money part, or discussions about whether their current license allows them to use x edition in y scenario, or what licensing change they need to support that, do not belong here.
    – Aaron Bertrand Staff
    Feb 16, 2015 at 14:42
  • Has there ever been any mention of possibly creating a canonical Q&A such as on serverfault for licensing?
    – Reaces
    Sep 16, 2015 at 11:07

Some of the questions and answers we have on the site are useful and I think DBA.SE is making the internet a better place by hosting them - I wouldn't like them to be banned altogether here like on SF because we don't have the same reason: they have unlimited scope as they cover thousands of software packages and license agreements.

I do think we should make sure the scope remains limited here, by:

  • Only allowing questions about standard license agreements - if you have a bespoke license, ask a lawyer.
  • Adding a disclaimer on the tag saying "Please don't think you can rely solely on advice given on this site", or perhaps something a bit stronger.
  • Encouraging folk to add a disclaimer to their answers like Justin has here ("Advice from some guy on the internet holds up about as well as you might expect...") Or I do here ("As with any licensing question, I'd suggest you read Oracle's info carefully including the full license and satisfy yourself that what you want to do is OK rather than just taking my word for it.").

In the end I think we have to assume we are dealing with responsible adults - relying on bad advice on the internet is stupid whether it's about licensing or DB backups, and the experts here are able to give informed opinions about either within our scope.

  • 4
    I would like to point out that you are not supposed to rely solely in anything posted in these Sites. Don't we have a disclaimer about that already? (I am serious, I don't recall if there is) I agree with you there are useful license questions, but as with everything the OP is responsible for what he does with the information he gets here and in other SE sites.
    – Dzyann
    Jan 8, 2015 at 15:42
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    SE is protected stackexchange.com/legal and we should be too per TOS. This site has never stood in as a professional consultant, we are at best merely sharing our expertise for free.
    – jcolebrand Mod
    Jan 11, 2015 at 23:32
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    As long as it's not a legal liability, DBA.SE seems like a really good place for licensing discussion. The upvote and editing systems mean that the content will improve over time - maybe even stay relevant - and the timestamps that permeate each question/comment give a pretty clear sense of whether the information will still be relevant. As a DBA, licensing gives me more headaches than major system failures, and I'd like to be able to draw on the thoughts of others. Jan 13, 2015 at 2:31

Already some good answers have been given but since in last part you talked about help so here is a bit

but then again we can give some help as well.

A little help which I know from MSDN forum which Microsoft Contingent staff provide to such question is You can also call 1-800-426-9400, Monday through Friday, 6:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. (Pacific Time) to speak directly to a Microsoft licensing specialist.

Please note Microsoft Contingent staff are not Employees of Microsoft but are experienced professional hired by Microsoft for some tasks. They don't speak on behalf of Microsoft

If OP is talking about volume License This site and this site has few contact numbers to contact with Microsoft Volume licensing of few region. Personally I have not tried it

Finally How Volume Licensing in SQL Server works.

This is just the help not the answer the answer to the OP's question would only come if he speaks to Licensing expert of his region or if he can understand complex terminology he can read Microsoft Volume Licensing Guide

  • Small additioin on the volume licensing thing.... The rules for VL are not set in stone. Always check with your LAR for advice, but don't be afraid to ask for a side-letter on your true-up or initial contract. Especially for larger accounts there are many exceptions possible that could safe you heaps of money! Also note that there are many fine-print issues in the VL contracts that are open to interpretation. If you find such a thing that is relevant for your sit., note it and discuss it with your LAR, they will gladly put it forward within MS to get an ok. Done this many times with success.!
    – MvdMunnik
    Jan 25, 2017 at 12:55
  • The third link in your answer is dead.
    – mathewb
    Oct 10, 2017 at 19:54

I personally think that with the limited scope of packages here that that may be permissible. I'm certainly willing to give it a shot. Often times, licensing is already tricky. However, that may prove to be anti-intentful in the future.

  • 1
    +1 limited scope is the difference here Nov 17, 2011 at 20:59

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