The latest generational release of HP ProLiant and IBM System x features a major overhaul in both server design and technology. One key challenge arose from changes in Microsoft’s licensing of SQL Server 2012. This is because the licensing for these has changed to a per-core basis versus the per-processor licensing offered by previous editions.
This has caused a financial disadvantage. For example, the Microsoft SQL 2008 licensing for 6-core HP ProLiant DL380 G7 or G6 server has a list price of $7,600. In order to run a comparative 6-core HP ProLiant Gen8 server with the required 2012 enterprise edition, the list price is $82,488. You will see the same drastic price difference with IBM M4 versus M3 servers and SQL licensing, which will undoubtedly cause problems for any IT budget.
If you would like to run a version prior to 2012, you will need to purchase the licensing for the 2012 version, then roll back to an earlier edition (the earliest edition you can roll back to is 2008). If you have an earlier version such as 2003, then there is no upgrade path to the 2012 version – meaning that you will pretty much have to start out fresh or wait until they figure out a way to successfully migrate.
So why upgrade to HP ProLiant Gen8 or IBM System x M4 servers? In G7 or M3 servers, the fastest quad-core processor available is the X5687, which has a clock speed of 3.60GHz 4-cores and a 12MB cache. If you can find them, the fastest quad-core processor available for a Gen8 or M4 server is the E5-2643, which has a clock speed of 3.30GHz 4-cores and a 10MB cache. If you want to save time and money on licensing and can get by with 4 or 8 cores (dual CPU) in your SQL server, it may make more sense for you to go with G7 or M3 servers instead of the latest generation.
The Gen8 and M4 servers, however, offer many more 6-core processor options, as well as new 8-core processor options. However, since the new licensing is on a core per-core basis, it will be costly. So, if you are running 6-core or 8-core processors, then the HP ProLiant Gen8 and IBM Systemx M4 servers do have an edge performance-wise, if not price-wise. And with approximately $75,000 in savings, price-wise will likely be the key decision-maker.