This is a question to help make a decision based on the Microsoft stack.

Once biz spark is over, how will the licences cost for stackoverflow? 2 db servers 5 web servers at last count?

  • 3
    Please consider contacting Microsoft for licensing information regarding their products.
    – Pollyanna
    Dec 14, 2009 at 21:55
  • 1
    What are you talking about? Dec 14, 2009 at 21:59
  • 2
    Biz Spark is a microsoft program for startups that allows the startup to use high-end microsoft software at huge discounts and sometimes for free for a period of time. After that they have to pay the full fee. SO is built with SQLServer, IIS, and a few other expensive microsoft products, so once they are no longer covered under the biz spark program they'll have to pay full price.
    – Pollyanna
    Dec 14, 2009 at 22:09

3 Answers 3


You should look at SQL Server licensing costs first, which are incredibly expensive.

Windows Server licenses are quite inexpensive in comparison. SQL is what gets you. I mean, SQL Server licenses are "if you have to ask how much it costs you can't afford it"1 expensive.

It's particularly irritating that Enterprise edition is the only version of SQL that can do live (online) index rebuilds, for no technical reason whatsoever. Purely a market segmentation marketing weasel "feature".


read and weep.

1 aka "bend over"

  • 5
    Jesus f'ing christ.
    – Phoshi
    Dec 15, 2009 at 9:23
  • @Phoshi You seem surprised.
    – alex
    Dec 15, 2009 at 9:59
  • I expected "stupidly expensive". I was not prepared.
    – Phoshi
    Dec 15, 2009 at 12:06
  • 1
    There's a big cost jump from SQL Standard to Enterprise ($6K/CPU for Standard vs. $25K/CPU for Enterprise). The prudent path is generally to target Standard features first, and move up to Enterprise if/when the cost difference can be clearly justified.
    – RickNZ
    Dec 15, 2009 at 14:07
  • Don't think MS is alone here though, just look at Oracle and DB2 license costs, or the cost of running an AIX server with Power 5's. It makes my eyes hurt.
    – C. Ross
    Dec 15, 2009 at 14:14
  • Keep in mind that a good programmer that can get MySQL to do what SQLServer makes easy (with the given stack, etc) is far more expensive than $25k per year, and even if you go the consultant short term route it may still be more expensive over time than a license for SQLServer. But there's a reason lots of people go with MySQL, Postgresql, etc, and then move up to an enterprise server only when justified.
    – Pollyanna
    Dec 15, 2009 at 14:34

It's not cheap. But the idea is that either (A) your business is successful and you can afford it — I get the impression that StackOverflow isn't too worried, for example — or (B) your business failed, in which case you just stop using the product and owe nothing.

Personally, I think most of us still need to worry about option (C) where you're still just limping along and hardly have any spare cash. But if that's the case at least you probably still have everything on one server, and perhaps you can manage with something like the Express Edition of Sql Server.

  • They aggressively segment their market, though, so in theory you only pay for as much server as you actually use. If you are getting lots of business, then you will get and can afford lots of servers. If you are getting little business, then, in theory, the costs for the servers are lower. However, there's a sticky spot where you are getting lots of hits (such as SO) but not very much revenue (turns out programmers aren't a good advertising target) so the cost of the servers may be disproportionately high compared to the revenue, even though there are lots of customers. (ie, option D)
    – Pollyanna
    Dec 14, 2009 at 22:26
  • Yes this is the situation I am worried about, Imagine if twitter didn't have investment, and could only suvive by scaling massively. Even with their stack, they still had problems. (although I think they are ruby(complete guess) so maybe it's especially bad for performance). Dec 14, 2009 at 22:47
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    @Pollyanna: if you have a lot of traffic and still can't monetize it well enough to pay for the software, that's still just option (B): failure. Dec 15, 2009 at 1:06

This is probably where SPLA licensing comes in to play. We use it to cover some 60+ machines for a SaaS environment.

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