SQL Express Limitation in a Multi-tenant Environment

Dear All,

We are planning to implement a NAV2018 multitenant environment and considering SQL Express to go with it. I wonder if the restriction of 10 Gb per database stands for customer databases or is it the total size of every customer databases related to the application database.

Thanks and Regards,

You plan to implement a NAV 2018 multi-tenant environment, then I assume we also talk about quite a large number of users?

Technically then I quite sure you would not have any issues with the SQL Express license, but I’m not sure I would take the risk of everything stopping to work when you reach 10gb and it stop working. So you would need to test it.

And when you test it, then you should also performance test it. Because database size is not the only thing with a max. in the Express version. The Express version is severely limited compared to the other versions (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/sql-server/sql-server-2017-editions). That should much more of a concern to you.

Why not buy the SQL Standard run-time server license and CAL’s especially for NAV? It’s basically a give-a-way. And you would be correctly licensed.

First of all, thank you for your prompt answer.

Yes, there is going to be a large number of users and to minimize the costs we are considering SQL Express. We assume that our clients db won’t exceed 10gb of size for foreseeable future but as you said we should also consider other limitations of SQL Express for sure.

Obviously, we will make some tests but I wondered if anyone had experienced the limitations of db size of this kind of configuration because if the 10gb restriction is for a total of customer dbs related to app db, we will definitely eliminate this option.

Finally, thanks for suggesting SQL run-time server licenses but I think it may be costly regarding the licensing per user since we will have many users.

Then read my reply again!

Where as it may be fine with test and development and smaller 1-5 users production environments, but other than that then SQL SERVER EXPRESS edition should NEVER be used in production environments!

And that doesn’t really matter if we talk Dynamics NAV or anything else. It might be free, it might look and feel like a real SQL Server, but it’s not. You will end spend much more time, testing, downtime, and what if one of your database grows beyond 10gb? So you will need developer data archiving or make the current data compression work. How are you going to make your backups with no SQL Server Agent?

Try to search a little on Google about the real user experiences from running SQL Express. Every post I were able to find about it, said basically the same: Don’t do it!


If you’re doing this on behalf of a client, then it is unprofessional, if you do not also explain the risks and downsides to the client.

I did! I did! Don’t roast me, please [emoticon:c4563cd7d5574777a71c318021cbbcc8]

Since I hadn’t used SQL Express in the production environment before, I am trying to understand pros/cons thoroughly.

I clearly understood you are against it, and I read there are people out there had many issues with it but there are also people out there using Express in a production environment efficiently…


Anyways, I personally believe even for a smaller 1-5 users production environments, SQL express shouldn’t be an option and an implementation shouldn’t start with this kind of limitations, we will inform our client with all the pros/cons thoroughly and let them make the decision.

Not roasting your, at least not too much. [emoticon:4191f5ee34e248a29fa0dbe8d975f74a]

I have been in this industry for almost 30 years now, working with Navision since 1990. I have seen a lot of failed NAV projects and implementations. Typically because neither the partner nor the customer had any idea about what they were doing, or a project simply grew out of their hands.

And I have seen partners getting sued by clients and the other way around. That’s not just an American reaction.

Putting something like this up to a customer could result in a lousy performance, that they could end make you pay for the better license. Or take you to court.

Something else came to mind. I this a setup that you as a partner would run/host for your client? If it is, then you could benefit from SPLA licensing.

And also be aware that major changes to general NAV 2018 licensing is expected, when the “fall release” is coming. Around October 2018 Dynamics NAV will become Dynamics 365 Business Central and vice versa. When that happens, then we may also see major changes to the licensing. Even for on-premise licenses. Microsoft have not announced anything specific about what will happen. My personal guess that new on-premise licenses are going to be similar to Business Central. That would mean a change the named licenses and a subscription, rather than buying your own license. But as said, that’s just my personal expectations.

After some tests, I can safely say SQL Express will not be an option for the production environment for us, it especially lacks performance in a multi-tenant architecture.

Regarding the licensing thank you for reminding to benefit from SPLA and that seems the direction we will head at the moment.

Finally, thanks for sharing your insights. It definitely won’t surprise us not to have concurrent users anymore with the new release and that’s something we should adjust our organization sooner or later I guess.

Happy that I were able to help you.

The think with concurrent user licenses is that you barely see this license type anymore. Especially not in the SAAS world.

Another interesting thing to see is, who future pricing will compare between D365 Business Central on-premise, SPLA and SAAS. Especially if current perpetual on-premise licenses will be changed to a subscription model like SPLA and SAAS, or if that will be the case for all new BC licenses.

My guess that they may be announcing some of it at the Insipre conference (formerly WPC) in July.