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SQL Consilidation question

I am fairly new to SQL. I have built many basic SQL servers, but have never tried consolidating them. I am looking for ANY and ALL advise for doing this. Here is the situation.... I have approximately 12 instances of SQL running throughout my network. Each instance contains 1 database per. Some of the instances are full blown SQL, others are SQL express. I would like to consolidate these SQL instances into one server, running all of the databases. At this point, I am not even sure where to start.

I have been looking into licensing and keep getting several different answers on how I should do this. The SQL server would be running on a VM. Each Virtual host has 2 quad core processors. I was thinking about licensing 4 cores and running one server on these four cores. I have been told though that if I want to be able to migrate this server from one host to another, I would need to license all 8 cores. Then I am told that I can run as many SQL servers as I want and migration is not an issue. Well, licensing cores is not cheap and I don't want to Over-license if I don't need to.

I am looking for advice as to how I should do this. Anyone have any advice for consolidating my SQL instances?
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"12 instances of SQL" doesn't make sense.
SQL is a query language not something that is installed or even has an instance

That's like saying: I have 12 instances of Java running...

What exactly are you talking about?
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I have 12 separate SQL servers, running different versions of Microsoft SQL.
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