Understanding Microsoft Server Licensing

Posted on 2011-09-20
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I am somewhat new to the whole server world, and am trying to get a good understanding of how server Licensing works...
If the server is only going to be utilized as a workgroup, do I still need CAL's...thanks
Question by:Daniel Fishkin
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LVL 95

Accepted Solution

Lee W, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 36571738
Absolutely.  You definitely need CALs.  Further, CALs are NOT concurrent.  Each User CAL is assigned to a NAMED user (not user account - a USER).  And each Device CAL is assigned to a physical Device.  

Author Comment

by:Daniel Fishkin
ID: 36571762
OK, so if I understand, I would need CAL's for each of the employee's who plan on logging into the server...
what if I have 3 admin assistants, can I use one CAL for them, if I set them all up with the user "Office Asstant"?  thanks
LVL 95

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 36571775
No, as I said, they are NAMED users - not User Accounts.

And all it takes is an employee who gets annoyed with you to call the BSA and report you.

Further, CALs are not very expensive - ESPECIALLY if you are using a workgroup because then you wouldn't normally have many users.

Of course, you COULD buy Server 2008 R2 Foundation Edition - that doesn't require CALs (or comes with them, depending on your perspective) but is LIMITED to 15 users.

Also, you could get SBS 2011 Essentials - offers some great remote access features but REQUIRES a domain config - will also backup workstations - but doesn't use CALs either (like Foundation - although the user limit is 25).
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Assisted Solution

dswatt earned 100 total points
ID: 36580489
It is dependant on what and how your network is setup. provides a really good article and helps explain, Microsofts licencing model is overly complex and sometimes needs direct conversation with a MS rep to fully understand the options / benefits.
Device CALS maybe an option for you if you have multiple users using the same device.
As Leew mentioned CALs are relatively cheap.
LVL 95

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 36581057
Device CALs are not frequently a good option.  Most people that might share devices at work (based on my experience as a consultant) end up connecting remotely from home, use a phone to keep up with E-mail hosted on an exchange server, or something else like that.  If you used device CALs, then EVERY device that authenticates with the network would require a CAL - cell phones, user's home computers, office computers, iPADs, etc.  While you can mix them, in most environments, it's not worth it the administrative effort to license by device.  Exceptions do exist - such as the shop floor in a manufacturing facility where a shop employee ONLY uses equipment in the shop to control machinery and doesn't EVER need to log in to the rest of the network - but most companies don't have that kind of position.  Again, if you're small enough to be considering a workgroup (and if you have a server then you're large enough to have a domain, which is frankly, a better option), then you probably should be getting Foundation Edition or SBS Essentials (they are cheaper than standard server outright and as I mentioned before, don't require you to purchase CALs).
LVL 95

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 400 total points
ID: 36581064
While I agree, on some things and with some programs, MS licensing can be extremely difficult to read, in this instance, based on what you've asked, it's pretty straight forward.

Author Closing Comment

by:Daniel Fishkin
ID: 36584927
Thank you...I think we will be going with SBS essentials...

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