AD liscences and stats

pma111 used Ask the Experts™
Am I right in thinking ad liscences work on a concurrent basis (whats the actual name)?

So say you regularly have 500 users connected to your AD concurrently you need a 500 users concurrent liscence?

How can an admin or auditor see how many are connected to an AD at one time, or over a weeks worth of stats to check they have got a lawful liscence?
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Director, Information Systems
It may not make sense, but all your answers are here:
They are referred to as CALs.

So many are included in your installation of server, but you may at a later date need to add more CALs.

I think SBS comes with something like 50 or 75 CALs to begin.

So you would need 500 CALs if you have 500 users connecting at the same time.

If a user is logged in from two different computers at the same time, that is also counted as one each I believe.
Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information Systems

CALs come in two flavors: User CAL or Machine CAL.  These describe the maximum number of whatever you want to be able to connect at one time.  Which you choose depends on how you use your network.
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So if you have a 500 cal if 505 try and access does it just say no to the last 5 or is it based on company trust. Is there anyway to see when the 500 is exceeded if its not blocked to gauge just how honest the company has been?
Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information Systems

Something like that.  There's a licensing utility in Windows that will tell you how many CALs have been applied to that server and how many are in use.  It should be in the Administrative Tools section.
We had this issue, and it wasnt as easy to pinpoint that CALs were causing it.

Some users would be able to log in and some would not.  Some could print and some could not.

It caused alot of little quirky issues that took forever to troubleshoot.

Once we applied more user CALs, we were good to go.


What does a cal retail for? If you buy more (lots) do they become discounted? Or are 500 concurrent 500x what one costs?

So are we saying its impossible to breach what you've paid for? Ie a 500 cal and 700 trying to access concurently just won't happen so there's no need to worry about the it manager lying the technology prevents more access than you've paid for?
for us it became a problem when we got around the 50-75 CALs that comes with SBS.  It wasnt exactly 50 or 75, but around that number, given that some users login more than once on multiple machines.
Paul MacDonaldDirector, Information Systems

Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
So far the responses have been wrong or at best, misleading.

Microsoft DOES NOT license concurrently.  If you have 500 users but only end up with 250 connecting at any one time, you STILL need 500 CALs (assuming all users would potentially connect from home, cell phones, tablets, and workstations at the office).  There CAN be exceptions but none come to mind.

Microsoft licenses are ADDITIVE. There is a base (my word) CAL (Client Access License) that grants rights to access the basic functions of the server (generally, all the features included with Server EXCEPT Remote Desktop).  If you want to use Remote Desktop Services (RDS), you need to get RDS CALs which DO NOT include the base CAL rights, so you'd need both.

There are generally two types of CALs - USER and DEVICE (not "Machine").  You can mix them.  Or you CAN just buy one per user to be safe.  For example, if you are a manufacturing company with a staff of 30 in the administrative office and, say, 6 machines on the production floor that your manufacturing staff of 60 uses on a regular basis and they DON'T access the network any place else, then you can get 30 USER CALs for the administrative staff and 6 DEVICE CALs for the production staff for a total of 36 CALs.  Instead of 90 USER CALs.

In MOST cases (RDS and SBS 2003 were relatively recent exceptions), there are no mechanisms built in to Microsoft software to track licensing (RDS is an exception) or otherwise enforce it.  It's an honor system.  Should you get audited, you won't go to jail, but you'll have to prove you had the correct number of licenses at the time the letter was sent (before you received it).  Otherwise, they SUE you for damages, often many times the value of the license if you had purchased it when you were supposed to.  This can be a VERY expensive penalty, especially when you add in the legal fees.  Businesses can be put out of business if they violate licensing and it doesn't matter if you have 5 employees or 5000 or more.

Licensing CAN be discounted.  But it depends on who you buy from, like anything else.  Microsoft does not sell CALs direct to consumers.  You buy through partners and authorized vendors.  Get a quote - or a few - if you need MANY.

SBS does NOT come with 50 or 75 CALs.  SBS comes with FIVE CALs.  It has a MAXIMUM of 75 CALs (SBS 2000 had a maximum of 50).  Server GENERALLY comes with 5 CALs and Enterprise comes with 25 CALs.  

User CALs are assigned to HUMAN BEINGS.  NOT User Accounts.  You can't cheat (legally) by creating a "user" account and having 5 people use it - doesn't matter - you still need 5 User CALs.

Similarly, Device CALs are assigned to Devices.  Any device that authenticates on behalf of a user requires a Device CAL if the user doesn't have a User CAL.  Example, a user who gets their e-mail on their Cell Phone, Tablet, Office Computer, Company Laptop, Home Computer, and occasionally at their local public library public computer, would require SIX Device CALs - one for each.  So it's clearly much more cost effective to get that user a User CAL.  

As I understand it, the only VALID proof you have the correct licenses for your network is to provide RECEIPTS and copies of invoices.  Volume Licenses you purchase as shown on the Volume License Service Center may also be valid.  Keys and Certificates of Authenticaty do NOT count.

I'm very - BUT NOT 100% - confident in my statements above being true and accurate.  HOWEVER, Licensing is a VERY complex topic - there's a certification exam on it!  And if you are concerned, you should contract with a consultant experienced in licensing who can audit your network - and talk to your accounting department to gather proof of purchases for your software.

Finally, my
DISCLAIMER: Licensing advice offered here is a "best effort" and based on the understanding of the respondents. Licenses can change and we may not be aware of these changes or may misunderstand them. Further, licenses can differ by country and/or region and what we understand to be true in our region could be false in your region. "they told me on Experts-Exchange" will not be a valid defense in a software audit.  All licensing questions should be confirmed with the appropriate licensing authority (the maker of the software/issuer of the license).

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