Microsoft Licencing Question

Posted on 2012-08-21
Last Modified: 2012-08-23

I haveasked the below question to several Microsoft resellers and have received a mixed response so i though i would ask here.

I have multiple sites.  1 is Head Office, the others are branches.
Head Office has an AD server and 2 x RDP Servers (load balanced)
The branches have their own AD server.

Head Office has an Enterprose Accounting System to which all users access, Head Office staff directly, branch staff via RDP. This works perfectly. All users autheticate against the Head Office AD Server (local users obviously and branch staff for RDP only) however i am about to upgrade the Head Office AD and RDP servers to new boxes and 2008 Server.

As i will have 40 RDP sessions availible do i need to buy 40 RDP CAL's and 40 User CAL's for the RDP servers?

As the AD server will directly authenticate 30 local users but a further 40 will only authenticate for RDP will i need 30 + 40 User CAL's  for this box too?

Your help appreciated.
Question by:tmaster100
    LVL 13

    Expert Comment

    by:Norm Dickinson
    According to what I could find, yes - you need an RDP license on top of a standard CAL. Here's what Microsoft says:

    Microsoft licensing policies for Windows Server Remote Desktop Services, including the components that are included in Windows Server 2008 and Windows Server 2008 R2, require that in addition to a Windows Server Client Access License, Microsoft Core CAL Suite, or Microsoft Enterprise CAL Suite, you must acquire a Windows Server 2008 RDS CAL for each user or device that directly or indirectly accesses the server software to interact with a remote graphical user interface (GUI) (using the Windows Server 2008 R2 Remote Desktop Services functionality or other technology).

    Also found these resources which may help:

    Activate a Remote Desktop License Server

    Specify the Remote Desktop Licensing Mode on an RD Session Host Server

    Remote Desktop Services Client Access Licenses (RDS CALs)

    Licensing Remote Desktop Services

    Remote Desktop Licensing

    I hope this helps - it is a complicated issue and seems to change from time to time and depending on who you talk to. On this particular issue, however, you can't just go on the honor system - they actually enforce the licensing after the first two simultaneous remote clients log in.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    Thanks but it still leaves the question on whether i need CAL's for the remote users that only authenticate onto the AD server for access to RDP.  I understand local users will need CAL's as they do more then be a part of the AD but remote users are doing nothing other then authenticate on it.
    LVL 13

    Accepted Solution

    You will need an RDP CAL for each user that uses RDP. The licensing is set up to enforce that part of the policy.

    The other part of your question is whether you need a CAL like the one a local user would need, for the remote user. According to what Microsoft said above, my interpretation is that yes, one is required by the terms of the license in a strict interpretation. However, note that on Server 2008 and Server 2008 R2, the licensing for local CAL is strictly done on paper - there is no electronic component or software component to enforce the licensing. So do you "need" one to run? Absolutely not. Does Microsoft "require" one to be in compliance? Yes - according to everything I can find. Will it work without one? Yes - unless you happen to be audited.

    I personally like to have all of those licensing in house in case I ever get audited, and I sleep better at night that way, albeit on a less expensive mattress because of the cost of the licenses. :-) Hope this helps.

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