Windows Remote Desktop Services CAL

Pretty frustrated with Microsoft making things so complicated. I'm trying to build a new terminal server; because my old one is 2003. I was going to purchase RDS user CALs and decided to call Microsoft first. I was told that when I run out of CALs for users that I could reassign it to a new user if the old user leaves. Ok, so then he states I have to call Microsoft each time I need to do this.

This sounds very annoying. My old Terminal server didn't require this. I always thought it was a concurrent connection type thing. Meaning you could only have a certain amount of user connected at the same time depending on how many CALs you have. Now it sound like the server 2012 will use up a CAL automatically the first time a user logs in.

OK so then I figure a per device CAL might be a better solution, but the Problem is I already purchased extra Server 2012 User licenses (Not RDS); which is also required.

Does anyone know if this is really true or not with the info I got? I recently built a new Exchange server, and was told Microsoft licensing was now a honor system. So basically all I needed to do is make sure I had all  the right CALS purchased. Is this a true Statement?

If anyone can help me understand this I'd appreciate it...

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Nick RhodeIT DirectorCommented:
Microsoft is following the honor system and they are concurrent.  There are different types of CALs.  Device and User CALs are basically the same CAL but it depends on your business needs.

Device CALs:  You would want to purchase these if you have more users than devices in your environment.  A device CAL applies to each system so anyone who logs on that system takes up a CAL.  This is typically for those environments where you have more staff than devices.  Example would be if you have 30 systems and 60 users.  You are running 2 shifts so each device has 2 users using 1 system.  To save you money on CALs you would use device CALs.

User CALs:  These are for people that are accessing the server at one given time.  These are basically general for the infrastructure.  If you have 2012 CALs this applies to your environment and not individual servers.  So lets say you have 5 servers and 10 users.  You do not need 50 CALs and instead would only need 10 CALs (one for each user) accessing your 2012 environment.  I typically do users CALs for the amount of staff I have.

On another note with the same scenario if you have 10 users divided between 2 shifts (so 5 on 1st shift and 5 on 2nd shift) you would only technically need 5 CALs.  Because you will only have 5 users connecting at one given time.

To Summarize Device and User CALs:  You don't use both Device and User CALs.  You would only purchase one or the other depending on your business needs.

Exchange CALs:  This is pretty much the same scenario as User CALs.  Exchange CALs are more expensive but you want one basically for each mailbox being created on the exchange server.  These are also per user which also applies to if they have multiple devices connected.  So if you have your phone, tablet, and PC connected to Exchange, you are only using 1 Exchange CAL for that user across all of their devices connected to Exchange.  What this means is you will have some users constantly connected with their devices so you would most likely want a CAL for each mailbox on the exchange server.

RDP CALs:  Again pretty much the same exact thing but are required if you are going to have an RDP server.  These are not user based and are instead Session based.  So you would want at least an RDP CAL for each active session at one given time.  So if you have 50 users total but only like 10 people will be using the RDP Server.  You would only need 10 RDP CALs.  These CALs are then installed through using the RDP License Manager.

Microsoft follows the honor system and you no longer have to install CALs of any kind.  You just have to purchase them and they will be in your volume account or by some other means.  The only CALs you have to install are going to be on the RDP server to monitor active sessions. You just have to have them on hand and have an accurate number of CALs for your business.  So if you have 50 users and purchase 5 user CALs you are expected to purchase the amount required for the users that connect.  If you don't purchase the necessary amount of CALs and technically void their honor system, you could be subject to an audit from Microsoft in which they could give you a hefty spanking.

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jkellyg78Author Commented:
This is what I thought originally. I appreciate your thorough response. It's frustrating when you have a sales rep not know what they are talking about.

Thank you Very much Nick for the Clarification!
David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
Please note that the answer below is what I have been led to understand from my reading and experience with Client Access Licensing.  I am not a lawyer nor am I a Volume LIcensing Specialist from Microsoft

You are talking 3 different types of Client Access Licenses
Server - requires a CAL for each user that directly or indirectly connects to the server
Exchange - each physical user requires a CAL .. accounts like / / do not require CALS.  There are standard and enterprise CALS, Enterprise CALS are add-ons to the standard CAL.

RDP user CALS are only needed for the users that actually use RDP and require no intervention..  Keep a paper trail/log  of your adding / removing users from the remote desktop users group.

Device CALS on the other hand can only be re-assigned every 90 days. (i.e. the minimum lifetime that the CAL is in effect is 90 days)
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jkellyg78Author Commented:
This is exactly the info I was looking for! I also very much appreciated how quickly I got a response! Thank You Nick!
jkellyg78Author Commented:
Hey just a follow up question. With Office, how does the licensing work with installing it on a Terminal Server? Is it the same as with the CALs, meaning concurrent connections?

David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
(a) you must install it from VL media
(b) a license is required for every user that uses it directly or indirectly
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Windows Server 2012

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