Windows server CALs

jeffharrison used Ask the Experts™
What is the difference between a Terminal Services CAL and other CALs? I was under the impression that ALL CALs were for terminal services. What other place would you use CALs?
Watch Question

Do more with

Expert Office
EXPERT OFFICE® is a registered trademark of EXPERTS EXCHANGE®
Distinguished Expert 2018
Windows Server needs windows CALs. Exchange server needs exchange CALs. SQL needs....yup....SQL CALs. And RDS (formerly terminal services) needs RD CALs. No, not all CALs are terminal services CALs. And *most* server workloads require a CAL of some sort for users or devices.
Network Administrator
There are CAL requirements for most of the Microsoft server suites from file server access to terminal services, to Exchange and Sharepoint... Microsoft charges for everything connecting, and to everything they connect to.... It is one of the most convoluted and hard to follow systems I have ever seen...
Server requires a cal for each seat OR concurrent connection to the server.
SQL also requires a CAL for EACH database connection.
Exchange requires a CAL for each mailbox store.
Sharepoint has a CAL requirement.
So do Lync and System Center.
Simple answer is yes there are different cals for term server clients. If just for rdp then you don't need any additional cals.
Amazon Web Services

Are you thinking about creating an Amazon Web Services account for your business? Not sure where to start? In this course you’ll get an overview of the history of AWS and take a tour of their user interface.

Distinguished Expert 2018

Incorrect. You need a windows CAL and an RDS CAL for rdp. RDS CALs are "additive" and don't replace th need for a windows CAL.
Don't need rdp cals for remote administration....  Multiple rdp clients serving different clients then yes...


So if I purchased the attached item, what am I getting? Is this just a license for 5 people to use the server as a file server?
Distinguished Expert 2018

That is one possible example, yes. But to appropriately license your server, define its workloads first THEN work with a licensing specialist. Don't buy CALs then try to figure out what you can do with them. That's a bit backwards.
Mohammed KhawajaManager - Infrastructure:  Information Technology
Rule of thumb is that a user needs Windows CAL if he/she is accessing any Windows Server (ie logging on to a domain, accessing file server, printing, etc).  In addition to this, if user is accessing any resources/app via Remote Desktop then RDS CALs are required (formerly known as Terminal Services CAL).  Then there are specific application CALs such as Exchange, SQL, SharePoint, etc.  

As an example, a user logs on to the domain, accessing SharePoint site, runs an application via RDP and Outlook connects to Exchange, then the user needs Windows Server CAL, RDS CAL, SQL CAL, SharePoint CAL and Exchange CAL.  SQL CAL is required for SharePoint unless SQL server is licensed per core instead of user.
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013
It sounds like Cliff is correct and you need to talk to someone who can examine your business, what you do, and help you understand what licensing you are in need of.

A few common misunderstandings:
1. Per User Licenses are per HUMAN BEING, not per user account.  You CANNOT create one account and have 5 people use it with one license - you would be in violation.
2. Licenses are NOT FOR CONCURRENT USE - meaning, you can't buy 5 licenses and be legal if you have 15 people connecting to the systems but never more than 5 at once.
3.  LIcenses are NOT TRANSFERRABLE MORE THAN ONCE EVERY 90 DAYS!  (This is how concurrency is basically voided).  The only exception is for employees who are no longer with the company - though for some services with licensing enforcement, you may be out of luck anyway (like RDS services).
4. Licensing by Device CAN be an alternative to per user HOWEVER, MOST of the time, it's cheaper to get a Per User CAL.  Per Device CALs CAN make sense where you have, for example, cashier's who ONLY ever use a Windows Terminal to sell things - they don't ever sit in front of another company computer.
5. When licensing by device, ALL devices need CALs if they are to use services provided by Windows - INCLUDING DHCP.  This means, tablets, cell phones, computers, laptops, copy machines, etc.
6. You CAN mix Device and User CALs.

Confused yet?  If so, it's just illustrating the point that Licensing from Microsoft is complex and you should probably bring someone who understands it reasonably well into your company to advise you.

Do more with

Expert Office
Submit tech questions to Ask the Experts™ at any time to receive solutions, advice, and new ideas from leading industry professionals.

Start 7-Day Free Trial