In a previous post, I spoke about licensing Window Server in a virtualized environment. Today, I’ll be addressing Client Access License or CAL, especially revolving around web facing servers, for Microsoft licensing. By web facing, I mean any server that services requests from any machine not owned by the firm. The underlying Windows OS license is not impacted whether it is web facing or private. Windows Standard is Windows Standard. To connect to a Windows server however, the machine in question needs to be accounted for with the purchase of a CAL. Purchasing a single Microsoft license of Windows 2008 Standard gets you 5 shiny core CALs, Enterprise gets 25 CALs. In the datacenter licensing model, no CALS are extended’ but as seen in the previous post, found here, the savings more than make up for a few missing CALs. One gotcha in Windows CALs is that they are OS specific. If your firm purchased Windows 2003 CALs, you would need to upgrade to Windows 2008 CALs to connect to a 2008 server.
What do you get with the Core CAL? Here is a quote lifted from the Microsoft website discussing the Core CAL. “The Microsoft Core CAL Suite encompasses four fundamental Microsoft server products that provide your people with identity management, directory services, enterprise communication (e-mail, calendar functions, and scheduling), collaborative workspaces, and asset management. ” The interesting part of that quote is you now get an enterprise communication, previously known as an Exchange CAL. You also get a SharePoint CAL, and a Systems Center Configuration Manager Cal: Previously SMS. Pretty good, for a MSRP of approximately $40 a CAL, you get access to the standard functionality found in a Microsoft based IT environment: Active Directory, file and Print, Exchange, SharePoint and SCCM.
There is also an Enterprise CAL suite. The Enterprise CAL gets everything found in the Core CAL, plus Office communicator standard and enterprise, Rights Management and System Center Operations Manager (SCOM, previously known as MOM), Exchange 2007 Enterprise and Forefront Security. The extra functionality will cost you slightly around $125 per machine. Microsoft recommends that if you are going to roll out two or more of the systems found in the Enterprise CAL, it’s in your best interest financially to purchase enterprise CALs. You don’t have to specifically run one or the other either. If you only have 20 users running Office communicator or SCOM, buy 20 Enterprise CALs and buy the remaining CALs as Core. In larger numbers , however, this could become a burden on management as you have to ensure that you carry enough Enterprise CALs. You can also buy CALs specifically for each of the products in the Enterprise CAL. Again, this might become a management nightmare when dealing with large numbers of clients.
Now on to web facing servers: if you know that only users from your firm using devices that are properly accounted for in the CAL count. Then you have nothing to worry about. However, if anyone connects to a web facing server using anything other than a device with a CAL, you might need to an additional CAL type. I say might because Microsoft recently added a limited use External Connector to their Windows 2008 Web Server SKU. Microsoft now allows for up to 50 concurrent connections to their Web server product. Now this only affects web servers, if you have a terminal Server or file, file and print or need more than 50 concurrent connections to a web site. You would need to purchase an additional product. Bring on the Windows Server 2008 External connector License: Big name, easy functionality. If machines are connecting to a server other than a 2008 Web Server OS and they are not accounted for in your CAL count; you need an external connector. Luckily, Microsoft doesn’t stick it to us that bad, and they actually dropped the price from the 2003 version. The external connector license now costs $2000 MSRP.
Another area, where Microsoft licensing gets a little extra money for web facing servers is through SQL licensing. Again, if you know exactly how many machines are connecting to a SQL server, you can buy that number of SQL CALs. You can purchase a Server plus 5 CAL suite of SQL Standard for $1849 with an additional CAL cost of $162 per client device. Now if you can’t guarantee that you know exactly how many users are going to connect through to your SQL server, such as in a public facing web server, you would need to license you SQL server by processor. This allows an unlimited number of connections, but it is significantly higher; $6,000 per processor. If you have a four processor SQL server, it would cost you $24,000. OK, you thinking but I only have one device connecting to it; the web server. Ah, good thought but Microsoft licensing has already blocked that play. They believe that the web server is not the client; it is only the middle man in the delivery chain. You need to license the individual client machine; IE Joe public sitting at his Vista laptop sitting his living room watching the latest episode of Heroes on DVR. Ahem, sorry moving on.
So hopefully that gives you a basic understanding of Client Access licensing. A post on Cluster licensing will follow.
Microsoft Windows 2008 pricing: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2008/en/us/pricing.aspx