Demystifying SharePoint 2010 Licensing – Part 1

Microsoft SharePoint 2010 is an enterprise collaboration tool from Microsoft which comes with lot of features like document management, collaboration, business intelligence, enterprise search and many more. SharePoint was initially released 10 years ago and since then has underwent lot of modifications and changes,The popularity and adoption of SharePoint among the enterprises also has risen meteorically during this period of time. However, the licensing for this product still remains a mystery for lot of people, time and again there are queries from customers and partners about how exactly the licensing works for SharePoint.

So let’s try and demystify the various facets of the SharePoint Licensing. It’s gonna be a long journey so it’s advisable to grab a cup of coffee to keep you hooked on to this till the very end (:-) just kidding!!!)

So, before we start to understand SharePoint Licensing let’s understand what are the various types/editions of SharePoint available

  • SharePoint Foundation
  • SharePoint Server 2010 – Standard
  • SharePoint Server 2010 – Enterprise
  • SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites – Standard
  • SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites – Enterprise

Before we dig more deep into other facets of SharePoint Licensing facets let’s understand some key concepts which will help us understand the licensing in a better way

External Connector Licensing:
An external user is a person who is not an employee or similar personnel of the company or its affiliates, and is not someone to whom you provide hosted services. Each physical server that external users access requires only one EC license regardless of the number of software instances running. 

If the workstations in your organization are networked, you likely depend on network server software to perform certain functions, such as file and print sharing. To legally access this server software, a Client Access License, or CAL, may be required. A CAL is not a software product; rather, it is a license that gives a user the right to access the services of the server

User CAL:
With the User CAL, you purchase a CAL for every user who accesses the server to use services such as file storage or printing, regardless of the number of devices they use for that access. Purchasing a User CAL might make more sense if your company employees need to have roaming access to the corporate network using multiple devices, or from unknown devices, or simply have more devices than users in your organization.

E.g. An employee in your organization will be able to access the SharePoint site from multiple devices since the CAL is associated to an user. The user is free to connect from any supported devices Desktop, Laptop, Mobile Devices, etc

Device CAL:
With a Device CAL, you purchase a CAL for every device that accesses your server, regardless of the number of users who use that device to access the server. Device CALs may make more economic and administrative sense if your company has workers who share devices, for example, on different work shifts.

E.g. The best example of a device CAL which comes to my mind is any device placed in a cyber cafe or a library where user change but the device remains the same. Any number of users can connect to a SharePoint site using the same device

Per Processor Licensing:
Under the Per Processor model, you acquire a Processor License for each processor in the server on which the software is running. A Processor License includes access for an unlimited number of users to connect from either inside the local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN), or outside the firewall (via the Internet). You do not need to purchase additional server licenses, CALs, or Internet Connector Licenses.

So, with the background set let’s understand this step by step.

SharePoint Foundation:
SharePoint Foundation is the free version of SharePoint. Did I say “free”- Yes I did and it is no hangover from the late Friday night :-). SharePoint Foundation comes free with Windows Server 2008 License. So if you buy a Windows Server 2008 License you get SharePoint Foundation free with it. However to run SharePoint Foundation on Windows Server 2008 you need to have proper Windows Server 2008 licenses.

SharePoint Server 2010:
SharePoint Server is the enhanced counterpart of the Foundation version and it is not free. You need to buy licenses for SharePoint Server 2010 if you need to use it. SharePoint Server 2010 is offered in two flavors viz. Standard and Enterprise

    1. SharePoint Server 2010 Standard = SharePoint Foundation + Additional Features
    2. SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise = SharePoint Standard + Additional Features

In SharePoint Server 2010 there exists three different types of deployment “internal” “external” and “mixed”

Internal External Mixed Deployment
Content available for the Internal Employees Content available for Non-Employees/External Employees Content available to both Employees and Non-Employees
Internal Deployment of SharePoint is the deployment which is accessed by internal employees, typically an intranet. External Deployment of SharePoint is the deployment which is accessed by the users who are employees, typically a public facing website or extranet Mixed Deployment is the deployment where the content is available to internal as well as external employees
Licensing: SharePoint Server 2010 License (Standard or Enterprise) + Appropriate Client Licenses (CAL’s) Licensing: SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites (Standard or Enterprise) + Appropriate Client Licenses (CAL’s) Licensing: Appropriate internal as well as external license required if content is both internal and external

Some Points to remember

  • SharePoint follows the traditional client/server model
  • SharePoint Server license is required on every server in the SharePoint Farm
  • No CALs are required for SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites

Let’s move forward…and discuss about some other Licenses which you need (typically not accounted for) in case of SharePoint Licensing. I do not blame those guys on missing out these because getting hold of SharePoint Licensing is a challenge!!

I am talking about the OS and DATABASE Licensing here. Yes, to run SharePoint you require a machine with OS as well as DATABASE to store the SharePoint Content. So Let’s have a look at these

SharePoint 2010 requires (or for that matter supports) the following Operating Systems

  • 64-bit edition of Windows Server 2008 Standard, Enterprise, Data Center, or Web Server with SP2
  • 64-bit edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard, Enterprise, Data Center, or Web Server
  • 64-bit edition of Windows Server 2008 R2 Service Pack 1 (SP1) Standard, Enterprise, Data Center, or Web Server

Windows also follows the client/server CAL model and use require appropriate User or Device CAL’s very similar to SharePoint. If you will be using the server for external users then you need to procure additional External Connector License as well (it is required per server)

Note: SharePoint 2010 also supports Client OS like Windows 7, VISTA but only for development environments. You cannot use them for production use fro obvious reasons.

SharePoint supports SQL Server as it’s backend database and the following versions are supported with SharePoint 2010

  • The 64-bit edition of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2
  • The 64-bit edition of Microsoft SQL Server 2008 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) and Cumulative Update 2
  • The 64-bit edition of Microsoft SQL Server 2005 with Service Pack 3 (SP3)
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Express (only supported in stand alone server configuration)

Some server products are available to be licensed on a “per processor” or “per instance” basis and SQL Server is also one such product. SQL Server follows both Client/Server as well as the Per Processor Model of licensing.

In the next part we will dive into more practical and real time licensing scenarios to understand this more better…stay tuned

SharePoint 2010 Edition Comparison and Licensing overview

Looking to buy SharePoint 2010, here are some links which will help you with the process

SharePoint 2010 – which editions to buy (Standard, Enterprise or Foundation?

Sharepoint 2010 Licensing Details