Microsoft Licensing: Part 2 (licensing without CALs)

In last night’s post about Microsoft software licensing, I looked at the concepts around client and server licensing components – including the various client access license (CAL) models that may be applied. In this post, I’m continuing the series by looking at products that are licensed using a per-processor model.

The first thing to note is that Microsoft’s per-processor licensing model relates to physical CPUs – it is effectively a per-socket model – and there is no consideration as to the number of logical CPUs that a multi-core CPU provides. Put simply, one processor license is required for each processor in the server and no CALs are required.

The per-processor model also covers unlimited internal and external users and the three main Microsoft products available using this model are all products that could be expected to form part of an infrastructure that requires access from outside the organisation (and so for which purchasing CALs would not be practical):

  • BizTalk Server.
  • Commerce Server.
  • Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server.

SQL Server 2005 is available using either a per-processor or a server plus CALs model. Where CALs are in use, they are equally applicable to direct connections, or to multiplexed connections where some sort of device is used to pool hardware or software. The important point to note is that any transfer of data using hardware or software needs CALs (e.g. Excel reports that are automatically updated from a SQL Server) but manual reports that do not subsequently access the server (e.g. a snapshot of data forwarded by e-mail) do not require a CAL.

The licensing model for SQL Server 2008 is yet to be announced; however SQL Server 2005 supports three types of failover:

  • Database mirror.
  • Failover cluster.
  • Backup log shipping.

In all three of these models, an active/passive model is used and one server is designated as the passive server with its sole purpose being to absorb the data and information held on another server until it fails. Passive servers do not need to be licensed as long as the processor count is less than or equal to the number of processors in the physical server. The passive server can run for 30 days before it is considered active and must be licensed accordingly, although it is possible to transfer the license from the active server if that is no longer online.

One model that would require licensing is using a passive database mirror for snapshot reporting (whilst the active server answers standard database queries). In this scenario, the passive server is effectively active and would need to be licensed.

Whilst describing per-processor licensing for BizTalk, Commerce Server and ISA Server, I commented that it can be difficult to judge the number of CALs that are required where external connectivity is concerned. For this reason, an external connector is available for organisations that wish their business partners to be able to access their network. There is no requirement to count CALs as each external connector license assigned to a server permits any number of authenticated external users to access it; however the external connector is in addition to the server license and there are rules to apply in order for users to qualify as external – namely that they must not be employees, onsite contractors or agents of the company or its affiliates. Employee access will still be subject to client access licensing and there is one further exception in that the external connector cannot be used for hosted services.

External connectors are available for:

  • Windows Server.
  • Terminal Server.
  • Exchange Server.
  • Office Communications Server (OCS).
  • Office Project Portfolio Server.
  • Office Project Server.
  • Office Performance Point Server.

Another special licensing condition is for Internet-facing websites where there is an Internet Sites Edition available for Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Office Forms Server 2007 (replacing the 2003 Internet Connector license). Again, this does not cover hosting scenarios and all content, information and applications must be for non-employees (for employee use, the normal CAL model would apply).

Finally, for all those hosting environments that the licensing models above specifically exclude, Microsoft does make provision for selling software as a service using a service provider licensing agreement (SPLA). This allows for a service to be provided to customers through the Internet, a telephone network or a private network on a subscription basis within a hosted environment (e.g. hosted Exchange Server mailboxes, charged on a per-mailbox, per-month basis).

That’s a summary of the main models for licensing Microsoft software without CALs. In the next post in this series, I’ll look in some more detail at the licensing models for each of the main server products.

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