Have you ever felt bewildered and confused by the licensing models of Microsoft products in general and SharePoint Server 2010 in particular?
It's quite an irony that procuring a productivity boosting platform like SharePoint seems an arduous task in itself with so many different options available to choose from! Well in fact, it's not as complicated as it seems. In this post, I will try and explain the various licensing options available with SharePoint 2010 in a simple manner.
The first step is to understand the different flavors of SharePoint 2010 available in the market. It comes in 4 editions viz., Standard, Enterprise, Internet Sites Server Standard, and Internet Sites Server Enterprise.
The first two are targeted at organizations looking to provision a business collaboration platform within, whereas the Internet Sites Server editions are meant for public facing internet sites and / or extranets.
Be it the intranet flavor or the internet flavor, as you may have guessed, the difference lies primarily in the features and functionalities offered by Standard and Enterprise editions. You can find a detailed comparison of editions here.
In a nutshell, over and above the features of Standard edition, the Enterprise edition provides us with certain additional features including:
· Services like Excel Services, Visio Services, InfoPath Forms Services, Performance Point Services
· Business Intelligence features like Calculated KPIs & Dashboards, Business Intelligence Center, PowerPivot for SharePoint
· FAST Search features like Contextual Search, Extreme Scale Search, Visual Best Bets, Similar Results (Note: This requires a separate FAST Search Server license)
· Business Data Web Parts and integration with Office Client
Based on your need, you may choose which version suits you the best and start planning your software infrastructure.
Over and above the server licenses, you would need to purchase separate CALs (Client Access License) as well for accessing SharePoint Server. It could be a Device CAL (i.e., per device) or a User CAL (i.e., per user), and it comes in 2 flavors again - Standard and Enterprise. Standard CAL is mandatory whereas Enterprise CAL is an additive license on top of Standard CAL, which needs to be bought along with the Enterprise edition of the server.
However, if you're planning to only provision customer facing public internet sites, you're better off going with the Internet Sites Server editions; the main advantage being that you wouldn't need to purchase separate CALs.
Along with these, if you are looking to have FAST Search provisioned on your sites, you would need to buy a separate license for that as well.
SharePoint Server 2010, being a 64 bit only platform, requires a 64 bit server operating system like Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 and SQL server 2008 R2 x64, which need to be procured separately apart from the hardware required to run your planned infrastructure.
Having noted all the above, you must be wondering if there was any simpler way to get indicative software license costs for the intended infrastructure so you can plan out your budgets!
Microsoft comes to the rescue here again. Use the online Microsoft License Advisor, which is an excellent utility for choosing a Volume Licensing program that can best help your organization simplify license management. Get started with the "Build Quote" option to get Estimated Retail Prices for the entire software infrastructure you want to have.
A sample report that I generated using this utility for a simple 2-server scenario is shown in the snapshot below.
Note that these are estimated retail prices. Based on the relationship your organization has with Microsoft, appropriate discounts would be applicable.
Do spend some time with the License Advisor, and I am sure you will find it worthwhile.