Understanding SharePoint 2010 licensing is like walking in a maze. You think you are on the right path, then you turn left at a corner and, boom, dead end. I’m kidding but not entirely.
Find the right information
The first place to start is going straight to the Microsoft SharePoint WebSite. Under the “Buy it” section, check the licensing details page. Microsoft ask five questions.
- What features of SharePoint does my company need?
- Is my company providing SharePoint to internal users (employees) or external users (suppliers, customers, vendors, and the public)?
- How many servers will run SharePoint?
- How many people or devices will access SharePoint?
- Is my company licensed for the Microsoft products that are needed to run SharePoint?
The features and its dependencies
Choosing the right feature sets is very important. SharePoint 2010 come in three formats:
- SharePoint Foundation
- SharePoint Server plus Standard CAL
- SharePoint Server plus Enterprise CAL
The comparison edition is here. Enterprise Edition includes the features from Foundation and Standard. And Standard Edition includes Foundation features.
Who are my users and where they come from?
That’s other important question to answer and it will have a dramatic impact on the licensing cost. SharePoint licensing divide the users into two groups. The Internal and the External users. And then these users must be counted. Counted users refer to a licensing model based on Client Access License (CAL). Otherwise, the licensing is refer as a Server License model.
How many servers will run SharePoint?
From a technical point-of-view, we usually ask this question in order to deliver performance as an answer. But from a license perspective, this answer will have its impact on the cost. Many IT departments like server architecture going oversize, not too much, but enough to be comfortable. That kind of architecture is easier to make. With SharePoint, however, going oversize will increase the budget dramatically.
How many people or devices will access SharePoint?
Here again the licensing model is devided in two group. The CAL can be based on the number of users, which typically means one CAL per user. Or it can be based on device (computers, smart phone, servers), regardless of the number of people who use that device. Which one to choose? It really depends on how the users interact with the system, and how many of them using it at the same time.
And not only SharePoint Licenses are required…
Nope, not only that. Licenses must be acquired for the Windows Server hosting the SharePoint application as well as SQL Server hosting the databases. Then again, licensing will apply in different way based on users or device, processors, RAM needed and so on…
And how about third party applications?
Yeah, this is another good question. Do you want to use FAST search engine? Office Web Applications? or any third party solutions provide by another software company? All of this will have an impact on costs. And each of them have its creative way to calculate the license costs. So think about it very seriously.