SharePoint 2013 Licensing is a little confusing!

If you do not  have access to an account manager at MS, then you have to best guess licensing for SharePoint 2013.  If you do that, then you need to base your guesstimates on the Microsoft Open License without software assurance.

It is usually more cost effective to have software assurance but only if you want to maximise all the benefits of the Assurance programme.

So, for on-premise SharePoint 2013 without assurance, you need to start by considering what your user base looks like and consider a few standard architecture questions?

  • How many users will you have?
  • What does their profile look like (heavy search, light collaboration for example)?
  • How many are internal?
  • How many are external?
  • What features do I need to exploit?

This is important as Internal users will require a CAL which is about $100 per user in US money.  User numbers (and usage profile) affect farm shape and are metrics that are will be used for  Capacity planning and each server in your eventual farm will require a server license. So the  number of users and the farm shape deployed may increase the cost of the server licensing.

SharePoint 2013 search unlike Fast in 2010 has no additional licence costs to consider other than server costs as per SharePoint server licensing, so thats a step in the right direction but can still add licence costs per server in multiples of around 6K.  Interstingly, SharePoint 2013 is no longer supported as an install on Windows Web Server. This closes a very useful licensing

loophole that made CALs unnecessary in some situations.  However, you must not also forget that you need to add SQL and Windows Server licences and farm shape and cluster choices can push these up hugely.

Also, 2013 introduces something called User License Enforcement capabilities that enable the definition, assignment, and mapping of licenses to users associated with specific Active Directory security groups. For example an administrator can map Enterprise features to individual users who appear in the ‘Enterprise CAL’ Active Directory security group or limit usage of Duet capabilities to users in the ‘Duet CAL’ Active Directory security group. The assignment of license is based on individual users Active Directory security group membership.
There are five basic CAL categories that may be assigned which include Standard, Enterprise,

Project, Duet, and Office Web Applications (OWA) and some like Duet and OWA will cost you more money as you also need licences from SAP or for OWA your internal users need office client licenses.

If you are not sure of which 2013 features you might need to exploit and from which SharePoint 2013 version, look at he comparison chart provided by MVP Dave Coleman:

By default in SharePoint Server 2013 User License Enforcement is disabled when SharePoint Server 2013 is deployed and must first be enabled to begin assigning, using, and implementing user licensing capabilities. You enable it via powershell so is an admin function.  When User License Enforcement is enabled, usage data is logged and access to unlicensed features are blocked at runtime if the user does not have the appropriate license assignment. You need to decide if you want to have that enabled to somehow help you manage licence costs for non-enterprise feature only users.

CAL’s only apply to internal users, but how do we define one of those.  Well, given all external users get access to SharePoint 2013 standard and all enterprise features at no additional cost you have to know the difference.  You need to be aware that Internal users are a company’s employees, agents, any affiliate, partners or contractors working on your companies behalf.  Frankly it’s a little vague but if they are not at arms length from your company they are likely to be an internal user. All other users are considered external users and do not need licensing, thus removing the extortionate cost inhibitor that existed with internet enabling SharePoint 2010.

So, you need to purchase SharePoint 2013 server licences, internal user CALs, SQL server licences, Windows server licences and office client licenses.

Office 365 users get 10000 external user CALs so there is a tipping point in there that should push you to 365 if you have a lot of internal users who are theoretically external users.

There is also something new to attach to SharePoint 2013 coming along called the Audit and Control Management Server 2013 (ACM). Microsoft Audit and Control Management Server 2013 automates internal control over business-critical spreadsheets and Access databases through system-wide monitoring of changes, exception reporting, and review and approval workflows.  I have no idea what this might cost to add alongside SharePoint 2013 but you can read about it here:

SharePoint 2013 still isn’t exactly cheap (although relative to the benefits it brings it probably is), but it certainly is moving the right way for Internet enabled services, for me licensing is still way to damned confusing.