SharePoint 2010 Licensing Part VI: FAQs

I’ve tried to cover a lot of information in this SharePoint Licensing mini-series, but there is still a lot of information to cover.  For lack of a better format, I’m also including a SharePoint Licensing FAQ.

Q: My company has a lot of employees that will be using SharePoint 2010.  Can we just purchase the SharePoint 2010 for Internet Sites license and use that?
A: No.  If you will have “private sites” are to be used exclusively by employees, then site needs SharePoint Server 2010 plus at least the SharePoint 2010 Standard CAL for each employee that will use the site.  In reality, if you have 1200 sites in your SharePoint 2010 environment and a single site is ‘staff only’, then you need to purchase licenses based on CALs for your staff.

Q: Does every server in the farm need SharePoint 2010 installed?
A: Every SharePoint server in the farm needs a server license, whether WFE, Index, Query, etc. – except for dedicated SQL Servers that are not running any SharePoint services.  If the server is running any of the SharePoint services, then you must ensure that the server has the appropriate SharePoint 2010 license.  Additionally, each SharePoint server needs the same set of server licenses. For example, if you are running an Internet-facing farm that has 2 WFE and 1 index server, you must use the SharePoint 2010 for Internet Sites license on all 3 servers. If you are running a single 3-server farm that is supporting your Intranet, Extranet, and Internet sites, you must run 2 different licenses on each of the 3 server servers: SharePoint 2010 for Internet Sites (for public access) and SharePoint Server 2010 (for employees-only sites, for which you would also need appropriate CALs for staff).

Q: If we were to initially deploy the "Internet Server" version, would we be able to later launch private sites for users who were covered by individual CALs (staff)?
A: Yes. The SharePoint 2010 licensing model allows for both versions of the product (internal and external) to be installed on the same farm. If you deploy SharePoint 2010 for Internet Sites only, and then decide that you want to add sites for CAL-based users later, you need to purchase the appropriate CALs and the SharePoint 2010 Server license in addition to the Internet license. The Internet Sites license can not be used with CALs, because CALs are only usable with the SharePoint 2010 Server license.

Q: Where do I install a SharePoint 2010 CAL?
A:  You don’t install the CALs anywhere.  Like a lot Microsoft software, SharePoint 2010 environments are based upon the ‘honor system’.  You must have appropriate licensing to utilize the software, but there is no actual licensing check that will disable unlicensed users from accessing your SharePoint 2010 server farm.  SharePoint 2010 has usage logging that can be used to determine who is accessing your SharePoint 2010 environment(s) to help keep you licensed correctly.

Q: We want to deploy an EXTRANET – sites that will be used for collaboration between Staff and Non-Staff (partners, members, customers, etc).   What license do we need?
A: From my understanding of talking with tons of resellers and Microsoft Licensing Reps, Extranets are the one area that there is some licensing flexibility.  To be clear, we are defining a SharePoint 2010 Extranet as  containing collaborative sites that are not staff-only and do not allow public anonymous users (everyone is authenticated).  For this type of site, you could purchase the SharePoint Server 2010 license and the appropriate CALs for ALL authenticating users – staff and on-staff.  OR, you could purchase the SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites license and no CALs.  If you are wanting to run a single STAFF-ONLY site, then you must purchase the SharePoint Server 2010 and CALs.

Q: If we are deploying Excel Services, Access Services, or Visio Services, do we need licenses of Office 2010 for everyone?
A: Maybe. Users that are consuming Excel Services do not need to have Excel installed.  Same goes for Access Services and Visio Services.  However, any user that wishes to create spreadsheets using Excel to deploy on the Excel Services component of SharePoint 2010 Enterprise will need a license of Excel 2010. If your consultant or contractor is developing all of your spreadsheets, then that is the individual that needs Excel 2010 – not your staff.

Q:  I have external users that already have SharePoint 2010 in their own companies (not our company).  Can they be allowed to access our systems with their own licenses, or would we still have to purchase new CALs for them?
A: You cannot use CALs from an external company license for anything in your company.

Q: Do I need Microsoft Office 2010 to use Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010?
A: No.  In fact, you do not even need to use any version of the Microsoft Office desktop application to get a tremendous amount of benefit from SharePoint 2010. You can use SharePoint 2010 for content management, surveys, discussion boards, picture libraries, web pages, email record management, content types, and many other things (including document management for PDFs, PSDs, TIF, GIF, JPG, and many more non-Office document types) without purchasing or using any version of Microsoft Office. I’ve seen many articles/blogs/newsgroup entries that indicate that you need Office to use SharePoint – this is absolutely incorrect!

If you are using the document collaboration features, you can get a lot of benefits from using Microsoft Office.  The later the version of Office, the more features you will have access to.  You can, however, leverage older versions of Microsoft OFfice with SharePoint 2010, including Office XP, Office 2003, Office 2007, and Office 2010.

Q: Can I use FAST Search for SharePoint with SharePoint 2010, Standard, or SharePoint Foundation 2010?
A:  No.  FAST Search for SharePoint requires SharePoint Server 2010, Enterprise.  For internal use, you simply purchase the FAST Search for SharePoint server license.  For external use, there is no specific license to purchase.  You must purchase an additional SharePoint Server 2010 for Internet Sites, Enterprise, server license and add another server to the farm dedicated to running FAST.  Of course, larger environments will require more planning and architecture than ‘simply add another server’ – but hopefully you get the gist.

The previous posts in this mini-series include explanations of the different products involved with SharePoint 2010:

Hope this helps.

By John Stover

John Stover Bio.


  1. “For intranet solutions the Client Access Model remains with the need to buy both a Standard and Enterprise CAL **to access** Enterprise features”
    But what is still unclear regarding *access to features* is if there is a breakdown within enterprise licensing for consumption of information. For example, a company has 200 employees. 5 of these employees are responsible for creating & publishing Visio diagrams in SharePoint 2010. Does the company need to pay enterprise CALs for all 200 users for consuming the Visio diagrams, or just for the 5 publishers??

  2. Andy – It depends on how the 200 employees are making use of the Visio files. To create Visio documents, the 5 employees will need licenses of Microsoft Visio (this has nothing to do with SharePoint). These 5 users can store the Visio files in a SharePoint document library using any version of SharePoint (Foundation, Standard, or Enterprise). The 200 employees could open and view the Visio files using Microsoft’s free Visio Viewer. Again – nothing to do with SharePoint licensing yet. If you want to make use of SharePoint Visio Services, then you need to purchase SharePoint 2010 Enterprise CALs for all users that will be leveraging Visio Services – which means all 200 employees.

  3. We are proposing a Performance Management System to one of our customers. The total number of employees is 800. The system will have KRA and Goal setting, tracking and evaluation and finally rating with some calculations involved. What is the license requirement for this kind of a system? This is going to be a web based system which will be accessed across offices at various geographic locations.

  4. If you are using Excel Services, PerformancePoint Services, etc., then this will require SharePoint enterprise features! There are other options, though, such as using SharePoint lists for Goal setting, tracking, and even calculations. For dashboards, you can use SharePoint tools and even add-ons, like the Dundas tools for visualization.

  5. Hello John, hope you can help me with a matter blocking me right now. I am currently deploying a Sharepoint Architecture for my company, potential users for intranet page are 800 and only a bunch of them will explote BI features, so SharePoint Foundation seems to be enough for most of them, anyway we have bought SharePoint Server 2010 to support those few users using BI capabilities and their respectives CAL’s(Enterprise) but we would like to avoid cost of CAL for remaining users using only Foundations features. What could you propose as architecture? we thouhgt in separate deployments of Server and Foundation version, but is this the best approach? It seems like we are cutting intranet services in 2.

    Thanks in advance for your comments.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *