For many of Microsoft’s® server products such as Windows® Server and Exchange Server®, you are required to license the server as well as the Client accessing the server.

Microsoft® offers two types of Client Access Licenses (CALs) – User CALs and Device CALs. Both options are priced identically but the access rights differ.

Choosing the right CAL for your organization can lead to significant cost savings. From October 2011, the default option for the Enterprise Agreement is per user but this is not always the best option.


In order to determine which CAL is required, apply these simple rules:

  • Identify your usage needs
  • Decide whether device or user CALs would be the better option
  • Define the number of CALs required


Here are some examples to help you better understand how to calculate the needed licenses:

Let’s say you have an organisation with 500 users accessing Windows® and SQL servers®; the default would be to purchase 500 Windows® User CALs and 500 SQL User CALs. If we take a deeper look into the organization, we see that they have a call center with 90 users in 3 shifts working on 30 Desktops. Under these conditions, the correct licensing should be to purchase 410 User CALs and 30 Device CALs, this will save the company 60 CAL’S and provide a significant cost savings.

Let’s look at another example. The organization has 12,000 Desktops and Laptops and 10,000 employees (accessing Windows® and SQL Servers®), the simple solution would be to purchase either 12,000 Device CALs or 10,000 User CALs; but let’s take a deeper look. There are 3,000 users that have 2 Desktops (on 2 separate networks), 1,000 users have both a Desktop and Laptop, 2,000 employees do not have access to a PC (Blue collar workers) and the remaining have 1 Desktop. The optimized licensing scenario would be to purchase 4,000 User Cal’s (covering 8,000 Desktops) and   4,000 Device CAL’s for the entire organization, resulting in a cost savings of over 2,000 CAL’s.


Please be aware that if you are purchasing a Core CAL or Enterprise CAL suite, you are not able to mix and match the user and device licenses.

Plan carefully and understand you organization’s needs and only then purchase the correct licenses. Paying attention to the details can save you a lot of money.

Nov 2016