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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

I have a Windows server which requires many (~200) remote servers to dump stats on it. The way I understand the licensing is that I would require a Windows Server license with the number of CALs depending on how many devices would be accessing it.

Is it a legitimate loophole to use a linux box as the dumping ground for the stats and then the linux box dumping the files on my Windows server?

Am I missing something here?

Any other smart ideas?


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migrated from Feb 11 '10 at 0:06

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by Mark Henderson Jan 15 '12 at 5:35

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

wrong forum site to ask this question. – Numenor Feb 10 '10 at 15:48
this should probably be on Serverfault – Irwin M. Fletcher Feb 10 '10 at 15:51
Cheers. Is it possible to move the question? Although I am asking a question to provoke the minds of creative system architects. – Anonymous Feb 10 '10 at 16:16
No, this isn't a loophole. If only the linux box connects to the server, then it alone needs a CAL. BTW, CALs are per device & per user. So if 30 people log on to / access the server to use the data dumped by your linux box, they need CALs. – Joe Internet Feb 11 '10 at 0:15
Also, yes, this would be a good idea WRT licensing, but perhaps in this case Linux/FreeBSD/OpenSolaris/some OSS operating system might be the better choice for this application. Then you would need no CALs. Unless you really need MS technology for some reason, you might explore these options. – Joe Internet Feb 11 '10 at 0:24

With the realization that you're asking about licensing, consider having those 200+ servers save their data to a RDBMS instead. Perhaps an intermediary process that parses those files (I am thinking webserver log files?), and writes to a DB.

Your app reading the stat likely is architected with the file-system in mind, but there are so many more good things that can come from ditching the file-system.

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+1, for talking about using a database for storage of data! – Nate Feb 10 '10 at 15:56
A RDBMS is already part of the plan. The intermediary process would need the files to be local... this would count as the device accessing my server. Are you suggesting the intermediary process access the files on the remote device? – Anonymous Feb 10 '10 at 16:13
If you're looking to reduce licensing costs then you'll want to avoid MSSQL for the RDBMS then because the terms of the licensing for that can't be sidelined that easily. – Helvick Feb 11 '10 at 0:14
Depending on the type of database required there may be no seperate licensing costs involved in using sql server on web edition. – Jim B Feb 11 '10 at 12:50

You have a couple of options. Option one is to get an external connector license. This eliminates the CAL requirement (unless these are all your systems). Another option is to pull the data rather than push (I've always thought it was dumb of microsoft to license by access but it clearly states that CALS are required for devices that access the server in question- not the other way around), in which case CALS are the other guys problem. Lastly use a web edition if you can. All content on a server running Windows Web Server must be accessible to users outside the organization that owns the server; licensing rules dictate that the product may not be used to host employee-only material (doesn't mean that data can't be encrypted or has to be meaningful to all users).

There is a complete and extensive licensing guide available here (including a CAL decision tree)

While I don' have enough information on what you need to do to tell you if it's cheaper to use a non microsoft based solution as a whole, I can say that you cannot remove CAL requirements by using an intermediary device.

If this is a web based solution you should also consider SPLA licensing, which also eliminates CAL requirements (but changes the whole pricing model)

Here is a list of the other exceptions to the CAL requirement:

If access to the instances of server software is only through the Internet without being authenticated or otherwise individually identified by the server software or through any other means

If access is to Windows Web Server 2008 or Windows Web Server 2008 R2

If external users are accessing the instances of server software and you have acquired a Windows Server 2008 External Connector license for each server being accessed

For up to two devices or users to access your instances of the server software only to administer those instances

If you are using Windows Server 2008 R2 solely as a virtualization host (you will still require CALs for your appropriate WS edition running in the virtual machine(s) )

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