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Can you help me with my software licensing question?

I'm in the process of setting up a new SQL server for a web hosting company. The company hosts some 500+ websites across 4 Windows 2003 servers. SQL 2008 Standard - Processor License has been purchased. The new server is going to employ Windows 2008 Server.

The question is: SQL 2008 is Processor Licensed, but Windows 2008 has 5 CALs - how do CALs work in this case? The connections to the Windows 2008 server is going to be through those websites via ODBC connections, a handful of people using management tools connecting directly to the SQL instance, and RDP to the 2008 server. How do CALs work with SQL connections - is one user CAL needed per person on a website? Does each webserver connecting to SQL consume one CAL (requiring 4 then)? Or is it not a concern with the processor license purchased for SQL?

marked as duplicate by Rob Moir, Iain Jan 27 '12 at 16:48

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migrated from stackoverflow.com Nov 17 '09 at 0:53

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Internal-use licensing agreements (volume, OEM, or full package product licensing) do not permit hosting. A company (such as your web hosting company) that provides any kind of hosted services for third parties using Microsoft products must instead license software under the Services Provider License Agreement (SPLA). This program does not use user or device CALs in the same way that the internal-use licenses do; see the Understanding the SPLA Licensing Models page for the available options.


You really need to talk to your Microsoft Sales Rep to get a usable (ie will hold up in court) answer to this question.

Folks here can offer their opinions, but what you need is something in writing from the giant corporation who's licensing you don't want to violate... :-)


I think the CAL's are just for the developers - the people connecting to the SQL server directly. It will be your web server that is connecting to the SQL server database so you wont need a CAL per web site visitor.

For more info see their site...


Cals and per processor licensing do not apply in the hosting model as you are specifically prohibited from hosting under those licenses and must acquire licenses under the service provider license agreement. Microsoft has seperate licensing to protect the windows brand; since no one's going to blame joe's hosting for getting hacked they are going to blame microsoft. There are specific architectures and guidelines (and special support) available under those plans. Without getting SPLA licensing you run the risk of being shut down at any time.

  • For what definition of hosting? Licencing reps have always made it clear that providing services using MS products is acceptable, providing MS products as a service requires special licencing. Taken to the extreme the per processor and web products could never be used but yet they exist. Clearly it is purposely left grey so that MS can grab as much as possible without it being thrown out as an unreasonable clause. A good example of why no one here can give a definitive answer and why we don't have licencing questions. – JamesRyan May 8 '14 at 12:14
  • The definition of hosting is clear in the case of web hosting providers. There are no definitive licensing answers here (see the reason this question is closed) the best you will get is an educated guess regardless of vendor. If you want licensing expertise- ask the vendor. No matter who it is I am positive you will get an answer for their licensing people. – Jim B May 8 '14 at 19:05