Exchange Server 2007 licensing explained

Licensing options for Exchange Server 2007 have been significantly changed. Scott Lowe cuts through the clutter with this tip on the licenses you will need when migrating to Exchange Server 2007.

If you've worked with Microsoft products for any length of time, you know that someone at Microsoft is tasked with making life a wreck for the customer who actually tries to figure out some of Redmond's processes and procedures. Take Exchange Server 2007 licensing options for example, which have been significantly changed. In this tip, we'll look at the factors you need to consider when migrating to Exchange Server 2007, including both the server-side and client access licenses (CALs) you may need.

Server-side licensing

As has been the case with Exchange for quite some time, the server-side of Exchange 2007 is provided in either a Standard or an Enterprise package. Before Exchange 2007, the primary differences between the Standard and Enterprise editions included:

  Standard Edition Enterprise Edition
Number of storage groups per server 5 50
Total possible databases per server 5 50
Maximum database size (per DB) 16TB 16TB
Clustering Not available Available
Local replication Available Available

When it comes to database size, Exchange 2007 does not make any differentiation between the two editions. Each database can be up to 16 TB. Where Exchange 2007 Enterprise beats out Standard is in the number of stores and storage groups available on the server. The Enterprise edition also features clustering options not available on Standard, such as Single Copy Clusters and Cluster Continuous Replication.

Client-side licensing

Longtime Exchange admins probably expect some server-side licensing differentiation. What is different with Exchange 2007, however, in the fact that Microsoft is also making feature differentiation on the client access licenses necessary for every user that uses Exchange. Exchange 2007 features two client access licenses, also called Standard and Enterprise, but in no way related to the server edition names. Further, if you want the benefits of the Enterprise CAL, which includes Unified Messaging, you need to purchase both a Standard and an Enterprise CAL. Exchange 2007's CALs are what Microsoft calls "additive" meaning that you need to stack the licenses in order to get all of the features of all licenses. See the table below.

  Standard Enterprise
E-mail, calendars, contacts, tasks Yes No
Access via Outlook Web Access Yes No
Exchange ActiveSync (to sync mobile devices) Yes No
Unified Messaging No Yes
Per-User or Per-Distribution List Journaling No Yes
Managed E-mail Folders No Yes
Exchange Hosted Filtering No Yes
Forefront Security for Exchange Server No Yes

Notice that normal e-mail functionality is not allowed with just the Enterprise CAL. If you want e-mail, calendaring, and other typical Exchange functionality, you need to buy the Standard CAL. If you want advanced features, such as Unified Messaging or Forefront, you need to buy two CALs.

Note that Standard vs. Enterprise is not an all-or-nothing proposition. For example, if you have only a few users that need functionality provided by the Enterprise CAL (such as Unified Messaging), you need only to buy Enterprise CALs for those users. For all others, you can stick with the Standard option.

To add another wrinkle to the mix, you must also decide whether or not you want to pay Software Assurance (SA) for your Enterprise CAL. If you do not subscribe to SA with your Enterprise CALs, you cannot use Exchange Hosted Filtering or Forefront Security for Exchange as these are subscription services. See my previous tip for an explanation of Exchange Hosted Filtering.

If you currently have an older version of Exchange and are paying Software Assurance, you are entitled to Exchange 2007 Standard CALs only.

By Scott Lowe

Since 1994, Scott Lowe has been providing technology solutions to a variety of organizations. After spending 10 years in multiple CIO roles, Scott is now an independent consultant, blogger, author, owner of The 1610 Group, and a Senior IT Executive w...