Microsoft is delivering Cloud services through products such as Intune and Office 365. These products add a layer of complexity to the Client Access License (CAL) software asset management challenge.

Microsoft Enterprise Agreement (EA) customers have the option to trade their on premises perpetual licenses for subscriptions for Office 365 and Intune. Access to server workloads such as SharePoint, Exchange, Lync and Project is already part of the subscription delivered with Office 365. As a result, the Microsoft Office 365 online subscription overlaps, to some extent, and does not exactly match the entitlement delivered with the Core and Enterprise CAL Suites. For customers already owning Core or Enterprise CAL Suites, a migration is path is provided with the CAL Suite Bridges. The overall idea is to break the existing CAL suites into (1) the products(s) subscribed from Microsoft cloud services and (2) the remaining entitlements not covered by these subscriptions. These are regrouped into what are called CAL Suite Bridges as shown in the first table below:

CAL Suites Bridge Table 1

The following table describes the coverage provided by Cloud services and CAL Suite Bridges across the Microsoft products:

CAL Suites Bridge Table 2

Office 365 and Intune do not provide any rights to Windows Server CAL. Most organizations want to keep everything integrated that is, to some extent, under their control. For instance, if Office 365 is offered to on premises users, they will likely use Windows Server resources such as a network printer or file share; these Windows Server features require a Windows Server CAL. Off premises users may never use these services; however, if Active Directory is used to manage these users, a Windows Server CAL is again required for each of them or their corresponding devices. Some other features provided by Office 365 that also require a Windows Server CAL license include: the use of the free/busy status and shared calendars available from Exchange Server and Lync Server online components; these indirectly access Windows Server resources, thus requiring a Windows Server CAL license.

This seems easy enough, however there are several caveats. First, there is a set of criteria required to use the CAL Suite Bridges— among them an Enterprise Agreement with Online Service terms enabled (or any EA past July 2011), a companywide commitment to the Core CAL Suite or Enterprise CAL Suite with Software Assurance (SA). As a company moves some or all of the organization toward cloud services, users or their associated devices subscribed to these services, should likely be covered by a CAL Suite Bridge license. The remaining professional desktop users should be covered by existing CAL Suite licenses. If an organization under an Enterprise Agreement decides to subscribe a subset of its users to a Microsoft Cloud service and chooses not to purchase the corresponding CAL Suite Bridge, it will lose the enterprise platform discount for all other professional desktop users.

Second, Office 365 and Intune are licensed per user and provide coverage for up to 5 devices, whereas, the CAL Suite and CAL Suite Bridge licenses are licensed either per user or per device, and the EA considers qualified desktops – devices for licensing. This could lead to situations where a different metric would be applied for the same user/device depending on the license or subscription considered. Microsoft provides the option to exchange user CALs for device CALs under SA, or the reverse, at the contract anniversary date with a 1:1 ratio. Organizations that transition through an Enterprise Agreement to Microsoft Online services always have the option to move back to an on premises solution. Continuous SA coverage is required. An additional subscription license purchased on top of the licenses transitioned to the Cloud cannot be brought back on premises.

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IT Asset Management

It all starts with knowing what’s in your IT ecosystem. Flexera One discovers even the most elusive assets whether on-prem, SaaS, cloud, containers and more.

Microsoft has a very attractive cloud service offering. As much as possible, they have tried to smooth the transition from on premises products to cloud; however, there are many constraints and caveats to consider. To resolve these issues requires a state of the art license management and Software License Optimization tool.

If you missed part 1 of this blog series, click here.

If you missed part 2 of this blog series, click here.