Microsoft CAL and server license prices headed up

Significant price increases loom for enterprise products, but you probably don't need to worry about it -- yet

The Microsoft blogosphere Richter meter spiked earlier this week when word spread that Microsoft has a 15 percent price increase for User Client Access Licenses (CALs) coming on Dec. 1.

In fact, it's old news. Microsoft told its Large Account Resellers (LARs) about the price increases back in October. Sources as diverse as Bytes Technology, SoftwareOne (PDF), and SoftcatNews have been talking about the changes since mid-October.

Some Microsoft volume licensees now are in a snit because they think their CAL fees are headed up -- not so. If you have a volume license agreement (VLA) with Microsoft -- even a multiyear agreement -- the prices in the agreement still apply, and the User CAL increase will only kick in when the VLA comes up for renewal.

It's significant that the price increase doesn't affect "Device CALs" -- licenses that apply to individual pieces of hardware. The increase only applies to "User CALs," where individuals are licensed to use the server products. Historically, Device CALs and User CALs have been priced at around the same level; after Dec. 1, new VLAs will increase User CALs costs, while Device CALs will remain the same.

Most companies are moving quickly from Device CALs to User CALs. In general it doesn't make sense to license individual pieces of iron in an environment where employees are starting to use a wider array of devices. Per Microsoft:

CAL changes include a user-based option that offers more value in support across unlimited devices and simplifies licensing management and compliance as devices in the workplace proliferate. Pricing for user CALs will change to reflect the increased value.

In other words, Microsoft wants a bigger slice of the tablet/smartphone/BYOD pie.

Client licenses are only part of the price increase picture. Microsoft's also jacking up the price of many server products and consolidating versions in the process. The price of SharePoint Server 2013 is 40 percent higher than SharePoint 2010, although SharePoint 2013 includes several features that were expensive add-ons for SPS 2010. Microsoft has dropped Lync Server 2010 Standard, the low-cost version, but Lync Server 2013 is about 10 percent less than the old Lync Server 2010 Enterprise. Project Server has gone up 15 percent.

As usual, there's a mind-numbing array of licensing details and hundreds of pages of official Microsoft licensing documentation, peppered with a nearly infinite collection of three-letter acronyms. The most thorough discussion I've seen online comes from Directions on Microsoft.

This story, "Microsoft CAL and server license prices headed up," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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