Core CAL, Enterprise CAL Suite Changes Affect Microsoft License Costs
24 March 2011

Frances O'Brien

Gartner Research Note G00211995

Product changes to the Core CAL and Enterprise CAL Suites will benefit some organizations. But others may find the reshuffled lineup of products contained in the Core CAL Suite increases their Microsoft licensing costs.

News Analysis


On 21 March 2011, Microsoft announced that effective 1 August 2011, several changes will be made to the Core Client Access License (CCAL) and Enterprise Client Access License (ECAL) Suites.

  • Lync Server Standard Client Access License and the Forefront Endpoint Protection (FEP) service will move from ECAL Suite to CCAL Suite.

  • Customers with active Software Assurance (SA) on the CCAL on 1 August 2011 will receive the use rights to both products without having to pay for the underlying license.

  • The price of the CCAL suite will increase by approximately 10%.

  • The price of the ECAL Suite Step-up will decrease by approximately 10%. The price of the ECAL Suite remains the same.


These changes may affect the way organizations license the Client Access License Suites, Lync Server (formerly known as Office Communications Server) and other products.

Lync Server SCAL provides access rights for instant messaging (IM), presence and PC-to-PC voice and video. FEP builds on System Center Configuration Manager and provides antimalware and security services to the Windows desktop and server operating systems. Moving these two license rights to the CCAL Suite will:

  • Enable the CCAL Suite to more closely mirror the Office 365 offerings, ensuring a cleaner transition to CAL Suite Bridges.

  • Increase usage of the products, particularly for organizations that are already licensing the CCAL Suite, since they will be granted use rights without having to pay for the license cost. Customers that are licensing the Lync Server Standard CAL as an individual component in addition to the CCAL Suite enterprisewide may pay less despite the price increase. Others may find the new CCAL attractive if they are planning to use IM as their primary interface for computer-based, real-time communications.

Microsoft has not increased the price of the CCAL Suite since its inception in September 2001. The additional functionality included enhances the value of the CCAL Suite, thus justifying the increase. CCAL Suites are priced at about 22% less than the cost of purchasing the individual CALs. However, since they are suites, they may contain access rights that organizations do not need.

This change is particularly important to customers that license the CCAL Suite in an Enterprise Agreement (EA) or other Volume Licensing Program that requires them to license their entire enterprise with the suite. Today, the Lync Server Standard CAL can be licensed as an individual component for a subset of an organization's base. After it becomes part of the CCAL Suite, organizations will lose that as an option (unless they negotiate otherwise). Programmatically, Microsoft does not allow customer to license individual CCAL components in an EA.


  • Contact your Microsoft representative or Large Account Reseller (LAR) and ask for a briefing on the updated CAL Suites and how they will affect you from a licensing and financial perspective.

  • Look at the individual cost to license the functionality you need. You may find that if you want to use several of the items included in the CCAL Suite, the entire suite is less expensive than the components.

  • If you don't use all of the licenses contained in the CCAL today, re-evaluate whether you want to continue to license in that manner and risk adding more possible "shelfware." This is particularly important if you license the CCAL Suite in an EA or other Volume License Program that requires licensing the entire enterprise with the suite.

  • Evaluate each CAL component on its own merits to determine if the functionality you will be receiving equates to the price you will be asked to pay. Next, determine whether that functionality is something you want to make available to all users or just some. Prepare various scenarios that consider requirements for functionality, how many users or devices will require that functionality, and when it will be deployed.

  • Evaluate the cost of the individual component CALs for some users or devices compared to the packaged price for all.

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