Thursday, July 12, 2012

SharePoint 2013 Licensing: What is the one thing that would really help customers?

By Jeff Cate, Founder and President, PremierPoint Solutions
This post falls into the “my two cents worth” category.
As most know, starting with the 2007 version of SharePoint, the product is available in three editions. In the 2010 version of SharePoint, those three are SharePoint Foundation, Server Standard, and Server Enterprise.  Microsoft publishes a good comparison of what you get in each edition here for SharePoint 2010.
I think most people know that the Foundation edition of SharePoint does not require any additional license purchase other than Windows Server licenses and Windows Server CALs.  People often talk about the Foundation Edition being “free.”  We could debate whether or not this is really true given that Windows Server licenses are still required, but that debate is not for this post.

The Server Standard edition is not free.  It requires one server license for each server in the SharePoint farm.  It also requires SharePoint users to have a Server Standard Client Access License (CAL).  Both of these licenses are sold through Microsoft Volume Licensing and its volume licensing partners.
The Server Enterprise edition requires one server license for each server in the SharePoint farm, and this server license is the same license that is required for a Server Standard farm.  There is no distinction between server licenses for a Standard farm vs. an Enterprise farm.  There is a distinction between the two editions for the user CAL.  To use the Enterprise edition your users need BOTH a Server Standard CAL and a Server Enterprise CAL.
So, let’s look at a licensing\pricing example using pricing from the Microsoft volume licensing partner, CDW.
(Note: Licensing details and pricing for SharePoint 2013 have not been published yet by Microsoft.  So, for this post, I am going to use current SharePoint 2010 license pricing and assume that the pricing for the 2013 version will be similar.)
Pricing for volume licenses for SharePoint 2010 depends on the volume level that will be purchased.  In this example, I am going to assume that the volume is relatively low and select licenses from CDW at what is referred to as the “Microsoft Open Business” licensing level.
Here are those prices from CDW’s site (as of June 28, 2012):

License Name
CDW Price Per License
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Server license
CDW #: 2076079
$ 4,646.99
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Standard CAL
CDW #: 2076078
$ 93.99
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise CAL
CDW #: 2067864
$ 82.99

So, let’s say your company has 300 users and plans on a SharePoint 2010 farm architecture of 2 web front-end (WFE) servers.  Here is what your licensing costs would be for Server Standard vs. Server Enterprise:
SharePoint Server 2010 Standard for 300 users and 2 WFE’s:
$ 37,491 = ((2 * $4646.99) + (300 * $93.99))
SharePoint Server 2010 Enterprise for 300 users and 2 WFE’s:
$ 62,388 = ((2 * $4646.99) + (300 * $93.99) + (300 * $82.99))
So, what is it about the upcoming SharePoint 2013 licensing that I think would really help SharePoint customers?
A lot of SharePoint procurement decisions would be much easier if Microsoft also included InfoPath Forms Services in Server Standard instead of only in Server Enterprise.
I can’t tell you how many consulting clients and students I have talked with over the past three years who have said that the only feature they use regularly in Server Enterprise is InfoPath Forms Services, and they feel it’s unfair to have to pay  the premium price  to get this one feature.
Don’t get me wrong.  There are some great features in addition to InfoPath Forms Services in Enterprise that provide value to a lot of companies.  But, the need for InfoPath Forms Services is very widespread as opposed to the need for Access Services, for instance.
Also, I can’t tell you how many others have made the decision to just forgo solving business problems that require electronic forms, just because they can’t see paying $82.99 per user (an addition to $ 24,897 or 40% of the total licensing cost) for the Server Enterprise CAL just to be able to use InfoPath Forms Services.

Here’s an idea: Maybe Microsoft could move InfoPath Forms Services from Enterprise to Standard and then just increase the cost of the Standard CAL to cover the added value.
Anybody out there feel the same about this as my consulting clients, students and me?  Anybody happy with the way it is and would like for it to stay that way?