What are the Microsoft CAL Suites?

The Microsoft Enterprise Enrollment provides an incentivised procurement model for CALs (Client Access Licenses) within a relational procurement contract that includes Software Assurance (SA)

Microsoft offers two Client Access License (CAL) Suites, the Core CAL Suite (CoreCAL) and the  Enterprise CAL Suite (ECAL), which provide access rights to a number of server products and online services.

    • The Enterprise CAL Suite includes all of the components of the Core CAL Suite. This means customers interested in the components unique to the Enterprise CAL Suite do not need to license both the Core CAL Suite and the Enterprise CAL Suite – The Enterprise CAL Suite is not additive but inclusive of Core CAL Suite.
    • Customers can acquire the Enterprise CAL Suite upfront or as a “step-up” from the Core CAL Suite.
    • Microsoft continue to offer both a Per User and a Per Device licensing metric when purchasing Client Access Licenses (CALs).

User CAL Price Increase

    • Microsoft have responded to the emergent trend of Users with Multiple Companion Devices and Smartphones to Increase the cost of User CAL by 15% – with the proliferation of mobile access devices Microsoft have responded with a price increase.
    • Microsoft have already started to notify existing Enterprise Agreement customers.
    • The Microsoft Device CAL will remain the same, so please be aware of the price differential when reviewing procurement models.
    • If you have engaged your Large Account Reseller (LAR) and intend to switch to an alternative model, under standard contract terms this is only available to customers who procure and maintain CALs with Active Software Assurance (SA) at contract renewal.
    • Understandably, some EA Enterprise Enrollment customers would seek to change CAL model mid-term (i.e. at Anniversary). This is not available under standard contract terms, but Microsoft do state that a customer will benefit from price protection for the remainder of the contract term under the EA.
    • Those customers who have visibility of the assignment of CALs to individual Users and Devices can re-assign licenses once per 90 days.

Core CAL and Enterprise CAL Component Update

The figure below is a visual representation of the components being offered in the Core CAL Suite and Enterprise CAL Suite as of December 2012

  • In August 2011 Microsoft previously increased the price of Core CAL by approximately 15% to acknowledge the inclusion of Lync Standard CAL and Forefront EndPoint Protection (FEP)
    • On December 1st 2012, Forefront EndPoint Protection (FEP) has been re-branded as System Center EndPoint Protection.
    • Customers who had committed to relational procurement contracts like the Enterprise Enrolment within the Enterprise Agreement (EA) contract framework will not see incremental price increases of User CAL (or Core CAL if the Agreement was signed prior to August 2011 and remains active) until renewal.
  • Microsoft have removed or amended products from the Enterprise CAL Suite:-
    • Forefront Unified Application Gateway (UAG) has been removed from the Enterprise CAL Suite.
      • This will remain as a Remote Access solution as an individual stand-alone product and will not be available within the Enterprise CAL Suite at Renewal.

Forefront Online Protection for Exchange (FOPE) has been rebranded as Exchange Online Protection (EOP) and will remain in the ECAL Suite

    • Exchange Online Archive (for on-premises servers) has been added to ECAL Suite.
      • This provides an enterprise-level archiving solution for organisations that have deployed Exchange on-premise
  • Microsoft Protection Suite has been removed from Enterprise CAL Suite
    • For information purposes this included: (Excluding FOPE) Forefront Protection for Exchange Server, Forefront Protection for OCS, Forefront Protection for SharePoint Server and Forefront Threat Management Gateway Web Protection Service.
    • While the Enterprise CAL price will not increase, there is an associated increase for organisation’s that have adopted the User CAL licensing metric (see above).


For information purposes only, and for comparison, this was the CAL component configuration in November 2010. This was the component configuration prior to the expansion of Core CAL Suite and other associated amendments made in August 2011. This is to provide a comparative overview in comparison for the December 2012 update (see above) and does not incorporate the updates with the release ofSystem Center 2012


The diagram below provides an overview of the CAL component configuration for August 2011. As below, Core CAL was expanded to include Lync Standard CAL and Forefront EndPoint Protection (FEP) and was subject to a circa 15% price increase.

This was instrumental in supporting and encouraging the take-up of Lync as a corporate IM, Tele-Presence, Online Meeting and potential VOIP solution. This is intended for information purposes only and for comparison against the current component configuration of the intended December 2012 Core CAL and Enterprise CAL Suites.



The way to get the most value out of Microsoft is based on understanding the balance of ‘Tipping Points’ within Microsoft pricing structures. This price of a software license is context dependant. The price will vary across Countries, Volume Agreements, and finally the specific context of the Organisation – including but not limited to, Size and Purchasing Power.

Whether a company has a greater strategic approach in the commitment to the Microsoft Platform, or takes a narrow ad hocapproach to procurement will ultimately impact the individual price point of a given product or set of technologies.

This price differences across the multiple Volume Agreements for a particular organisation will be dependent on the quantity of product ordered or whether the organisation commits ‘enterprise wide’ to the Microsoft technology. If several technologies are committed ‘enterprise wide’ within a technology platform there will be a ‘Tipping Point’ when procurement of a Suite of products on a relational Volume Agreement will deliver more value over ad hoc procurement on a Transactional one.

The CAL Suites are an approach to buy access rights for multiple products in the Microsoft server stack. Ultimately, It will be dependent on your organisations planned upgrade path over time, existing license footprint and requirement for enterprise functionality from Server products.

If customers are looking at procurement enterprise wide and see the value of Software Assurance (SA) then the CAL Suite on an Enterprise Agreement (EA) makes sense.

However, Microsoft have sought to amend the product component portfolio to better re-align with the planned product roadmap for their comprehensive product stack and this has led to incremental changes in their CAL suites proposition.

Microsoft have also responded to the recent proliferation of companion devices (aligned with the imminent release of Windows Surface) to increase the price of User CAL. The User CAL model will remain the simplest approach to assignment of CALs in the workplace, as the number of personal consumer and corporate owned smartphones and tablets increase exponentially. This will also extend unlimited device rights to information users which could see savings to customer despite the immediate price adjustment.

On-going protection for existing Software Assurance (SA) customers within relational procurement contracts under the Enterprise Agreement (EA) will be important for the short-term. Microsoft had previously increased the price of Core CAL to align to increased functionality (the inclusion of Lync Standard CAL and Forefront EndPoint Protection) in August 2011 and UK customers recently felt the impact of a country-wide price increase in July 2012

One take-home from this article is to review your current and planned CAL requirements and engage pro-actively with your preferred Microsoft Large Account Reseller (LAR) to plan your procurement requirements and current contract portfolio. Microsoft licensing does not remain static as the recent series of updates and releases prove.

Please be aware that I now work at a Large Account Reseller and will now be providing my licensing expertise through their Licensing Services. So please do get in contact with me directly if you would like to have a bespoke review for your organisation.

Our specialist team can assist you to purchase the correct licenses, at the best price, through the right program.  Please email my directly to arrange a meeting (or call).

– Tony Mackelworth


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Please be aware that nothing on this website constitutes specific technical advice. Some of the material on this website may have been prepared some time ago and therefore may have been superseded. Specialist advice should be taken in relation to specific circumstances.

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