In a SharePoint 2016 farm design with

  • 2 Web Front end servers
  • 2 Application servers
  • 1 SQL server with Always On
  • 2 Query servers
  • 2 Crawl servers
  • 1 Office Online Server

I need to understand how CAL licensing work i.e do I need CAL license for every user or do I need CAL for every developer or admin that accesses these servers.

I understand that I would need 10 pcs of windows server licenses and 8 pieces of SharePoint 2016 licenses ( two more if needed to install on SQL server and OOS)

But I need some help with understanding the CAL licenses.

1 Answer 1


First, you purchase the server licenses. These require one license per server, either Standard or Enterprise. Then you must purchase User CALs for every user of SharePoint, with the exception of external users (users not a member of your organization). You can either purchase Standard CALs or Standard + Enterprise CALs if your users are using Enterprise features. You can restrict who has access to Enterprise features via the SharePoint User License Mapping functionality.

Note that this is identical to licensing in SharePoint 2013, if you're familiar with it.

SharePoint Licensing Overview

SharePoint User Licensing Mapping

  • Do I need to buy CAL for SQL server as well? Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 16:48
  • Yes, for SQL Server. You can purchase SQL Standard, Enterprise, or per-User licensing (break even point is about 60ish users, but contact your VAR). You will also need Windows User CALs for each user.
    – user6024
    Commented Oct 28, 2016 at 16:57

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