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Office SharePoint Server for Internet Sites Licensing

Print | posted on Friday, May 23, 2008 2:51 PM

Consistently and by a considerable margin, the most popular search terms that lead people to this site are around MOSS Licensing and the For Internet Sites (MOSS FIS) edition. This is also a hot topic in customer engagements, in classrroms, at conferences such as TechEd and in general conversations about using SharePoint 2007 for Internet sites. This is not all that surprising given the amount of misinformation out there. In addition Microsoft obfuscate the topic with many layers of misdirection. I know for a fact that this isn't deliberate on the part of the vendor, but one could be forgiven for assuming it is! :) Whilst Microsoft have made massive improvements to their public information on licensing it still requires experience of their models to figure out what you need. It's not really the MOSS FIS which is complicated, but all the other things you need.

Unfortunately, I have a significant amount of experience with dealing with licensing scenarios (for whatever reason this stuff seems to follow me around like a bad hangover) and I've received numerous requests to post more information here. Therefore this post is the first in a mini-series which attempts to distill the licensing of MOSS in a clear, concise and accurate manner.

One of the reasons people are upset by the licensing model is it tends to be the case that folk find out what they need to purchase *after* they've made the decision to deploy. As a enterprise solutions architect I'm often asked to "architect" a solution based on an already determined number of servers etc. Now neither is prudent by anybody's calculator skills, but it is how it goes down more often than not.

The good news is that it's not actually that complicated and the pricing is extremely competitive. I hope this post proves both and I welcome any and all feedback positive or negative. My goal is to spread the word and help folk who are facing the MOSS FIS licensing conundrum. Before I get started I have to include one of those lame disclaimers again (sorry about that):

All of the information presented here is based upon publicly available information provided by Microsoft and current (as of the date of the post) list pricing in US Dollars. You should not use this post to determine a purchase decision, and you should obtain assistance from your Microsoft Account Team, a Microsoft Licensing Specialist and/or your software reseller. There are many factors which can influence the cost. These include your volume license agreement, your location and promotions. I hope you already know that only crazy people buy at retail pricing, and your reseller may also offer incentives. This post is for informational purposes only to aid in the planning of your MOSS investment.

OK, so with that cobblers out of the way, what do we need for MOSS FIS? Let's first look at the machines needed for hosting the public facing Web Site which is used by anonymous read only visitors, plus those whom may register to be sent regular email, participate in a community or book airline tickets. These machines will not be used for content contribution, a.k.a. content authoring and approval. These boxes are purely for servicing Internet users.

As this site may be the primary if not only web property of your company, it needs to be available and therefore the scenario I present is what many consider to be the bare minimum topology for an available SharePoint deployment. This topology consists of two "web front end" (WFE)servers, an Index server and two machines running SQL Server.

Given this topology, here are the licensing requirements:

  1. Every server requires Windows 2003 Standard Edition or greater.
    You don't need Enterprise unless your machines have 8 processors. Included are 5 user or device CALs which will be sufficient.
  2. All three MOSS servers require MOSS for Internet Sites.
    Whilst you are able to mix editions within a farm, for this scenario it doesn't make sense for the Index server to use the Enterprise License + CALs as it's data is being accessed by the external users (via the WFEs).
  3. Your SQL Servers require SQL Server 2005 Standard Edition per Processor.
    We don't need SQL Enterprise unless we are doing advanced management. Per Processor licensing is the only option here as we don't know the number of users. From a licensing perspective, it doesn't matter if we're using clustering or mirroring or something else for resilience here. However if you are running an active-passive cluster you only need the licenses for the processors on your active node. If you are doing clustering you require Enterprise Edition of Windows Server. Thanks to Tadas Aukstakalnis.
  4. Every box requires the Windows External Connector.
    Yes, every box needs it. Whilst you may think neither SQL or the Index Server are on the Internet, they still need the external connector as their data is accessed over the Internet.

Given the above requirements, here is a worked example for this scenario:


US Retail List Pricing (23rd May 2008)



unit cost



MOSS (2xWFE, 1xIndex)






Windows External Connector




Windows 2003 R2 Standard





SQL (2 node cluster, 2x CPU each)


SQL Server 2005 Standard CPU*




Windows External Connector




Windows 2003 R2 Standard







* If you are running an Active-Passive cluster you only need to purchase the processor licenses for your Active Node (in this case 2, saving $11,989) - I had forgot about this - thanks to an anonymous commentor for pointing this out.

To do clustering you require Windows Server Enterprise Edition on the two boxes which adds $6,000. Thanks to Tadas Aukstakalnis.

The above pricing is for x86 editions. If you go x64 and wish to use more than 4Gb RAM on your servers you need Windows Server Enterprise on each Windows Server at $3,000 extra each. Thanks to Tadas Aukstakalnis.

So there you go. Pretty simple, right? Also, note the bottom line price - go ahead and compare that to the pricing for competitive products and bear in mind when doing so that none of those have the same platform capability nor extensibility to other aspects such as BDC, Excel Services and so on. That's pretty darn competitive. Of course it's still ~162k (~81k in real money :))

Don't forget that MOSS FIS includes all the features - i.e. Enterprise features. Therefore the bang for buck is extremely impressive.

One thing to also consider however is the additional cost of a couple of domain controllers (~US$2,000) and/or any other machines you may need in the environment for management purposes, security or anti-virus.

I hope this post is useful. I will be covering additional scenarios shortly, next up will be the authoring farm used to contribute content for the above. As always if you have feedback or requests, please post them here.