How to License Exchange

04 May

Article update: We created a new website called MSCloudlicensing to help SPLA and CSP partners understand the different program options and use rights available to them. The site is designed to be a collaborative platform,  which includes a forum to ask and answer licensing questions, document library, and licensing articles.  It’s more in depth than a simple blog. Check it out, it’s free! 




In my years of managing the SPLA program, I came to the conclusion that no one likes to babysit an Exchange server.  Organizations do not have the resources or the time to constantly monitor a server, and hosters (if that’s a word) feel the pressure of managing a mission critical application such as email.  If it goes down, not only can you lose a customer, but the customer might lose business as well!

For those hosters that feel up to the challenge, Exchange can be a very profitable opportunity.  Whenever there is complexity, along comes value…which every hoster needs to run a business. What’s the downside? As always, there’s a concern over licensing.

Exchange for SPLA partners (hosters) comes in five flavors: Exchange Basic, Standard, Standard Plus, Enterprise, and Enterprise Plus. Each comes with different functionality as well as price. From experience, 90% of what is being reported is the Exchange Standard SKU. The breakdown of each SKU is as follows:

Exchange Basic – Think of OWA/POP Mail only
Exchange Standard – Features of Exchange Basic as well as shared calendaring and mobile device synchronization
Exchange Standard Plus – Features of Exchange Standard plus the full Outlook client
Exchange Enterprise – Includes all the features of Exchange Standard as well as unified messaging and anti virus/spam features
Exchange Enterprise Plus – All the features listed above plus the full Outlook client

The list above is just an overview, for a full feature list check out the SPUR (user section). The way you license Exchange is by user. Every user that HAS access to the software will need a license; not who does access. Think of your cable company, they will charge you regardless if you turn your TV on or not. User licenses works the same way.

In my opinion, the key to a successful Exchange launch is to offer a multi-tenant (shared) environment. If you license Windows by processor (Exchange runs on a Windows OS) and Exchange by user, the more users you have on that particular server the less expensive it is for the user. Eventually all you are charging is the cost of the Exchange license. That’s how large service providers are able to seemingly charge less. They have thousands of users accessing a limited number of servers in a shared environment.

If a customer wants a dedicated environment (one server hosting one client) the end customer can bring their licenses to you and you host it for them, or provide the licenses via SPLA, but the cost per user is going to be higher (unless it’s a large enterprise).

Once you offer Exchange, it makes it easier to offer other collaboration applications as well; such as SharePoint, CRM, and Lync. Who knows, you might become the next Amazon or Rackspace.

Thanks for reading!



Posted by on May 4, 2013 in Exchange


Tags: , , , , ,

14 responses to “How to License Exchange

  1. John Headlee

    October 9, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I believe you need a standard license for Enterprise user, it’s an add-on to the standard license, not a direct uptick.

    • splaman

      October 21, 2014 at 7:55 am

      You’re thinking of SharePoint here, not Exchange. Each product under Exchange is licenses independently. With SharePoint, if you license Enterprise you have to also license Standard.

  2. CNenad

    October 23, 2014 at 5:35 am

    Hi 🙂

    Please, explain:

    Exchange Standard Plus – Features of Exchange Standard plus the full Outlook client

    does it mean that if customer does not have licensed Office on desktop can use only Outlook client because of reporting Exchange Standard Plus SAL

    • splaman

      October 23, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Yes. Exchange “Plus” will allow you to install the Outlook client on their device. Be sure to include language in your agreement with the end customer illustrating if they leave your service, they must uninstall Outlook. Remember, SPLA is leased, not owned software 🙂

  3. YS

    January 19, 2015 at 9:39 am

    What about the Outlook license when reporting SAL for SA? Can you still use that one? Or how do you license Outlook separately in SAL mode if the user wants te benefit from his active SA?

    • splaman

      January 30, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Hello, thank you for reading my blog. No, there’s no SAL for SA SKU for Exchange that includes Outlook. If they need require Outlook, the cheapest option would be to license Exchange STD Plus (regular SKU). Hope this helps.

  4. William

    April 18, 2015 at 6:10 am

    Thank you for the good explanation, it saved my ass today 🙂

  5. Rene

    May 29, 2015 at 3:41 am

    Hello Splaman, Fine Blog.
    Question: can I mix Basic, Standard and Enterprise SAL’s within one company and one Exchange server installation?

    • splaman

      June 3, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      sure…Exchange is by user not by company

  6. OfficeAnyplace (@officeanyplace)

    April 13, 2016 at 3:27 am

    I wonder if anyone has managed to work out how to use the Outlook provided with Plus in practice? If a client purchases Office nowadays it will be on a Click to Run basis, which means you cannot individually uninstall Outlook. This means you can’t install the Outlook provided with the Plus SAL, and without that you cannot use Enterprise features such as Archiving. Anyone able to use the Enterprise Plus SAL in practice?

  7. Torsten

    August 11, 2017 at 10:48 am

    I did not find any information in the current SPUR about the option to license a standard SAL but installing an enterprise server. purpose: using the 5+ databases of exchange enterprise server but non of the enterprise sal features. any idea where to find something that or what would be the correct answer?

  8. Torsten

    August 11, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    So for there is no Server Licensing of Exchange in SPLA at all and the only licensing is per user i consider this as a yes. standard SAL can be used with either standard or enterprise server and there is no extra charge if i use enterprise server as long as i am not using any enterprise cal/sal feature.

    Thank you very much!

    • MS Licensing

      August 11, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Yep. You are 100% correct. Almost all Exchange providers are doing it this way.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: