Alaska Fishing Company Case Study = SBS 2003 Licensing = FAQs

Hiya – I am harrybbbb, the co-author and publisher of the Advanced Small Business Server 2003 Best Practices book and we’re holding a vitual book reading from Chapter 3. It’s a licensing case study – enjoy!

Alaskan Fishing Company-Frequently Asked Questions

Running around the world and delivering my SMB Nation Summit workshops is a great way for me to gather feedback that I can reuse in future lectures and even book chapters! So, in the past when I’ve told this story in lecture, I’m often peppered with questions such as the following:

  • Why not just purchase a user CAL for every employee of the Alas­kan fishing company and be done with it? The answer is that SBS


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  2003 has a 75 CAL limit. Beyond that, the company would need to migrate to the full Microsoft server products.

  • What if a fisherman on a boat wants to access the network from the boat via satellite and has a bona fide CAL (e.g., a device CAL for the one PC on the boat)? This would be legal as this example stands. However, the cost of satellite time makes this infeasible.
  • Suppose a fisherman only wants to access Outlook Web Access (OWA) from an Internet Café in Dutch Harbor, Alaska. He doesn’t need a CAL for this form of access, right? Wrong! The use of OWA requires network authentication, and this requires a CAL.

BEST PRACTICE: Now would be a great time to review Microsoft’s baseline CAL discussion at 2003/sbs/howtobuy/CALs.mspx. I want to make sure you’re adequately equipped to proceed with this chapter and the Alaskan fishing company example as it gets more complex.



Initial Licensing State

Microsoft’s more recent SBS 2003 brochures have improved greatly since their earlier counterparts were published. The one-page product sheet now clearly describes the initial licensing state and how more licenses can be purchased. I suspect this document has evolved over time to reflect the cumulative feedback from partners. So, here are da’ facts related to the Alaskan fishing company scenario. Kindly note the yet-again modified storyline that forces you to comprehend this increasingly complex example.

Changing Tides

I want to throw a twist in the story just to make sure I’ve got your attention. The Alaskan fishing company has now determined that there are really only five executives who travel. And after a hissy-fit and much fuss that bombarded the SBS computer consultant from the rough-and-tough fishermen with biceps like Popeye (a popular fictional cartoon character in the Western world), another

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PC was purchased for the lunchroom to provide common Internet access. So
the question is, what type(s) of CALs should be purchased and in what quantities?

The answer, of course, starts simple and grows increasingly complex. If you’ve correctly followed the original scenario plus the modified details, you would quickly conclude that the SBS 2003 network at the Alaskan fishing company needs 31 CALs. And you’d likely propose the following license allocation:

  • User CALs-The company needs five user CALs for the five travel­ing executives.
  • Device CALs-The company needs 26 device CALs for the other com‑
    puter devises in use at the company’s office and on its fishing boats.

Okay. So far you are correct. However, it is not possible to get just 31 CALs because cumulative CAL counts must be divisible by the following numbers: 5 or 20. Why? Because CALs are sold in packs of 5 or 20, as illustrated in Figure 3-3. In a moment I’ll make the finer distinction between the user and device CAL SKUs (product identification number).

Figure 3-3

CDW is a popular distributor for SBSers to patronize!



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  BEST PRACTICE: Consider other popular distributors as well to both sell and help you manage your licensing. is a resource that allows you to “outsource” your licensing activities.

Knowing what you now know, how would you make the proper and prudent CAL purchase for the Alaskan fishing company? The best you could do is purchase 35 CALs, and I would suggest the following combination: 30 device CALs and 5 user CALs. In the next section, I’ll discuss the possibility of changing needs and licensing requirements. But for now, assume you agree and you’ve made this purchase.

An interesting digression and SBS licensing factoid bears mention here. If we were dealing with the “other SBS” from Provo Utah (that is Novell’s Small Business Suite product), we’d be in a better position with respect to purchasing 31 CALs. The “other SBS” allows licenses to be purchased individually. Personally, I wish Microsoft would adopt this practice of single CAL purchases.


Modified Licensing State

So what if things change at ye’ olde’ Alaskan fishing company, mates? What if three additional white collar executives show their true colors as bona fide road warriors and are out pounding to pavement as high class fish mongers? Is the SBS 2003 licensing framework flexible enough to accommodate such organizational changes? I submit that the answer is yes. Here’s why.

Universal CALs

When you purchase SBS 2003, either premium or standard edition, five CALs are included in the purchase price. The first five CALs that are included with the initial SBS product purchase are called universal CALs and can be assigned as either user, device CALs or a combination of both. The choice is yours.

Additional and Future CAL Purchases

A growing customer such as the Alaskan fishing company would likely be required to purchase additional CALs so that its SBS 2003 network functions legally. You can purchase either the device or user CALs in the quantities you deem necessary (as long as that number is in multiples of 5 or 20!). Here are the

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SKU numbers as of January 2005 to help you understand the world of SBS licensing from the nuts and bolts viewpoint (Figure 3-4).

Figure 3-4

Note closely the CAL SKU numbers. These SKU numbers change depending on the licensing program (Retail/Full Packaged Product, Open, Open/ Software Assurance).


An interesting tidbit to know is that the underlying “bits” associated with the CALs are the same regardless of whether you elect device or user CAL status. In reality, when you purchase additional CALs, you receive an activation code, which you enter into SBS. Only after you’ve entered this code will your CAL count increase.

So, assume the Alaska fishing company made the following CAL purchases:

  • Five user CALs-I suggest that these be allocated from the five uni­versal CALs included in the SBS 2003 product itself, which would be the T75-00035 SKU from Figure 3-4. This assumes the Alaskan fish­ing company purchased SBS 2003 premium edition at the retail level.


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  • Device CALs-These would be purchased as three items. First, you would purchase one 20-device CAL SKU at the Retail/FPP level (T74- 00003). Second, you would purchase two copies of the five-user de­vice CAL product (T74-00001).

The above purchase order should add up to 35 CALs, which supports the 31 users/devices in the Alaskan fishing company.

The difference between Retail/FPP, Open and Open/Software Assurance will be discussed later in the chapter.


As stated above, the first five CALs included with your SBS 2003 purchase are universal CALs and can be either user or device CALs. That’s probably real clear. However, with Software Assurance (discussed near the end of this chapter), there exists a one-time provision to perform a switch-a-roo with the additional, incremental CALs when you re-subscribe to Software Assurance. . It appears you could change from device to user or user to device. But you can only do this once under Software Assurance when you renew your agreement.

But what about the rest of us with respect to the CAL switch-a-roo. Note the guidance from Microsoft is mixed here. At WindowsServer2003/sbs/techinfo/overview/licensingfaq.mspx, the language reports you can not make this change. However, at windowsserver2003/sbs/howtobuy/CALs.mspx, the langugage reports that you can make this change. Monitor the book erratta at for an update on this subject as changes are made to the CAL licensing program. This is a kind way of saying that, as of this writing, we don’t have an exact answer yet!



You’re Fired!

Moving forward, imagine a business malady has struck the Alaskan fishing company. It seems the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) who is an executive with a user CAL and the bookkeeper (who used a device CAL) were embezzling funds. They were conspiring and sneaking cash out of the business in the belly of fish carcasses. The security guards didn’t catch them for months.

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Once these culprits were found out and terminated, an interesting issue was raised. How are the CALs handled? I’ve already told you that the user CAL is assigned to a specific individual and can’t be allocated in a round-robin fashion. Device CALs are assigned to a specific device in a similar manner. So the answer is this: it shouldn’t matter! The CALs are effectively reassigned under this termination scenario. The new CFO and bookkeeper can simply assume these CALs and proceed with using the SBS 2003 network. See page 3-23 for more.


So how are the CALs actually enforced? Simple. CALs are enforced by authentication which can be users, devices and some processes. Such is the state of licensing in the SBS 2003 timeframe.


Harry Brelsford, CEO at SMB Nation

MBA, MCSE, CNE, CLSE, CNP, MCP, MCT, SBSC (Microsoft Small Business Specialist)

PS – my Small Business Server 2008 (SBS 2008) book is now here! J


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