Even more on licensing

Wow, I didn’t realize I was entering such a hornets nest when I started making comments about licensing enforcement. Apparently there’s a lot of misconceptions about how we enforce licensing in SBS.

I understand licensing with Microsoft is in general a Twilight Zone/black hole of information/confusion. I’ve heard from lots of people in e-mail and in conversations how much they love Microsoft products, and hate our licensing. What makes this even more frustrating for me is that I’d love to simplify our licensing even more, but what’s weird is that when you actually start to walk through all of our markets, it’s hard to come up with something that makes everybody happy. (Not that we’re doing a great job right now)

The user/device CAL model is a great example of two steps forward/one step backward. Many people find it simpler than our SBS 2000 model of concurrent connections, but keeping track of which ones are in use is a pain. Definitions are also unclear, which is always what you want in your revenue model. 🙂 We’re continuing to figure out how we can make this better, all I can ask is patience and continue to send us your feedback. One thing I hear a lot is “Why can’t you guys just change it?“ I’d love to, but at the end of the day we’re part of a $35 billion/year company, and you have to think about finances, legal requirements across all countries we ship in, and consistency with our other products and PR. My head hurts every time we talk about it here. 🙂

Also, since Microsoft is in general an intellectual property company, we’re very careful about our licensing because it’s our only means of making money. Since SBS is such a special case, and with the popularity of SBS 2003, we have a need to be even more careful about how much technical information we give out about our enforcement.

But I certainly understand that some people are concerned about servers shutting down. Rest assured that the only time we go to that extreme is when the server is grossly misconfigured (basically, you’ve quit setup too early and have not even done the basics).

Without giving away the kitchen sink, here’s the basics on what we check:

Is the server a DC at the root of the forest? If not, warn, then shut down.

Is there another SBS server in the network? This is permissible for a grace period to allow for migration of data between servers. You’ll get prompts for about a week, after which we’ll begin shutting down the server.

We do not shut down the server on CAL enforcement. If too many clients attempt to login, they’ll simply be denied resources, and we’ll send a prompt via Messenger that additional clients are trying to connect, and your admin should pony up some dough. As clients log off and free up CALs, then those clients will be able to login.

That’s pretty much it. One note for all of you on trust enforcement, an enterprising person named Costin Gusta posted steps he discovered to technically establish a trust. (http://fac.ce.vreau.eu.org/sbs.html) I certainly recommend against anyone utilizing these steps, and we are investigating ways to enforce our trust restrictions more rigorously. Please don’t follow these steps – you’re breaking your license with SBS and we can’t help you should something change later.

I hope that answers people’s concerns. I appreciate the questions, I’d just love to talk about something other than licensing!

Comments (14)

  1. David R. Hibbeln says:

    Mr. Anthe,

    Thanks for clarifying the point on CAL’s and notifications. I did not think it was the case, but I wanted to make sure. Keep up the good work. Your insight’s help all of us who are working with this fine product.

    Ya, "licensing!" is a pain. Our sMB, as in "real small" clients are used to going to web and bada- bing, bada-boom. Done.

    But, for licensing, that’s why we have eric ligman…<grin>, so kind folks leave charlie to code and see: http://sbcomm.sts.winisp.net/

  2. Harry says:

    I think SBS is the best. Yes there are restrictions and there are some confusing bits and pieces but overall where else can you get this kind of functionality and ease of use for the price??

    Personally I mostly like MS licensing. To me it is relatively easy to understand and having CAL’s is better than Symantec’s option of having to buy a whole new box set if you want to add another 5 clients.

  3. Straife says:

    Er Harry, if you buy the normal licensing, you get Symantec per client. The "need a whole new box set" thing is solely because you purchased a Small Business version of it, and it was subsidised accordingly.

  4. Harry says:

    Yes, that is true. But the whole box thing comes about on the server side (as far as I understand it). When you push the client out from the server this is different to the standalone version. It is also controlled from the server as in updates, schedules, etc. And you can’t buy these extra licenses like a CAL where you get just the licence, you have to buy the boxed version.

    If this is wrong, please let me know as I haven’t had any answers out of Symantec when I e-mailed their support.

  5. banhinc says:

    Thanks for the licensing clarification.  It makes sense and never caused any major problems for me.  The only tricky part is transferring one SBS server to another new SBS server.