Licensing Team System editions for your build machine

David Yack, one of our MS Regional Directors and a .NET MVP, tells me there is considerable confusion around the licensing requirements for the software installed on Team System build machines.  The best resource available for these sorts of questions is the VSTS Licensing Whitepaper which goes into numerous licensing scenarios in depth.  In the case of if you need a separate license of the Team System Development or Test edition on your build machine, in most cases you don't.  Here's the excerpt from the whitepaper:

Those users who are authoring tests and including them as part of a Team Build type must be appropriately licensed with the relevant Team Edition product. For unit tests, Team Edition for Software Developers or Team Edition for Database Professionals or Team Edition for Software Testers or Team Suite would be required by the test author. For load and other test types, Team Edition for Software Testers or Team Suite would be required. Similarly, a user who includes code analysis in a Team Build Type must also be appropriately licensed for Team Edition for Software Developers. Users who merely execute and review Team Builds are only required to have a Team Foundation Server CAL.

The way I think about it, the people that are using the Team editions need to be properly licensed which in turn ensures the that the build machines are covered as well. 

Hope this helps in some small way to reduce the confusion on this topic. 

Comments (14)

  1. Steven Smith says:

    I’m working with a client this week to set up Continuous Integration for their development environment.

  2. Jeff Beehler wrote this post clarifying some questions on VSTS licensing as it relates to build environments

  3. damonz says:

    Any idea when the licensing whitepaper will be updated to reflect VS2008 and TFS2008? Things like unit test authoring above obviously have changed between the versions and it would be helpful if the whitepaper were current.

  4. ASPInsiders says:

    Licensing is always a fun topic, but if your using Team System and a build server – Jeff Beehler posted

  5. Brian Keller says:

    Damonz – I know that the licensing whitepaper is in the publishing pipeline but as you can imagine due to the reviews required by corporate licensing and lawyers it might take a bit longer to become available! I can tell you however that you’re right, since Unit Testing authoring is in Professional Edition then this satisfies the requirement for Team Build (in other words as long as at least one person on your team has VS Pro 2008 or higher then you can utilize Unit Tests as part of your Team Build automation). Note, however, that the code coverage capabilities of unit testing are still reserved for the higher end Team System SKU’s so if you intend to utilize code coverage statistics as part of your Team Build then you still need the appropriate Team System SKU (at least one on your team). I hope that helps.

  6. The licensing whitepaper does not clarify what is needed when 99 developers are running Team Edition for Developer and 1 developer runs Team Suite, and installs Team Suite on the build server. Does the build server require a team suite license if features outside of the developer edition are used on the build server?

  7. Willy-Peter,

    As far as I can tell, the answer to  your question is still the same, no extra license needed for the build machine in your scenario.  The *people* that are authoring tests or creating build steps need to have the license for Team Test or Team Suite but the build *machine* does not.  

    Hope that helps,


  8. Eugene Zakhareyev on Label scope revealed and Branching to desired target path is easy. The NWCadence…

  9. Steve says:

    One scenario the white paper doesn’t cover is a test TFS installation for developing and testing TFS customizations, like process templates, TFS extensibility (SDK), build and deployment scripts, etc.  Are there any licensing guidelines for this scenario?

  10. Steve – thank you for your question regarding test TFS installations.  You’re right that this is not well documented.  I’ve sent that request to our team so that we can add a section covering this scenario.  Our recommendation is to use TFS workgroup edition, which comes as part of every Team Edition product and supports up to 5 users / server.  This should give you a reasonable place to test out process template changes and other customizations without requiring the purchase of additional licenses.  

    Thanks again for the question,


  11. Bill Biddy says:

    I simply want to use MSTest as my testing framework. I dont want TFS and want to use something else as my build server. However I am getting from my build manager that the build server has to have Studio Installed in order to even run MSTest.exe! So I come tot his site to see if I am responsible for a CAL for the build machine for a product I dont want installed on that machine in the first place. And discover that no, I need TFS licenses for each developer? I hope thats not what you guys have in mind for licensing this scenario? Because if it is, My 30 developers will be directed to switch to NUnit immediately.

  12. Bill – we’re looking into simplifying this scenario so that you can use MSTest in this standalone way.  Stay tuned for more.


  13. CodeClimber says:

    How to get up to speed with Team Foundation Server

  14. Mike says:

    How about in Enterprises where multiple people have permission to access the machine for server maintenance completely unrelated to development and do not have a VS license?  What is the best way to ensure that they maintain licensing compliance?

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