What is a CAL, and do I need them?
A Client Access License (CAL) is not a type of software, but rather, a license that grants Users or Devices access to SQL Server software.
SQL CALs are a requirement only for the SQL license + CAL model, meaning that if you purchase SQL Server licenses per core (Standard Core / Enterprise Core) you will not need to purchase any additional licenses.
The license + CAL model is beneficial for businesses that have a finite amount of users or devices and want to keep the cost of licensing to a minimum. If you cannot count the number of users or devices, it may be best to consider licensing SQL per core instead.
What type of CAL do I need?
There are two types of CALs that you can purchase – User or Device. Each license type has its advantages depending on your environment. See below for a brief representation of how each type of CAL can best be utilized.
- User CAL – 1 User w/ Multiple Devices
- Device CAL – 1 Device w/ Multiple Users
How many CALs do I need?
Every User or Device accessing the SQL Server software, virtual or physical, must be licensed with a SQL CAL. Users and Devices accessing the SQL software indirectly through another application or hardware device will still need a CAL.
Licensing on individual virtual machines
A User or Device licensed with a CAL will be covered for each instance of SQL Server software on the VMs in the same environment.
Licensing through a container
The same CAL licensing terms apply when licensing SQL Server hosted in a container