Windows Server CAL Waiver for Azure AD Sync a Big Win

The Microsoft January 2018 Product Terms brought a welcome surprise in the form of a Windows Server CAL waiver for customers using Windows Server solely in connection with Azure Active Directory syncs with on-premises Active Directory infrastructures.  Please see the below snippets from pages 5 and 46 of the January 2018 Product Terms.  It is important to note the words “Added a new” in the below announcement implies this right did not exist before January 1, 2018, otherwise it would have been called out as a clarification.  This was pointed out by one of my very good friends who is also a very knowledgeable Microsoft licensing expert.

This is a very big announcement that many customers may not understand or overlook.  So what exactly is this new right?  Before January 1, 2018 customers who had online only users who also had an on-premise Active Directory account required a Windows Server CAL.  Most large organizations prefer to have their users reside in their on-premise Active Directory and sync them to Azure Active Directory.

I directly reached out to Microsoft last May recommending they create this waiver, so you can only imagine how excited I was when I opened the January 2018 Product Terms.  I applaud Microsoft for making this change.

Before this announcement there was a large amount of confusion among Microsoft sales teams on this topic.  I have experienced on several occasions Microsoft telling customers they did not need Windows Server CALs for online only users who also existed in the customer’s on-premise Active Directory.  This advice put customers out of compliance without the customers knowledge they were at risk.  For those customers who have purchased Window Server CALs and no longer require them because of this new waiver, I recommend speaking with your Microsoft sale team, especially if it was a recent purchase.

Please remember this new right is very limited and users who are using any additional Windows Server services will require a Windows Server CAL.  Microsoft does not offer Windows Server CALs on Enterprise Agreements (EA) except as part of CAL Suites (CORE CAL or ECAL).  Thus, EA customers needing only a Windows Server CAL must purchase it on an MPSA or an Open license agreement.

(Source – Page 5 of the Microsoft January 2018 Product Terms)

Jan 2018 Product Terms Page 5.png

(Source – Page 46 of the Microsoft January 2018 Product Terms)

Jan 2018 Product Terms Page 46.png