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RDS Licenses

Basic information about different types of Microsoft licenses that can be used for terminal servers

Reisbel Machado avatar
Written by Reisbel Machado
Updated over a week ago

Executive Summary

Here are the considerations, you might want to double check with MS's resellers who are providing the licenses, below is our understanding.

Microsoft EA construct for each deal is different, check if you have RDS-CAL already covered in that ELA/EA. Also check if you already have 'RDS-CAL with Software Assurance' since these RDS-CALs can be used for future higher versions of Microsoft. Any of the above RDS-CALs licenses that are not used can then be used or can be ported for itopia GCP VDI deployment. The exact SKU if one wants to procure or check - is Microsoft Windows Server RDS-CAL user licenses & if needed with SA then it is called MS RDS-CAL user license with SA.

Complete Task

After you launch a Deployment to cloud, you get a task to upload RDS license number. 

Servers that will be created in Google will be deployed with Windows operating system that's already included in the server price. However, end user connections require Microsoft Client Access License (CAL).

After deploying to cloud in itopia, the system creates a task for you to input your Microsoft terminal server license number and type. If you don’t have the license, you can still test your servers and use them without a license for 120 days since Microsoft gives you a grace period. However, you should keep in mind that you’ll have to complete the task so the system can configure your servers with a valid license before the grace period is over. 

Google has certain policies in place for bringing MS licenses to their cloud. All applications for Microsoft Server that you need to migrate to Google Cloud by the License Mobility through Software Assurance program must be covered with active Software Assurance (SA). You need to make sure your Microsoft license is valid and Google allows it to be used on their servers. Details are available here

There are several types ways for you to get Microsoft licenses that would work for terminal servers, the most common one is SPLA (Service Provider License Agreement). You can become a SPLA provider and the software usage is then reported on monthly basis with no commitment. You only pay for the number of licenses that are actually being utilized. 

Below are the other methods of getting licenses that can be used and the only limit here would be what Google allows on their servers. The types of license programs include: 

  • License Pack (Retail) - this is a license purchased in present quantities through a retail store of other reseller. The package may be labeled “Microsoft Windows Client License Pack”.

  • Open License - includes Open Business and Open Volume offerings which are volume licensing programs for small or medium-sized organizations.

  • Select License - this is a volume licensing program for customers with 250 or more desktops.

  • Enterprise license - this is a volume licensing program for customers with 250 or more desktops.

  • Campus agreement - this is a volume licensing program for a higher education institution.

  • School Agreement - this is a volume licensing program for primary and secondary educational institutions.

  • Service Provider License Agreement (SPLA) - this is a volume licensing program that enables services providers to license Microsoft products on a monthly basis.

  • Other Agreement - this is a volume licensing program; for example, Open Value, Multi-Year Open License, or Open Subscription License.

  • Select Plus License - this is a volume licensing program for customers with 250 or more desktops.

Microsoft offers two types of RDS CAL licenses:

  • Per user: RDS per User CAL’s (Client Access License) are licenses that work per user. Microsoft licenses RDS user licenses on a per unique end-user basis so every user that is defined on the server needs a license.  

  • Per Device: This license gets tied to the physical device the user uses to log into the RDS environment. 

We highly recommend you to buy RDS User CAL's instead of per device so that it licenses the user and not the device they use to log in. If you buy a per device license and they log in from two different devices (home and work computer) they will use up 2 of the licenses. Our platform's settings are pre-configured for RDS User Cals, so if you chose to use Per device, you'll have to manually change the collection settings. 

The CAL used by users or devices must correspond to the version of Windows Server that the user or device is connecting to. You can't use older CALs to access newer Windows Server versions, but you can use newer CALs to access earlier versions of Windows Server.

Below are the differences between the two as per Microsoft's documentation. To learn more click here

Per Device 

  • CALs are physically assigned to each device

  • CALs are tracked by the license server.

  •  CALs can be tracked regardless of Active Directory membership.

  • You can revoke up to 20% of CALs.

  • Temporary CALs are valid for 52–89 days.

  • CALs cannot be overallocated.

  • $102 per device average price found online

Per User

  • CALs are assigned to a user in Active Directory.

  • CALs are tracked by the license server.

  • CALs cannot be tracked within a workgroup.

  • You cannot revoke any CALs.

  • Temporary CALs are not available. 

  • CALs can be overallocated (in breach of the Remote Desktop licensing agreement).

  • $131 per user average price found online

Related information:

Learn more about using your existing Microsoft application licenses on Google servers.

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