Fair Exchange?

It appears to me that Exchange Server is having a major change of direction: over the next two or three versions, starting with 2007, it’s losing its ability to act as a central data repository, passing that role over to SharePoint, and it’s gaining instead, in its new (more expensive) Enterprise version, the ability to route phone calls, deliver voicemail messages and give access to email, calendars and so on via the telephone.

Fair Exchange?

A pricing jungle

The pricing scheme for Exchange Server 2007 must have made sense to someone at Microsoft, but it’s ended up being a complete nightmare for the people who have to purchase the damned thing. There are two editions of the server product itself, Standard and Enterprise. Standard edition costs about $700 and gives you up to five storage groups, while Enterprise costs about $4,000 for up to 50 storage groups, but these licences are per computer – so if you split your Exchange Server installation across several PCs, you could pay up to five times this cost. Even if those machines are virtual servers, each one will require both a licence for Windows Server 2003 x64 and a licence for Exchange.

Next, you require a Client Access Licence (CAL) for each user or device that will be connecting to Exchange Server – you must choose whether to buy licences for users or devices, or some mixture. For a user with a desktop, a laptop and a smartphone, you’d buy a user CAL, whereas for an email terminal on a factory floor used by 20 different people, you’d buy a device CAL. You must buy Exchange Standard CALs for all users and devices that need access to email, and you can choose whether to also purchase Exchange Enterprise CALs for some or all your user/devices, giving those user/devices access to the unified messaging features of ES2007. Standard CALs cost about $67 per user and Enterprise CALs cost an additional $34, but there’s no correlation between Standard and Enterprise CALs and the Standard and Enterprise editions of Exchange Server 2007 – either CAL can be used against either edition, so smaller companies can use the unified messaging features in the cheaper Standard edition, but they’ll have to buy the more expensive CALs… Got that?

The licences are all available with Software Assurance (SA), giving you the right to upgrade to the next version of Exchange when it’s released. If you buy the Exchange Enterprise CAL with SA for all your user/devices, you also get the rights to Forefront Security for Exchange and Exchange Hosted Filtering (EHF) for anti-virus and anti-spam protection. However, you can’t use Forefront or EHF if only some of your user/devices have the Enterprise CAL. They all have to have the Exchange Enterprise CAL with SA. Licence prices vary according to how many you buy, so to get an accurate figure for how much it would cost you to upgrade your licences to Exchange Server 2007, you’ll have to contact your volume licence reseller.

One thing to note is that the Exchange Standard CAL does not now include a licence for Outlook – you have to buy that separately, but as most people would get Outlook through buying licences for Office, they’ll already be covered. You’re not paying any less for having this right removed, but at least you’re not buying something twice. The best value proposition may well be to buy the Core CAL Suite, which includes licences for accessing Windows Server, Exchange Server, SharePoint Server and SMS Configuration Management Server, or else to buy the Enterprise CAL Suite, which includes all of the Core CAL Suite plus Exchange Enterprise CAL, SharePoint Enterprise CAL, Office Communications Server Standard and Enterprise CALs, Windows Rights Management CAL, System Centre Operations Management CAL and Forefront Security CAL. It certainly makes things simpler buying one CAL in place of 11, but check how many of those CALs you’re actually going to use now and in the future.

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