Dynamics CRM 2011 Licensing

Posted on

I was recently forwarded this blog article which explained in great detail recent changes to the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 licensing structure. The blog article I read was here: http://www.shanmcarthur.net/crm/crm2011-articles/licensing-changes-for-crm-2011

I also found a Microsoft white paper here: http://crmdynamics.blob.core.windows.net/docs/Pricing_Licensing_Guide.pdf

The white paper does an excellent job of an overview of the licensing structure and pricing.  I’ll try and summarize bellow, pulling out key points from the white paper:

On-Premise Licensing Structure

Every server that runs Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 requires a Server License. Two Server Editions are available for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011:

Work Group Server

  • Includes and supports a maximum of 5 named User licenses
  • Licensed as a Specialty Server
  • For greater than 5 User support, Customers may purchase a Step-Up to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 2011.
  • Runs on Windows Server 2008 x64 -based computers and Windows Small Business Server 2008

CRM Server

  • Supports multi-tenant deployments.
  • Users are only limited by Server capacity, there is no licensing limit on the number of users
  • Licensed under the Server/CAL licensing model
  • Users may be added by purchasing Microsoft Dynamics CRM CALs, as outlined below
  • Runs on Windows Server 2008 x64 -based computers and Windows Small Business Server 2008

Client Access Licenses

The Microsoft Server/CAL licensing model means that requires a separate Server license for each Server on which the software is installed, plus a User Client Access License (CAL) for every internal user who accesses CRM. There are two types of CAL’s:

  • User CAL – With a user CAL, each licensed user may access the Server from any device.
  • Device CAL – With a device CAL, the CAL is assigned to a device and may be shared by non-concurrent users over time, such as in a shift worker or call center scenario.

The CAL’s can be further bucketed into the following categories:

  • Employee Self Service CAL – The Employee Self Service (ESS) CAL provides a user with limited API access and limited read-write access to “Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality” through any application/graphical user interface (GUI), other than the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client.
  • The Limited CAL  – provides a user with full read-only access (e.g., for reports) and limited write access to “Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality”. Users may view or query CRM data.
  • CAL – The CAL provides a user with full read-write access to all capabilities within Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 and consists of Employee Self Service CAL, the Limited Use Additive CAL, and the Full Use additive CAL, combined to provide full “Microsoft Dynamics CRM functionality”.
  • Limited Use Additive CAL – The Limited Use Additive CAL provides a user with full read-access and limited write-access functionality using any client, and may only be purchased to supplement an ESS CAL, for Users who may later require full read and limited write access.
  • Full Use Additive CAL – The Full Use Additive CAL provides a user with full write-access functionality, and may only be purchased to supplement a Limited CAL, for Users who may later require full read and write access.

Administrative Users

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 2011 allows for up to two separate devices or users to access instances of the server software only to administer those instances, which do not consume CALs.

Microsoft Dynamics CRM Workgroup Server 2011 allows for separate management or administrative users of the server software, which do not consume any of the 5 users permitted with Workgroup.

External Connectors

The external connector enables customers to extend Microsoft Dynamics CRM to their external users such as customers, partners, suppliers, and end users who access a copy of the server software (for which a license was acquired), through any application/graphical user interface (GUI), other than the Microsoft Dynamics CRM client. External users also does not include hosted-software service users, such as those already licensing via the Microsoft Service Provider License (SPLA).

An External Connector must be purchased for each server that hosts an application that provides external access to Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 data as described above. External users should not be using the Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 applications & GUIs directly. The alternative is for every external user to acquire a CAL.

For more information on what each CAL allows users to do, please see the table listed in the white paper (http://crmdynamics.blob.core.windows.net/docs/Pricing_Licensing_Guide.pdf)


Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 is available for MSDN Subscribers via MSDN Subscriber Downloads.  CRM 2011 available via MSDN is covered by MSDN licensing. MSDN subscriptions are licensed on a per-user basis. Licensed MSDN subscribers may use the software for development, test, design and
demonstration of their applications on any number of devices.

MSDN subscriptions are only offered per individual, there are no “team” subscriptions or sharing of subscription benefits.  Team members who install the software (such as IT Professionals who install software for a test lab) will also need an MSDN subscription.  MSDN Subscriber Downloads: http://msdn.microsoft.com/subscriptions/downloads/

Trial Versions

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Workgroup Server 2011 Trial:

  • Contains a maximum of 5 users licenses – no additional users may be added
  • Is time limited to 90 days
  • May be converted to a full version by applying a commercial product key in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Deployment Manager.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 2011 Trial:

  • Contains license keys for up to 100,000 Microsoft Dynamics CRM Server 2011 Users
  • Is time limited to 90 days
  • May be converted to a full version by applying a commercial product key in Microsoft Dynamics CRM Deployment Manager.

The Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online Trial Subscription:

  • Includes 5 Gigabytes of storage
  • Supports up to 20 users
  • Is time limited to 30 days
  • Allows customer to upgrade the trial to a billable subscription within the 30 day trial period


There are some good pricing tables available in the licensing guide in the link above.  The tables outline cost per license, as well as referencing another link to help organizations calculate the total cost of implementing out of the box Dynamics CRM 2011.

Software Assurance (SA)

Software Assurance price per year is priced at 25% of license value. SA is included with the license (L) for purchases through Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011 Customer facing Volume Licensing Programs.  I get many questions about this assurance plan from clients and it’s something I highly recommend keeping up-to-date including making sure the agreement is renewed in a timely manner.  The SA allows clients to open a certain number of support tickets with MS (depending on the level of agreement), access to resources like CustomerSource, online training, and knowledge base articles.

Product Support Timelines

This is something I haven’t seen before, but I like that MS is documenting when they expect the support of products to expire.

Product Availability Date Mainstream Support
End Date
Extended Support
End Date
CRM 1.0 1/1/2003 7/11/2006 N/A
CRM 1.2 10/31/2003 1/9/2007 N/A
Dynamics CRM 4.0 12/1/2005 4/12/2011 4/12/2016
Dynamics CRM 2011 2/29/2008 4/9/2013 4/10/2018

Hopefully this provides a quick summary of the licensing structure for Microsoft Dynamics CRM 2011.  Again for more detailed
information, please refer to the licensing guide here:  http://crmdynamics.blob.core.windows.net/docs/Pricing_Licensing_Guide.pdf

35 thoughts on “Dynamics CRM 2011 Licensing

    monkeybc said:
    July 13, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    “The SA allows clients to open a certain number of support tickets with MS (depending on the level of agreement), access to resources like CustomerSource, online training, and knowledge base articles.”

    This is like paying 25% extra for your car every year so that someone fills the tank with petrol you pay for. Seems a total waste of over $1200 bucks per year to me.

      Danny Varghese responded:
      July 15, 2011 at 11:46 AM

      Maybe, however the SA does give clients access to support from Microsoft, which I’ve used many times before on behalf of clients. It also gives clients access to valuable training materials, and allows them to upgrade versions of CRM w/o additional costs (other than licensing). I see where you’re coming from as well, thank you for commenting!

    Brent said:
    January 4, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    I’m trying to validate the number of CALs included in my key. The Deployment Manager only shows “required” CALs based on my configuration and use. How do I verify the number of CALs that the key contains?

      Danny Varghese responded:
      January 4, 2012 at 3:05 PM

      Hi Brent,

      If you’re the owner of the CRM organization, you can go to CRM –> Settings –> Administration and you’ll see icons for security roles, teams, users etc. There should be another icon for subscription management. When you click on that it will list the licenses purchased, in use and available. It will also give you stats on how many custom entities and processes you’ve created thus far. Hope this helps!

    asmankhan said:
    June 18, 2012 at 9:42 PM

    Do we need to buy seperate license for CRM 2011 development server or possible to use the same production server license of the customer to do development on another server.

      Danny Varghese responded:
      June 19, 2012 at 10:26 AM

      Every server that runs CRM 2011 will need it’s own license, so to answer your question, yes. However, I’ve seen many clients purchase an MSDN liscense and then install CRM on the development server. MSDN is strictly for development and cannot be used for production purposes. Hope this helps, thanks!

    New CRM 2011 Licensing model « Roman's Blog said:
    August 14, 2012 at 7:44 AM

    […] 2) Dynamics CRM 2011 Licensing and Pricing here is a very nice link and described very well. http://varghesedanny.com/2011/05/17/dynamics-crm-2011-licensing/ […]

    starrdlux said:
    October 5, 2012 at 4:46 PM

    Hi Danny – Does each implementation of on-premise require an Admin or is what I read above about not consuming a CAL more or less the purpose?

    Could two users with Full CAL’s and Read-Write access with the Role of System Admin be sufficient or should we really consider using Admin as a role with the associated Group? Thx Starr

      Danny Varghese responded:
      October 7, 2012 at 11:56 AM

      Hi Starr,

      By default when installing Dynamics CRM, the installing user has an account in CRM with a role = System Admin. It’s not necessary to have any more users with the System Admin role, but it’s rare to find that.

      As for the number of users, it completely depends on the organization. A system admin role has every privilege in CRM so it should be distributed wisely. Also, a full CAL doesn’t depend on the security role of a user. Meaning, you can have users that have a full CAL license, but not have the system admin role.

      Hopefully that makes sense. Thank you again for your question!

    starrdlux said:
    October 9, 2012 at 10:32 AM

    Thanks for the reply.. So I think a photo is worth 1,000 words however I can’t attach here. :)

    So think of it this way..

    User CRM Installer is what was used to install. They have a Role of Sys Admin but their CAL info reads: Access Mode = Read-Write, License Type = Full.

    In that same area (CAL Info within the user) you can toggle to Access Mode = Administrative and the License Type becomes “Administrative” and no longer editable…

    Your point hit home because 2011 licensing gives you two Admin users without touching CALs… I was wondering if it was prudent to make two of those OR is best practical practice to have two users with Sys Admin as a Role. Thx! Starr

      Danny Varghese responded:
      October 9, 2012 at 12:45 PM

      Hi Starr,

      It’s better to create a user with the system admin role instead of making “administrator” type users. The reason is an administrator type user may have access to various parts of the environment/infrastructure or rights to run services/login to servers etc. that you don’t want typical users to have. Ideally you’ll have the installation user be a general administrator user account that only IT has access to change/manage. Any users added to CRM should have limited access to any infrastructure servers. If they need to be system admins in CRM, giving them the role is more than enough.

      Hope that helps, thank you again!

        starrdlux said:
        October 9, 2012 at 1:03 PM

        I totally agree – really just pointing out the likely intent of the “freebie” CALs. If you need to touch the whole system you have to have a full CAL.

        PS. Any threads on AutoNumbering solutions for account management that you love? :D

        Danny Varghese responded:
        October 9, 2012 at 1:41 PM


        About auto numbering, this is an interesting topic. With CRM unfortunately if you use a traditional auto-numbering idea with plug-ins, there is a slight possibility of a potential duplicate number based on how many accounts are created. If you have hundreds/thousands within a span of few minutes this is an issue. However, if the number of accounts being created is far less, you could you a pre-create plugin and set the numbering field right in there.

        If it has to 100% unique, then there’s no packaged solution/article I know of (maybe the readers of this blog can help =)). The best solution there is for an on-premise solution, having a separate database, and a separate table to hold the number. Then lock the row until the entire transaction is completed to ensure the latest number is used.

        I know it’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but if you find something better, would you mind sharing? Thanks!

        Dominik Fuks said:
        July 8, 2013 at 6:50 AM

        Hi Danny,
        I have question regarding security admins in my organization. How can we create admins to be able administrate all security roles, but access just some data. We can use “administrative” license type for it, and create second user for them, with special role which give them access to some objects in their BUs. But only 2 admin licenses are for free, doues it mean that we shoulod buy 2 license per administrator? (we have around 50 admins in local sites). Is there any other way to administrate all security roles in BU/child BUs, but don’t have access to modify all data there?

        Danny Varghese responded:
        July 8, 2013 at 10:13 AM

        Hi Dominik,

        There is a security role for the “Role” entity which can be assigned. Users with this permission can assign security roles to users. I want to say you can assign a user this role and then he/she can update roles w/o having access to other data. Of course, the user can then potentially update his/her own security role to update data. The other potential issue is I remember a few years ago someone from MS telling me a user with “less” access/privileges cannot assign a security role with “more” access/privilege to another user. I never ran across this scenario, but that might be something you might want to test.

        I know this probably wasn’t the best answer, but please do let me know if you were able to solve this problem. Thanks!

        Dominik Fuks said:
        July 9, 2013 at 3:25 AM

        Thank you for Anser, unfortunately it’s not working. This is pricipal rule, if you don’t have access to delete accounts – you cant assign any roles which allow you to delete account. But this is just begining of my problems. In my company we use 6 custom security roles. If I assign those roles for administrator, then he can assign those roles inside BU, but not in child BU. I changed all roles from BU level to parent – chiled. But then in some cases we have access yust to own records. System alle the time return error regarding those roles (that admin don’t have access to this entity in child BU). I understand change from BU access level to parent – chiled level. But I don’t agree with change from own records access level to parent-chiled level. As far I can’t find any solution for it. What it very funny, some system entity like views can be set up only with user access level, and it work fine in parent child concept, but if we do same for other, or custom entity, it doesn’t work.

        Danny Varghese responded:
        July 9, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        Hi Dominik,

        I’m not sure I have a good answer for you then, sorry! Typically, administrators usually have access to a larger set of data and I’ve seen many clients designate that role to someone in IT and not the business (in which case, they have access to the data, but wouldn’t be relevant to their job function). I’ve seen business administrators as well, but haven’t run into a scenario where he/she doesn’t have access to a large set of data. Not sure how your implementation is setup, but if you setup another “Admin” user, then yes you’ll take up a license. Sorry I couldn’t be more help, but I’ll keep noodling on this to see if I can come up with a solution.

    starrdlux said:
    October 9, 2012 at 2:33 PM

    We were leaning towards the method you described w/ an Account Num table w/ locking safety built in too..

    I emailed the one that is in the Marketplace – http://www.crminnovation.com/blog/autonumber-for-dynamics-crm-2011/ however I am fairly certain the duplication issues would still exist. The plugin here fell short: http://m-atif.blogspot.com/2011/12/auto-number-solution-for-dynamics-crm.html as did the lack of source code here: http://crm2011autonumber.codeplex.com/

    I <3 implementations with absurd deadlines… CRM in a week. Can it be done? Hope so. ;)

      Danny Varghese responded:
      October 9, 2012 at 5:04 PM

      HI Starr,

      Do you want 100% guarantee for uniqueness? How often will accounts be created? More than 1 per 30 seconds – 1 minute? Is your installation on-premise? If so, it should be fairly quick to spin up a db, create a table and create a plug-in that places a lock on the row, query the table, grab the latest number, update CRM and then release the lock. I think it can be done in a few days (estimate include any potential security/access needed). Thoughts?

    Naz said:
    December 13, 2012 at 4:56 PM

    Hi Awesome blog thanks for sharing, I have a quick question, I am trying to work out what Licenses I need for CRM 2011.

    I have the following:

    2xWindows Server 2008 R2 (1 for Database + 1 for Web Serving)

    1x SQL Server

    50xCRM users.

    I know I need to buy 2x Windows Licenses and 1x SQL license. The next question is, do I need to purchase seperate SQL and Windows CAL’s for my 50 CRM user’s? or do I just need to buy 2 CRM Server licenses + CRM cal’s only?

    Any advice?


      Danny Varghese responded:
      December 14, 2012 at 9:40 AM

      Hi Naz,

      A CRM server license is required for each running instance of the software, and CALs are required for each person or device accessing a CRM Server. So you really only need one CRM server license b/c you don’t need it for the SQL server, and then you need a CAL for each user. Also another benefit of CRM 2011 is the limited CAL’s now have expanded capabilities that allow organizations to save on license costs with the limited CAL’s. That might be worth investigating.

      Hope this helps and thank you for reading!

        starrdlux said:
        December 14, 2012 at 2:42 PM

        Danny’s got you straight on the CRM side but I am curious about this question: “The next question is, do I need to purchase seperate SQL and Windows CAL’s for my 50 CRM user’s?”

        Here’s a solid overview CAL licensing for accessing Windows Server & SQL: http://www.microsoft.com/licensing/about-licensing/client-access-license.aspx#tab=2

        Do you have Windows Server CALs & SQL cals for your users?

        It can be clear as mud and while I can’t sell you CRM I can help w/ your Windows and other licensing needs… as un-technical as it is my MCP Status is in Licensing. ;)

        Naz said:
        December 17, 2012 at 6:48 AM

        Thanks Danny and Starrdlux for responding :)

        I am now clear on the CRM side, but as starrdlux said, it is a good question, what does one do with the Windows and SQL side. I have had a chat to a few people and they were all unsure but some said if I need to add the user’s to Active Directory, that requires a Windows license per user, but then I am unsure if CRM makes individual connections to the SQL server for each user or does it use one generic connection to obtain information for all users?

        Therefore I am guessing I need to buy 50 Windows and SQL Cal’s to cover the windows and SQL side of things?

        Can anyone confirm or help make is clearer?

        This is a new network so I have not bought anything yet and the SQL server will not be licensed per processor.

        Danny Varghese responded:
        December 17, 2012 at 9:32 AM

        Hi Naz,

        As for how CRM works, a “user” does not make a direct connection to SQL, but rather CRM uses web services. Each user authenticates to a web service which in essence makes all appropriate database transactions (Create, Read, Update, Delete) etc. You don’t need a Windows and SQL CAL for each user unless each user will need an instance of SQL Server and Windows Server on their machines, which I’m guessing they don’t =).

        Hope that helps!

    Scott Martin said:
    January 14, 2013 at 11:22 PM

    You’re actually wrong, according to M$, you need an SQL CAL for every CRM user.

      Scott Martin said:
      January 14, 2013 at 11:30 PM

      The only exception to the above is if you have acquired SQL processor CALs when purchasing the server licenses, otherwise an SQL CAL is required for every user or device (depending on what licensing model you have selected).

      These days with the number of devices, most customers select a user license rather than device, although device can be useful for call centres where you have shifts using the same equipment.

        Danny Varghese responded:
        January 15, 2013 at 9:18 AM

        Scott, thank you for the clarification. I did some more research and it seems you’re right about the SQL CAL. From what I read (and what you said), you can guy a SQL CAL for every CRM user or you can buy a SQL processor CAL for every processor tied to the SQL server. Thank you again!

    The Redeemed 77 said:
    March 8, 2013 at 8:36 PM

    I have a question concerning Dynamics CRM 2011 License options. We are required to get MSDN premium subscriptions (which cost about $5000) for each developer and testers I our Developement, QA and UAT environments. We have many developpers and testers so I am trying to find a cheaper option. Can you please advise? Thank You

      Danny Varghese responded:
      March 9, 2013 at 10:48 PM

      Hello, why are you required to get the MSDN subscription license? Is this for development using Visual Studio etc? If so, have you looked at the MS volume licensing program? I’m not sure how much cheaper that is, but you could go that route.

        The Redeemed 77 said:
        March 11, 2013 at 8:53 AM

        Hi danny I was told that every developer or anybody who would need access to dynamics crm in our lower environment (DEV,QA, UAT) will need a MSDN Subscription. Some of our developers will be using Visual Studio but they already have visual studio licenses so I would think that should be enough.
        However for our testers and our business analysts who won’t be using Visual Studio I’m not sure why we should get a $5000 MSDN Premium Subscription for each of them.
        Is getting CALs for people who won’t be using Visual studio an option?
        Also I was also told that a server license is not required because of the MSDN license but in case we get CALs for other users (testers and business analysts) are we required to get sever licenses?

        Danny Varghese responded:
        March 11, 2013 at 9:12 AM


        Is the CRM installation an MSDN installation or did you buy it from a certified re-seller? Typically for production CRM, all that is needed is a server license and CAL’s. If your developers have a license for Visual Studio, that’s all that is needed. What I’ve seen in the past is organizations may use an MSDN license to install a DEV, QA, and UAT and not need to purchase any additional licenses (even for users). I had one client call and ask MS directly and was told as long as those instances are not production, you will not need to purchase additional user licenses (CAL or MSDN). I’m hoping that makes sense =). Please let me know if that helps. Thanks!

    The Redeemed 77 said:
    March 11, 2013 at 10:06 AM

    That makes perfect sense. We installed CRM with a trial license which is expiring soon and we are in the process of renewing an MSDN subscription utimalte that we had last year. So if I am understanding what you are saying as soon as we renew our MSDN subscription which will give us a key we should not worry about additional licenses or subscription for other dev who already have visual studio licences and also no license should be needed for testers or additional users we might want to add in those lower environment. Please let me know if that scenario is correct?

      Danny Varghese responded:
      March 11, 2013 at 10:17 AM

      That is my understanding as long as the CRM installation you have from MSDN is used for DEV, QA and/or UAT. Production is a whole other story. This is what I heard from an MS rep at a client I was at one time. Just to be 100% sure, I would confirm with MS support. Hope that helps, and good luck!

    ka said:
    October 9, 2013 at 3:32 PM

    we have crm 2011 with 15 cal, i added 20 users with full acces and still work, the limitation of the 15 cal is the number of actif users or simultaneous acces ?

      Danny Varghese responded:
      October 10, 2013 at 6:58 PM


      The CALS are actually named user cals which means the license is tied to a username, so it’s tied to the number of active users and not simultaneous access. If you have more users accessing CRM than you have CAL’s, technically nothing happens to the system. However, if your company is audited for compliance of software license usage then you will be found in breach if you have more enabled CRM user accounts than you have purchased CALs for. This may void your warranty/support, so I’d recommend keeping it up to date.

      Hope this helps, thanks!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s