Licensing Costs for Intranet, Extranet & Internet SharePoint Sites

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The following breakdown of Windows SharePoint Services and Microsoft Office SharePoint Server licensing costs is for the SharePoint Hosting licensing price model. If you are planning to, or already have deployed SharePoint in-house, Microsoft has another set of licenses for you to learn about. For us “SaaS folks” or hosting providers, Microsoft created the SPLA (Service Provider License Agreement.) This allows SharePoint hosting providers to break up the licensing costs into a monthly subscription. This obviously helps us make SharePoint affordable for great customers like ours.

So, now the question is – what type of licenses do you need to host WSS or MOSS?
What about Internet-facing SharePoint Web sites? What about the Windows Server OS license, the SQL Server license and the Client Access License(s) (CALs)? Well, we make it as simple and affordable as possible.

Hosted WSS Licensing Scenarios

We build the cost for the OS, SQL, server hardware, etc… into our monthly price. You need not worry about every little thing.  Since WSS comes free with every licensed copy of the Windows 2008 Server OS, you also need not worry about SharePoint licensing.

Same as above: No user licensing to worry about with WSS for users who are authenticating when entering the site.

INTERNET (public facing sites using WSS):
This is similar to above, however, Microsoft requires a “FIS” (For Internet Site) License. We break this cost down to $195 per month in addition to your existing SharePoint hosting plan fee. This is for sites that want anonymous access for all Internet users. You could have five users visiting your site or you could have a full-blown marketing site that gets thousands of visits a day – either way the cost is $195 per month.

Hosted MOSS Licensing Scenarios

For MOSS intranet sites, we build in the cost for the OS, SQL, hardware and the MOSS server license. Again, we’re trying to make this simple and affordable as best we can. Where MOSS differs is that it does require per-user licensing called “CALs” (Client Access License).

For every employee contributing to or accessing your MOSS site internally, you need a CAL. MOSS CALs also come in two flavors: Standard and Enterprise. For Standard MOSS, we charge $5 per CAL per month. For Enterprise, we charge $9 per CAL per month. (Prices current as of the date of this publication)

Important caveat: Not all hosting providers allow this, but since we’re really nice… we allow you to use your pre-existing EA with Microsoft for your licensing. Or, if you are a non-profit and can get better pricing for licensing than we can using our SPLA, we can make use of your discounted licensing. No need to double up. We’re flexible.

This is essentially the same as Intranet use. Users are still authenticating into your site and even though they may be partners or external to your organization, they are still a MOSS user and they still require a CAL per user. The MOSS Standard and Enterprise CAL price applies.

INTERNET (public facing sites using MOSS):
If you have a MOSS Web site that is strictly a public facing one, you are required to have the “FIS” license or what is sometimes referred to as the “External Internet Connector”. This pricing from Microsoft is currently a $995 per month fee. This opens up your site to any and all Internet users and they are all covered under one license.

If you want to have an Intranet MOSS site where users are contributing to the site and using it for internal employee use, as well as have MOSS serve as your Internet site, you’ll need both the FIS license and user CALs for your contributors. So, if you have fifty employees and you are using MOSS Enterprise, you’ll need fifty Enterprise CALs at $9 per user per month and the Internet license at $995 per month.

Clear as mud?
I hope this post helps clarify some of the questions I often answer for folks when they are considering SharePoint Hosted by We work with Microsoft closely on licensing and we are obviously asking them continually to lower the licensing cost. And hey, they may actually be listening. We’re waiting to hear back from them regarding the final numbers for Hosted SharePoint 2010 licensing costs, but hopefully we can continue to make hosted SharePoint more and more affordable in the coming months and years.

Check out these other helpful resources related to this topic:

NOTE: We do not build in a certain amount of CALs into our MOSS plans because need/number of users within organizations varies so widely. We simply offer CALs per user per month as needed.

2009-11-23T10:23:06+00:00 November 23rd, 2009|


  1. Arvind July 15, 2010 at 4:37 am - Reply

    This is nice and very useful post. but i have a question regarding hosting MOSS based product on cloud hosting.

    How does licensing model would be for this. do we still need per user licenese or FIS license will fullfil the task. We’ll be selling our product from cloud as SAAS. Our product uses the MOSS 2010 API.

  2. Tom Brauch July 16, 2010 at 10:24 am - Reply

    The licensing model is SPLA (service provider licensing agreement) with Microsoft. This is still per user license or FIS. Each client accessing the site needs to be covered under one or two of those scenarios.

  3. ja August 3, 2010 at 11:32 am - Reply

    need to know which licensing type require for offering Sharepoint 2010 as hosted solution. as service provider

  4. M@gda October 9, 2010 at 2:42 pm - Reply

    Very useful, interesting article which highlights the complexities in the Microsoft licensing very well. For a business that’s looking to set this up for the first time, these costs and the server OS and SQL Server licence costs and the CALs for those licences is going to be a bitter pill to swallow.

  5. Christine March 29, 2011 at 8:11 am - Reply

    And if you have a public facing website with a customer login area, (with individual logins for each) do you need CALS for all customers?

  6. Andrew Milsark March 30, 2011 at 2:16 pm - Reply

    The FIS connector will cover all external users (anonymous or authenticated).  The company that owns or is hosting SharePoint is required to buy CALs for each internal/employee user.  This is my understanding of it anyway 🙂  Our sales team will be able to assist you in seleting the best and most appropriate option.

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