Licensing and TFS


Are there things in life you just can’t remember? Maybe the name of a colleague, your wedding anniversary or how TFS licensing works?

Well, as you’ve probably guessed I’m having some problems with remembering TFS licensing. And one great way to make sure I don’t forget something or that I can find it easily when I do forget, is blogging about it.

So what’s the problem

At Ordina we are running a large Team Foundation Server environment which is used for our own projects but also for external customers. We strive to implement the complete ALM toolset for our projects and make sure they get trained in all the latest best practices. So, how about licensing?

Our internal developers have MSDN subscriptions that give them access to TFS. This is because Visual Studio includes a Client Access License for TFS so having Visual Studio automatically grants you access to TFS.

However, that’s not true when it comes to external people. If customers have MSDN subscriptions, they off course have a Visual Studio license. But notice the following paragraph from the Visual Studio and MSDN Licensing White Paper (page 20):

Additionally, if the contractor is using the client’s Team Foundation Server then the client must supply a Team Foundation Server CAL for the contractor’s use. This could be a CAL purchased separately or a CAL that is included with the MSDN subscription that the client assigns to the contractor temporarily. Team Foundation Server CALs are only valid for accessing a Team Foundation Server acquired by the same organization.

So what does this mean? It means that the MSDN subscriptions our customers have do give them access to Visual Studio but don’t give them a CAL for accessing a TFS environment hosted by Ordina. Instead, Ordina is required to purchase separate CALs for all external customers.

As you can see, licensing is still some form of a black art. Fortunately, you can (and should!) contact partners like Ordina with all licensing questions you have and we will help you out.

Comments? Feedback? Licensing questions? Please leave a comment or contact me on Twitter (@wouterdekort).