How To License Your RDS Deployment with Client Access Licenses (CALs)

How To License Your RDS Deployment with Client Access Licenses (CALs)

When you deploy Remote Desktop Services (RDS), each user and device that connects requires a client access license (also known as a CAL). A remote session host (RSH) determines if a user or device needs a specific CAL based on the type of connection requested. 

If a user or device requires a CAL, the RSCH sends a request to the Remote Desktop License Server (RDLS) to obtain one. During the grace period, no license servers are required; however, it does not mean that you do not need to manage your CALs. 

You can use RD Licensing to manage your CALs, including issuing and tracking them. This allows you to easily determine how many CALs you need and whether you have enough. 

Install RDS client access licenses 

CALs are required for remote desktop connections. You must purchase CALs for each user account you want to connect remotely. If you don’t already have RDS CAL license installed, follow our step-by-step instructions. 

Manage CALs in the RD Licensing console 

The RD Licensing console is where you manage all of your CALs. To get started, sign in to the RD Licensing console by using an existing Microsoft account or creating a new one. 

  • In the left navigation pane, select Licenses. 
  • Select Add from the top menu bar. 
  • Enter the name of the license pool. 
  • The default value is Default Pool. 
  • Select the license type. 
  • Click Next.  
  • In the next screen, enter the number of CALs you require. For example, if you require 10 CALs, enter 10. 
  • Click Review and then Finish. 

Activate the Remote Desktop Services license server 

The RD License Server allows you to remotely manage licenses and configure licensing options for Microsoft Windows clients. You must install and activate it before you can use the Licensing API. This article describes how to do this. 

To begin, download and run the RDSvcSetup.exe file. When prompted, select “Install” and follow the instructions. After installation is completed successfully, restart the computer. 

Once the computer restarts, log into the local Administrator account. Click Add User, enter a name for the user, and choose an account type. Select the newly added user and click OK. 

In the Local Users and Groups window, double-click the user you just added. Under Account Types, select Remote Desktop Session Host, and click Properties. Enter a password for the user, and click OK. 

Click Log On. If you are prompted for a domain controller, select Use my Domain Controller option. Otherwise, skip this step. 

On the Computer Configuration tab, select Networking, expand Protocols for File Sharing, and select Remote Access Dial-in User Interface. Double-click Remoting Options, and change the value of Enable remoting to Yes. 

If you see a warning about enabling remote access, click Continue Anyway. 

Terminal Server licensing – Windows Server 

Microsoft offers three different types of licenses for Terminal Servers. Each type covers a specific number of servers and has different requirements. This article describes what each type covers and how it affects you. 

The most common type of Terminal Server license is called Standard Edition. This license allows you to install up to five Terminal Servers on one computer. You must purchase additional licenses to add more Terminal Servers. If you want to use Terminal Services over a network connection, you must buy a Network Edition license. For Terminal Server installations, this license includes support and maintenance. 

A Small Business Server license provides access to Terminal Services over a local area network. A Remote Desktop Services license gives you access to Terminal Services over remote networks. Both are required to connect multiple computers together via Terminal Services. 

Track your Remote Desktop Services client access licenses (RDS CALs) 

The number one question we receive about remote desktop services (RDS) is, “How do I know my RDS CALs are being used?” This article explains how you can track your RDS CALs across your RMS deployment. 

In order to use RDS, you must purchase a CAL. Each CAL represents a single user account. Your organization purchases CALs based on the number of concurrent users it needs. For example, if you want to allow 10 people to work simultaneously on a shared computer, you’ll need to buy 10 CALs. If you want 20 people to work simultaneously on shared computers, you’d need 20 CALs. 

Once you’ve purchased your RDS CALs, you need to make sure they’re being used correctly. There, you’ll see a list of every CAL associated with your RDS server on public cloud. In addition to viewing your current usage, you can view your future usage by clicking the View Future Usage button. 

If you need help tracking your RDS CALs and making sure they’re being used properly, contact us today. We offer free training sessions for our customers. 

Migrate your Remote Desktop Services Client Access Licenses (RDS CALs) 

Microsoft has announced support for migrating RDS CALs from previous versions of Windows Server to newer versions. This includes Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2008 R2. Microsoft recommends that you upgrade your existing server licenses to Windows Server 2016 to take advantage of the migration tool. You must use the latest version of the Migration Toolkit. To see what features are supported, check out the documentation here. 

The process of migrating RDS CALs is relatively straightforward. Once you have upgraded your server licenses to Windows Server 2012 or later, run the Migrating RDS CALs Wizard. After running the wizard, you can verify whether the operation was completed successfully. If it did, you can start configuring the new server licenses. 


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