Most Team Foundation Server (TFS) administrators know how to license developers. MSDN licenses are the most common, meaning that all users already have a Client Access License for Team Foundation Server, are also licensed to install a server and have access to the latest product updates and versions.
Occasionally users misunderstand that MSDN licenses are “per developer” meaning that only the named user can access software downloads. On the flip side, that user is then entitled to install Visual Studio on whatever machines they choose (including their home PC) but just remember that most software available for download through MSDN is for development, test and evaluation purposes - not for production.
The most common mistake users make when it comes to developer licensing is when using Team Foundation Server through Team Web Access (TWA). There are different levels available for TWA which I will discuss later in this post.
However, when it comes to licensing non-development users such as project managers, ScrumMasters, Product Owners and project stakeholders, there is a lot of confusion.
No license (Web Access: Limited)
Having no TFS license still allows you to access some information in TFS and also to contribute to a project. There are two options:
1.) You can access Team Foundation Server Team Web Access with “Limited” permissions (you may also hear this referred to as Work Item Web Access (WIWA) or Work Item Only View (WIOV)). If the TFS administrator grants you access then you will be able to submit Bug Work Items or Feature Requests for example, through a web browser. You can only view Work Items that you have created.
2.) You are entitled to view standard reports on TFS if your TFS administrator has granted you permission. This was a licensing change back in 2012 and applies to TFS 2010 and later.
We have removed the TFS CAL requirement (you still need whatever Sharepoint/Office licensing is appropriate) for viewing reports in TFS. This addresses a long standing concern that it was not reasonable to require a CAL for the occasional stakeholder who wanted to check a report to see progress or issues. Add this to the Work Item Only View CAL exemption that we added a couple of years ago and you get a pretty comprehensive solution for the occasional, loosely connected stakeholder
Your team can create custom reports and make them available to you but you will not be able to create your own custom reports.
See TFS Reports for details on the standard reports available with your chosen process template.
Also, have a look at the “When a Client Access in Not Required” section of the Visual Studio and MSDN Licensing White Paper for further information.
Any read-only data that comes from the Team Foundation Server SQL data warehouse or is surfaced through SQL Server Analysis Services would be a report, but custom reports could also be written to call into Team Foundation Server APIs and could also join that data with other data sources
Client Access License (Web Access: Standard)
Inexpensive Team Foundation Server Client Access Licenses can be purchased with or without Software Assurance. If you choose to buy “License Only” (without Software Assurance) just remember that your CAL will be tied to a specific version of Team Foundation Server. So, when your developers decide to upgrade the server to TFS 201x, technically your CAL for TFS 201x-1 is no longer valid.
A TFS CAL allows you to access all information in TFS. You can use the client that makes sense for you including the Team Explorer for Microsoft Visual Studio.
Visual Studio Professional includes a CAL for TFS.
Visual Studio Professional or a TFS CAL gives you a Standard license for Team Web Access. This means that you are not licensed for some features.
Review the article Team Web Access: Change access levels for a full list of features by TWA access level.
Note that the feature list changed between TFS 2012 and TFS 2013. If you are using TFS 2012 then with a standard CAL, you are not licensed for backlog management, sprint planning and Kanban board functionality.
Visual Studio Premium/Ultimate/Test Professional License (Web Access: Full)
You can view a breakdown of features available in the various versions of Visual Studio here. Additional features are available through Team Web Access if you are licensed for one of the following as they give you Full access:
- Visual Studio Test Professional
- Visual Studio Premium
- Visual Studio Ultimate
I always think there should be a name for this like SuperCAL or CAL++ because while you cannot buy it separately, it is the thing that trips most people up.
Most notable for non-development users are the things listed on the right hand side of the following table:
Features available with Team Foundation Server 2013 2013 CAL
Features requiring Test Pro, MSDN Platforms, Premium or Ultimate
Task Boards and Kanban Boards
Backlog Management and Sprint Planning Tools
Request and Manage feedback
Test Case Management
Agile Portfolio Management
Work Item Chart Authoring
If you have Product Owners or Stakeholders for example, who are licensed with a TFS CAL but want to use Team Web Access to update portfolio information or contribute to Team Rooms, they will need to upgrade to Visual Studio Test Professional as the most inexpensive way of obtaining a Full license for TWA.
Another example is testers who want to use the web-based Test Case Management functionality of TFS Team Web Access. Even if they do not intend to install Microsoft Test Manager, they will still need to upgrade to Visual Studio Test Professional.
Licensing Visual Studio/TFS/MSDN is probably not as complicated as you think but there are many permutations of the way people use the software and the licensing reflects that.
If you are in any doubt then refer to the Visual Studio and MSDN Licensing White Paper (mmmmmmm, 34 pages of licensing information), contact Microsoft or your Reseller.