Home > SharePoint > Maintaining a hybrid licensing model in a single farm

Maintaining a hybrid licensing model in a single farm

Applies to: SharePoint 2010

When installing SharePoint, one of the first things you have to do is enter a license key.  For most companies this is not even a consideration, it’s either a standard license or an enterprise license. 

Check out the Microsoft SharePoint 2010 feature matrix to see what enterprise gets you.

So, what if you want to deploy a hybrid model and have some users on standard and some users on enterprise?  Well it gets tricky.  For large companies this is a situation that is not as uncommon as you might think. 

Once you active the enterprise license, you cannot revert your farm to a standard license.  With that in mind, how do you maintain both sets of licenses?

I won’t get into the details of licensing and cost – that’s for you to work out with your Microsoft account manager Smile. I will however touch on how can you govern it technically.

So how are enterprise features implemented?


A Site collection feature called SharePoint Server Enterprise Site Collection features will enable all the additional features that comes with Enterprise for that site collection.


By default this is disabled, unless you chose to have it enabled through Central Admin (Upgrade and Migration > Enable Enterprise Features).

Service Applications

Enterprise includes several service applications including excel services, access services, etc.  Web applications that are associated with these services can put them to use. See the feature matrix for all the services that are included.

So how to make the most of a hybrid deployment and stay in compliance?

Well this is where it gets tricky.  There are several configurations you can consider, but you also need the support and compliance of your site owners.

Technical Governance

Web Applications – To maintain a hybrid license model, you need to do so at the web application level.  Target your features per web application.  i.e. A web application can have standard features or enterprise features.  By doing so you can restrict the service applications available.

Proxy Groups – Separate your service applications into proxy groups.  do not mix features that are enterprise with standard in the same group.  Apply the proxy groups to the web applications accordingly.

Site Collections – Do not enable the site collection feature to automatically enable enterprise features.  Enable this only for sites that need it.

Policy Governance

Technical governance will only get you so far, users are smart and can often find ways around your limitations. 

Site Collection Administrators – Consider restricting the SA admins to the IT group.  Educate your admins on licensing and feature enabling.  If you do give over SA admin to your users, ensure they know that if they go outside their license, it may be revoked.  Or if they really need the enterprise features, they provide a case for it.

And of course there’s always custom solutions to ensure enterprise features are never enabled.

Brian Edwards has a great article that gets into much more detail.  You should check it out.

Categories: SharePoint
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