Maybe this is the wrong place to post, since its not necessarily sql server related, but here goes.

If I want to setup some service user accounts in the domain to use to run sql services like the sql server instance itself, sql agent, and others, do I need to be worried about using up user licenses for them?

I believe we are currently using CALs for active directory. I just don't know if this would apply because they aren't real users, just service accounts, but I also don't know if active directory will actually differentiate between the two.


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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about licensing. Questions on licensing should be referred to the vendor, and an answer obtained in writing from them. – Max Vernon Jan 6 '15 at 16:38

Basically User CALs are for people, not for Service Accounts. In the User CAL model you need a CAL for each person whether they directly access SQL Server from their account or they access SQL Server through some Service Account.

This is a CAL per each and every person that uses the SQL Server, not a CAL per simultaneous user. However, your CALs will allow you to access as many SQL Servers that use CALs as you can reach within your organization.

Edit: There are also Device CALs for when several people share a device at different times. Read about CALS at:


Regarding Service Accounts on the SQL Server I cannot find my old link on the subject, but perhaps this post will help you:


See the sentence that says

And for system service accounts – no CAL is required.

Therefore, since Service Accounts are not people, you can use as many service accounts as you can make use of: SQL Server, SQL Agent, Full Text, and so on.

  • thanks for the great response. just wondering if you have any links or sources to support that so I have something a little more official to show. I can never seem to find official license info that is very clear. – Mark Mar 26 '14 at 14:33
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    Added some more information in response to your comment. – RLF Mar 26 '14 at 15:25

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