Exchange 2010 Product Keys and Licensing

As part of the post installation tasks, the first two immediate steps include verifying the installation and then registering a product key on the server.

The former step requires a little experience on installing Exchange servers. The primary step recommended by Microsoft is to view the Exchange Setup Logs which will be in a folder of similar name on the installation drive. These logs should reveal any problems encountered during the installation. With my failed installation attempt, I can tell you there are other indicators to consider. The System and Application event logs and the services should be examined. The Exchange Management Console (EMC) and Exchange PowerShell should be open as well. Both the EMC and Powershell hung with my installation. If the EMC opens correctly, poking around the gui and running PS commandlets such as get-exchangeserver develop a warm fuzzy that things were placed in the correct order.

The product key relates very closely to your choice of editions. The available editions of Exchange 2010 are Trial, Standard and Enterprise. The bits for each edition are the same and the product key enables features of each edition. The trial edition is the installation with out a product key. This gives you 120 days of testing out the equivalent of a standard edition. Registering a product key will upgrade it to the qualified edition of that key. The standard edition has a limit of 5 mailbox databases while the enterprise edition goes up to 100 databases. All other functionality is available in both editions. Although the product key enables the edition, you cannot revert to a downgraded version such as switching the enterprise edition to a standard edition.

When considering which edition you would like, you also have to consider the client access license (CAL). The Exchange CAL comes in two flavors as well, standard and enterprise. The enterprise CAL is an add-on to the standard CAL. You purchase enterprise CAL on top of the standard CAL to get additional compliance functionality such as retention policies, archiving and mailbox search capabilities. You can have a mix of CALs as well. The Exchange server doesn’t track CALs so these functionalities are not disabled if you have only standard CALs. Remember the use of these features based on CALs is on the honor system and the law can stiff your organization serious buckage in a fine for each licensing violation.

On a side note, additional CALs are required for using Exchange CALs. The Windows Server CAL is mandatory. The Windows Information Rights Management (IRM) CAL is required for implementing rights management on emails.

To enter the product key into the installation, the EMC offers a gui based method which is built on the PowerShell commands. So for the sake of brevity, we’ll do it with the PS method:
Set-ExchangeServer -Identity Exch2010 -ProductKey 12345-abcde-12345-abcde-12345

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