Demystifying Sitecore's Licensing.


Before I start: Sitecore’s licensing model changes occasionally, so it is always recommended to check in with your Sitecore sales representatives or your Sitecore contact. As a partner, you can find who your Sitecore contact is (and get their details) by logging in to Sitecore’s Partner Network. As a customer, you can talk to your Sitecore account manager.

Having said that, we can get going. In essence, there are 2 licensing models: consumption and perpetual.

Consumption model

When you select the consumption model, you can select a band that matches your expected number of visits for your Sitecore powered website(s). If you exceed this number of visits, you’d have to pay an overage and it might make sense to take a look at whether it’s beneficial to upgrade your banding.

With the consumption model, you can spin up any number of production servers, and a limited amount of non-production servers (more on this later), making it ideal if your site can get massively different loads at different periods in time, such as holidays.

Perpetual model

With the perpetual model you’re licensed by the number of Sitecore instances, again differentiated based on production and non-production servers. For clarity, if I install 2 Sitecore environments on 1 server, that counts as 2 Sitecore instances.

Both the Consumption and the Perpetual model have restrictions as well based on the number of concurrent users. You can have as many named users as you want in your system, but only a number of them can be logged in to the Sitecore client at the same time.

Also, when we’re talking about servers we’re purely talking about Sitecore instances – it doesn’t matter for instance how many SQL servers, MongoDB servers or SOLR servers you are running (apart from your infrastructure costs of course).

To clarify


Consider the above image. For a perpetual model, this would be 5 non-production environment (test CM server, UAT CD servers, UAT CM server and Processing server) and 5 production environments (cm and 4 cds). However, when you’re using a consumption model, this would be 4 non-production environments (test CM server, UAT CD servers and UAT CM server) and 6 production environments (although the number of production environments is irrelevant as you can use however many you like).

Any other differences in the models?

The Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) module is included in the consumption model, whereas with the perpetual model one would have to pay for it.

In addition, the Sitecore JavaScript Services (JSS) requires a subscription license.

So is that it then?

Not quite. Within these models, there are 2 product options you can choose from: Experience Management (or XM) and Experience Platform (or XP).

Experience Management

This is essentially Sitecore’s CMS-only offering. This offering does not have any analytics, but still supports in-session personalization for example. This means that I can personalize based on the current actions a visitor has on my website, but not on any of the visitors previous visits. However, it’s worth asking ourselves how useful that is if we can’t monitor how the personalized version is performing versus the default.

Amongst the things that are not compatible with Experience Management are personalisation based on historical data (as that’s not collected), testing, Email Experience Manager (EXM) Federated Experience Manager (FXM).

Experience Platform

This is the full Sitecore platform.

So what was this about servers?

As stated above, Sitecore differentiates between production and non-production servers. There is a slight discrepancy between production servers on perpetual and consumption.

For perpetual: Any server that is not a live CD/CM is classified as a non-production server. This includes reporting servers and processing servers collecting and querying production data, as well as any CM/CD/combobox on any dev or test environment.

For consumption licenses it’s a bit more simple: a production server is any server that has to do with production – including the reporting and processing servers (on the production side of things).

The only difference here is the xConnect related servers: Search, collection, reference data, marketing automation and marketing automation reporting. These server roles exist in XP licenses only, and can be spun up as and when required without having to worry about the impact they’ll have on the Sitecore license.

I realise we haven’t gotten around to additional add-ons (such as Sitecore Commerce, Print Experience Manager, or SXA if you’re on perpetual license).

This blog was originally posted on Innovation Director, Johannes Zijlstra's blog on 9th May 2018.



14 May 2018 - 7 minute read
share this

stay in the know, stay ahead.

Get the latest from the agency, including news, events and expert content.
explore services in the article
find out what we can do for you
read some of our case studies