Licenses for SharePoint Server are based on physical or virtual servers in combination with Client Access Licenses (CALs) for the users.
A SharePoint Server license is required for every SharePoint Server. This applies to both physical and virtual servers. The license is assigned to a physical server. SharePoint may then run on the licensed server or in a virtual server on that licensed server.
There is no distinction between SharePoint Server Standard and Enterprise.
You may use a SharePoint Server Enterprise license for a Standard installation. The other way around is not allowed.
Licenses are assigned to physical servers and are associated with them for a minimum of 90 days. If a virtual SharePoint server moves across multiple physical hosts, the license must be able to move with it. Microsoft calls this License Mobility and that right is included in Software Assurance (SA). SharePoint virtual servers without SA must remain on the same host, unless all hosts that can land SharePoint virtual servers have sufficient SharePoint Server licenses.
Client Access Licenses (CALs)
Licenses are also required on the user side. These can be licenses per user or licenses per end user device (PC, laptop, Thin Client ...).
A per user CAL (user CAL) allows a user to use an unlimited number of devices to access an unlimited number of SharePoint Servers. With a CAL per device (device CAL), an unlimited number of users can access an unlimited number of SharePoint Servers via the licensed device.
For most uses, a SharePoint Standard CAL is sufficient. The SharePoint Enterprise CAL is available as an additional CAL and offers the following additional functionality:
- Business Connectivity Services Line of Business Webparts
- Office 2019 Business Connectivity Services Client Integration
- Access Services
- Enterprise Search
- E-discovery and Compliance
- InfoPath Forms Services
- Excel Services, PowerPivot and PowerView
- Visio Services
- PerformancePoint Services
- Custom Analytics Reports
- Data Loss Prevention
- Advanced Charting
SharePoint Standard CALs are part of the Core CAL Suite and the Enterprise CAL Suite. The SharePoint Enterprise CAL is only part of the Enterprise CAL Suite. These suites are available on a per-user and per-device basis.
SharePoint Online Plan 1 gives the same rights as the SharePoint Standard CAL. SharePoint Online Plan 2 gives the same rights as the SharePoint Standard CAL plus the SharePoint Enterprise CAL. These licenses are only available per user.
No CALs are required for external users. This applies to both the Standard and the Enterprise functionality