Salesforce Communities Licenses

This article was written for the Winter’14 release of Salesforce Communities.

Salesforce Communities is a platform that allows our customers to connect with people outside their organization using data, collaboration, and content. While most Salesforce customers have a decent understanding of Salesforce CRM and licenses, the license structure for Salesforce Communities is slightly different. This article seeks to explain the structure, capabilities, and design philosophy behind the communities licenses as well as the role that legacy portal licenses play in communities.



Internal and External Licenses


Internal licenses such as CRM and are typically sold to employees who work inside the customer organization. As you embark on your journey to become a customer company, we believe that your employees will be key to your success. That’s why any of your employees and users with a Salesforce internal license can access external Communities at no extra charge. All internal licenses are supported except the Chatter External license.

External user licenses are targeted at people outside your company, such as partners or customers. External licenses include legacy portal licenses and Communities licenses. Users with a portal license can access both portals and communities; users with a community license can only access Communities.

How you provision community users is beyond the scope of this article but it’s worth understanding the basic mechanics. In essence, all you need is a Contact record. From there, select “Enable Customer User” or “Enable Partner User” to create an external user:

Upon clicking, you are taken to the user record page. If you try this out on your org, you’ll notice that the User License and Profile drop-downs are populated with external licenses and their corresponding profiles.

Click ‘Save’ to create the external user.



Legacy Portal Licenses and Communities Licenses


When starting your journey to communities (especially if you’re running our legacy Customer Portal or Partner Portal), it’s important to note a few critical points:

  • We removed the distinction between Partner Portal and Customer Portal. You can mix and match employees, partners, and customers on a single Communities platform.
  • Customers who own legacy portal licenses can continue to renew those licenses and purchase new units of those licenses, or they may purchase new communities licenses.
  • All legacy portal licenses work with Salesforce Communities. In most cases, there is no compelling reason to swap your legacy portal licenses for the new communities licenses.
  • Communities are configured separately from the legacy portals, but have many of the same configuration options. This allows our customers to move to communities when they’re ready.
  • Communities has feature parity with portals. The work you’ve done in portals is not lost when you move to communities, but there are some considerations. Consult the migration cheatsheet for details.


Salesforce Communities introduces three new licenses that are intended as long-term replacements for the legacy portal licenses:

  • Customer Community — our high-volume license
  • Customer Community Plus — a role-based Customer Community license, available in Spring’14
  • Partner Community — our “premium” license. It has all of the Customer Communities license capabilities plus access to sharing, roles, reports, and dashboards.


Each communities license comes in two flavors: member-based and login-based. Salesforce customers who do not currently own legacy portal licenses must purchase the new communities licenses to create a new community. For more details on license capabilities, check the Communities licenses feature comparison.




License Features


The Customer Community license is similar to a High Volume Customer Portal license and is well-suited for business-to-consumer communities with large numbers of external users. The Customer Community Plus license (available in Spring’14) is similar to a Customer Portal — Enterprise Administration license and is well-suited for business-to-consumer communities focused on managing customer support.  The Partner Community license is similar to a Gold Partner license and is well-suited for business-to-business communities, such as a partner community.

This online help page shows which features are available to users with Customer Community, Customer Community Plus, or Partner Community licenses.

Notice the difference in sharing capabilities between the Communities licenses:

  • Customer Community, our high-volume license, does not have access to sharing rules and the role hierarchy. We provide a sharing alternative called Sharing sets.
  • Customer Community Plus and Partner Community have access to roles (up to three per account) and sharing rules



Member-based vs Login-based licenses


Customer Community and Partner Community licenses are offered as member-based or login-based:

  • A user with a member-based license can log in to communities as often as he wants
  • A user with a login-based license consumes a login each time he logs in to the community
  • Users on either licenses can access multiple Communities

Once you’ve decided on the right license mix, you need to select a license block size that fits your needs. Salesforce lets you mix and match member-based and login-based licenses of the same type, allowing you to optimize your license allocation based on usage.

Access frequency determines what license model is best. Login-based licenses are well suited for members with infrequent logins to your communities. Member-based licenses are well suited for members who frequently access communities. Administrators can monitor license allocation and usage by installing the Salesforce Communities Management AppExchange app and using the License dashboard.

To optimize their license usage, some customers purchase login-based and named-user licenses for a given license type. This lets them assign users that login often to a named-user license and users with limited monthly logins to a login-based license. In that case, you can use the OSF License Optimizer for Community Cloud to monitor user logins and quickly re-assign them to another license model.

Think of it like this:

  • With member-based licenses, you are buying user seats
  • With login-based licenses, you are buying access capacity.

We suggest you consult with your Sales Executive to determine the optimal license mix for your use case.



How logins get calculated?


First, let’s explore how login-based licenses work. With login-based licenses, you purchase an amount of monthly logins for your members. For instance, if you purchased 20K logins, you can use 20K logins every month. The logins consumed reset to 0 at the end of each calendar month.

A login is consumed each time an external user submits his username and password to log into the community. The same rule applies if the user is accessing Communities from a mobile device. The mobile app consumes a login each time it requests a refresh token.

An org-level perm lets you control the user session duration. This setting applies to all users, external and internal.


What happens if I go over my monthly limit allocation?

We understand that your login usage may change due to seasonality or other factors. To provide maximum flexibility to our customers, we follow a yearly entitlement policy to determine if you are in overage.

Let’s take an example.

A customer purchases 2000 Customer Community monthly logins. The yearly baseline is therefore 24000 logins (2000*12). Several scenarios are possible:

  • 15K logins were used over the last 12 months; the customer is under the limit for this login-based license
  • 30K logins were used over the last 12 months; the customer is in overage and should purchase additional logins; at a minimum 500 extra monthly logins to get to 30K logins (2500*12)

We recommend you monitor logins consumption on a regular basis and contact your AE if you need to purchase additional logins.


Is there a limit on the number of login-based users I can create?

Yes, there’s a 1/20 login to user ratio limit. For instance, if you purchased 1000 monthly logins, you can create up to 20000 users. Customers very rarely hit that limit.


Can I report on login consumption?

Yes, you can. All logins are stored in the LoginHistory table for up to three months. You can use the API or standards reports to measure login consumption.

Administrators can monitor license allocation and usage by installing the Salesforce Communities Management AppExchange app and using the License dashboard.




Moving from One License Type to Another


You can easily switch users from a login-based to a member-based license, and vice-versa, as long as the user remains on the same license type (Partner Community or Customer Community).

If you own portal licenses, there’s no real benefit to swapping those licenses to Partner Communities or Customer Communities licenses. The Gold Partner license maps to Partner Communities and the HVPU license maps to Customer Communities, meaning that users with those licenses have access to the same feature set. If you own a different legacy portal license type such as Customer Portal Manager, you retain all portal license capabilities when you use this legacy license in Communities.

For more details on how to move from one license to another, check Migrating From Portals to Communities, section User Licenses.



How many communities do I get?

New – As of Spring’16, you can have up to 50 communities in your Salesforce org. Active, inactive, and preview communities, sites, count against this limit.

Customers with Communities licenses on PROD can perform a Sandbox refresh to get those licenses on Sandbox. Customers on Developer Edition orgs get 10 licenses of each Communities license type:

  • 10 login-based Customer Communities licenses
  • 10 member-based Customer Communities licenses
  • 10 login-based Partner Communities licenses
  • 10 member-based Partner Communities licenses


Your Account Executive can help set up a Communities trial on our PROD org.


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  • John Szurley

    Great post. Thank you!

  • Nice explanation of Communities. But, I’d like to share my experience setting up a Customer Community which has been a challenge. The biggest frustration has been that certain advertised features are not actually available. For example, there is NO access to Accounts/Contacts (supposed to be fixed in Spring ’14?) and access to Assets is limited — you can’t search for them in Global Search nor via Lookup and you can’t list them. Sharing records, list views, etc are a challenge — sharing sets have limited options. I hope Spring Release fixes these and other issues.

  • ram_sj

    Thanks for great post in time, I was looking for this answers to be confirmed.

  • Andrew Bowman

    Great post. One frustration i’ve had when experimenting with communities in the sandbox before making the transition in our production environment is the lack of Community Licenses and number of Communities you can create. It makes absolutely no sense to make the admin enable communities in the production environment in order to refresh the license types available in the sandbox. The entire purpose of the sandbox is to test functionality before deploying.

  • Sam Hummel

    So, if I’m reading between the lines correctly, then the actual names of the licenses are as follows:

    The name of the member-based license is “Customer Community”.
    The name of the login-based license is “Customer Community Login”.

    If that’s correct, it would be really helpful if Salesforce would explicitly say that somewhere in the documentation, like on this page:

    This not only would help make the documentation clearer, it would also help people like me find the answer! I searched all over trying to find out the difference between these two licenses but didn’t find this blog article or anything in the documentation because I was searching for the “customer community login” license name. I tried searching for just “customer community” and “license” but that turned up way too much extraneous stuff.

  • Communities is a great functionality grobally, even if some aspects are still improvable : community sharing sets are too rigid, for example, and should be extended to provide even more flexibility.

    Moreover, some limitations push forward in developing a complex application structure, where it could stay simple : one day I had built a community to allow internal users from Delivery editing Quote Line Items, which is impossible with Community Licences, because it doesn’t provide access to Opportunity object. So, I built a “shadow” item, which replicated an synced with all this Opp structure, and gave access to that shadow object to community users instead.
    If community users had access to Opportunities with their licences, all this crap could have been avoided 🙂

  • nialljpmurphy

    FYI The session time limit is now profile based which means you could have a short time out for internal users and a longer time out for your external community users

  • Keisuke Naito

    I have a question..
    I need help about Employee Community License Feature.

    Now We user Salesforce under Employee Community License.
    And We need features below..
    -Account creat,Read,Update
    -Case creat,Read,Update

    Can we use these features? and how to set these features?

  • Eleonora

    Hi, everybody! Nice article. I’ve got a question: basing on the case of 1000 logins for 20000 users, how many logins does the single user have? Can I assume that every user has got 1000 logins per month? (If not, does it means that there are just 1000 logins for 20000 users? It doesn’t have sense for me, ’cause there is not a login for everyone…)
    Thank you!

  • teresa montano1111

    Interesting piece , I Appreciate the insight , Does anyone know where my company could possibly get ahold of a sample CA CR-181 form to work with ?

  • MirandaMora1

    my colleague was requiring Condition Rental Property Checklist last month and saw a company that has a searchable database . If people are wanting Condition Rental Property Checklist also , here’s a

  • mukeshietk

    Nice overview on Community License. I had those confusion on License Types. Now, many of those important Licensing Questions are gone.