I am taking this from a previous thread that no one seems to be answered, perhaps because the thread is so old and I cannot take credit for this great question, it is from a Daniel Nicolas(Thanks Daniel!)
From the perspective of someone who does not know Jira at all and is purely trying to understand how the licensing works, we have 12 developers and 100's clients who can submit a ticket and want to know what is happening with their tickets etc. Do we nee licences for the clients or just the users (as in the developers)?
So to expand on that, do I need to pay for 100 users, 12 users of 112 users based on the licensing?
Anyone who can log in counts as a user. They can log in if they have "use Jira" or "Admin Jira".
You can set up anonymous access, but this is really not a good idea for anything other than "browse", because it lets people do things without you being able to log who. That's a spectacularly bad idea in any issue tracker, and downright illegal in some places I've used Jira (not know which account did X can be a serious problem. Even though these trackers may have had anonymous READ, it was a legal requirement to know who changed stuff)
You can get some limited functionality around raising issues partly anonymously via email, and not have to get them used as actual "users", and some places do front-end stuff like having a small application that asks for information, validates a user against AD or demands that they fill in their company etc, and then posts it into Jira as a single dummy user over REST (and enters the AD/Company information for your developers to see)
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