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Thought Leadership

Managing VDI licensing challenges

By Florian Jorno | October 08, 2015

Snow presales expert, Florian Jorno explores the difficulties faced by organizations when it comes to licensing VDI implementations. As an ex-software license auditor at KPMG specializing in Microsoft licensing, I’ve seen first-hand how organizations large and small misunderstand the licensing impacts of virtualizing their desktops.

In my experience, decisions made related to VDI (Virtual Desktop Infrastructure) are driven by functional and technical cost decisions without taking into account the impact either would make on licensing.  

This can lead to either a compliance failure through under licensing or overspend due to over licensing in some areas. Unfortunately, the licensing implications in a VDI environment can be so complex that organizations often find it very difficult to calculate their exposure.  In customer engagements I am frequently asked: Do I have to license the VDI itself or the user/device accessing it? Are my software vendor applications based on installation or based on users or device access? What would be the best option?

To discuss these questions and ensure that, when licensing software in a virtual environment, your costs do not spiral out of control, I’ve worked with colleagues at Snow to publish a new 10 minute guide titled Demystifying the complexities of licensing Windows in a VDI environment.

It covers the issues that every company should consider before deciding to implement VDI technology. Ultimately it’s the lack of visibility which can be the major barrier to an organization being able to effectively manage and track licenses.  Without properly understanding usage it’s no more than a stab in the dark to know whether the organization is over- or under-licensed. Add to the mix some recent revolutionary changes in the way Microsoft licenses VDI, putting users at the center, you have a perfect storm appearing on the licensing horizon.


Snow License Manager gives that all-important visibility of installs and usage, enabling the management of software in the VDI environment by giving you a global view from two angles:

  • Licensing access: Snow License Manager highlights the license requirement by identifying all the machines and users accessing a VDI. It distinguishes devices that are already covered by Software Assurance (which include Virtual Desktop Access licenses entitling users to access the VDI) from those that do require a VDA license – mobile phones, tablets
  • Applications: Snow License Manager provides detailed reports on what’s installed in the VDI environment and gives a full picture of all products deployed.

The combination of these two views ensures that you can make the right decisions, optimize software spend and identify opportunities across the whole IT estate for all physical and virtual assets. If you want to learn more, please download the 10 Minute Guide here.

Our license experts are always on hand to help you manage your virtual estate, speak to one today.

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