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BYOD and the challenges of managing VDI and VDA

We all know software licensing is complex, even in organizations with relatively ‘simple’ IT infrastructures.  Add BYOD into the mix and licensing takes a whole new degree of complexity.

Wikipedia describes BYOD as: “Bring your own device (BYOD) (also called bring your own technology (BYOT), bring your own phone (BYOP), and bring your own PC (BYOPC) refers to the policy of permitting employees to bring personally owned mobile devices (laptops, tablets, and smart phones) to their workplace, and to use those devices to access privileged company information and applications.”

Another popular description for BYOD seems to be Bring Your Own Disaster! While the actual take-up of BYOD is subject to disagreement (some sources say it is “exploding”, others say less than 10% of organizations actually have a BYOD policy in place), it seems logical to assume that the recent announcement of Microsoft office for the iPad will make BYOD even more attractive to the end users. And potentially make life more difficult for the license manager.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure & Virtual Desktop Access 

Aside from the additional challenges of integrating these new devices into the corporate IT infrastructure, there are a number of SAM-specific questions that need to be addressed. Who owns the software on the device that is brought in? What about an application that is free to download and use for personal use but needs to be paid-for when used in a corporate environment? And how are you going to ‘consume’ software on these devices?

Organizations that have moved to a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) have the option to leverage this technology and associated software licensing schemes to better manager BYOD licenses.  VDI brings many advantages to organizations that want users to have access to a common set of applications, no matter where they are located or what device they are using.

From a SAM point of view, however, VDI introduces a whole new level of complexity in terms of software licensing. To take advantage of the VDI benefits, first you need to understand and be able to manage the rights for users to access the technology.  And for that, you need to understand VDA – Virtual Desktop Access – licensing. While VDI and VDA go hand in hand, they are NOT the same thing. VDI is the technology, VDA is the entitlement.  And the way to have to manage the entitlement changes depending on how you deploy and consume the technology.

Confused? You’re not alone

Here are a couple of simple examples on how the way you consume VDI changes the way you assess your Windows and VDA license requirement:

  1. If you are a Software Assurance customer and are only using VDI on Windows PCs, you don’t need to worry about VDAs as it is included as a Software Assurance benefit.
  2. If you don’t have Software Assurance or plan to use non-Windows PC devices, you must have sufficient VDA licenses to cover ALL devices that have access to the VDI technology
  3. A ‘primary’ user of a VDA-licensed device on the corporate network can use a home PC or internet kiosk to access their VDI from outside the office through the Roaming Rights
  4. An iPad or an Android tablet (which are frequently used devices in the BYOD community) require the additional Companion Subscription License, CSL (add-on license to the VDA) if used inside the office but these same devices are covered for VDI used by the Roaming Rights when used from home or anywhere outside the office.

We told you it was complex! But perhaps you now better understand exactly why it is so important that you understand how you plan to consume licenses across BYOD and VDI estates.  

Key Requirements to accurately managing VDIs and VDA

We are seeing more and more instances of organizations failing audits and software reviews based on an inability to correctly license their VDI consumption. To help you avoid this compliance risk, here are the key metrics you need to track when it comes to managing Windows and VDA licenses:

  • The Windows client operating system on the VDI should not be licensed through a Windows license, it needs to be licensed based on consumption via VDA. Therefore, you need to be able to separate the VDIs from non-VDIs when assessing the Windows license requirement.
  • All devices accessing the VDI environment needs to be tracked to assess the VDA license requirement.
  • The devices accessing the VDI environment could be covered by a Windows license with Software Assurance and have VDA as a Software Assurance benefit.

Managing VDA licenses – the good news

It’s not all doom and gloom. While managing VDA licenses is near-impossible to do manually, there is now technology available to help. 
For example, Snow License Manager 7 can automatically track the deployment and consumption of VDI, which can then be translated into a VDA requirement that can be reconciled against the appropriate licenses (e.g. VDA or Software Assurance) in the SAM repository. A simple-to-understand management report can quickly inform SAM professionals whether there is a potential compliance risk, or indeed whether the organization is taking full advantage of its entitlement to use the VDI technology.

Snow License Manager 7 also separates the VDIs from non-VDIs when calculating the Windows license requirement to avoid over-licensing of Windows.

Without taking this into account when assessing the Windows license requirement a Windows license could be covering a VDI which is already licensed based on VDA. If you’re still uncertain about how you need to manage VDA entitlements, or want to see how Snow License Manager can help, contact us to speak with a SAM expert today.