Licensing the Windows Desktop for VDI
It’s no secret that many companies struggle with the complexity of licensing the Windows desktop in a VDI environment. Despite efforts from Microsoft over the years to simplify its software licensing, virtualization has made it more complex than ever for companies to figure out the most cost-effective way to acquire licensing. In an attempt to address these complexities, Microsoft recently released a VDI licensing FAQ document that explains in simple language various virtual desktop and RDS licensing scenarios. There are no recent changes to Microsoft’s licensing policies. The document simply clarifies the policies in place today. Here are explanations for some of the more common concerns:
What’s the desktop license based on in VDI? It’s based on access device. Windows Client Software Assurance (SA) gives you virtual desktop access rights. If you want to use PCs covered under SA, you have access to your VDI desktops at no additional charge.
What is Windows Virtual Desktop Access? Available for $100/year/device, VDA is designed to help organizations license devices that do not qualify for Windows Client SA--thin clients and contractor-owned PCs, for example -- so these devices can access a virtual desktop.
How do you determine the number of Windows VDA licenses required? It’s one-to-one. You need a Windows VDA license for each non-SA device that will access the VDI environment.
How does VDA work with licenses from Citrix, VMware and other virtualization platforms? Windows VDA is the appropriate licensing vehicle, regardless of the VDI software vendor you choose as long as you’re accessing a Windows client OS from a non-SA device (iPad, thin client, etc.).
Can you connect to multiple VDI desktops with a single VDA license? You can connect to up to four VMs concurrently with one VDA license.
What are extended roaming rights for Windows VDA? If you’re the primary user of a device with a VDA license, you can access your work desktop from any device that is not company-owned without the need for an additional license. These rights apply only while roaming outside of the corporate domain. So any device accessing a Windows virtual desktop within the corporate domain needs to be licensed with either Windows Client SA or Windows VDA.
What are the purchasing options for Windows VDA? It’s available only as a subscription. You can’t purchase it outright.
Hopefully these FAQ answers will shed a little more light on your VDI licensing picture. You can also read about MCPc’s approach to helping organizations assess and optimize their software licensing in a virtualized environment.
Jamie O’Brien is Director of Licensing Services at MCPc. His team helps organizations optimize their licensing for VMware, Citrix, Microsoft, Cisco and other manufacturers. He has more than 16 years of experience in the IT industry. Connect with Jamie on LinkedIn.
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