A Microsoft Volume Licensing Expert Answers your Burning Questions on Using Microsoft Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) Licenses.
Thanks to a large response we received to the VDI licensing mail bag, Louise Ulrick, a UK-based licensing consultant and trainer, is following up on that post with a focus on VDA licensing—another useful way Microsoft customers can license virtual desktop scenarios. Louise’s experience spans three decades; she began running licensing training courses all the way back in 1995. Today, Louise continues to love licensing and works all over the world on behalf of Microsoft.
Microsoft VDA licensing can extend the value of a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure by giving additional flexibility for users in terms of where they work and what device they choose to use to access their corporate desktops. Businesses that want, for example, to provide corporate desktops to contractors, or those who are exploring bring-your-own-device (BYOD) scenarios can really benefit from choosing this licensing option.
Q: We want to sign an Enterprise Agreement (EA) with the Professional Desktop – so Windows, Office and the Core Client Access License (CAL) Suite – and we know that we’ll also need Remote Desktop Services (RDS) CALs, as we want to deploy virtual desktops in a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure within our offices. If we look across our “PC” estate we have 150 desktop PCs, 600 laptops and a variety of 227 thin clients. We’re unsure of what to purchase for the thin clients, as we know that they wouldn’t be eligible for Windows licenses, yet we need to deliver Windows to those devices.
Louise: You’re quite right – a Windows license purchased through Volume Licensing is an upgrade license and there’s a need for a qualifying operating system to be installed on a device before you can buy a Windows upgrade license for that device. As you mention, the thin clients won’t have this but they DO count as Qualified Devices in the EA, and they’ll need to be covered with a Windows license of some sort to allow a virtual desktop to be delivered to them. The Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) subscription license is the answer! These licenses can be assigned to any type of device and allow you to deliver Windows running in a VDI infrastructure. They’re also suitable for purchasing through your EA because they count towards the enterprise commitment for Windows and you’ll simply need to make sure that your “PC” estate is completely covered with either the Windows Upgrade licenses or these VDA licenses.
Q: We have an existing Enterprise Agreement, through which we’ve licensed all corporate-owned devices with Windows, Office, the Enterprise CAL Suite, and RDS CALs, and we’ve been successfully deploying virtual desktops through a Microsoft Virtual Desktop Infrastructure. However, our business situation has now changed in that we will be using a significant number of contractors who will be bringing their own devices into our offices and we’ll need to deliver virtual desktops to these machines too. How do we license these contractor machines?
Louise: This is another situation where VDA subscription licenses are a great solution. If the contractors are bringing their machines into your offices and they’re accessing a virtual desktop then they do need to be counted as a Qualified Device within the EA. As such, they’ll need to be covered with the Enterprise Platform as your other Qualified Devices are. But again, the Windows component can be covered with a VDA license and, if needed, the licenses can be reassigned to a different device every 90 days if your contractors change.
Q: We have been running a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure for several years. To license this, we took out an Enterprise Agreement with the Professional Desktop with User CALs for both the Core CAL Suite and RDS CALs that we purchased. Our users have been accessing their virtual desktops at home through the Roaming Use Rights that we’re entitled to as an SA benefit. However, we now want to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy whereby users can bring in personally-owned devices to the office and access their corporate virtual desktops from those devices. How should we license this scenario?
Louise: For the past few years, the recommended way to license this scenario would have been to purchase a VDA license for each personally-owned device that a user wanted to bring to the office to access a virtual desktop. Actually, this is still an option, but with the launch of Windows 8 a new license was introduced specifically for this scenario – the Windows Companion Subscription License (CSL). This license is purchased for the existing Qualified Devices in your organization – so those already licensed with Windows and SA – and gives additional rights to the primary user of the licensed device. These additional rights allow that user to bring up to 4 different personally-owned devices into the office and to use any of those devices to access his corporate desktop. There are some great benefits to this new license – you can see it’s flexible and easy to manage,
and because it’s actually cheaper than a single VDA license, it’s a cost-effective option too.
Now, be aware that the CSL covers the Windows part of the desktop licensing requirements but you still need to make sure that the personal devices are covered with the relevant CALs and an Office license. You did mention that you’ve elected to cover your users with User CALs – this was a great decision as it means that there are no additional requirements for the personally-owned devices from a CAL perspective as you launch this new initiative. As far as the Office licenses are concerned, it might be worth considering Office 365 User Subscription Licenses (USLs) for your users since a single Office 365 USL would cover them for their existing corporate-owned device AND the 4 personally-owned devices that they may choose to bring to the office, rather than having to buy individual Office licenses for each device.
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Have a follow-up question on VDA licensing? Write us a note in the comments below or visit the Microsoft virtualization licensing page. Need additional assistance? Visit the Contact Us page for additional support or check out the TechNet Forums for more insight.
Feedback welcome: This is our fourth edition of the “mailbag” feature and we would love your input. Do you have suggestions to make this more useful for you? Perhaps you have a question you would like to see in a future mailbag? Feel free to provide them in the comments section.
Editor’s Note: Remember, always check with your account representative or partner on any terms, restrictions or other unique cases that may apply within VDA licensing or any other aspects of Microsoft licensing. The answers and examples provided above make assumptions that may not apply to your unique situation and are primarily designed to serve as a guide.