A guide to mobile software licensing issues

Software licensing has never been a breeze, but it's even harder in the consumerization era. Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and mobility make Windows licensing all the more confusing, and the cloud software licensing issues can have costly repercussions.

Fortunately for IT administrators, there are steps you can take to put mobile software licensing worries to bed. Enterprise app stores can help track software use on mobile devices. You can work with your legal department to minimize the risk that employees will make the organization non-compliant. And Microsoft's Windows RT tablets may actually make Windows licensing a little easier. The resources in this Windows, cloud and VDI licensing guide will help you navigate these new waters.

Table of contents:

Cloud and mobile software licensing issues

Enterprise software license compliance in the BYOD era
Enterprise apps stores can give companies visibility into software assets on users' devices and improve software license compliance. They can populate the data IT needs to track and identify software use on mobile devices and can impose installation limits and policies. IT can also use enterprise app stores to map the use of licensed software to specific users.

BYOD and cloud app licensing pitfalls to avoid
Employees who use personal devices for work can potentially violate their employers' Microsoft licensing agreements if they use apps that aren't licensed for corporate use. But investigating what employees are doing with their personal devices and setting up BYOD policies can help avoid those mobile software licensing compliance issues.

Consumerization brings cloud licensing challenges
If employees sign up for personal cloud storage services using corporate accounts, they could put their companies at risk for non-compliance and other cloud software licensing issues. It's nearly impossible to keep track of which services employees are signed up for and how those services are used. The best thing companies can do to avoid non-compliance and licensing issues is to work with the legal department to ensure favorable licensing agreement terms with cloud vendors.

VDI and Windows licensing for mobile devices

How to get ready for Windows 8 licensing
It's going to take a long time to get a Windows 8 deployment done, but companies can and should start getting Windows 8 licensing rolling as soon as possible. There are three possible paths: incremental upgrading, accelerated standardization and OS subscriptions. The first option is the cheapest and is good for customers who can deal with mixed OSes. The second is for organizations that aren't in a rush to standardize on Windows 8, and the last option doesn't force customers to buy upgrades they don't need. But all three come with caveats that have to be considered carefully.

Windows VDI licensing not getting any easier
Updates to Windows VDI licensing certainly don't make licensing any cheaper or easier. The Companion Device License (CDL) lets up to four unlicensed mobile devices access a licensed Windows virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) desktop. Most people thought this was already allowed, but users could only connect devices from outside the office. With the CDL, if users connect personal devices to virtual desktops on company grounds, the company has to buy the CDL, on top of Software Assurance (SA) or Virtual Desktop Access (VDA).

What's new in Windows 8 VDI licensing
Microsoft isn't changing the VDI licensing rules for Windows 8 PCs, but the company is trying to reduce licensing issues on Windows RT tablets. The ARM -based devices won't need separate licenses for VDI. If a user has SA for his Windows PC, he can also use an RT tablet as a companion device without a VDA subscription or a CDL. This licensing deal is only for Windows RT tablets, however. It doesn't apply to any other devices. Users with non-Windows devices that need VDI access will need the CDL.