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When you opt for a desktop as a service (DaaS) solution, you’ll likely have the option of contracting for virtual desktops on a per user or per device basis. This has to do with the operating system licensing (most commonly Windows) as much as it does the virtual desktops being delivered. Typically you’ll have the option to get your Windows licensing through your DaaS provider by leveraging their Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA). But for the sake of this article and to give you a high level overview of the best use cases for per user virtual desktops versus per device desktops we’ll assume you are bringing your own Windows OS licensing to the service provider’s platform (which is not uncommon).
Like many customizable options with DaaS, each approach is best suited for specific use cases and needs. Understanding the differences and best uses for each approach is critical to making the right decision.
Today’s workers are using more devices than ever before. For instance, it’s not uncommon for an employee to have a computer they use at work, check their work email from a smartphone and use a personal computer to get a little work done at home after hours. In fact, as of 2015 the average worker used three or more devices for work purposes each day. With the direction work culture and technology are heading, this trend isn’t likely to reverse.
For these types of work scenarios where employees are most productive and efficient when they are able to work from any device, anywhere, whenever they need to, a per user license is the best option. “Per user” is exactly how it sounds. You license a virtual desktop based on the user, not the device they’re accessing the desktop from.
This is an option whether you opt for persistent or non-persistent desktops. You’re simply paying (under Software Assurance or a VDA subscription) for that individual worker to have access to a virtual desktop and they are contractually allowed to access their desktop from a variety of devices. The caveat in this situation is that the user’s primary work device has to be licensed for Windows 7, 8.1, 10 Pro or Enterprise edition – they can’t use a Mac or Windows Home edition.
The other approach is per device licensing. This essentially ties the virtual desktop to a single device. This model is ideal for shift style work where an employee is unlikely to perform work (and thus need their desktop) outside of their shift.
The most common example for the approach is a brick and mortar contact center. Employees aren’t taking calls from home, they are only logged in and working when they’re at the office for their shift and each shift uses the same endpoint (physical computer hardware). In this scenario, the contact center needs a virtual desktop license for each computer, not each employee. If the company has 300 workers spread over three shifts and using 100 in-house computers, the organization only needs to pay for 100 licenses, not 300.
If you want to enable your users to use the virtual desktop from a non-corporate device, you may need Roaming Rights. Previously, Roaming Rights was covered under Software Assurance (SA). Today, depending on the devices the virtual desktop is accessed from, you may need a Windows VDA subscription to receive Roaming Use Rights.
While a per device approach may seem like a tempting way to reduce costs, it only works in very specific situations where an organization can be sure employees are not using any other devices to access their desktop.
While your DaaS provider likely structures contracts on a per user or per device basis, it really comes down to licensing – particularly Microsoft’s very-strict, very well enforced licensing. Microsoft is notorious for auditing companies for proper Windows licensing and misusing Windows can lead to major fines from the company. IT teams need to pay careful attention to licensing as well as how employees use their virtual desktops. An employee with a per device license may not realize that they can’t log into their virtual desktop from a home computer or tablet. Teams need to properly communicate this message and work to implement policies and controls to prevent unauthorized access.
Your DaaS provider can work with you to determine your exact licensing needs and can even secure the required licensing for you via their Service Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA).
Choosing the right method is important to the overall cost of your DaaS initiative. In the contact center scenario outlined above the company can save a large chunk of money by selecting the per device model. However, opting for a per device approach could hamper productivity if employees would rather regularly work away from the office or use their own devices to stay connected.
Your need may be cut and dry, but it’s not unusual for companies to mix and match approaches based on the teams and uses cases they’re solving for. Formulate your uses cases by talking to employees about how they typically work and how many devices they normally use. Explain how virtual desktops work (if the employee is unfamiliar with them) and ask point blank if they’re likely to ever log on from home or a non-work device. If the answer is yes, the per user approach is likely best to be safe.
If you’re unsure which to choose, talk to a Dizzion DaaS Solutions Engineer to help get a better idea of what would fit best and to understand all the parameters of both options.
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