Bring your own device (BYOD) is a subject of hot debate in many organizations - for obvious reasons it's seen as an exciting productivity tool by most functional departments, yet it's something of a thorn in the side for IT staff. While problems, including integration and security, have been keeping IT managers on their toes during 2012, we’re seeing more frequent discussions about the software licensing implications of BYOD and multiple-device-per-user scenarios, especially as it relates to Microsoft (News - Alert) licensing. As a BYOD outfit, are you feeling confident about a software audit? These are our top six pointers for a clear licensing conscience.
1. Create/update your software asset management strategy
Depending on its needs, an organization likely has dozens of software contracts governed by multiple licensing models at any given time. For IT departments that want to avoid confusion and non-compliance, it’s critical to have a coherent software asset management strategy in place. If you’ve introduced BYOD or multi-device policies over the past year, chances are you’ll want to review how this affects existing licenses.
Why? Under the BYOD scenario, employees are permitted to use their own personal devices (or secondary devices which are paid for by the company) for work. Depending on corporate policies, they may be able use these devices to access the company network either on-site or remotely. Though seemingly a natural evolution of the growing ‘consumerization’ of IT, BYOD has had the unintended consequence of leaving organizations exposed to more complex license compliance scenarios.
2. Don’t count on ‘companioned’ devices being licensed
Access to the employer network from a BYOD device, even if harnessed to or ‘companioned’ with another licensed device (think desktop plus tablet or notebook) can trigger extra licensing costs and raise compliance considerations, depending on multiple somewhat obscure factors. These might include:
3. Network access methods matter
One area of licensing that is, in theory, relatively straightforward is the situation in which client access licenses (CALs) are required for devices to connect with servers. Varying network access scenarios can blur the boundaries that define when BYOD devices might incur additional licensing fees in Windows environments. For example, the compliance flag should be raised if 1) users directly access a Microsoft server, and that access requires CALs; 2) users remotely connect to their work PCs or access the server via Remote Desktop Services; or 3) if users work with Microsoft’s virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology, where each user connects to a virtual machine hosted on a Windows server.
4. Check the cost of per-user vs. per-device licenses
Microsoft does have per-user licensing options for some products. For instance, you can buy user CALs instead of device CALs for Windows Server, Exchange and SharePoint. You can even mix the two types, buying user CALs for people who have, say, iPads and Android (News - Alert) devices in addition to their work PC, and device CALs for kiosk PCs that several people use.
One relatively simple rule of thumb is this: if licenses are bought on a per-user basis, the device is probably covered. Do not, however, feel too secure about this rule; asset managers must be absolutely clear about what a per-user license covers, and be prepared to research whether it’s more economical than a per-device equivalent.
5. Watch out for MS inconsistencies
Recently, Microsoft has made efforts to improve the way it incorporates BYOD and employee use of multiple devices into its licensing.
Unfortunately, some of these attempts have proven to make the situation more complicated. These probably unintended consequences arise from the fact that different Microsoft product teams continue to create new ways to handle licensing in BYOD situations.
Individual license rules exist for separate products, and while this might work well for a single product it's often inconsistent with how other product teams handle the same situation. For example, Microsoft recently made a strong play in support of its Surface RT tablet with the introduction of new policies applying only to tablets running Windows RT (a light version of Windows 8 software). Effectively, this means that users of any device running Windows RT are excused from the companion licensing fees imposed on non-Windows RT devices.
What do these conflicting license scenarios mean for IT? Will per-user licensing become more front and center in the years to come? It would take a major overhaul of license policies on Microsoft’s part to make that happen, but even with the company's current stance, we can expect that user-based licensing rules are a virtual inevitability.
6. Don’t guess - KNOW
All this complexity means that IT professionals are more in need than ever before of the new breed of software asset management programs to keep abreast of licensing without drowning in administration. With license models and EULAs changing by the day, and dozens of license agreements with which your organization is required to comply, IT departments should strongly consider designating a license guru - ideally someone in IT who has (or can obtain) the licensing expertise needed to interpret and plan for licensing decisions as they relate to current and planned changes in infrastructure. And perhaps most importantly, it's critical to ensure that IT and purchasing are well-aligned as your BYOD strategy and implementation evolves.
Want to learn more about the latest in communications and technology? Then be sure to attend ITEXPO Miami 2013, Jan 29- Feb. 1 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at ITEXPO (News - Alert). Follow us on Twitter.
As CEO of Express Metrix, Kris leads a strong organization of passionate software developers who plan and develop Express Metrix products. He focuses not only on product strategy, but also on the individual features that set Express Metrix products apart from other IT asset management solutions in the market.
Flexera Software's FlexNet Licensing (composed of FlexNet Publisher and FlexNet Embedded) makes it easy for application producers to monetize, secure, enhance and grow market share through the flexible pricing, packaging, and licensing of applications, intelligent devices or equipment using embedded software. FlexNet Licensing also gives organizations the power to protect IP and rein in unauthorized software use to prevent revenue loss.