Apr 21, 2015 asksam

Ask Sam – App-V and Licensing

Ask-Sam- 8211 -App-V-and-Licensing
Dear Sam,We use App-V within our organization to deploy software to the desktops. When a request comes in for the software, what normally happens is the username is placed into the relevant App-V group within Active Directory and on the next reboot of the desktop the application is available to that user, no matter what desktop they use. The system is set-up so that the application is cached to the desktop so that if it is a laptop the user can still use the application when offsite. My concern surrounds compliance in terms of the use of software in this manner. I have asked various people, LARs, vendors etc. and received varying answers. In my scenario I have “Product A” that I have 20 licenses for and deploy via App-V. I believe that I can only have 20 people in the App-V group at any one time as this is the number of licenses I own. Am I correct in my assumption or is it as I have been led to believe that it is as many as is needed?Along with the concurrent users issues, I have to take into consideration that the system caches the application onto the device for remote working. Therefore if “User 1” logs onto five different devices and accesses “Product A” on each device and has a cached copy of the application on each device, does this constitute five separate licenses? App-V version 5 no longer has the ability to keep a count of concurrent users from what I have been told by those more experienced in its use. All the software that we use is Device-based licensing and not User- based, from what I have been told.

Thank you,


Ask Sam Dear Stressed_out:

It sounds like you are dealing with the concept that is referred to under many names – including – consumerization of IT, bring your own device (BYOD), bring your own technology (BYOT), bring your own phone (BYOP) and bring your own PC (BYOPC/BYOC). I’m sure there a number of other acronyms that could be applied to this environment, but in my mind, these all refer to something IT people everywhere need to deal with and that’s bring your own aspirin (BYOA) – because you’re going to have to deal with headaches!

The Bite-Sized Answer to your Question

For software that is licensed per-device, you must have a license for every device on which the software is installed. So, if App-V has installed and cached software that is licensed per-device on 75 different systems, you need to have 75 licenses. Additionally, Microsoft does allow for many device based licenses to be moved, however, there is a restriction of moving only once every 90 days, so you are not allowed to keep moving software to the devices that need it only when they need it – you would, instead need a license hold time for software that has already been moved within the last 90 days.

We are starting to see some shifting in the licensing models from some vendors, but this will be a work-in-progress as the various software publishers adapt to the new BYOD environment.

Now a Bit of Background to This Answer

Licensing, as we all know, is a complex thing to deal with from an ITAM/Software Asset Optimization perspective. If you put yourselves in the shoes of the publisher, it’s also very complex because the publisher has various teams that all have different ideas and those ideas need to be put into terms that are defensible in court, so the legal teams need to be involved as well. These licensing details have direct implications on the bottom line for both the consumer of the software who’s paying for the license and the producer of the software who needs to keep their development teams operating efficiently. Add to this complexity, the various ways customers want to license software and you find that licenses will almost always be trailing changes in technology.

Let’s do a quick review of a few of the methods you can run an application on a typical end-user computer.

  • Installed on an operating system that is executing on a physical device
  • Installed in a virtual machine that can be executed on many different computing devices
  • Installed as a streaming application (as seen in Microsoft App-V and Citrix XenApp environments)
  • Installed in a virtual environment that can be accessed through a virtual desktop interface (VDI)
  • Accessed through a remote desktop interface to a separate system

Many of the technologies above have provided a wider variety of options for the software consumer and user, however, they’ve also made licensing that much more difficult.

Slowly, publishers are starting to address these issues through updated licensing policies that are more focused on users than devices. Examples include user based licensing from Microsoft that include Office 365, Windows SA Per User and Windows VDA Per User as well as many user based client access licenses (CALs).

The problem is that gaps in the licensing needs still exist – especially for older software which are unlikely to see any new licensing approaches applied.

The key to the answer for your question is to understand the licensing metrics that are used for the software titles you are using. So, if you are managing the licenses for Office 2010 in an App-V environment it doesn’t matter if you are managing the number of users in your licensing group – you are still required to license the software for every device where the software is installed. Many Microsoft entitlements allow you to move software from one device to another, but it does require that you remove the software from the first device and you may only move the software once every 90 days – so you may need to have a required license hold period for a license that has been removed from a device before it’s installed on a new device.

The issue – if your software is licensed per device, and it is installed on 5 device for each of the 20 users, and assuming no overlap, you would need to have 100 licenses – one for each device. Concurrency of use in this situation does not matter.

There is a ray of hope – Microsoft has the BYOD/Consumerization of IT as being an issue that companies have to deal with and created a per-user model for Office 365 – which is also more of a subscription licensing model. When deploying Office 365 (even with App-V) each user is allowed to install the software on up to 5 devices. You still need to be able to track the number of installations and relate it to the user for that device to know if you are in compliance, so it does not necessarily ease your licensing process, but it does provide for a more flexible BYOD environment.