Virtualization is an important efficiency tool, allowing organizations to provide optimal access to software applications to users without hands-on installation. Increasingly, many IT departments are now taking their virtualization one step further by implementing Citrix XenApp Server to deliver their software system-wide, to end point devices of all types. Good news, surely? Well, up to a point—and only if you have an expert and intimate familiarity with the finer points of all your software license agreements.
These days, it’s not uncommon to see two or more computers on many a corporate desk: Windows and Apple, perhaps, or desktop plus super-light for travel. iPads are widely used in government as well as commercial organizations. And, in educational environments, students are increasingly working with laptops and mobile as well as fixed-location devices. This era where the user is not tied to a particular machine or location is bringing enormous rewards to organizations of all kinds and has also given rise to a heightened interest in the Citrix XenApp Server.
XenApp Server has been around for a while, but because of the increasingly ‘mixed’ device environment, it is coming into its own as a means of providing end-user access to applications from networked computers and remote desktops, as well as mobile devices. However, if you use Citrix to deliver applications, you’re probably aware that a new software compliance minefield has opened up.
Why does Citrix XenApp muddy the waters of software license compliance? In a nutshell, it’s the difference between per-user rather than per-seat or per-device license allocation. Many application licenses have traditionally been based on where the device is located (i.e. a workstation) rather than on who is using the software. In most End User License Agreements (EULAs) there is no indication of how license rules should be interpreted in Citrix environments, where software is installed on one or more servers and accessed by a broad range of users and devices.
Citrix XenApp serves its purpose well: it makes it easy to distribute software to complex, growing organizations across a variety of devices. However, it’s not designed to monitor the usage or license compliance posture of the software that it serves up so widely. So, how do you track who’s using what software when it’s no longer a case of one individual, one computer? If you want to remain compliant but don’t have the option of licensing software per user—and you don’t want to pay for costly site licenses—you need to find a tool that can track the use of applications back to the end device.
In cases where applications are licensed per user, it’s important to also have the capability of tracking individual user logins and establish control over which end users and/or devices are permitted run those applications.
We all know that license agreements are complex, and for the most part confusing. But in the event of a software audit, making a sincere error is no protection. And make no mistake, major software publishers like Microsoft and Adobe are alert to the early signals of potential license violations.
Software asset management options for XenApp environments do exist, but only a few are sufficiently user-friendly to accomplish their goal. Our vision has been to deliver an easy-to-use product that allows our users to see their entire compliance posture—including their Citrix XenApp-delivered applications—at a glance, and do something about it.