User-based licensing and the future of the desktop

Security illustration with red padlock

The need to migrate from Windows XP and deliver more flexibility, has given many organisations the impetus to review how they manage and deliver vital applications and services. Today, more than ever, IT managers can choose from an array of proven desktop delivery technologies that can be architected to provide more manageability, greater access choices, easier provisioning, and much more security than before. However, as customers integrate different approaches, what still remains a priority for many is the need to support a well-managed Windows workspace.

While VDI and cloud-based offerings are certainly gaining traction in enabling this, these provisioning models have had to battle with the legacy of device centric licensing, which is completely at odds with their user-based approach.

With the news that Microsoft is now offering per user licensing for Windows, the ability to support new virtual and cloud platforms as part of a desktop environment has just got a whole lot easier. With its move, Microsoft has essentially recognised the mainstream shift towards user-based computing that is underway. Now more customers will feel confident that they can explore the growing variety of options available to them, be it cloud apps, virtualisation, DaaS, clones and other delivery methods, to create their next generation workspaces.

The growing preference to develop hybrid computing environments introduces new opportunities and challenges for customers and the channel. Managing client-side computing in a more software-defined world requires new reporting models, management tools and understanding that simply is not in place in many organisations today. Not only does it require broader skills in the design, implementation and management of a variety of application delivery methods, it also requires the ability to map how people are using and wanting to use technology.

Those who have ridden the early wave of VDI will understand the importance of the concept of user environment management (UEM), which is essential in this new world. UEM centralises information about users in the same way that VDI centralises desktop image management. It enables a user’s settings, application rights and security to be administered centrally. The result being users can be on-boarded quickly, desktop environments are easier to manage, configuration changes can be made centrally on-the-fly, applications can be delivered at a moment’s notice and new application delivery platforms can be integrated seamlessly

By using UEM to develop and manage their client computing estates, administrators and desktop teams can reduce the cost and burden of supporting mixed environments while improving user experience and security. Whether a desktop is delivered via published desktops, published applications, virtualised desktops and apps, or with off premises/cloud options, by incorporating user management providers have the opportunity to design environments that are easier to secure, scale and change.

User management has to be at the core of desktop management because we know that there will never be a one size fits all approach to client computing. We also know that the end-user environment will always be constantly changing so making service and application delivery decisions based on the context of the user – what the user wants, where they are and how they are connecting – is essential to delivering the productivity benefits expected by customers.

As organisations explore their options they will look to the channel for guidance and expertise. User management together with a portfolio of application and desktop provisioning options will enable providers to create the scalable end-user environments, or software-defined workspaces, that will be needed for customers to outperform in the decades ahead.

Fraser Norman is UK channel director at Liquidware Labs