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How does Citrix XenDesktop licensing work?

Licensing is a key component to virtual desktop infrastructure. Citrix XenDesktop provides businesses with the option of user or device specific models.

Businesses have two options for licensing Citrix virtual desktops, which are very similar to the models used by...

competitors such as VMware and Microsoft.

The first is called user/device licensing. This Citrix XenDesktop licensing model is essentially per-user licensing, meaning the license is applied to the user and not to the device. Users are able to access XenDesktop resources from an unlimited number of devices, so long as the users are properly licensed.

The second Citrix XenDesktop licensing model that Citrix offers is device licensing. As the name implies, device licensing covers individual devices rather than user accounts. As such, an unlimited number of users are allowed to work from licensed devices.

Which Citrix XenDesktop licensing option is better?

Many organizations find that user/device licensing is the less expensive option because each user tends to work from multiple devices, and licensing all the devices could be costly.

Citrix does not allow administrators to manually assign licenses to users or to devices.

Even so, device licensing does have its place. Device licensing is useful in situations where multiple users share physical devices. For example, an organization that shares its thin client devices among workers on different shifts might benefit from device licensing, because there would never be a need for the users from all three shifts to be logged in at the same time.

If an organization chooses user/device Citrix XenDesktop licensing, then employee turnover can potentially drive up the licensing costs. There is no direct method for reclaiming a former employee's license because administrators cannot manually assign licenses. The licensing server will eventually reclaim the license and make it available for another user once the license has been unused for 90 days.

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IT must note that Citrix does not allow administrators to manually assign licenses to users or to devices. Instead, Citrix XenDesktop licensing makes use of a licensing server that handles all of the license assignments automatically.

Next Steps

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This was last published in April 2017

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