Automating Microsoft SPLA Reporting With SPL Tracker – Part 3

We’ve covered a bit of ground in this blog series on Microsoft SPLA reporting with SPL Tracker. We’ll get into more nitty gritty details below, but first, a review . . .

The Need for Microsoft SPLA Reporting

Automate Microsoft SPLA ReportingBack in Part 1 of this blog series, we explored how SPL Tracker targets the widely recognized need for more effective tracking of Microsoft SPLA – and related – licensing.

In Part 2 of our blog series, we reviewed how to associate defined license types with Active Directory groups using SPL Tracker.

Now, in Part 3 of this series, you will witness firsthand the power of correlating actual license usage with the groups that control access to the license types.

Looking Back at Actual Licensing Usage

Once you have associated license types with groups in the Associate Groups section of the SPL Tracker, click on Step 3 – Assess Actual Usage.

In this section, you will need to define the activity lookback period that SPL Tracker uses to determine whether or not specific accounts have been actively using certain license types, such as Remote Desktop Services SALs or Microsoft Office SALs. Typically, this is 30, 45, or 60 days. Enter your preferred lookback period, and then click “Fetch/Refetch Usage Data.”

Effective Microsoft SPLA Tracking Requires That You Assess Actual License Usage - Shown Here in SPL Tracker
Assessing actual license usage over a period of days in SPL Tracker. At this stage, you’re well on your way to automating your Microsoft SPLA usage reports.

Active Users vs. Inactive Users

Once the SPL Tracker consults Remote Desktop Reporter’s database to determine usage for all license types, it will display the active users and inactive users for each type in a list. Inactive users are defined as the user accounts which had permission to use the license type (via membership in the associated Active Directory group), but for whatever reason did not use that class of license within the lookback period.

Managing Inactive Users in SPL Tracker and Automating Microsoft SPLA Reporting
Inactive users are users that had permission to use a certain license type but didn’t. Recognizing trends among active and inactive users can translate into significant savings in a Microsoft SPLA situation.

Moving on to Step 4 – Restrict Access, you can determine which inactive users will be denied access moving forward, by removing them from the corresponding Active Directory group. Even more importantly, you can determine how the user has access to the particular license type, via direct group membership, or via a nested group relationship.

In the next blog article in this series, we’ll see how you can automate this process so that “auto pruning” of inactive users takes place automatically on a monthly basis. Those removed users, if access is not restored during the next monthly reporting period, will result in an ongoing cost savings to your organization. Watch for our next blog article in this series.

And remember, SPL Tracker is downloaded with RDPSoft’s Remote Desktop Reporter. You can download a free 30 day trial today.

Automating Microsoft SPLA Reporting With SPL Tracker – Part 2

Automate SPLA ReportingIn Part 1 of our blog series “Automating SPLA Reporting With SPL Tracker,” we discussed the challenges inherent in SPLA monthly reporting requirements faced by MSPs and how to define classes of license usage in SPL Tracker.

Now we’re going to show how you can pair these license types with the Active Directory or local machine groups which serve as the gatekeepers for accessing these types of licensed applications or services.

Associating Groups in SPL Tracker

Once you have defined the license types for which the Service Provider Licensing Tracker (SPL Tracker) will track usage in Step 1 of the program, click on Step 2 – Associate Groups. Here you will be able to associate the license types you specified in Step 1 with one or more Active Directory groups in a particular client domain.

If you are an MSP or SaaS provider using workgroups instead of domains for your client networks, you can just as easily specify local machine groups in this program area. Just select “Computer” instead of “Domain”, and enter the name of the Remote Desktop or Citrix XenApp server that hosts the groups which control access to your license types.

Once you enter a computer name or domain name, you can click “Fetch Groups” to retrieve a list of all groups on a computer or in an Active Directory.

SPL Tracker Configuration Files Across Client Domains or Workgroups

It’s very easy to create template configuration files which you can reuse across all of your many client domains or workgroups. If each of your clients has their own domain, enter %MACHINEDOMAIN% for the name of the domain, or if each client has their own single server workgroup, enter LOCALHOST for the name of the computer.

SPL Tracker Screenshot Showing Adding of Associations
Adding new associations in SPL Tracker.

Then, provided your group names are standardized across all client domains and/or client servers, you can use the same configuration file for all instances of SPL Tracker – greatly simplifying deployment. We’ll have more on this subject in an upcoming post in this blog series.

You can create as many group/license type associations as needed – just click the “Add New Association” button to create each additional one required in Step 2.

In the upcoming Part 3 blog post in this series, we will review how SPL Tracker assesses the variance between actual license usage and allowed license usage. This can have a huge positive effect on your bottom line over time – so please stay tuned!

SPL Tracker is downloaded with RDPSoft’s Remote Desktop Reporter. You can download a free 30 day trial today.

Tracking Citrix XenApp Concurrent Licensing

If you maintain Citrix XenApp server farms, you are no doubt keenly aware of challenges inherent in keeping tabs on concurrent licensing growth in an organization.  Except for the base level of XenApp Fundamentals, licensing is enforced by peak, distinct concurrent user connections to servers throughout the farm.

RDS Licensing

This is different than Microsoft Remote Desktop Services licensing.  RDS is licensed per user or per device.  Most modern organizations in the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) era opt for per user licensing, as most users will be connecting to RDS sessions from multiple devices such as tablets, phones, or desktops.

Citrix XenApp Licensing

In contrast, Citrix’s concurrent licensing model is based on the peak number of distinct users who establish XenApp sessions on any Citrix XenApp server in the farm at the same time.  So, you could have a scenario where you have 15 users who could potentially access XenApp services, but only have purchased 8 concurrent user licenses, as you figure that no more than 8 of those 15 will be connected to the farm at any one time.

In order to contain cost, but also see how usage is growing, it is very important to both keep routine track of how your concurrent licenses are being allocated, and if you’re starting to bump up against the maximum in your farm.

Reports to Help With Tracking

Reporting on Max Distinct Concurrent User Sessions Across a Citrix XenApp Farm
Screenshot from the RDPSoft report on max distinct concurrent user sessions across a Citrix XenApp farm.

All of this is why we’ve added a new report family in Remote Desktop Reporter 1.9.4 called “Max Distinct Concurrent User Sessions Across The Farm.” This report can help you track peak distinct concurrent users over various time intervals such as monthly, daily, or even hourly.

Schedule it on a recurring basis, and you’ll never have to worry about keeping tabs on your Citrix XenApp concurrent license usage ever again.