Working from home and want to access your PC at work? The best solution may cost thousands in additional Microsoft licensing costs.
In the scramble to migrate employees to home working, there are issues for businesses who normally have staff in an office working on desktop PCs, or accessing network file shares and intranet applications, or running applications that connect to an on-premises database.
This poses some difficult and potentially risky and expensive questions for organisations that are not already set up to have all or most of their staff working remotely. Whilst business continuity is top of mind and worrying about network security seems almost quaint in the face of the massive health risks from COVID-19, attacks on infrastructure can have effects far greater than the infrastructure itself.
One area of concern is the risk from users on home PCs accessing corporate assets. These systems are more likely to be out of date, unpatched, and unprotected. They are more vulnerable to attack simply because they are less secure and that is before taking into account the variety of websites visited and software installed by family members, including children.
Staff working at home could use a VPN to connect to the corporate network. VPNs have many advantages, but by putting the remote machine in effect on the internal business network, it also poses risks, for example if malware on the remote machine is able to damage business assets.
Microsoft has some solutions for remote access without a VPN, including a feature of Windows Server called Remote Desktop Gateway (RDS Gateway). Users can connect to the gateway over SSL (no VPN required) and use a Remote Desktop client to access their work PC, or a desktop session on Windows server, or a desktop application running on the server. The problem here is that using RD Gateway has license implications.
The problem here is a fundamental one. Many companies are in a hybrid world, part based on cloud concepts where everything is on the internet and easily accessed from all kinds of devices, and part based on traditional business networks with servers, locally installed software and desktop PCs. The licensing model for these two types of environment is different, with the traditional environment generally being more complex. Customers who license applications like Windows and Office on a per-user subscription are much better placed than those with perpetual per-device licenses. But in the midst of a global pandemic, does anyone care about licensing? Although you may not get audited now, in six months or whenever this is over, you do need to know what you've done.
When those audits do start back up businesses may well be able to ask for some sort of grace period or leeway. However, the reality is, if you have put something in place to meet these new working practices, you will need to be prepared to pay for whatever Microsoft’s current licensing model is relevant.
Here at eacs we understand that licensing is a complex and difficult to get to grips with and there are also new security aspects to be considered by everyone as business practices change. We are here to help guide you through the rules and advise you how you can maximise what you currently have, and also ensure that the integrity and security of your data and infrastructure is maintain during this challenging period.
If you want to know more contact your client manager or ring 0800 8047 256.