Posts Tagged ‘licensing’

Windows Virtual Desktop Access Licensing – What is it?

June 24th, 2010

I try and avoid licensing at all costs, it’s a horrible subject and one that strikes fear in to many.  When you add virtualisation in to the mix it tends to get a little more complicated and you often find that the rules change on a reasonably regular basis. I was involved in a discussion today about Citrix XenDesktop and an interesting point came up when discussing licensing Virtual PCs.  Someone mentioned something called the Microsoft VDA,  I hadn’t a clue what they were talking about so I did a little digging around to find out more.

In summary this is what I found, it’s not pretty reading. As of the 1st of July 2010 Microsoft is changing the way it licences the Windows OS in VDI environments.  The following changes will take place

Windows® Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (Windows VECD) and Windows VECD for Software Assurance (SA) will no longer appear on the price list.

Virtual desktop access rights will become a Windows Client Software Assurance benefit. Customers who intend on using PCs covered under SA will now be able to access their Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) desktops at no additional charge.

Customers who want to use devices such as thin clients that do not qualify for Windows Client SA would need to license those devices with a new license called Windows Virtual Desktop Access (Windows VDA) to be able to access a Windows VDI desktop.Windows VDA is also applicable to third party devices, such as contractor or employee-owned PCs.

What does it all mean?

In it’s simplest terms you don’t licence the windows virtual machine itself, you instead licence the end point its being accessed from. To further break this down there are two distinct endpoint categories to consider.

1. The end point is a Windows OS covered by Software Assurance (SA)

2. The end point is a non windows device or is a windows device without SA

In the first category you are covered to access a windows virtual machine as Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) is included as a Software Assurance benefit.  In the second category however you need to purchase a VDA subscriptions for each end point device.  Unfortunately this is not a one off purchase either, this is a $100 per year per device subscription cost.

As an example, say you have  a sales person who uses a company laptop and a company smart phone to access their VDI virtual machine.  You would need to have the laptop installed with a software assured copy of windows and buy a VDA subscription for the smart phone.  Alternatively if you have a non SA copy of windows on the laptop you need 2 VDA subscription licences to cover both devices.  This latter example would obviously be the same if the laptop was MAC OS or Linux based.

There is some good news though in that Microsoft have something called extended roaming rights with the windows VDA licence.  In short the primary user of a VDA licensed device can access their VDI desktop from any device that is not owned by the users company.  Examples would be a users home PC, airport kiosk or hotel business centre

There is a lot to take in with licensing, especially in the VDI space. I suggest everyone running or planning to deploy VDI takes a look at the recent changes and considers how they effect existing or planned deployments.  Some people will see this as Microsoft stifling the growth of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, others will argue that it may actually acts as an enabler.  In truth I’m just not sure. I’m still digesting what it all means and playing through the various scenarios and combinations of VDI access.  On the surface I can see it hindering as opposed to helping this growing virtualisation sector.

For additional information I’d recommend checking out the following Microsoft FAQ article and for those of you who are Gartner customers the linked article below breaks it down quite nicely into simple terms.

Microsoft VDI suites & Windows VDA Frequently Asked Questions PDF

Gartner – Q&A for understanding Microsoft Licensing Requirements before deploying HVDs

General, Gestalt-IT, Microsoft , , , ,

Microsoft Licensing on Virtual platforms

December 23rd, 2008

I read an interesting blog post on Mike De Petrillo’s blog entitled Microsoft Lies to their customers again.  The article details a discussion with a customer regarding licensing on virtual platforms such as ESX and Hyper-V. 

Customer: I would love to use VMware but the cost savings in Windows licenses from Microsoft with Hyper-V makes it a deal I can’t pass up.

Me: What do you mean by that? Licenses cost you the same for Windows no matter what virtualization solution you’re using.

Customer: That’s not what my Microsoft rep told me. They said I could get unlimited virtual machines with Datacenter Edition of Windows only if I used Hyper-V.

Me: Ah. I see. You know, they’re lying to you, right?

Customer: No. They never lie to me. Where’s the proof.

Now I’ve done a lot of work with company reps from all sorts of companies in the past.  The thing to remember is these guys are sales guys pure and simple,  they are interested in getting your business for their company, bottom line.  If you say “I need to consolidate my server pool and keep the cost down”,  the Microsoft Rep is obviously going to tell you that Microsoft Hyper-V is going to be the best and cheapest way to achieve this.  Fair enough that’s his opinion,  but as an IT Professional it is your job to see through the smoke and mirrors and substantiate any claims made.  I take everything I hear with a pinch of salt (even from VMware) and I will always try to validate any claim made, either through existing customer reference sites, product forums or blog sites. 

I’m still reeling from the fact that Mike is seeing this across a number of customers,  how hard can it be to do a little research.  I did a very quick google search on “licensing for virtualization“ and the top result was the press release relating to Microsoft’s change of licensing to incorporate virtualisation.  The second result was the Microsoft page that details licensing for specific products such as Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.

Within that page is a link to the white paper I used to clarify the correct approach to be taken by my current employer.  The first paragraph answers the question this guy in New York should have been asking, don’t you think?

 The purpose of this white paper is to give an overview of Microsoft® licensing models for the server operating system and server applications under virtual environments. It can help you understand how to use Microsoft server products with virtualization technologies, such as Microsoft Hyper-V™ technology, Microsoft® Virtual Server 2005 R2, or third-party virtualization solutions provided by VMWare and Parallels.

ESX, ESXi, Microsoft, VMware , , , ,