Posts Tagged ‘Microsoft’

Microsoft VDI licensing –VDA and Microsoft WinTPC

April 18th, 2011

Some time ago I wrote a blog post about Microsoft Virtual Desktop Access (VDA) licensing that was introduced back in July 2010. For those that don’t want to read the whole article the summary of VDA was as follows.

  • You need to licence the endpoint accessing a windows VDI Desktop.
  • It’s £100 per year per endpoint.
  • Multiple endpoints each need a licence, i.e. home PC, office thin client, iPad
  • VDA included if endpoint is Windows and is Software Assured

I remember at the time thinking that this was going to hinder VDI deployment projects.  The additional on-going cost of licensing every potential endpoint a user may use was going to push TCO up, increase the time for ROI to be realised and generally make VDI a very unappealing prospect. Don’t even get me started on how difficult this makes it for service providers to create a Windows Desktop as a Service offering.

Recently one of my esteemed colleagues at EMC (another vSpecialist by the name of Itzich Reich who’s blog you can find here) sent out an email about Microsoft releasing a customer technology preview (CTP) of a product called Windows Thin PC (WinTPC). In summary this is a slimmed down version of Windows 7 and is designed for the re-purposing of old PC equipment as thin client devices.


It has a couple of features worth mentioning for those technically minded people out there.

  • RemoteFX support for a richer, higher fidelity hosted desktop experience.
  • Support for System Center Configuration Manager, to help deploy and manage.
  • Write filter support helps prevent writes to disk, improving end point security.

WinTPC and / or VDA

So how does this new product fit in with the rather expensive VDA licensing? Well the good news is that WinTPC can be used to access a VDI desktop without the need for a VDA licence. On the downside WinTPC will only be available as a benefit of Software assurance for volume licensees. Now seeing as the VDA licence doesn’t apply to an endpoint that is windows based and covered by software assurance it makes no real difference from a licensing point of view which option you go for.  So if you have software assurance the choice is yours,  if you don’t, well coughing up for VDA licences each year is your only option I’m afraid.

What WinTPC does allow companies to do is maximise existing PC hardware investments.  This should allow companies to offset some of that initial upfront cost often associated with VDI projects. Microsoft’s idea is that companies can try out VDI using WinTPC and existing PC assets, when these PC’s become end of life they can swap over to using windows embedded devices without needing to change the management tools. Now VDI is not cheap, capital costs can be high,  savings are usually made in operational and management costs later down the VDI journey.  As I mentioned at the start of this post,  the VDA licence has not helped VDI adoption as it increases both capital and operational costs due to it’s annual subscription cost model.  Will this new release from Microsoft help reduce costs?

Just Saying!

My opinion, I personally think Microsoft are in a tricky position, they’re somewhat behind the curve on the VDI front and I always felt the VDA licence was designed to slow VDI adoption while they gained some ground on the competition.  If anyone chose to forge ahead, regardless, well Microsoft would generate some nice consistent revenue through the VDA licence. So the prospect of a WinTPC release is a nice touch by Microsoft during these hard economic times but not everyone can benefit.  What I would like to see is Microsoft offer this outwith Software Assurance,  sell it as a single one off licence cost as an alternative to the annual subscription model used with the VDA.  Give your customers the choice and let them get on with their VDI journey, be part of it as opposed to being the road block!


If you are interested in learning more,  check out the links below.  To download the CTP version of WinTPC then go to Microsoft Connect and sign up to download it, would love to hear what you think.

Gestalt-IT, Microsoft, New Products ,

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 , , , ,

Virtualisation Visio Stencils – Microsoft, VMware, Citrix

May 13th, 2010

Every tech geek loves making Visio diagrams, admit it you do! I for one love nothing more than scribbling a design down on paper, tweaking and fine tuning it and then bringing it to life in a nice Visio diagram.  My original virtualisation Visio post back in 2008 is one of my most popular so I thought I would revisit it and update it for 2010. I’ve taken the opportunity to expand it to include Hyper-V and Citrix virtualisation products as well as a few other useful stencils.



VMware Official icons and Images – This is PowerPoint format but really quite good.

UPDATEDVMware Official Icons and Images 1 – PowerPoint update since VMworld 2010

UPDATEDVMware Official Icons and Images 2 – PowerPoint update since VMworld 2010

VMware Visio Stencil – This was on VIOPS but was removed, this is an alternative link.

vEcoShell VMware Visio Template

VMware VI3 Server Configuration Template

Veeam Visio Stencils for Visio 2003 and 2007

VMGuru Virtualisation template




Jonathan Cusson’s Hyper-V template

Microsoft Office Visio 2007 Professional Add-In for Rack Server Virtualization (Virtual Rack)

Microsoft App-V Visio Stencil



Citrix Dynamic Delivery Center Visio Stencil – XenApp, XenDesktop, XenServer, WANScaler,etc


Non Virtualisation Products


Cisco Data Centre Visio stencils

Exchange 2007 Visio stencil

Office Communications Server 2007 and 2007 R2 Visio Stencils

Brocade Visio Stencil

VisioCafe – Good Selection of hardware vendor Visio stencils, HP, EMC NetApp, etc

Citrix, Microsoft, VMware , , , , , , ,

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Release Candidate

May 6th, 2009

I read today on Microsoft’s virtualisation team blog site that the free version of Hyper-V 2008 R2 has now reached release candidate and can be downloaded by clicking on the link below.

Microsoft Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Release Candidate

The interesting news is that Live Migration, Clustered Shared Volumes and High Availability will be available as part of this free version when it reaches RTM. What isn’t clear is whether these features are included in this release candidate.

So what strings are attached I hear you ask?  Well according to Microsoft absolutely none,  they genuinley appear to be giving away these features for nothing.  I myself thought that the management for Live migration and HA would require a cost as you’d need an implemetnation of System Centre Operations Manager (SCOM) and System Centre Virtual Machine Manager (SCVMM).  However this is not the case,  I actually verified this today with a Microsoft Employee at an event I was at this morning.

The following extract from the Microsoft Virtualisation team blog tells you how you can manage these features.  The first requires a Windows 2008 box so there is a licence cost,  the second requires SCVMM which will obviously cost you money.  The third option however is free,  as long as you have Windows 7.

Hyper-V Server 2008 R2 Live Migration and High Availability can be managed in a few different ways:

  1. Failover Cluster/Hyper-V Manager from a Windows Server 2008 R2 Server OR,
  2. System Center Virtual Machine Manager 2008 R2 OR,
  3. Using the FREELY (there’s that word again) available Failover Cluster Manager/Hyper-V Manager for Windows 7.


So, as you can see, there are a few different options depending on your needs and option three gives you Live Migration and High Availability at zero cost.

Will this be serious competition for ESXi?  well I’d say in the home lab and SMB Sector it probably will.  VMware have come in for some criticism following the launch of their new vSphere product and licensing.  A lot of people feel SMB’s are not well covered for some of the more advanced features such as vMotion in the vSphere essentials offering.  Microsoft have probably picked up on this fact, after all they’re not daft.  They probably see this as the perfect oppurtunity to win some of that SMB market and get a stronger foothold in the virtualisation market, from there they can start up-selling SCOM and SCVMM.

Hyper-V, Microsoft, New Products ,