Microsoft Takes a Step In the Right Direction
The big Webcast just wrapped up, and will be available for replay shortly at http://www.desktopvirtualizationhour.com. Click on the “videos” tab to get to the selection of recorded videos. Several changes were announced. Unfortunately, they don’t become effective until July 1, but you can’t have everything.
- VECD is dead, long live the VDA. For all practical purposes, the VECD license is history. Effective July 1, if your client desktop is a PC that’s covered by Software Assurance, you will no longer have to purchase a VECD license to access a virtual Windows Desktop. That saves you about $23/device/year.
If your client device is not covered by SA (e.g., a thin-client device), you will now be required to purchase the new “Virtual Desktop Access” (“VDA”) license, which will cost about $100/device/year. That also represents a savings of $20/year or so compared to the old VECD pricing model.
In both scenarios, the “primary user” of that client device now has the rights to access corporate VDI desktops and Microsoft Office applications from other client devices, such as home PCs, Internet cafes, hotel business centers, etc.
- Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 will have a couple of new features that will make VDI a friendlier place to go:
- Dynamic Memory – Provided your guest operating systems support “hot add” for memory, you will be able to configure your Hyper-V host with minimum and maximum memory limits for the guests. So if a VM that’s serving a power user needs more RAM, more RAM will be dynamically allocated from the host server’s memory pool. When that additional RAM is no longer needed, it will be returned to the pool. Note that this assumes that there is unallocated RAM available – this is not the same thing as “memory overcommit.” This should increase VM density and require fewer Hyper-V hosts to support a given number of virtual desktops. Note also that Windows XP does not support “hot add,” so that’s just another reason to make the move to Win7 when you virtualize.
- RemoteFX – This is a set of technologies that have evolved from Microsoft’s acquisition of Calista Technologies a couple of years ago. It’s primarily a set of enhancements to the RDP protocol, but the graphics virtualization enhancements will also benefit virtual Win7 PCs that are running on a 2008 R2 SP1 Hyper-V host. The performance that was demonstrated during the Webcast was pretty impressive, but in addition, Citrix announced that the “HDX” technology in XenDesktop would be enhanced so it could detect when the RemoteFX technology was present, and leverage it to make graphics performance even better. You’ll find more information on RemoteFX over at the Windows Virtualization Team Blog.
- The Citrix/Microsoft Partnership is still going strong, and a couple of new promotions were also announced today:
- “Rescue for VMware VDI” – which is targeted squarely at people who have started to deploy VMware View, and ran headlong into problems with scalability, user experience over WAN links, etc. These customers will be able to trade in up to 500 VMware licenses for the same number of Microsoft VDI Standard Suite subscription and Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual licenses at no cost. Note, however, that these are annual, subscription-based licenses, so they are going to start costing you money after the first year.
- “VDI Kick Start” – Eligible customers can pay only $28 per device for up to 250 devices to license the Microsoft VDI Standard Suite subscription and the Citrix XenDesktop VDI Edition annual licenses, allowing you to roll out a 250-seat VDI deployment for only $7,000 in licensing costs – roughly a 50% savings. Again, note that these are annual subscription-based licenses, so you’ll start paying the regular price after the first year. Still, that’s a pretty aggressive offer.
The big loser in today’s announcements? VMware. In addition to the trade-in offer, Microsoft made it very clear where they stood. I submit for your consideration a screen cap of the Q&A thread from the Webcast:
If there was any doubt before about where the battle lines are drawn, there shouldn’t be anymore.
In closing, here are a couple of other links you may want to check out:
Bottom line: While I didn’t get everything I’ve complained about in the last couple of blog posts, and I’ve got to wait a few months for some of the announcements to be effective (nothing new about that), it was not a bad day at all. Definitely a step in the right direction.
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