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New Desktop Virtualization Licensing Looms

Microsoft is talking up application virtualization and there are some new technology, partnering and licensing considerations on the horizon. Also in its battle against VMware, look for Citrix and Microsoft to act as true partners-in-crime to take on the cause for desktop application virtualization.

First, in case you haven't heard, effective July 1, those customers who don't qualify for Windows Client Software Assurance will require a new license called Windows Virtual Desktop Access, or Windows VDA. According to a posting on Microsoft's site, the company came up with Windows VDA to allow organizations to license virtual copies of Windows in virtual environments for devices that don't qualify for Windows client SA such as third-party contractor PCs and thin clients, among others.

Windows VDA is a device-based subscription license that will cost $100 per device per year. "It will allow organizations to create multiple desktops dynamically, enable user access to multiple virtual machines (VMs) simultaneously and move desktop VMs across multiple platforms, especially in load-balancing and disaster recovery situations," Microsoft says.

What's the benefit of that added cost? Among other things, Microsoft says it will allow users to run Windows in a data center including Enterprise editions, rights for a primary user to access corporate VDI desktops from non-corporate PCs including home systems and kiosks and access rights for up to four VMs, concurrently. It will also support unlimited mobility of VMs between servers and storage and unlimited backups of VMs, according to Microsoft.

At a time when Windows 7 sales appear to be going through the roof, Microsoft appears to be making a strong push toward desktop virtualization even as it may cannibalize future Windows licensing.

To strengthen its portfolio, Microsoft is working closely with longtime partner Citrix to take on the larger behemoth -- VMware. Brad Anderson, who oversees Microsoft's virtualization efforts, gave a keynote address at Citrix's annual Synergy conference earlier this month following Citrix launch of the first bare-metal client hypervisor..

Following Anderson's keynote, he and Citrix CTO Simon Crosby posted a recorded video conversation between the two where he talked up what Microsoft has in store on the App-V front.

"With application virtualization, what we're doing is taking all the assets, all the experience from the desktop, applying it to the server, and this will be released in conjunction with the next version of System Center in 2011," Anderson said. "Think about this as being embedded into virtual machine manager that gives you the ability to separate out your existing applications, so that you can actually have that separation of the app and the OS and dramatically reduce your number of operating system images."

One of the things Anderson demonstrated in his keynote was the next version of System Center Virtual Machine Manager making Xen Server a first class citizen. "The integration is definitely there," Anderson said.

Added Crosby: "So you can drag and drop a multi tier app from Xen App and Xen desktop, which has tons of components, and just magically shows up. One cool use case: once you've done all this virtualization, it's a good way to deploy things into the cloud, so I can then take an app that I've virtualized and pop it up into Azure."

What's your take on the new VDA licensing? If you're a Microsoft partner are you looking more closely at Citrix's XenSource platform and the new bare-metal hyper-visor the company announced? Drop me a line at jschwartz@1105media.com.

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 05/28/2010 at 1:14 PM


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