Remember VECD Licensing when discussing VDI

Wow! I’m not sure about you, but April has been a busy month! To start the month, I was part of the NWN EMC/Microsoft/XenDesktop road show around North Carolina, and just this part week, I was in Tampa, FL and Redmond, WA. In between, there have been baseball practices, dance lessons, softball games, etc, etc. The only “free” day my family gets now is Saturday and that is spent recovering from the week and doing all the household chores that must be done. With all that going on, my blog has suffered lately. In my younger days I had the ability to stay up until 3am and get by on naps more or less, but as I keep getting older, I find I need more sleep. 🙂

But that’s enough about what I’ve been doing. Let’s move on to a topic you may find just as boring. Microsoft Licensing!! Oh, boy!!

Today, I want to bring up licensing and how it relates to VDI. With VDI becoming increasingly popular, the folks at Microsoft came to the realization they needed a new, more flexible licensing model than the current OEM or retail licensing models. VDI must have the ability to run Windows Client OS’s on servers with unrestricted movement of VMs between the hardware systems attached to a virtual infrastructure, so the licensing model needs to support such behavior.

Some limitations of OEM and retail licensing include:

OEM licenses bound to the hardware
Retail licenses can be reassigned once every 90 days
OEM and retail licenses cannot be dynamically assigned
OEM and retail licenses do not include SA benefits

To combat these limitations, Microsoft has introduced the Windows Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) licensing model. To date, VECD licensing is poorly understood but its a subject that must be discussed with potential VDI customers UP FRONT so as to avoid the awkward and potentially embarrassing “we need more money for licensing” conversation later in the sales cycle.

VECD is a device based annual subscription program designed to help you license virtual instances of an OS. Basically, VECD provides you a license to run a virtual copy of Windows and regardless of the VDI platform you choose (XenDesktop, VMware View, etc), a VECD license is required for each device accessing a VDI image.

Microsoft believes VECD is a better licensing solution for virtual desktops because it provides the following “benefits”:

You can install windows on any hardware and storage
Supports unlimited movement between servers and storage
Reassignment rights to another device in event of device failure
Provides access to corporate desktop images from non-corporate Windows PCs
A Single VECD license allows concurrent access up to 4VMs
Work at home rights are included
VECD customers have the option to purchase MDOP and WinFLP

My objective today is not to make you an expert on the VECD licensing model, but simply to make you aware that if you are considering a VDI implementation, you must take into account (preferably during the initial planning/budgeting phases) the VECD licensing cost. Specific pricing can be obtained from your preferred Microsoft Licensing Vendor.

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