Windows MultiPoint Server 2011 - Common Questions and Answers Part 4 (Virtualization)

Hey folks, since we posted the “MultiPoint and Hyper-V” blog post last month, we’ve gotten some follow-up questions specific to virtualization which are answered here:

Q: Can I use Windows MultiPoint Server as a Hyper-V host? How is it different than using Windows Server Standard as a Hyper-V host?

A: Yes, you can run Windows MultiPoint Server Premium as a Hyper-V host.  However, you should be aware that when you are done configuring Hyper-V on MultiPoint, there will also be some additional roles and services running on the box alongside the Hyper-V role.  Not many, but a few.  It’s not going to be a super-slim deployment where you’ve got the Hyper-V role running and nothing else.   Guidance for how to configure that scenario is posted here.  If you’d prefer the super-slim deployment, you can of course use Windows Server Standard with Hyper-V as your host provided you have a license to do so or Windows Hyper-V Server which is free.

Q: Can I run Windows MultiPoint Server as a guest VM? What are the technical limitations when running as a guest VM?

A:  Yes, you can run Windows MultiPoint Server Premium as a guest VM.  However, when you run Windows MultiPoint Server as a guest VM, you should know that with Hyper-V, items physically plugged into the host OS aren’t automatically passed through to the guest VM.  That means that the guest VM of MultiPoint won’t be able to access any devices plugged into the host server.  So, USB connected stations won’t work, and “directly connected” stations that leverage multiple local video cards won’t work.  The only supported station types in a VM, therefore, are traditional network-based RDP thin clients

Q: Can I use a single copy of Windows MultiPoint Server to deploy both a physical and virtual instance?

A:  Yes, provided you follow the license terms.  Windows MultiPoint Server Premium offers the same 1+1 licensing rights as Windows Server standard.  Which means that you can deploy MultiPoint as either a physical instance or a virtual instance.  And it means that you can use a single copy to deploy both a physical and virtual instance provided that you are only using the physical instance as a virtualization host.  The licensing language is identical to Windows Server standard in this regard.

Q: Can I run more than one virtual instance of MultiPoint on a single physical piece of hardware? How does that scale?

A:  Yes you can, provided you’ve got two things: 1) the physical horsepower on the host machine to power more than one MultiPoint instance and 2) one server license for each of the MultiPoint virtual instances you are running.   Because MultiPoint-in-a-VM only supports RDP-based thin clients, it has the same scale characteristics as Windows Server 2008 R2 with Remote Desktop Services.  You can look up the scaling guidance for that scenario here.

Q: What are the most common usage scenarios for running Windows MultiPoint Server in a VM?

A:  Most commonly, we see installations of MultiPoint in a VM when they are paired with additional VMs on a single beefy physical piece of hardware.  Here are two most common deployment scenarios:

1)      A single classroom or lab that has more than 20 seats.  Rather than deploying multiple physical MultiPoint servers, you can deploy multiple virtual instances on a single piece of hardware.  Those virtual instances can be linked together within MultiPoint Manager and managed as one box.  Here’s a video of a customer with that implementation.


 2)      Windows MultiPoint Server is running in a VM alongside another infrastructure server in a VM on the same physical piece of hardware.  A common scenario here is Windows MultiPoint Server running alongside Small Business Server Essentials.  SBSe centralizes the domain, security, and data for the network.  MultiPoint, functioning as a Remote Desktop server, centralizes the desktops.

More questions? Drop us a line at the forum, or connect with us on twitter or facebook.