Microsoft VDI Licensing Primer

For VDI, Microsoft’s licensing model is VDI Standard and Premium Suites. These are great offerings and simplify the process to acquire Microsoft VDI. And in my view for many customers, this is a cost-effective solution and I encourage IT decision makers to examine and compare Microsoft offerings with others out there in the market. The VDI Suite includes not only the basic infrastructure needs, but critical management components to ensure a successful VDI deployment. So customers can, for instance, employ System Center Virtual Machine Manager and take advantages of the many integrations among System Center family, Windows Server 2008 R2, and Windows 7. For a more comprehensive offering, the VDI Premium Suite includes additional desktop and application deployment options.

Still many may have a fundamental question, why a new licensing model is necessary for VDI? To better understand it, the following chart details a number of VDA or Virtual Desktop Access scenarios and we should also further look into how software was deployed yesterday and how software can be deployed today and beyond.


Traditional software deployment is per device. Which assumes an OS will be associated with a particular hardware device like a PC or laptop, once installed. And as well, an application will be associated with a particular OS instance, once installed. However, with VDI, we now can deploy dynamically and roam personal desktop, applications, or both based on an IE session of an authenticated user, and not necessarily need to install and tie an instance of OS or an application to a particular physical device or a particular instance of OS, respectively. Therefore, traditional licensing model does not correctly reflect the usage of licensed software in a VDI deployment. Further, a key factor for the success of any virtualization initiatives is the management as explained. There are also licensing implications on including a VDI deployment into a software deployment and management infrastructure and can and probably will further complicate the overall licensing solution. A licensing model specifically addressing VDI deployment scenarios is essential. Both the VDI Standard Suite and the VDI Premium Suite are licensed per client device that accesses the VDI environment, and thereby allow for flexibility of server infrastructure design and growth.