XenDesktop on Azure continued…

Last week I had a great talk with Mr. Kurt Moody from Citrix. We discussed my Blog post: Why you shouldn’t deploy XD7 on Azure just yet, together with some of my remarks regarding the Citrix XenDesktop 7 on Windows Azure Design Guide which I used as a reference throughout and, in the end, lead to my conclusion of Azure not being as XD7 ready as we hoped it would be, at least not for now. I know, last week I was a bit more ‘outspoken’.

One of the things we talked about is how (Microsoft) licensing complicates matters almost every time a product is ready to ‘hit’ the cloud, in this case it being Azure. Especially when potential client operating systems come into play, things get tricky. It’s true, think about it, it’s (still) all about license mobility and Software Assurance, and In this case you also need to be a Microsoft Service Provider to be able to buy the newly introduced RDS SAL’s, otherwise you’re still bound to two administrative RDS connections as far as RDS on Azure goes. And finally we have something called single and multi-tenant hosting environments, complicating matters even more.

Almost a week later

The question now is do I still feel the same way? Well… the honest answer is, yes. I did some re-thinking on this one; although I still feel that the Design Guide has some ‘holes’ in it and leaves out some important information, or references to it which could help with its interpretation (in a good way) to me it’s clear why the document turned out the way it did. I mean, a product has to be sold as well; it’s just that in this particular case the marketing department got a bit overexcited if you ask me. At least we got the discussion going again and like Kurt puts it in one of his comments; ‘any progress is a good thing’.

It’s all Microsoft

So why do I still feel the same way? Take licensing (there it is again) for example (although I do agree that Citrix shouldn’t be the one explaining Microsoft’s licensing structure, a reference would have been nice), because that’s what it all comes down to in the end. It’s not Citrix, XenDesktop 7 is as cloud ready as it will ever be and  technically there is (almost) nothing holding us back from putting it ‘up there’, it’s Microsoft and their licensing program keeping us from taking full advantage of all that the cloud era has to offer. Give it up already!

What to do?

If the cloud is what you are aiming for go with XenApp for now and be a bit more patient when it comes to XD7. Or… go hybrid, install and configure XD7 on premises in your own datacenter, set-up your client virtual desktop infrastructure and host your hosted shared desktops in Azure for example, this way you’ll get the best of both and you won’t be wasting any of XD7’s cool new features. If it’s XD7 App Edition you’re using, you can go either way. Just know that within Azure you will have to use Microsoft’s OS and application templates when setting up your VM’s, meaning that you won’t be able to install and/or configure all server roles and features you’re used to in the ‘real world’ Installing Hyper-V for example, won’t work. The OSs and applications used within Azure also need to include License Mobility and Software Assurance, something to be aware of. Check out the Microsoft MPUR Document it will tell you exactly what is allowed and what’s not.

Conclusion

Don’t get me wrong, I still feel that the Design Guide isn’t written the way it supposed to be. It doesn’t directly tell us that client OSs are a no-go (which is kind of a big deal) or that we need to be or contact a Microsoft Service Provider to be able to host shared desktops based on server OSs, I mean, sure, it’s in there but you’ll have to do some decrypting first :-) But let’s not go down that road again, I made my point (read my Blog about it here and make sure to check out some of the comments left near the bottom as well) and so did Kurt, Citrix replied and we again discussed it thoroughly (including some other stuff as well) during our conference call last week of which I’m glad that we did. I’m confident that we’ll see a revised document not to long from now. Kurt (and Martijn Bosschaart @mbosschaart as well) again, thank you both for your time and I’m looking forward to talking/working to and with you again in the near future.

Bas van Kaam ©

Reference materials used: None.

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