How Microsoft Does VDI

Microsoft does not offer a specific, purpose-built VDI tool comparable to XenDesktop or VMware View, so we did not include Microsoft in our test. In fact, based on Microsoft's longstanding relationship with Citrix, Microsoft suggests using XenDesktop for VDI — especially for Windows 7 hosting.

A guide to Microsoft's dizzying array of desktop virtualization

However, you could patch together a VDI solution using a mix of general purpose Microsoft tools.

For example, should your organization have Windows Server 2008 R2 with the Hyper-V2 virtualization platform, you're in luck. Microsoft's Systems Center-Virtual Machine Manager (SC-VMM) becomes the orchestration system behind VDI.

Microsoft provides two flavors of VDI, a Standard and Premium Suite. Running Windows 7 as a hosted VDI-controlled virtual machine requires a Remote Data Services CAL along with Microsoft's Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). These two pieces are controlled with SC-VMM and SCCM — the Systems Center Configuration Manager (Standard License).

Monitoring and performance management are added by the final component, the System Center Operations Manager. The SCCM doesn't handle dual virtualization schemes, as in VDI and server virtualization — but the premium license does.

Also added in the Premium Suite is App-V for RDS, an enhanced flavor of App-V that allows hosted sessions to use App-V so that the applications can be 'sandboxed' and, if group policy controls are effectively implemented, the application is one more step removed in terms of protection from muddling, data copying, and hosted session malware and potentially, subterfuge. The premium suite also permits non-persistent sessions, as well as persistent or 'owned' VM VDI sessions.

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