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VMware unleashes desktop-grade desktop-as-a-service service

Virtzilla looks to have found a way to get around Microsoft's weird VDI licenses

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

VMware has flicked the switch on its Horizon DaaS (desktop-as-a-service) service.

Virtzilla's service is based on Desktone, an outfit it acquired last year, and its schtick is that it allows customers to blend virtual desktops served from their premises with virtual desktops served from its cloud, an arrangement it talks up as optimally agile, sensible and generally cloudbuzz-compliant.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the announcement is the sentence in VMware's canned statement about the release to the effect that “Unlike other DaaS offerings that only offer Windows server or Remote Desktop Services (RDS) environments, VMware Horizon DaaS supports both types of desktops in addition to full Windows Client Desktops”.

That sentence signals VMware has either had some serious chats to Microsoft about desktop virtualisation licensing, or is paying a premium for its Windows licences. We offer those suggestions because Microsoft's desktop virtualisation liceses have some unusual requirements, to wit:

“ … hosting hardware must be dedicated to, and for the benefit of the customer, and any hardware running an instance of Microsoft software (OS or application) must be dedicated to a single customer. For example, a SAN device that is not running any Microsoft software may be shared by more than one customer; whereas, a server or SAN device that runs Microsoft software may only be used by one customer.”

Those conditions have seen some DaaS providers offer re-skinned Windows Server as “virtual” virtual desktops, as doing so makes it easier to offer Windows-as-a-service.

VMware's statement that it offers “full Windows Client Desktops” is therefore a sign it's infrastructure will meet Redmond's hardware separation requirements. Either that or it has come to an agreement with Redmond to get around the issue.

The latter makes sense: following Microsoft's rules would add unwelcome expense when operating at cloud scale.

Taking Horizon DaaS Live means VMware has stolen a march on Amazon Web Services, which launched its own Workspaces DaaS last year. Workspaces is, however, still only a “limited preview” and is offered in the USA alone. When The Reg's Australian outpost asked for a review of Amazon's service, we were told it would not be offered due to trans-Pacific latency making the service unusable. We've made the same request to VMware in the hope it's possible to take one of its virtual desktops for a spin.

VMware's not released detailed pricing for Horizon DaaS, so we can't see if it has also stolen a march on its DaaS rivals in the wallet-impact stakes. Once we know, we'll update this story. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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