As virtualization grows in prominence, so, too, have the Microsoft licensing structures to support virtual environments.
Adapted from “Microsoft Windows 7 Administrator’s Reference” (Syngress, an imprint of Elsevier)
The Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop (VECD) license can seem confusing, but it’s simply the Windows 7 license that manages the virtualization process. Prior to the availability of virtualization, a user would only access one desktop at a time on a single, specific device. When you installed a new desktop device, you would typically require a new Windows license. If you relocated an existing license, the previous desktop was taken out of service.
With virtualization technology in the picture, this is not the typical use case anymore. VECD licensing lets you run a copy of Windows 7 in a datacenter that may provision multiple desktops across several servers in production and for disaster recovery.
A VECD license allows for the following:
The key to the VECD license is the desktops must be covered under Microsoft Software Assurance (SA). This is required to even purchase the VECD license. This can save a great deal on the cost of upgrading and supporting the Windows 7 environment. Consider, for example, the following scenario: You have 100 laptops and desktops in your organization. You also have 100 thin clients.
If the laptops didn’t have SA, you would need 200 VECD licenses (for the 100 thin clients and 100 laptops). If the laptops do have SA, you would need 100 VECD licenses (for the 100 laptops).
You would need to maintain SA on each of the laptops. For more on the ins and outs of the licensing structure, download the latest version of the Software Assurance Desktop Virtualization brochure or contact your Microsoft licensing specialist.
As you can see from this simple example, you can save a significant amount on your licensing costs if you decide to leverage virtualization throughout your organization. Although it’s a bit tricky at first to determine the exact licensing procedure, it’s worth spending a few minutes discussing the benefits and requirements with your licensing provider.