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Virtualize with MED-V


Benefits Limitations Basic Requirements Recommendation for Size

Most robust option

Seamless web solution with automatic URL redirection for applications that run on only Microsoft® Internet Explorer® 6 (no user training necessary)

Centrally managed via a MED-V management server

Flexible—can have different virtual machines for different users if other applications are required

Older computers might not meet the system requirements to run the virtualized XP instance

Does not work on a virtualized operating system

Requires both client and server

Required 2 GB of RAM on the host

Part of MDOP 2009 volume licensing; a Software Assurance benefit, available for enterprise customers

Recommended for enterprise environments

Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), a core component of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) for Microsoft Software Assurance, is the most robust and scalable solution for virtualizing Internet Explorer 7 and Internet Explorer 6. It provides a centrally managed solution that is intended for enterprise customers. If you use MED-V for virtualization, you can run Windows® 7 and still run older applications seamlessly, directly from a Windows 7 desktop. Users continue to work as they always have and as they launch their browser, MED-V determines whether to leave the URL in Internet Explorer 8 or whether it should redirect and display it in Internet Explorer 6 or Internet Explorer 7 on the MED-V workspace. The MED-V policy that is created and managed by the administrator determines the who, what, and how of applications from the MED-V workspace. By using MED-V, you retain the productivity benefits of the newest operating system, yet you can use older applications that might be best suited for your work.

You can learn more about MED-V with the MED-V Overview video, the How Do I: Use Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V)? video, and the MED-V Quick Start Guide. For more information about MED-V, see the MED-V home page.

What Is MED-V?

MED-V delivers applications in a virtual machine instance that runs an earlier version of the operating system, such as .

MED-V builds on top of Windows Virtual PC so that you can run two operating systems on one physical device, adding virtual image delivery, provisioning, and centralized management. From the user’s perspective, these applications and web sites are accessible from the standard desktop Start menu or in their browser and appear side by side with native applications, so there is minimal change to the user experience.

MED-V requires both a server and client computer and deployment considerations should be made for how clients will access the MED-V management server. Clients need to meet the system requirements for running a virtual instance of another operating system. But while these considerations need to be made MED-V remains the most robust and seamless of the virtualization options.

You can learn about MED-V in the SolutionAccelerators Infrastructure Planning and Design documentation.

Benefits of Using MED-V

As previously stated, you can use MED-V to run Internet Explorer 7 or Internet Explorer 6 in a virtual environment with a previous operating system version, seamlessly integrated into the Windows 7 desktop. The following list addresses some of the benefits of using MED-V:

  • MED-V is easy to provision and deploy. MED-V provides a way to automate the first-time setup of virtual machines at the endpoint, including assignment of a unique computer name, performing initial network setup, and joining the virtual machine to a corporate domain.

    With MED-V, you can customize images in heterogeneous desktop environments, and you can adjust the Virtual PC memory allocation based on available RAM on the host computer.

    Application and website provisioning is based on Active Directory users/groups. You can assign a virtual image and define which applications are available to the user and which web sites should be redirected to Internet Explorer 6 or Internet Explorer 7.

  • MED-V is centrally managed. You can centrally define usage permissions and virtual machine settings and centrally monitor endpoint clients. There are also helpdesk tools to diagnose and troubleshoot virtual machines.

  • With MED-V, you can maintain a minimal inventory. While you do have additional operating systems, you are generally not burdened with many extra images to manage. While language packs or Internet Explorer 7 may require more images, many customers find that they need only a single additional image.

    MED-V provides an administrator console for virtual image management and a central image repository for image storage, versioning, and delivery (which can be based on Internet Information Services [IIS] web servers, System Center Configuration Manager, or alternative deployment technologies). Integration with makes it possible to provision virtual images based on group membership or user identity.

  • You can use standard image maintenance. With MED-V, you can continue using Windows Server® Update Services (WSUS) to deploy the latest Microsoft product updates or System Center Configuration Manager. The MED-V workspace is managed as any other desktop in the enterprise.

For more information, see the Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization Evaluation Guide. Also, see the Links for Further Information later in this document.

Limitations of MED-V

MED-V utilizes client machine resources, and this may be an issue for under-powered hardware.  Starting the virtual machine on the client side can take a few minutes; it therefore might be beneficial to set the MED-V preference to leave the virtual machine running for the best user experience.

MED-V requires that you manage an extra operating system, which means extra inventory, patching, antivirus software, and so on. However, MED-V can be managed with the same tools that you are managing the MED-V host with, as an example you can patch the MED-V workspace with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), as described in Appendix 5: Updating Using Windows Server Update Services.

MED-V does not work on a virtualized operating system through virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI). VDI clients are already virtual, so they cannot host a virtual instance. This means that if you are using VDI for user desktops, you cannot host MED-V.

MED-V Solution Components

Figure 1 shows the components of a MED-V solution.

Diagram of MED-V architecture

The MED-V includes the following components:

  • Administrator-defined virtual machine. This virtual machine encapsulates a full desktop environment, including an operating system, applications, and optional management and security tools.

  • Image repository. The image repository stores all virtual images on a standard IIS server and enables virtual images version management, client-authenticated image retrieval, and efficient download (of a new image or updates). The image repository is optional; alternative deployment methods that deliver the image to the MED-V host can be used including distribution with System Center Configuration Manager.

  • Management Server. The Management Server associates virtual images from the image repository along with administrator usage policies to Active Directory users or groups. The Management Server also aggregates clients’ events and stores them in an external database (Microsoft SQL Server®) for monitoring; reporting is an optional feature. Note that additional policy servers may be required for large deployments.

  • Management Console. The Management Console makes it possible for administrators to control the Management Server and the image repository.

  • User. Applications installed in the virtual machine are seamlessly available through the standard desktop Start menu and are integrated with other applications on the user desktop. Web applications can also be automatically redirected to Internet Explorer 6 or Internet Explorer 7 in the MED-V workspace, providing seamless compatibility.

How Does MED-V Work?

When a user launches MED-V, the MED-V client contacts the MED-V management server. The management server returns the policy to the client. Through the policy, the MED-V client identifies which virtual machine it should use, what applications should be published to the host, and how those should be displayed. Based on the policy, the client looks to see if the virtual machine is available locally (pre-distributed with System Center Configuration Manager). If not, the client attempts to download it from the image server. After the virtual machine is available, it is configured for that user (machine rename, domain joined, and so on) and then the user can begin accessing applications in the MED-V workspace.

Step-by-step guidance for using MED-V to virtualize Internet Explorer 6 and Internet Explorer 7 is provided in Appendix 1: How to Use MED-V.

After MED-V is deployed, the user experience is completely seamless—designated URLs are automatically redirected to the MED-V workspace in Internet Explorer 6 or Internet Explorer 7.

Licensing Considerations

MED-V software is part of MDOP 2009 volume licensing; MED-V is an SA benefit, available for enterprise customers.

MDOP customers can download the software at the Microsoft® Volume Licensing Site (MVLS).

MDOP is available for test and evaluation for Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN®) and TechNet subscribers in accordance with MSDN and TechNet agreements.

System Requirements

Following are the detailed system requirements for MED-V version 1 (V1). For more detailed information, see the MED-V Architecture Overview.

  • Management Server

    • Operating system: Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2008 Standard, or Windows Server 2008 Enterprise (x86 and 64-bit) editions

    • Recommended hardware: Dual processor (2.8 gigahertz [GHz]), 4 GB RAM

    • Active Directory: Management server should be joined to a domain

  • Additional Server Components

    • Image repository: web server(s) based on IIS (optional, used if the administrator selects a deployment method other than the Image Server)

    • Reporting database (optional): SP2 Enterprise Edition or Express, Standard, or Enterprise editions

    • Additional policy server for larger deployments

  • Client

    • 2 GB RAM

    • Operating system:

      • Windows 7

      • Windows Vista® with Service Pack 1 (SP1) (Enterprise, Home Basic, Home Premium, Business, Ultimate)

      • with SP2 or SP3 (Professional, Home)

    • Microsoft Virtual PC: Microsoft Virtual PC 2007 SP1 with KB958162 (or newer) is required

  • Guest Operating System

    • with SP2 or SP3—32-bit

    • Microsoft Windows 2000 SP4—32-bit

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