Q&A: Microsoft's David Kim

Virtual Desktop

Q&A: Microsoft's David Kim

By Barbara DePompa

With the advent of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system, all eyes are on the industry's software giant as it strives to further promote the concept of desktop virtualization into the mainstream of public sector operations.

This is why David Kim, Federal Solution Specialist, Desktop Virtualization took time to answer a few questions from 1105 Government Information Group Custom Media about the impact of this latest operating system release, Microsoft's relationship with Citrix, new licensing arrangements and of course, the benefits desktop virtualization brings to a federal IT audience.

Question: What are the key benefits of desktop virtualization for government?

Kim: Public sector organizations need to reduce the total cost of ownership of their IT infrastructure, increase operational agility and continuity of operations, enable anywhere access, and improve both security and compliance. Working in a highly regulated industry, just the concept of implementing greater mobility can be highly problematic. Using desktop virtualization technologies, public sector organizations can allow users to run their applications without installing the application on their computers or other devices. And in the event of an emergency, desktop virtualization can provide the ability for users to Telework, working remotely when agencies get shutdown, as they did during last winter's snow storms. The remote access capabilities provided by desktop virtualization can resolve key continuity of operations (COOP) challenges, delivering secure productivity that government organizations require.

Question: Why has it seemingly taken so long for Microsoft to drive desktop virtualization into the forefront?

Kim: Where other industry suppliers have viewed desktop virtualization as a product, we tend to think of it as a deployment strategy. Once an organization decides to virtualize desktops they must decide what they need from both a platform and a partnering perspective. The concepts behind desktop virtualization have been around for nearly 20 years, evolving from client server computing in the early 1990s to thin clients in recent years. Now virtual desktop integration is the sexy term, but its an ongoing evolution. With the advent of Windows 7, we are taking desktop virtualization a step further. Because this isn't a traditional deployment model, it takes time, requires expertise. Organizations must virtualize applications first to gain the most benefits. Any potential customers must also decide on the endpoints, rich client devices, or remote desktop services or thin client computers. Desktop virtualization isn't just about applications. It's the customer's specific use requirements, access methods and end points that will connect to these services. There are multiple components, including a virtual operating system, virtual applications and depending o the organization's requirements various end points used to make it all work.

Question: Can you discuss the new licencing agreement changes aimed at aiding desktop virtualization in public sector environments?

Kim: We recently upgraded our licensing agreements to match the messaging for desktop virtualization. Where there were previously multiple products that each had to be separately licensed to gain full virtualized access to applications, we now offer a subscription based model, making it easer to add virtual desktop integration at either a base or premium level. And in July, Microsoft began offering improved pricing for Windows client customers who participate in Microsoft's Software Assurance volume licensing option. Under the new plan, customers no longer must buy a separate license to access Windows in a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) environment. VDI rights will be part of the Software Assurance agreement. We wanted to give Microsoft's customers more flexibility in how they deploy desktop virtualization, since many do not know in advance how many users they will have and when they will deploy VDI. Also in July, Microsoft rolled out Windows Virtual Desktop Access subscription for customers who use devices that don't qualify for Software Assurance, such as thin client devices. The license is priced at $100 per year, per device. Finally, Microsoft also enabled a remote desktop access capability that allows a mobile client device to run a Windows virtual desktop. This capability is available to Windows client Software Assurance customers or to those who purchase the new Windows Virtual Desktop Access license.

Question: How is Microsoft's relationship with Citrix evolving?

Kim: As a relatively new Microsoft employee, having joined from Citrix earlier this year I'd say Microsoft's 10-year partnership with Citrix, providing terminal services is going strong. Microsoft and Citrix's HDX technology in the Citrix XenDesktop will be extended to tap into Microsoft's Remote FX platform. Microsoft will rollout the integrated XenDesktop product about six months after SP1 is released Microsoft is also collaborating with Citrix by rolling out two VDI special offers. One is called the Rescue for VMware VDI program. Under this program, customers can trade in a VMware View license for a Microsoft VDI standard license and a Citrix XenDesktop VDI license at no additional cost. The other is a VDI Kickstart program, which lets customer run VDI for $7,000 for 250 devices. Both programs run through the end of 2010.