After Verizon, IBM (with its Smart Business Desktop) and tuCloud, the last vendor announcing a Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) cloud computing offering is Virtuon.
A DaaS cloud actually is an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) cloud solely used to host and serve virtual desktops. It could be called an off-premises, on-demand VDI.
The Virtuon DaaS cloud, which is powered by VMware View 4 and supports PCoIP thin clients, serves Windows XP, Vista and 7 guest operating systems. And here the problems start.
So far no vendor has been able to offer a proper Windows DaaS offering because Microsoft licensing doesn’t allow to do so in any practical way.
As virtualization.info wrote almost one year ago:
Microsoft has a special license for this called Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktops (VECD) which allows Software Assurance (SA) and non-SA customers to remotely access a Windows client operating system deployed on a VDI environment.
The problem is that this license is per-device and it’s a yearly subscription. So if a DaaS customer accessed his virtual desktop from his device only for 1 month, the cloud provider still has to pay the entire year subscription for him. It cannot simply transfer the remaining 11 months on another customer because the device is different.
And what about the other ISVs licensing terms that should be considered when DaaS customers install, for example, Adobe PhotoShop?
To the first question, at that time, tuCloud answered by saying that there’s a clever method but that is considered a trade secret and cannot be disclosed.
The second question remain unanswered.
Since that time Microsoft replaced VECD with a new licensing called Virtual Desktop Access (VDA).
The Virtuon Terms of Service mentions it and clarifies how the company is solving the licensing problem:
The User is solely responsible for acquiring and maintaining valid operating system licensing on the end-point device that will be accessing the Service. Current end-point device licensing for virtual desktops fall into three license scenarios.
A. Thin or zero clients that do not have embedded or installed OS require a Microsoft VDA license to access a virtual desktop.
B. Personal computers with installed OS that are under a Microsoft VDA license or a Microsoft Software Assurance (SA) license are licensed to access a virtual desktop.
C. Personal computers with a Fully Purchased Product (FPP) copy of a Microsoft OS are licensed to access a virtual desktop.
The above information is provided as guidance only and it is the responsibility of the User to be fully informed of and meet current operating system licensing requirements for the end-point used to connect to the Service. Contact Virtuon to purchase licenses if needed.
The problem is that the VDA license doesn’t seem applicable to a DaaS scenario. Not completely at least.
The VDA license in fact clearly states that the roaming usage rights allow non-corporate home computers to connect to a virtual desktop.
This apparently means that the current DaaS offerings, like the Virtuon one, are inaccessible for a company that wants to use off-premises virtual desktops for its workforce (including the mobile users that carry on a corporate laptop).
If the interpretation above is correct, the only way for a company to use a DaaS cloud with Windows virtual desktops is to embrace the Bring Your Own PC (BYOP) IT governance model. In that scenario each employee is using, inside and outside the company’s walls, his/her home PC, complying with the current VDA terms.