The difference between Microsoft's "in box" VDI solution and their "VDI Suite"

The irony of the Microsoft VDI Suite bundle marketed for "lower complexity" environments

A few months ago I blogged about the irony of the Microsoft VDI Suite bundle marketed for "lower complexity" environments, while the bundle itself consists of several different and completely unrelated Microsoft products--and hooking them all up is anything but “low complexity.”

But at last week’s Microsoft MVP Summit in Redmond, Microsoft Remote Desktop Services business unit GM Chandra Shekaran pointed out that this sentiment is not exactly accurate. He explained that there's a difference between the Windows Server 2008 R2 "in box" VDI solution and the “VDI Suite.” (Something which I totally missed up until now.)

Microsoft’s thinking is that it’s actually just the “in box” solution that’s geared towards the lower complexity environments, whereas the the VDI Suite SKUs are more aimed for enterprise environments who just want the convenience of being able to buy all the various components via a single SKU. (Of course it might not always be marketed that way, but this is the idea.)

What can you do with the in-box solution?

I guess first we should point out that in the world of Microsoft, the term "in box solution" describes what you can do with all the components that are included "in the box" of a product. (So don’t confuse this with your email “inbox.” :)

So the “in box” VDI solution that comes with Windows Server 2008 R2 actually includes Hyper-V Server, the connection broker, web access, an SSL gateway, printing, and the other basic components you need to get a VDI environment up and running.

And I guess most importantly, the only license you need to use this is Windows Server 2008 R2 and VECD—no additional components are required.

The main thing the “in box” VDI solution lacks is the ability to dynamically place guest desktop VMs on Hyper-V hosts and dynamic VM assignment. (In other words, the “in box” solution is for 1-to-1 VM assignment, and you have to pre-decided which users’ VMs will run on which Hyper-V hosts.)

What do you get with the Microsoft VDI Suite?

As we discussed when the bundle was first announced, the VDI bundle adds SCVMM, MDOP (which included App-V), and SCCM. From a practical standpoint, the biggest benefits of the bundle are the abilities to dynamically choose an appropriate Hyper-V host when a VM is booting and to use SCCM for app delivery and patching.

And don’t forget third-party VDI solutions

So it sounds like Microsoft is not necessarily trying to compete against third-party vendors with their VDI Suite per se—instead the options are “in box only” versus “third party plus VDI suite.” (Well, I guess this would be “third party that supports Hyper-V,” e.g. Citrix, Quest, Leostream, Sun but not VMware, Red Hat, Kaviza, etc..)


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The in-box solution does support dynamic VM pools (not just 1-to-1 assignments), of course you need to add SCVVM to manage it effectively across multiple Hyper-V hosts.


Yes, but when a user logs on and a virtual desktop is started, you can't dynamically place the virtual desktops on the best Hyper-V host. In other words, you can't use Intelligent Placement, the virtual desktops are allways on the same host. (unless ofcourse you are manually managing your Hyper-V hosts and VM's, but that's not what you want in a complete automatic VDI environment)


@Pim, true, that's why I mentioned SCVVM


@Aaron, I agree you can do pools with SCVMM, but by definition, adding SCVMM is not "in box," which was kind of the whole point of the article.

I guess really what you're saying is there's another option here between in box and VDI Suite, and that's in-box plus just the specific component you need. (Like in box plus SCVMM.) That said, the VDI Suite pricing is very agressive (albeit subscription only), so I wonder at what point a customer is just better off buying the Suite?


The Sun VDI (now Oracle VDI) product has support for Hyper-V VMs including full VM lifecycle management in it's 3.1 version released 4Q 2009.



Maybe I heard this wrong but the SCCM license is for the Hyper-V host only and not for the VMs.  Only App-V was applicable to the VMs.