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Remote Desktop Services Now Allowed on Windows Azure VMs

In yet another licensing terms update, Microsoft on July 1st, changed Windows Azure licensing terms (PUR) to allow the use of Remote Desktop Services (RDS) on Windows Azure Virtual Machines (VMs).

Before that date, you could only access an Azure Windows Server VM for purpose of server administration or maintenance and “up to 2 simultaneous sessions are authorized for this service.”

“Microsoft recently enabled the use of Windows Server RDS service provider license on Windows Azure, and we are excited to see Citrix support for Windows Azure as an underlying infrastructure for customers and service providers deploying virtual desktops and applications,” said Claire Fang, Director of Windows Azure, in a statement provided by the company.

The first Microsoft partner to announce support for this new RDS on Azure VM licensing was Citrix. Citrix announced on July 8 that it was making its XenDesktop 7 on Azure available to other service providers and enterprise customers.

“To enable more than 2 simultaneous sessions you will need to purchase RDS Subscriber Access Licenses (SALs) through the Microsoft Services Provider Licensing Agreement (SPLA) for each user or device that will access your solution on Windows Azure,” explained Luis Panazno. “SPLA is separate from an Azure agreement and is contracted through an authorized SPLA reseller.”

Also, customers can now use 3rd party application e.g. Citrix XendDesktop hosting products that require RDS sessions functionality, “subject to product use terms set by those 3rd party providers, and provided these products leverage only RDS session-hosting (Terminal Services) functionality,” he said. Note “that RDS SALs are still required when using these 3rd party products.”

Also, RDS Client Access Licenses (CALs) purchased from Microsoft volume-licensing programs such as Enterprise Agreements (EAs), “do not get license mobility to shared cloud platforms, hence they cannot be used on Azure,” noted Panazno.

And, Windows ‘Client’ OS (e.g. Windows 8) virtual desktops, or VDI deployments, will continue to not be allowed on Azure, because Windows client OS product use rights prohibit such use on multi-tenant/shared cloud environments.

Microsoft noted these new licensing changes in the latest Microsoft Product Use Rights docs and in the Windows Azure Licensing FAQ.

Following last week’s announcement of new capabilities coming in the Microsoft’s 2012 R2 releases as part of its “People Centric IT” (PCIT) approach, that will enable IT pros to both embrace the Consumerization of IT and support the needs of their users to securely access their apps and data from any device, anywhere.

In short, they should expect a consistent management experience across PCs and devices.

“I believe that management, and the management of smart devices, will be one of the next workloads to make that move to the cloud – and, when the time comes, that move will happen fast,” says Microsoft cvp Brad Anderson. Adding, he outlines following three end-to-end scenario solutions that will help organizations achieve PCIT:

  • “Providing users with secure access to their files on their personal devices.
  • Enabling users to provision their iOS devices for work while allowing IT pros to restrict access to corporate resources.
  • Enabling IT pros to deliver VPN functionality to corporate and personal devices.”
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