This week I got the question if I could draw up a short lists of pro’s and cons for MED-V. Since I’m doing virtualization in the widest possible way, this fits well in my job description.

But heck, what a question! Before I could even try to  answer the question I really had to dive into the Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization solution (hence MED-V) which is part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). Sure, I already seen some comments on the internet about MED-V and I already was somewhat biased. Still I tried to make it an objective report.

Let’s start with what it is not in my opinion. Although it enables management of virtualized desktops it is not a full blown desktop virtualization solution like XenDesktop and VMware View.

What it really is, again, in my opinion, is an application isolation and delivery mechanism. This is also the way that Microsoft positions it on the market.  It should make migrations to Vista and Windows 7 easier. Legacy applications can be delivered through a virtual machine with a previous version of the operating system, so you can migrate to a new(er) version of Windows.

I deliberately stated that ‘it should make migrationseasier‘ because I think there are some issues with the solution:

  • You still have to replace your hardware for your new operating system. The hardware now has to be powerful enough to run your ‘host’ operating system as well as the virtual machine;
  • The VM is a normal machine you definitely want to manage. You have to make sure that it is virus and malware protected, etc;
  • The VM takes up diskspace;
  • If you use applications or tools on both your VM and host you have to have to license both. Not sure about the Windows license;
  • There is no real integration with the operating system. Granted, you can publish the application to the host operating system, but items like OLE and the likes are not supported AFAIK. If you have integration with products like for example Microsoft Office you have to install that into your VM as well
  • Since the virtual machines are deployed from a central location you have to have the bandwidth to deploy the VM. OK, it uses BITS, but it still has to go over your network connection. Wonder how this would work for a remote worker.. “Hey, I need to go into the CRM application, but the VM won’t transfer over my slow link. I can’t do my work!”
  • And last, but certainly not least: There is at this time no support for Windows 7 yet. So migrations to Windows 7 are not possible yet, and nobody is migrating to Vista now Windows 7 is live, right?

Ofcourse there are some pro’s to the solution:

  • There’s no need for a heavy backend like for VMware View or XenDesktop. The local resources are used
  • Since the local resources are used you can run heavy/heavier applications based on the sizing of your local machine

I’m still not sure if the added complexity is worth the hassle. If it is running legacy applications there are other solutions like application virtualization/encapsulating and blade PC’s

Below are a couple of application virutalization/isolation products. This list is far from complete. If you got any additions, let me know.

Of course you could go to the centrally hosted virtual desktops with the products of VMware and Citrix.

If somebody knows why I should choose for MED-V, please let me know. I find it hard to find a real usecase for it.