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Distributing copies of a Virtual Machine in Windows

Posted on 2012-08-17
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Last Modified: 2012-09-03
I have a complex suite of software products that takes a lot of work to install and configure to get them working together effectively.  I want to do a one-time setup on a virtual machine and distribute the VM as a file to about 50 sales and support reps so that they can reliably demonstrate the suite.  I would like to do this in the most cost-effective way, in compliance with Microsoft OS licensing terms.  The software can run on Windows XP -- although we prefer Windows 7.

Given that all users are running Windows 7 and thereby have access to the Windows XP Mode Virtual PC, I am thinking my cheapest and easiest option would be to create and distribute a Windows XP Mode differencing VHD.

I need to know whether the differencing disk approach is a good choice, but I am also very interested in other options, particularly those that would let me distribute a Windows 7 environment at minimal cost.  I am open to using other products, such as Oracle VirtualBox.

Thanks for your help!
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Question by:AutomateMyOffice
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7 Comments
 
LVL 125
ID: 38305675
VMware View 5.0 with Local Mode.

Unfortunately, your cost will be based on the number of licenses that are requried by licensing the Windows 7.0 OS.

Can you not use a Remote Desktop Services (Terminal Services) - solution, if the Sales force has access to Remote Communications (3G/WiFi)
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Author Comment

by:AutomateMyOffice
ID: 38305733
@hanccocka, I appreciate the recommendation and will look into it.  If you have the time, perhaps you could give me a brief reason for this specific direction.  In particular, why it might be superior to Windows XP Mode differencing disk (if that would even work).

Regarding the RDP solution... That has been considered and may work in some circumstances.  Reasons for NOT going that route include 1) apps can be graphics-intensive, 2) app configuration is easy to break or to get into a highly-customized mode and, in a demo, user needs a QUICK way back to a dependable pristine configuration by reloading a copy of the original VM, 3) user may customize environment and want to save a copy to use again, 4) need for user to be autonomous and not dependent upon network/internet connection, 5) apps use machine-specific USB-dongle-based licensing.
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LVL 20

Expert Comment

by:Svet Paperov
ID: 38308409
Based on 1) I will suggest NOT to use XP mode. It has vary poor graphic performance and, in my opinion, a poor overall performance compared to the old Virtual PC in Windows XP. Running Windows 7 in a virtual machine on Windows 7 is slightly better but, again, you will have to test the requirement 1).

The new Hyper-V in Windows 8 could be a solution but that will mean upgrading the sales reps' laptops witch may not be so cost effective.

So, I would look into the @hanccocka recommendation.
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LVL 125

Accepted Solution

by:
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1500 total points
ID: 38308463
Windows XP mode does not perform well.

I would recommend VMware View 5.0 or later, and Sales Reps can then checkout local virtual machines to their laptops and use, and later you can update, they can check them back in for upgrade or fix.
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Author Comment

by:AutomateMyOffice
ID: 38308839
If the VM is large (several GB) and the sales reps are remote (connected by VPN over internet, not on LAN), I would like to send out flash drives.  Does VMware accommodate this approach?  

Also, as I mentioned, "user needs a QUICK way back to a dependable pristine configuration by reloading a copy of the original VM."  Does VMware allow for making a copy of a checked-out VM for such a scenario?

Finally, given my requirements, is there a licensing option for Windows 7 that would be particularly cost-effective?
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LVL 125

Assisted Solution

by:Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2)
Andrew Hancock (VMware vExpert / EE MVE^2) earned 1500 total points
ID: 38309138
If the VM is large (several GB) and the sales reps are remote (connected by VPN over internet, not on LAN), I would like to send out flash drives.  Does VMware accommodate this approach?  
- NO


Also, as I mentioned, "user needs a QUICK way back to a dependable pristine configuration by reloading a copy of the original VM."  Does VMware allow for making a copy of a checked-out VM for such a scenario?
- Possible.

Finally, given my requirements, is there a licensing option for Windows 7 that would be particularly cost-effective?
- No.
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Author Closing Comment

by:AutomateMyOffice
ID: 38362044
I was hoping to receive a solution that met all my criteria, and I did not.  However, @hanccocka provided good information, and perhaps this is all that can be done.  I will continue my pursuit, and award all points to @hanccocka.
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