What about SoftGrid Certification?

I got a question from someone about SoftGrid Certification. So this is first proof that this site will answer questions as long as we can keep up. 

Before Softricity was acquired by Microsoft, there was a “SoftGrid Certified Professional” Certification, which you could only get by passing an online exam after you followed an official SoftGrid Administration Training Course. This certification has been discontinued for a while now. The Training Course is still available through some Microsoft Learning Centers. 

At this point it is unclear how SoftGrid will fit into Microsoft Education. You can take an online SoftGrid Assessment, which proves you have reasonable knowledge about the product.

How is SoftGrid Licensed?

First you need to understand that there are two versions of SoftGrid. One for use on Terminal Services and one for Windows Desktops. They both use the exact same SoftGrid infrastructure components like the Virtual Application Server, Sequencer, etcetera. So in a SoftGrid mixed environment, where you use SoftGrid for Terminal Services and Windows Desktops, you can share the same SoftGrid infrastructure. 

Although there are different SoftGrid Clients for Terminal Services and Windows Desktops, the biggest difference is the way these two products are licensed these days. The SoftGrid infrastructure components including the SoftGrid Sequencer are not licensed. SoftGrid is licensed only on the SoftGrid Client side. 

SoftGrid for Terminal Services CAL

This one is easy. It’s available through Microsoft Volume Licensing and is sold on a per named user base. Pricing is around 20$ per user. This is in addition to the existing Windows Server Terminal Services CAL. 

SoftGrid for Windows Desktops

Since the 7th of July 2007 SoftGrid for Windows Desktops can not be bought as a standalone product. You can buy it only as part of the Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP). So how is MDOP licensed? Read on. 

Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP)

MDOP is only available for Microsoft customers who have Software Assurance (SA) on their Client Operating System. As soon as you have SA on your Client Operating System you can buy MDOP licenses which are sold on a per device and per year base. Pricing is around 10$ per device per year. 

The other products/tools you automatically obtain when you buy MDOP are Asset Inventory Service, Advanced Group Policy Management, Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset, System Center Desktop Error Monitoring.

SoftGrid Interactive tour back online

On the Softricity website, before it was moved to the Microsoft website, there was a nice SoftGrid introduction in flash format. It’s back online now at Microsoft. 

Click here to open the SoftGrid Interactive tour in a new window.

Using a Sequence without a Virtual Application Server

In certain situations, you might end up with a Softgrid-enabled application, but with no Virtual Application Server at hand. A lesser known possibility of Softgrid is to run the application on the Softgrid client, without ever contacting the Softgrid VAS. 

To be able to run an application stand-alone, first copy the SFT, ICO and OSD-files to a location on your local machine. Open the OSD-file(s) in the OSD File Editor (or notepad…) and edit the CODEBASE HREF-value to point to the location of the SFT-file on your machine: 

Change

CODEBASE href=”rtsp://sgserver:554/adoread.v01/adoread.v01.sft” mce_href=”rtsp://sgserver:554/adoread.v01/adoread.v01.sft”

to

CODEBASE HREF=”file://c:/softgrid/adoread.v01/adoread.v01.sft”

 

Now load the application 100% prior to first use (right click the OSD, load). To launch the application, you can either create a shortcut to sfttray.exe with the application name as a parameter or launch it directly by double-clicking the OSD-file. 

Using Softgrid-applications in a non-server environment has some downsides as well. Obviously streaming of the application will not work, both Feature Block 1 and 2 will need to be preloaded. If you do have a VAS-server around with the specific application published, launching the application locally will not work; in fact it will make your client hang. 

It is important for you to understand we are just sharing a trick with you. We do not recommend using this in production and it is pretty much unsupported. It does come in handy for you Sequencers out there.

Using the SoftGrid Client Setup Kit

The Microsoft Softgrid Client, when deployed to a Terminal Server, is basically not such a big deal. Nowadays everybody knows keeping your Terminal Servers exactly the same is absolutely critical to maintain your environment. So in most cases the Microsoft Softgrid Client will be installed under the same conditions every time. If this scenario applies to you, you can create one script and put it into your deployment solution to deploy the client (for example an MSI with certain parameters) to every Terminal Server in your environment. You can use the same script on all Terminal Servers because they are all the same in terms of hardware specs and software level. Because all servers are equal, the same amount of disk space can be used for the Softgrid client cache. When it comes to deploying the Microsoft Softgrid Client to Windows Desktops it is a complete different story. 

Microsoft Windows Desktops are, unlike Terminal Servers, not equal in terms of hardware specs and software level most of the time (especially in large environments). This is because of users having different needs (a CAD/CAM worker and a call-center worker probably have different configuration needs). You seriously have to consider this when you want to deploy the Microsoft Softgrid Client to Windows Desktops. 

How it works

An installation script (vbs) to deploy the Microsoft Softgrid Client on Windows Desktops can easily be created with the Softgrid Client Setup Kit (SGCSK), within a few clicks your properly configured installation script is created. 

You can even configure most of the common settings that you would normally have to configure after the installation completes, such as security settings and ‘disconnected operation’ settings. 

The true power of the SGCSK is the dynamic configuration of the Softgrid Client cache size. Without the SGCSK you would probably have to create several Microsoft Softgrid Client installation scripts for every Windows Desktop with a different hard disk size or you would have to determine the disk size of the smallest hard disk in your environment and base the installation script(s) on this value. With the use of the SGCSK the only thing you have to consider is the percentage of free disk space you want to use for the Softgrid Client Cache. You can also set a value for the maximum size of the Softgrid client cache. This should make Life a lot easier because now you don’t have to create several installation scripts for all your different Windows Desktops anymore.

For example: you’re about to deploy the Softgrid Client with a script created by the SGCSK on two Windows Desktops. One Windows Desktop has 60 GB of free disk space and the other machine has 20 GB of free disk space. You have configured the script to use 70% of the free disk space and you set the ‘maximum size of the Softgrid client cache in MB’ property to 32000. The Softgrid Client cache size on the Windows Desktop with 60 GB of free disk space will be 32 GB even if 70% of 60 GB is 42 GB because the Softgrid Client cache size will never be larger than 32 GB. The Softgrid Client cache on the Windows Desktop with 20 GB of free disk space will be 14 GB because 70% of 20 GB is 14 GB and this value is not larger than 32 GB.

Last but not least the ‘Disconnected Operation’ settings can also be configured with the SGCSK. These settings can be very useful when the Microsoft Softgrid Client is being used on laptops which will certainly be offline from time to time. You can enable/disable this setting to allow/disallow clients to use applications without being connected to the Softgrid server with a maximum of 180 days.

Conclusion

So the advantage of the SGCSK is simple: you can create an installation script easily by following the wizard and you don’t have to configure the client afterwards. Just walk through the 6 pages of the wizard, configure the properties, click create, import the script in a deployment solution and you’re ready to deploy the Microsoft Softgrid Client to your Windows Desktops.

SoftGridBlog Launch

SoftGridBlog.com is live!!! After doing an allround SBC and Virtualization website (www.slider.demon.nl) i found it was time to have a Blog purely dedicated to SoftGrid. Why dedicated to SoftGrid? Because I love the technology and I personaly beleave it will change the way we work with, think about and deploy applications. For us it’s allready reality. Ever since the Microsoft acquisition of Softricity the SoftGrid product has gotten a lot of attention and a lot of people are looking for answers. By starting a dedicated SoftGrid Blog, to which people contribute that work with SoftGrid daily, we hope for people finding answers to their questions right here.