One of the many features available in VMware View 5.1 is the ability to implement VMware View Composer in a Standalone Server. VMware View Composer is the software piece responsible for creating Linked Clone desktops and since VMware View 5.1 can be deployed on a server other than the vCenter Server. Read more about View Composer at VMware View 4.5 Linked Cloning explained. This move is aiming towards a highly scalable VMware View architecture.
Most deployments I had the opportunity to observe that have implemented the Standalone View Composer are leveraging the common architecture where VMware View Composer is hosted by itself in a Windows Server VM. (diagram below)
Since VMware View 5.1 does not require View Composer to be hosted on the same host as vCenter Server, a simple and easy way to reduce the Windows Server License count by 1 is to place the VMware View Composer service on the same host as one of the View Connection servers (preferentially the first node of the cluster). (diagram below)
I am not entirely certain that this configuration is supported by VMware as I have not seen any mention to this setup in any of the official guides, however I know it works well. So, just in case: The steps outlined in this article are not supported by VMware. I recommend testing in a development environment. If you decide to test or implement you are doing it on your own risk.
UPDATE1: As correctly pointed by reader Jean-Marc Trappier, vCenter Server virtual appliance (Linux-based) is supported by VMware View 5.1+ when used for Full Clones. Linked Clones are not supported today with vCenter Server virtual appliance.
UPDATE2: As correctly pointed by reader Markus Schmidt, vCenter Server virtual appliance (Linux-based) is supported by VMware View 5.1+ when used for Full Clones and Linked Clones. The VMware View 5.1 upgrade guide states “A standalone View Composer installation works with vCenter Server installed on a Windows Server computer and with the Linux-based vCenter Server Appliance.”
As above stated, it is also possible to utilize VMware View with vCenter Server virtual appliance (Linux-based) and View Composer, allowing IT administrators to reduce Windows Server License count even further; up to 5 depending on the deployment size (a VMware View pod supports up to 5 vCenter Servers). (diagram below)
Administrators would still need to use Windows Licenses for View Connection Servers and Security Servers, but for the total Windows Server License count there would be a reduction by 6. The move away from Microsoft Windows licensing seems to be an established pattern for most VMware products – and I really like it.