VMworld is clearly a Very Big Virtualization Conference – possibly the largest. Yet, does it cover all virtualization topics? If you’re from a  Presentation Virtualization (PV) background (although  maybe you know it as Terminal Services (TS); possibly even a Microsoft Remote Desktop Services (RDS); heck lets go on an old school ‘server based computing’ perspective):

‘what could VMworld do for me?’

The answer is:

“Quite a lot.”

I know: you’re shocked: I was bemused too. From a PV perspective there are a number of vendors worth your while to to go and see. I’m not going: wish I was now.

I’m surprised to be honest. I wasn’t expecting it to be the place to be if you were considering, or have, PV as your desktop service strategy. VMware after all, is attempting to lead other vendors in the “hosted desktop” space. VMware does not have a PV offering.

Obviously, Presentation Virtualization is not VDI. In some instances VDI may work better for your organization than PV, or PV may work better than VDI. Presentation Virtualization allows the creation of virtual sessions, each interacting with a remote desktop system. Each session may only run a single application, or it might present its user with a complete desktop offering multiple applications. In either case, several virtual sessions utilize the same installed copy of an application. PV can offer a greater density of users per server and can require less hardware and management  than an equivalent VDI service. That said PV and VDI is rarely a black and white “either/or” choice – its more likely that your company’s desktop services will encompass a mixture of the two. Understanding how those services can co-exist and inter-operate is an important goal.

In that instance – respect to VMware, if you’re attending VMworld PV vendors are there to go and have an informative chat to.

Go See VMWare

I’d like to say “go see VMware”, and do you know what – I think I can. VMware obviously don’t have a pure PV Solution in the manner of Citrix et al. However, VMware do offer an environment that supports delivering PV services. It is true to say that earlier releases of ESX had poor support for PV or Terminal Services  environments. Yet, in the latest whitepaper from the boffins at Virtual Reality Check,  updates from VMware had moved performance along greatly. While early versions of ESX may have had poor in support of PV environments, when competitive products released Optimized for that environment – this is no longer the case. A vSphere platform can be an enabler for PV, you can deliver PV services efficiently – reducing your server farm size, implementing better management and availability and allowing you to reduce even further your cost of ownership while maintaining a performance and a good user experience. Its only unfortunate that the guys from VRC weren’t able to present their updated findings this year at VMworld as they did last year.

And Citrix..

Yet, that is hosting PV services – not implementing PV its entirety. Citrix is the yardstick for PV vendors –  offering a “soup-to-nuts” PV environment. Citrix’s XenApp and XenDesktop offerings will both sit happily on a vSphere platform and Citrix’s HDX  technologies can offer your organization can help you securely extend your desktop applications out over wide area networks and the Internet while maintaining a good user experience.

But remember oranges are not the only fruit..

Yet this could also be said for Quest – who may well be known for their VDI integration service with VMWare, but Quest’s vWorkspace product also manages PV environments. vWorkspace, unlike Citrix’s XenApp  and XenDesktop, is a single solution allowing you to manage both user environments be they hosted on VDI, traditional desktops or PV sessions. The latest release of vWorkspace also includes EOP Xtream, allowing you to deliver faster screen updates and smoother interaction across WAN and Internet/VPN connections by dramatically reducing the effects of network latency.

And, if you’ve an Apple Mac environment you need to integrate into your organization’s desktop services go see pioneers and leading provider of multi-user and remote access software for the Mac platform Aqua Connect, so you can integrate Mac application services into your desktop environment.

Of course, Microsoft will  be there who have their Remote Desktop Services which can be used to deliver both VDI and PV. Well worth a drop by to check on the recent license rule changes that were introduced to simplify licensing for hosted desktops, the Virtual Enterprise Centralized Desktop license.

Sometimes its hardest to be first

From its maturity as a method of delivering applications and working environments to users, especially to users across a WAN or the Internet PV implementations often have faced challenges that VDI implementations are having to consider: how does the remote working experience impact on the user’s ability to print example. Many PV administrators realize simply deploying the core data centre service is not enough to deliver a consistent user experience. AppSense, RES Software, triCerat have their user workspace and profile management solutions, ThinPrint,  triCerat (again) and UniPrint for remote printing. 10zig and Igel for their thin client devices – 10zig recently announced an innovative Linux device, Igel have a solution for readily converting existing PCs to managed thin clients. Endeavours & Installfree offer you an alternative for delivering applications not only to your desktops but into your PV farm. You may well ask “why is this useful given RDS gives access to App-V”. Granted if you’ve an RDS Client Access License you’re entitled to use App-V for your PV farm but these solutions offer you the facility to deliver applications consistently across your entire estate – be that traditional desktops, VDI environments or PV services.

We’re a PV House – Shouldn’t I just be going to Synergy?

Citrix’s Synergy is an excellent event – the next one is in Berlin this fall – go and have fun.. If you’re predominantly a Citrix house – sure, there’s likely little to gain from you attending VMworld – unless Berlin is a long way. Don’t forget, these events are not only an opportunity to talk to vendors and discuss how their services and products can help you, but to discuss experiences and thoughts with your peers – which ultimately could be more useful to your business – learning from mistakes and successes of similar companies. Bear in mind,  many organizations have a VMware back end, many organizations have invested in server consolidation. VMworld offers you an excellent opportunity to build on that  experience and understand how you can move your PV environment forward to meet future business needs. Remember, PV is not the primary or only desktop solution – it is more than likely part of a desktop services strategy for your organization that encompasses PV, VDI on-line/off-line working – in that mix Symantec will be able to offer insights into not only application deployment, but core operating system deployment for end devices and security for enterprise environments.

If you support or are considering supporting PV services, especially if you have or are contemplating using VMware’s products  to optimize your data center services check out VMworld’s offering, it could help you deliver better.

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Andrew Wood (144 Posts)

Andrew is a Director of Gilwood CS Ltd, based in the North East of England, which specialises in delivering and optimising server and application virtualisation solutions. With 12 years of experience in developing architectures that deliver server based computing implementations from small-medium size business to global enterprise solutions, his role involves examining emerging technology trends, vendor strategies, development and integration issues, and management best practices.

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