The Virtualization Practice

Desktop Virtualization

Desktop Virtualization covers VDI (centrally hosted desktops), Desktops as a Service (DaaS), desktop virtualization via client side hypervisors, and shared server technologies. Major areas of focus include when and where centralized desktop offerings are appropriate and not appropriate, ...
how management of remote desktops combined with management of mobile devices leads to a better managed and more productive end user computing environment, how to deliver the performance that end users require, and the impacts of using remote desktop technologies upon organizational security. Covered products and vendors include the VMware Horizon Suite, Horizon View, Horizon Mirage, VMware ThinApp, Citrix XenServer, Citrix XenApp, Citrix XenClient, and Microsoft Remote Data Services.

While the legacy enterprise management vendors might like to think of themselves as the Borg (prepare to be assimilated – there is no escape), the new technical requirements and the new buying patterns in the virtualization market do not lend themselves to a repeat of history. Legacy management vendors are unlikely to be able to acquire themselves into this market because their core platforms and business models do not work with the customers who are running virtualized environments and buying management solutions. So to my good friend Andi Mann, I respectfully disagree.

2011 Winners and Losers in Virtualization Management

The management ecosystem for virtualization started to transform significantly in 2011, driven by VMware’s new management strategy and management offerings. The big four are now boxed into an untenable position with expensive software that is hard to buy and hard to deploy. In 2012 there will be aggressive partnering in the ecosystem as vendors try to compete with the VMware suite by integrating with other vendors who have adjacent functionality.

Of all the vendors in the hosted desktop space, Citrix has been delivering desktop virtualisation solutions the longest. As such, perhaps they are the most aware that an enterprise desktop strategy isn’t about delivering a single solution. A solution needs to be flexible enough to present a variety of services to a range of devices. This isn’t just about having different client support, but about delivering applications and data either to different environments: secure and insecure, managed and unmanaged, fat and thin.

VMware has had a great 2011. Product execution was excellent on all fronts except for VMware View where there are also larger strategy issues afoot. VMware is and likely will remain next year not only the most important, but the best system software vendor on the planet. We can only look forward to continued progress with vSphere, the management offerings, and the applications platform offerings.

The countdown clock for the end of life of windows XP (the most successful operating system of all time) is running; enterprise IT is having to adjust to multiple disruptive trends that will stress it as never before, mobility, security, smart phones, tablets, BYOD, the cloud, even Apple has found a foothold in the enterprise. Budgets are tight, unemployment is high, mistakes cannot be afforded. This is the 2011 Year in Review for Desktop Virtualization.

Our very own Texiwill hosts a weekly Virtualization Security Round Table podcast. This round table provides an open forum to discuss all things related to Virtualization, Virtual Environment and cloud computing security. We’ve questioned before the benefits of a virtual desktop infrastructure with respect to security. Is VDI secure? Is VDI inherently more secure than “traditional desktops”? The article Virtual Desktop Security? Are They Secure? considered the VDI vendor claims that there are several big virtual desktop security

Thames Water have signed up to give a sizable part of its desktop infrastructure management to services built on Desktone’s VDI stack hosted and maintained by Molten Technologies. Thames Water is the UK’s largest water and sewerage company, serving one of the world’s largest conurbations. Is this a significant landmark for Desktop As-A-Service (DaaS) provision? The utility sector is very focused on costs, tends to be studiously following the curve rather than forging fast into uncharted waters. DaaS, for some, is still interesting concept, but has the perception of risk.

There has been quite a bit of hype on whether virtual desktops provide more security than traditional desktops. All the marketing literature I have read says that it does improve overall security, but I believe this marketing literature makes several assumptions that are just not true in most organizations, and really do not account for the myriad ways data can be accessed, by limiting our scope to just virtual desktops instead of the full desktop experience we are thereby limiting our thoughts on security. Are virtual desktops more secure?