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.

The phenomenal growth of the tablet market has left many industry analysts scrambling to reassess sales forecasts for both tablets and PCs. Last week Gartner was forced to acknowledge that its previous forecasts were way off the mark when it issued a revised 2011 sales forecast that reduced its November 2011 PC sales growth estimate by a staggering 25%. Gartner research director, Ranjit Atwal, said his company had not fully appreciated the impact that tablet devices were having on the market, and the new figures “reflect marked reductions in expected near-term unit growth based on expectations of weaker consumer demand, due in no small part to growing user interest in media tablets such as the iPad.” Given that this is the same Gartner that in September 2010 instructed CIOs everywhere to go out and buy iPads, it shows just how badly it underestimated the tablet’s impact on the PC market. As tablet sales (and for the moment we can read that as being almost exclusively iPad sales) continue to cut in to sales of PCs and laptops, PC manufacturers are under pressure to offer their own alternatives and IT organizations are under similar pressure to provide ways to integrate tablets into their core service offerings.

Licensing VDI for Microsoft Desktops – is it rocket science?

Given all the past ingenuity and accomplishment why is it, in 2011, the mere task of assigning valid licenses to desktop virtualisation should appear an arcane process?

How do different virtualization models impact how you license your desktop services? What are the current licensing models and do they apply in all instances of desktop virtualisation? Do the models impact on provisioning of services be they laptops, thin clients, Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC), or mobile devices?

Is desktop virtualization licensing an intentionally complex process and what other options could there be?

When VMware first announced that it was going to license Teradici’s PCoIP protocol for inclusion in View 4.0, its most visible shortcoming was that VMware did not plan to update the View Security Server at the same time. Setting aside any debate as to the performance characteristics of PCoIP on the WAN, the lack of support for the View Security Server was a significant obstacle to widespread adoption of View in enterprise environments. So the inclusion of direct support for PCoIP tunneling through the View 4.6 Security Server comes as a most welcome update. Also included with View 4.6 are new USB enhancements, as well as support for Windows 7 SP1.

Attached as a footnote to last week’s big news of Windows 7 SP1 being released to manufacture, Microsoft also announced a new lightweight edition of Windows 7. Windows Thin PC (WinTPC) is in many respects a Windows 7-based update of Windows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs (WinFLP), a lightweight locked down version of Windows XP SP3 that was offered to enterprise customers as an encouragement to get them to migrate away from Windows 2000 without the cost of performing a hardware refresh at the same time.

While we may well be on the road towards VMware becoming the layer of software that talks to the hardware in the data center – removing Microsoft from that role, this is not the end of Windows. If Windows were just an OS, it would be severely threatened VMware insertion into the data center stack. But Windows is not just an OS. Windows is also a market leading applications platform with .NET have a far greater market share and base of developers than vFabric. Windows is also in the process of becoming a PaaS cloud – one that will be living at Microsoft, at thousands of hosting providers, and at probably every enterprise that is a significant Microsoft customer. This incarnation of Windows is at the beginning of its life, not the end.

RES Virtual Desktop Extender (VDX) is now available as a standalone offering. Priced at $15 / seat RES VDX is an incredibly useful enabler for virtualised desktops. It delivers on improving the user experience and better matching the needs of the user by allowing access to applications they need to use in their workspace.

With Microsoft reporting that Windows 7 VDI environments can be up to 11% more expensive than Windows 7 with traditional desktops when will desktop virtualisation give you a return on investment? Will performance taxes, license taxes and complexity taxes mean that desktop virtualisation will never be more than a niche service regardless of the clamour from VDI vendors hailing 2011 as the year for VDI as they did in 2010?

Or, is it that the taxation can be accommodated, all be it without short term gains because your business will benefit from the representation of a user’s application set not simply from their cubicle’s monitor?

MultiPoint Server is the Cinderella of the Windows world, locked away in the cellar education sector, kept away from the bright lights of publicity and severely limited in what it could offer. But that could well be changing given Microsoft’s recent efforts to revamp the product. Although not yet quite ready for shipping, Microsoft has been working hard to add value to MultiPoint Server and when it ships in March it looks like Microsoft might have a winner on its hands.