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.

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.

Application Virtualization allows users to use potentially conflicting software in the same workspace. Towards the end of 2010 there was a great deal of discussion about the complexity of using application virtualization to finally let corporations end their dealings with the recalcitrant Internet Explorer 6.

In Virtualizing Internet Explorer: Microsoft takes the ball home and goes home we discussed why solving IE6 issues with Application Virtualization is difficult. Then, in December we reported that Browisum had crafted a lifeline and suggested a release date around the end of 2010.

To quote Robert Burns “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft agley”. Still, Browsium have announced the release candidate to their beta testers. With its release is it time to put IE8 compatibility issues to bed?

Wanova has today announced general availability of Mirage 2.0, the newest release of its distributed desktop virtualization platform. Mirage 2.0 is a significant milestone for Wanova, extending the platform from a limited scalability solution better suited to LAN-based deployments to a true enterprise class platform capable of supporting multiple remote branch offices without requiring a either high capacity WAN links or a WAN acceleration appliances.

When considering a Virtual Desktop Design a good architect needs to ask “what is the best solution for this environment?” For many, once you’ve considered the needs of your users, it is a combination of desktop delivery models – some virtual, some physical. Ideally the user is unaware of which model is being delivered to them, they consume that service on an appropriate device, at an appropriate time. Ringcube perhaps first to market for this type of solution with their Workspace Virtualization Engine.

Mainstream virtual desktop solutions have focused their efforts on providing the best platform for hosting virtual desktop environments. Hypervisors, image management, and connection brokers are the top feature sets that companies have looked at during their comparisons. Moving up the stack, these vendors are now focusing on user personalization management, but do not have what is considered to be a full desktop management solution. So are our end-to-end virtual desktop solutions really complete?

Ericom has has won the race to deliver the first new product release of the “Year of Desktop Virtualization” with the launch of Ericom PowerTerm WebConnect 5.7.

WebConnect (sorry Ericom, but “PowerTerm WebConnect 5.7″ takes too much space on the page to type out every time) is Ericom’s answer to Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, plus or minus a few bells and whistles. On the plus side WebConnect includes mainframe and midrange terminal emulation software to provide access to legacy systems, as well as offering support for mixed environments consisting of servers running Windows Server 2003, 2008, 2008 R2 grouped together in a single farm, and manages to do all this with a single product where Citrix still requires two.

Given that vSphere provides significant benefits in terms of cost savings and business agility, those benefits are tied to and constrained by the ability of vSphere to provide backward compatibility with existing legacy enterprise systems. This backward compatibility makes it impossible for vSphere to provide infinite horizontal scalability. Moving to the same architecture as the most highly scaled out public cloud vendors provides for a more radical set of benefits, but at the cost of breaking backward compatibility for many applications.