There is a pervasive question for Presentation Virtualisation using Remote Desktop Session Host services (RDSH) and that is :-
“if I’m already paying for RDS CALs and running the base OS, why do I need other stuff?”
Where stuff is, typically, Citrix XenApp. With the release of Windows 2012 and the updates to RDSH do you still need Citrix XenApp?
I was introduced to many new sports over the summer and one sport that stuck in the mind, not only for it sheer fury and skill, was wheelchair rugby (or Quad rugby). Or as the Canadian inventors, named it – Murderball.
A key elements of the sport – it is a fast and very competitive exchange.
Sneaking into August, like an American multi-gold medallist back from a celebratory night out on the champagne, Microsoft’s Windows 2012 boasts a wide array of new features. Hyper-V’s improvement are worthy of a post in themselves: live migration, teaming of 32 NICs, thin provisioning, dynamic memory. For now, we’ll focus on the updates to Remote Desktop Service’s Session Host updates.
With new and improved functions in Remote Desktop Services in Windows 2012, how competitive is the exchange? Is it worth murdering a ball for?
So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Perhaps you sit, coffee in hand with a vague recollection of telling your boss just exactly how you thought all of this year’s decisions could have been done much, much, much better. Perhaps you told your team they were awesome, I mean like truly, truly awesome: that you loved them, that you loved them so, so much. Perhaps you’re looking for solace after a quick check of Facebook has shown exactly how you got the bruises down your right-hand side and gives insight into where your left shoe went. Perhaps you’re finally getting a chance to finally watch all those on-line presentations you put off until it was quiet.
Another year over.
It has been a while since we last updated our Presentation Virtualization Solutions whitepaper. Has nothing happened in the market in 2011? On the contrary, there was a good deal going on for Presentation Virtualization in a year that saw a new benchmark setting XenApp release from Citrix, Apple remove terminal services functionality, RES Software launch their reverse seamless technology and Ericom their HTML5 client.
If we consider what we saw in 2011, what can we expect in 2012?
As the dust settles on VMware’s VMWorld End User Computing group’s re-invigoration, it is entertaining to wax lyrical on how users will be wedded with their data in the glorious shining summer of a post-PC era. But, we still stand in the cold, blustery autumnal now of mixed desktop environments and legacy applications. Organisations will rely on applications requiring a Microsoft OS for a good few years yet. However, we’ve already begun the transition from a truly distributed environment from individualised, personal computers. The delivery of applications (and desktops) regardless of device type has been available to organisations since the 1990s with Citrix being one of the first to deliver the next generation of applications and desktops to the previous generation of devices and operating environments.
XenApp 6.5 is Citrix’s latest offering of their renowned Presentation Virtualisation (PV) service. Citrix are not alone in updating their feature set. Earlier in 2011 Microsoft introduced SP1 for 2008 enhancing the OS for the core Remote Desktop Services’ (RDS) session virtualization service, Ericom released PowerTerm WebConnect 5.7.1, ProPalms updated TSE to 6.5 and Quest announced vWorkspace 7.2 MR1.
Citrix released their latest Presentation Virtualization solution, XenApp 6, allowing Citrix customers to be able to deploy to deploy to Windows 2008 R2. Competitive Presentation Virtualization vendors have not been idle: Ericom have released 5.7 of their WebConnect RemoteView, Quest have updated vWorkspace to v7.1 and 2x have updated ApplicationServer to 8.1, others are busy at work.
Each of these new releases introduce updated features to their respective environments. Citrix’s better facilitates on demand delivery of servers and power and capacity management. Ericom introduced improved management and integration with RDS and Reverse Seamless functionality. Quest enhance their protocol optimization functions, 2x have introduced additional security features to secure remote connections. With the release of service pack 1 for Windows 2008R2 it is likely it will all change again as each vendor looks to incorporate the new features of Microsoft’s RemoteFX into their offering. With Microsoft introducing features to deliver an improved user experience on the LAN it is likely that the greater innovation will come from improving the user experience for remote access and allowing for improved management and server automation. Yet, all of these solutions rely on a core Microsoft Remote Desktop service solution – you will be deploying applications hosted on Microsoft desktops. But, Microsoft’s is not the only operating system available.
VMware coined the phrase VDI, but talk about how an organization has delivered desktop services from a centralized environment and its more likely that they’ve a Citrix based solution. Citrix is still perceived as the market leader of the application and workspace delivery environment.
Citrix and Microsoft offered a Rescue for VMWare. Yet, Citrix’s XenDesktop and XenApp are not integrated solutions; and if you want to maintain current releases the cost of Citrix’s Subscriptions Advantage is an additional cost per year based on a license cost that is one of the highest of all the desktop virtualization solutions.
VMware offer a Rescue from XenApp, but VDI is just one way to manage your desktop service. Citrix has XenDesktop to counter View, is developing XenClient to counter VMware’s ACE. Yet VMware has no Presentation Virtualization solution, no profile management, no protocol optimized for WAN, no way to provide access to physical desktops. As far as desktop delivery solutions are concerned is Citrix king?
If Citrix is King, what is the impact to you the customer? Citrix’s portfolio of solutions is extensive – but extensive is difficult to introduce change to. Can such a large organization respond to customer requests – your requests – effectively? Can it introduce change into its own products to meet demand in a timely fashion? If it is the only solution provider, how will you best be able to challenge the license cost?
Is there any company who could legitimately have a claim to challenge that dominance?
Citrix has released XenApp 6 which finally provides support for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (W2k8) R2. Citrix made their name delivering Presentation Virtualisation; and have been rightly seen as the the leader in that market in terms of functionality, support and scalability. Citrix did have to completely re-write the XenApp code for R2 – which was a considerable undertaking yet, in the meantime other PV vendors such as Ericom, Quest, Systancia have had W2k8 R2 functionality for some time: it is unusual for Citrix to appear to be chasing, rather than leading, the pack.
While VDI is being considered by many companies, and its adoption will likely grow, Presentation Virtualization services are embedded as departmental solutions, branch office deployments, even as the core of multi-national businesses’ desktop delivery solutions: but, those solutions are primarily based around pre-W2k8 R2 services. W2k8 R2 offers greater scalability for Presentation Virtualization than previous versions, there will undoubtedly be a steady migration to this platform.
Given there is a cost to migrating from x32 to x64 in terms of validating applications and drivers operating in the new environment and that there is an increased cost to purchasing the new RDS CALs – is the new functionality in XenApp 6 as innovative as in previous releases? Are you going to get a very rapid return in your investment? Besides W2k8 R2 support, what does XenApp 6 offer your business? Indeed, has the focus on battling VMware XenDesktop allowed the competition to catch up further?