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.
After leaving many of the VDI crowd feeling unloved during the vSphere launch announcement, VMware has more than made amends with the pre-announcement of new PCoIP performance enhancements that will ship in VMware View 5.0.
One of the reduced criticisms of View, and one of the most frequent weapons used against it, has been the relatively poor performance characteristics of PCoIP across high latency low bandwidth WAN connections. Until today, VMware has been following the standard line of denying there is a problem until you are able to solve it. Now, solution in hand Vittorio Viarengo, VMware’s head of all things desktop (officially Vice President, End User Computing)is willing to share Gartner’s perspective on View’s strengths and weaknesses.
The Virtualization Security Podcast on 10/21 was the third in a series of Virtual Desktop Security discussions we are having. The special guest panelist was Chris Mayers of one of the Chief Security Architects for Citrix, the makers of XenServer, XenClient, and the FlexCast solutions. FlexCast provides an all encompassing method to provide virtual desktop and applications that include the following mechanisms:
Let us look at each of these mechanisms in a bit of detail then discuss how they work to provide Security and how to secure them.
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.
It is said that VDI as a concept is straightforward and a compelling proposition. Centralise your services to reduce the desktop management complexity and enable a more cost-effective method of updating desktops. In addition to this, the option to support branch office/remote users from a centralised location can also allow you to reassess network link costs between sites, and indeed VDI allows you to deliver greater productivity through “anywhere, any time” universal access.
In centralising desktop services there’s obviously a requirement to understand the performance and operation of your applications in a virtual host – but, proving that the VDI implementation works technically will be for nothing if you have users who have a poor experience of using the shiny new VDI solution. Indeed, with the rise of mobility, either on mobile devices such as Apple’s iPad or on Microsoft Windows netbooks connected through 3G cards, companies will increasingly rely on networks that experience higher latency and packet loss than on a LAN.
If your organisation has remote users – consider that the impact of centralisation on their desktop experience can be very different: and not always in a happy way.
The cost savings for desktop virtualization have been widely shouted for some time. Often from desktop virtualization vendors. Effectively, these savings come through reducing the desktop management costs but fundamentally by improving your organisations ability to deliver the user’s workspace quickly and effectively – enhancing those management savings with increased productivity. Yet, the majority of current solutions focus on delivering workspaces to devices that are on the network – be they LAN based or WAN based the device needs to be attached to the network to be able to function. Can you deliver your services to laptop users who need to operate off-line?