Terminal Services for Mac – OS X gets virtual

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.

Apple, as a company, have enjoyed a resurgence with the release of their iPhone and iPad devices – and they’ve long had a dedicated user base for their Mac OS.  That user base had to rely on individual devices . For many organizations, cost of deploying and maintaining those dedicated devices is prohibitive to wide scale roll out, and a drain on resources.

To solve this issue, Aqua Connect have Terminal Server 3 Series – a Presentation Virtualization solution for Macs.  Aqua Connect released Terminal Server 3 Series, the latest product to be included in our updated Presentation Virtualization Solutions white paper.

What is Presentation Virtualization?

Presentation Virtualization (PV) allows the creation of virtual sessions, each interacting with a remote desktop system. The applications executing within those sessions rely on presentation virtualization to project their user interfaces remotely. Each session may only run a single application, or it might present its user with a complete desktop offering multiple applications. In either case, several virtual sessions utilize the same installed copy of an application.

With a server hosted desktop solution –  each desktop runs as its own instance. Multiple instances, multiple operating system instances and application environments. PV can offer a greater economy of scale of users, delivering a centralized solution using less hardware than a hosted virtual desktop solution.

Presentation Virtualization can reduce the cost of ownership, reduce energy costs, ease manageability and increase user productivity:

  • Reduced Management Costs – applications can be installed and managed on fewer devices which means the time to deliver and maintain those applications is reduced.
  • Improve Productivity – by providing access to applications faster users can be operational more quickly
  • Greater Accessibility – you are able to provide application to users on a wide variety of devices. They may be cheaper devices (reducing device costs) or by enabling remote use you can reduce your need for expensive office space.
  • Improved Security – centralizing applications means that you can centralize data. Having the data kept centrally means data leakage (either through corruption, loss or theft) can be minimized.

These benefits have made Presentation Virtualization an attractive solution, not only to large enterprises, but also to small and medium scale businesses and not-for-profit organizations. That said, Presentation Virtualization isn’t an all encompassing solutions: you can’t use PV in an off-line/non network environment for instance. However  PV can still play an important part in you enterprise’s desktop management strategy.

Presentation Virtualization in a Microsoft environment relies on the Remote Desktop Services function of Windows 2008 – or Terminal Services as it was in Windows 2003.

Aqua Connect making your PC a MAC

Aqua Connect Inc. pioneered the first ever Mac Terminal Server and has become the world’s leading provider of Mac terminal services. Working in conjunction with Microsoft and Apple, Aqua Connect have been able to incorporate service to deliver an OS X workspace using Microsoft’s Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) protocol.

Presentation Virtualization service have long been available to Microsoft users: with Aqua Connect’s solution an adequately configured Mac OS X Snow Leopard or Leopard  server can deliver a full featured OS X desktop to networked computers or mobile devices to run almost any OS X-based application installed on the OS X server.

While ACTS 3 series has fewer PV features in comparison to other Microsoft based solutions – the facility to deliver an OS X environment while making use of the benefits of PV can introduce significant savings to those utilizing an OS X environment:

  • Reduce your Mac platform costs – Aqua connect suggest this can be over 50%.
  • Reduce your device costs – by allowing existing Mac & PCs to be re-used and allowing thin-client device deployment, introducing savings through reducing the need to purchase new devices, or the introduction of less power hungry devices.
  • Improve availability – cheaper device access can allow more users access, and PV is an effective solution for allowing remote access.
  • Improve security – by allowing data to be held centrally rather than on distributed devices.
Presentation Virtualization Market Still Competitive

PV has been a virtualization solution used by a large number of enterprises not only to deliver specific specific tactical solutions, but to deploy desktop services to the entire organization within the office and beyond. PV virtualization has typically focused on delivering Microsoft Applications.

Aqua Connect have enabled this feature for Snow Leopard (10.6) and Leopard (10.5) users.  Bear in mind that Unix is also served, Citrix do have a Unix version of their XenApp product for example: indeed, it will be interesting to see the next release of Ulteo, which could be considered as Terminal Services for Linux, will deliver when it includes support for access via to the service via Microsoft’s RDP which is likely to come out of the Microsoft-Ulteo partnership announced in June 2010.

Both Aqua Connect and Ulteo are working with Microsoft to develop their products. Microsoft has an incentive here – by working with innovate partners such as Aqua Connect and Ulteo Microsoft ensure that there is less of a demand to move completely from MS solutions. Integration, rather than migration.

Presentation Virtualization can offer your business a number of advantages and should be considered as part of your enterprise’s desktop strategy. VDI is commonly considered the only solution when looking to deliver different operating systems – yet PV is not only a Microsoft solution, Aqua Connect Terminal Services 3 Series uses PV to offer centralized services to Mac users and is now incorporated into our Presentation Virtualization comparison white paper.

To find out more, download our updated Presentation Virtualization Solutions white paper which is free to download after a short registration.