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Understanding all the Application and Desktop delivery solutions in 30 minutes

Written on Jul 16 2008 18,416 views, 11 comments

by Ruben Spruijt


The “Application and Desktop Delivery solutions” diagram has been developed in order to be able to provide a complete overview of the various applications and desktop delivery solutions. This article was written by Ruben Spruijt in order to introduce the highlights of the delivery solutions in 30 minutes.  There are so many delivery solutions that the functionalities can be confused through incomplete knowledge. The point of this article is not to describe all of the application scenarios or the technical advantages or disadvantages, but purely as a high level, vendor dependent overview of the start of technology in the applications and desktop delivery segment. Hopefully this overview will be helpful!

Application and Desktop delivery solutions overview

Workplace scenarios

Trusted and Untrusted workplace scenarios . Trusted workplaces are devices that have a network connection to existing IT backed infrastructure via the LAN  or WAN.

Untrusted workplaces are devices that have no secure LAN or WAN connection with the existing IT backed infrastructure. Examples are devices that are active at home, at a stage work station or in connection with security in a separate network segment.

Each organization has various work station and application delivery scenarios.  It is important for the IT department to have insight into the different workstation and delivery scenarios.

This reflects how the users are working with or would want to work with the applications.

Secure Access

Secure Access solutions assure secure access of untrusted devices to corporate IT. The symbol consists of two parts, the shield stands for secure and the stoplight stands for access. The access can also be close linked depending on the chosen secure access solution. Solutions that realize secure access scenarios are, for example, Cisco ASA, Citrix Access Gateway and Juniper SSL VPN.

Web Application Acceleration

Web Application Acceleration solutions assure acceleration and security of web based applications.  Today we all make use of these solutions.  The largest number of the internet applications that we all use, such as Google, MSN, eBay or marketplace, make use of these applications.  Web application acceleration solutions are not only for the large internet organizations, but also for your web applications. Solutions that make web application acceleration and security possible are, for example, Citrix Netscaler and F5.

Desktop broker

The desktop of connection broker determines which remote desktop will be made available to the client. With this it is possible to make available a dedicated or a pool of remote desktops. The automatic turn on, deletion or pausing of remote desktops is a functionality that can be provided by a desktop broker. There are various suppliers of connection brokers. Citrix with XenDesktop, Provision Networks VAS and VMware with VDM are the most well known solutions.  Depending upon the supplier, the connection broker can have additional functions. Functionality such as a web interface that assures secure (SSL) and easy access to the remote desktops, Active Directory integration, USB port redirection and integration with Terminal Services in order to provide access to a Terminal Server or a personal Remote Desktop through rules set by IT.

Application Streaming and Virtualization

With the aid of application streaming and virtualization, windows applications can be used without any changes to the local operating system, let alone that application software is installed on a workstation.  In other words: the application is implemented, saves data and prints as if it is locally present, without anything being changed on the local client.  Sources such as CPU, memory, hard disks and network cards are used for the execution  of this application. Application Streaming and Virtualization assure the availability of applications on desktops, laptops, VDI and Server Based Computing platforms whereby the application is executed on the “client” platform.  No changes are made to the platform.

A number of advantages for Application Virtualization are:  installation, upgrade, roll back and the ease of application support.  Installations of applications is now in the past; conflicts are not longer possible.  It creates a dynamic application delivery infrastructure.

Solutions for Application Streaming and Virtualization are: Microsoft Application Virtualization (App-V), Altiris SVS, VMware ThinApp, InstallFree and Citrix XenApp client side virtualization.

OS Streaming

OS streaming makes it possible that VDI, SBC and desktops start up and work from an image file saved on the network.  A single image can be used by multiple workstations simultaneously.  The advantage is that complete operating systems, including applications and clients can be made available quickly and securely.  The availability of a single image on multiple VDI, SBC and desktops is possible without conflict. Through this, an upgrade or roll back of an OS is possible quickly, easily and without great risks. When virtual desktops make use of OS streaming in a VDI environment, this solution also saves valuable storage and the administration of the virtual desktops is simplified.  Virtual or physical machines that make us of OS streaming thus become “stateless devices”. Citrix Provisioning Server is a solution that makes OS streaming possible.

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

VDI, Virtual Desktop infrastructure = “Dedicated Virtual Remote Desktop”

Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is a solution for remote access to Windows XP/Vista or Linux desktops that are implemented on a virtual machine in the data center.  VDI can be a server hosted solution (online computing) or a client side solution (offline computing). This overview describes VDI from the server hosted solution. With this, access to the desktop is not bound to one location or end user device. Each user possesses a unique personal desktop environment. Program execution, data processing and data storage take place centrally on a personal desktop.  The information appears on the client screen via RDP/ICA/VNC/RGS or SPICE. The protocol for the reproduction of the correct information dependant on operating system, bandwidth, application properties and technical or company requirements.  Just as other solutions for desktop delivery, VDI consists of various infrastructure components that assure administration, load balancing, session control and secure access to virtual work stations. Suppliers of complete VDI solutions are VMware and Citrix. Suppliers of Virtual Infrastructure solutions are VMware, Citrix, Parallels and Microsoft.

Bladed workstations

Bladed workstation = “Dedicated  Physical Remote Desktop”

BladePC, a physical professional workstation in a blade enclosure, offers many of the advantages offered by VDI. A BladePC solution consists of hardware as well as software. The hardware consists of a physical professional workstation; the software assures that access to the physical workstation is possible.  The software consists of a minimum of two components: a transmitter and a receiver. The transmitter is installed on the BladePC and the receiver on the client desktop, laptop or ThinClient. The BladePC solution offers, in addition to the VDI advantages, even extra advantages such as:

Access to graphic intensive applications: In combination with HP Remote Graphics Software, this solution provides graphic intensive applications just as fast as the end user would expect.  2D, 3D and multimedia applications are executed centrally on the physical BladePC and reproduced locally on the client workstation via the RGS protocol.

Use of resource intensive applications: Resource intensive applications make full use of the resources present on the physical machine. It is a workstation-class centralized workstation. Performance is maximized through this.

The specific properties of the virtual infrastructure such as Distributed Resource Scheduling, Higher Availability and Live Migration naturally do not apply to the BladePC solution.


Server Based Computing

Server Based Computing (SBC) = “Shared Remote Desktop”

SBC is a solution for access to desktops or loose applications on terminal servers in a data center. Access to the desktop or application is not bound to a location or end user device and program execution and data processing occur centrally on the terminal servers. The data are saved on a fileserver.  The information appears on the client screen via RDP or ICA. SBC consists of various infrastructure components for administration, load balancing, session control and support.  Some advantages of SBC are the rapid and secure availability of applications, low TCO, location and workstation independent application access.  Suppliers of SBC solutions are, for example, Microsoft, Citrix and Provision Networks.

Client Management

Each professional IT organization will make use of a Client Management solution. Client Management provides, for example, OS deployment, patch management, application and client deployment, asset management, integration with service desk and remote control.  Client management solutions are, for example, Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), RES Wisdom, Altiris Deployment Solution, LANdesk Client Management and Novel ZENworks.

In conclusion

The solutions that are reproduced in the solutions diagram assure that applications and desktops can be offered in various manners and in an effective and dynamic ways.

What is THE best solution? There are various business needs and technical requirements that together determine which solution is the best one for you.

In order to make the correct choice, it is important to know the pros and cons of the various solutions. Workshops are often held for this purpose. In addition to this form of information provision, there are various technical in depth articles written by Ruben Spruijt.


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Guest wrote What "Visio" program did you use for that?
on Thu, Jul 17 2008 9:13 PM Link To This Comment
What program did you use to make the diagram?
Ruben Spruijt wrote Re: What
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 2:53 AM Link To This Comment
Adobe Illustrator
Michael Keen wrote Great visual depcition fo solutions
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 1:34 PM Link To This Comment

Ruben, awesome work man!!!!  The ability to have clients visually look at how the solutions come together is great.

Thanks for putting this out there.


Casey Piegzik wrote Great Job!
on Fri, Jul 18 2008 3:43 PM Link To This Comment
Hey Rubin,This was such a great idea! I usually have to go through white boarding different application delivery methods for clients to visually get it. Thanks for sharing!


Guest wrote Kudos
on Mon, Jul 21 2008 10:22 AM Link To This Comment


 Allow me to add to the chorus of approval for this logical statement of the various application delivery methods available to all our customers.  Thank you for adding to the community.


Ruben Spruijt wrote Additions?!
on Mon, Jul 21 2008 11:06 AM Link To This Comment
When there are surgestions for additions to this scheme please let me know!..
Brian Cahill wrote Re: Additions?!
on Wed, Jul 23 2008 11:48 AM Link To This Comment
How about licensing costs for each technology type broken down by vendor options?  That would really clear things up.  By the way - fantastic diagram.  This is definitely it!
Ruben Spruijt wrote Re: Additions?!
on Wed, Aug 20 2008 6:28 AM Link To This Comment
Thanks for your remark, I'll add this on the whish list!
Guest wrote one more category
on Fri, Aug 29 2008 11:36 AM Link To This Comment

Good diagram covering almost all virtualiztion technologies. I think it is missing category of workspace virtualization where you could fit compnaies like Ringe Cube with Mojo Pack, Microsoft Kidaro, VMware ACE, Ceedo. What do you think?

Ruben Spruijt wrote Re: one more category
on Mon, Sep 15 2008 3:10 AM Link To This Comment
Thanks, I'll take that into consideration!

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Ruben Spruijt wrote Understanding all the Application and Desktop delivery solutions in 30 minutes 2.0 (UPDATED)
on Sat, Jun 13 2009 4:42 PM

Last year I created a blog entry " Understanding all the Application and Desktop delivery solutions