Don't confuse "complexity of Windows" with "complexity of Windows delivery". It's all complex!

The complexity of delivering Windows it's all Windows' fault. There are a lot of things contributing to the mix.

One of the interesting points that was brought up on our podcast with Workspot last week was around the “complexity” of Windows. (By the way, if you haven’t listened to that podcast yet, it was fantastic. Highly recommended.) On the podcast we talked about how complex it is to deliver Windows desktops and apps using products like Citrix XenApp and VMware Horizon.

The idea is “there’s got to be a simpler way."

That’s true, and a valid point, but let’s look at what needs to simpler.

Today’s Citrix XenApp / XenDesktop product has all sorts of complexity, including:

  • XenApp & XenDesktop resource hosts
  • Shared storage
  • Hypervisors
  • Delivery Controllers
  • Director
  • Studio
  • AD
  • SQL Database
  • License Server
  • Desktop & app catalogs
  • NetScaler
  • StoreFront
  • Delivery Groups
  • Receivers

Today’s VMware Horizon product has complexity too, including:

  • View RDSH Apps & Desktop VMs
  • View desktop hosts
  • Shared Storage
  • Hypervisors
  • AD
  • SQL Database
  • View Composer
  • vCenter
  • vRealize Operations for Horizon
  • Mirage Servers
  • Workspace Portal vApp
  • View Connection Servers
  • View Security Servers

When you lay out everything in one list… wow! No wonder VDI is hard! It’s nearly impossible for one person to be an expert in all of this. (I’m certainly not. Not even close!)

So when we talk to new vendors (like Workspot), or to DaaS providers, we fantasize about how awesome it would be if we could remove all that complexity. We wish we could wave a magic wand and make it all disappear.

Let’s assume for a moment that we did that. “Poof!” Everything from the above list is magically gone, and the VDI desktops and RDSH apps magically work.

Does that mean that our VDI or RDSH desktop and app environment has lost its complexity!

Hardly.

On top of everything from these lists above, if you want to deliver Windows desktops and apps to the enterprise, you have to think about:

  • Application installation
  • App virtualization
  • Image building & management
  • App licensing
  • GPOs
  • User profiles and settings
  • App compatibility
  • Layering
  • Departmental versus global apps
  • User security
  • Browser compatibility
  • Office integration
  • Using desktop apps from tablets and mobile devices
  • Network performance
  • Desktop performance
  • Backups
  • File services
  • Printing
  • Antivirus
  • Desktop security
  • Windows versions
  • App and Windows software updates and patching
  • Remote troubleshooting
  • 32-bit versus 64-bit
  • Resource allocation

In other words, if you want to “do VDI” with Citrix or VMware today, you have to take everything from either List 1 or List 2, and combine it with everything from List 3. :(

The point is that when we say “VDI is complex”, some of that complexity is due to the complexity of these cobbled-together systems from Citrix and VMware, and some of the complexity is due the the cobbled-together nature of Windows and Windows applications. A simpler Citrix or VMware stack wouldn’t magically make the Windows complexity disappear, and a simpler Windows stack wouldn’t make the Citrix or VMware complexity disappear.

Windows is complex. Citrix is complex. VMware is complex. It’s all a huge tangled mess of complexity.

Unfortunately even as newer vendors push to simplify things, each vender is only able to simplify a few of the bullets from the lists above. In order to simplify “everything,” you’d need multiple products from multiple vendors, which, ironically, kind of defeats the purpose of the simplification! :)

Really there’s nothing we can do about it. It’s the nature of the Windows desktop beast and the huge ecosystem of existing Windows apps (that we’ll be dealing with for decades). So settle in for the long haul, because even if we “solve” part of this in a simpler way, there are a lot of moving parts that aren’t going to be changing anytime soon.

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A good percentage (90%+) of list two would also be relevant if you chose any other platform to deliver access to apps and data.


Not just a Windows problem (although it sticks in my throat to say so!)


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@brian Agree that Windows is complex.


The complexities of VDI 1.0 solutions like XenDesktop and Horizon (full disclosure: our team led the development of those products) came about in large because the data center of 2009 did not support VDI - SAN/NAS was slow, Flash was expensive. Hence non-persistent desktops were created - otherwise the right storage would have blown a massive hole in the total cost of ownership of VDI. This introduced a new set of tools to manage images, patch images, etc. which were different from the tools IT was using for physical PCs.


Today the data center is different. Flash is in-expensive. De-duplication is built into many storage arrays. And Hyper-converged has simplified the data center. If you start with that design point, VDI 2.0 can be much simpler. And you can leverage most of the existing tools you use to manage Windows PC. The complexity of managing windows PC doesn't go away. But there is no reason to make it as complex to manage VDI.


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That's exactly whey Desktop365 Appliance has been created: www.desktop365.com. Imagine deploying a working Citrix desktop virtualization in 60 min, login and launch virtual desktops!
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