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.
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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
- Delivery Controllers
- SQL Database
- License Server
- Desktop & app catalogs
- Delivery Groups
Today’s VMware Horizon product has complexity too, including:
- View RDSH Apps & Desktop VMs
- View desktop hosts
- Shared Storage
- SQL Database
- View Composer
- 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!
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
- User profiles and settings
- App compatibility
- Departmental versus global apps
- User security
- Browser compatibility
- Office integration
- Using desktop apps from tablets and mobile devices
- Network performance
- Desktop performance
- File services
- 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.