Last night I was thinking about something I'd written last week. In a conversation about what is or isn't "VDI," I wrote about how the term "VDI" was evolving to what I called "VDI+", but that in five years it wouldn't be called "VDI" or "VDI+", it'd just be called "desktops," and everyone would know we were using combinations of local/remote/online/offline/streamed/whatever.
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In the desktop world of 2013:
- Some of us may use multi-user remote desktops (formally known as terminal server)
- Some of us may use remote desktop connected to single-user Windows instances (formally known as VDI)
- Some of us may stream disk images down that run physically or natively on local client devices
- Some of us may stream disk images that run in VMMs or bare-metal hypervisors on clients
And this also applies to applications.
- Some of us may provide remote access to seamless single-windowed apps running on remote multi-user systems (TS RemoteApp, Citrix XenApp, Provision Networks, Ericom)
- Some of us may provide remote access to seamless single-windowed apps running on single-user systems (Provision Networks, Ericom)
- Some of us may stream apps to run locally instances of Windows (App-V, XenApp Streaming, ThinApp, Symantec SVS, etc.)
- Some of us may remotely push software packages to Windows instances to be installed in the traditional way (SMS / System Center Configuration Manager / WSUS)
What do all of these have in common? While they each leverage very different technologies, they all provide access to applications and Windows desktops.
Microsoft is calling this the "Windows Optimized Desktop." They're looking at all their products--Vista, Terminal Server, App-V, MED-V, VECD, System Center, Live--and saying "we can deliver a Windows desktop that's optimized for the hardware, connection, application, and user that needs it. (Of course this is more of a "goal" at this point, as several of these products need to be bolstered by third-party add-ons.) But the messaging is right, and I like the fact that a "normal" desktop engineer (i.e. someone who hasn't been doing terminal server for 15 years) will start to understand "Hey, I can do things differently now!")
Most people reading this are probably thinking, "Yes, of course this is true. What's the point?"
I'm still thinking about Robert Hammersmith's blog post from last week where he talked about VDI being just a small part of the overall desktop picture (and a small part of what Citrix XenDesktop can offer). Of course I (and most people reading this) agree 100%.
What's different for me, though, is that I think my efforts to change the definition of "VDI" are misguided. I've been saying, "No.. No.. VDI is more than remote desktop connections to single-instance hosts. VDI is about offline, and local, and app streaming, and ...." I even went so far as to invent my own term. (VDI+)
But really I think that's the wrong approach. Instead of trying to redefine "VDI" to include all future types of desktop deployment, let's just called it "desktops."
So yeah, "desktops" in 2013 will be VDI, and offline, and local, and streamed apps, and installed apps, and everything else we need.
BrianMadden.com: Making desktops cool again
To that end, we need to evolve how we define the space that we cover on BrianMadden.com.
We started out covering server-based computing in 2003. We naturally expanded into the SoftGrid / app streaming areas, and then after that we went into VDI. Last summer, Gabe wondered whether we should expand our focus to include general virtualization? We decided not to (even as many other sites did), and to instead keep our focus on Windows application and desktop virtualization. This doesn't mean that we don't ever talk about general virtualization--it's just that when we do, we'll do so in the context of desktops and applications. The same is true for The Cloud. We don't want to cover the cloud per se, but we'll talk about the cloud as it related to delivering Windows desktops and applications.
So BrianMadden.com of 2008 was all about desktop and application virtualization.
But as the definition of "desktop virtualization" expands and evolves into just the way all desktops are deployed, I wonder whether we should think about the broader desktop and application picture?
There are a lot of technologies for desktop management, lockdown, and provisioning that really are important to us. For example, how can we cover Microsoft App-V in the context of delivering apps into VMs, but ignore the fact that many people us SMS / System Center to deliver applications directly to physical desktops? Can we really have complete conversations about using XenApp remote applications versus App-V streamed apps without also considering System Center for deploying MSI's?
I'm not suggesting that we change the site to be a hard-core SMS or desktop management site, but I do think we have to slightly expand our focus to think about ALL ways that desktops and applications are deployed and managed, and that might mean paying a bit more attention to things like System Center and companies like Symantec.
What are your thoughts?