Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, Old Wine in New Bottles?!
Is virtual desktop infrastructure old wine in new bottles?! Will this still be the case in 2010?
If there is just one buzzword in the IT industry, then it is “virtualization.” Nowadays we virtualize the network, storage, hardware, desktops and applications. Desktop or workspace virtualization is an application that is gaining in importance.
This form of virtualization can, in essence, be divided into to parts: “server-hosted” and “client-side.” The type of desktop virtualization that is receiving the most attention is “server-hosted.”
More and more organizations are asking themselves whether they must choose between Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI), Server-Based Computing (SBC) or local desktops. Questions that arise include: Will VDI replace the SBC concept? What are the pros and cons of VDI? What role do application virtualization and OS streaming play in the overall concept?
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In order to understand the various solutions, the interplay of different technologies and the application thereof, it is important to have a good overview of the application and desktop delivery solutions. To get an overall picture of this subject, reading the article “Understanding all the application- and desktop delivery solutions in 30 minutes” is highly recommended.
- In meetings we have with organizations regarding the wishes, functions, pros and cons and use of VDI, we have noticed that a large part of the discussion often has a so-called “back to the future part II” content. When “in the past” Microsoft NT 4.0 Terminal Services and Citrix Metaframe formed the basis for Server-Based Computing, the following questions were raised to one degree or another:
There are users who have to work offline. How will we enable this?
- Some of the applications are resource-intensive. How can I size my central platform?
- How will we handle graphically heavy and multimedia applications?
- How much bandwidth do I need per user?
- How can we offer users the best possible user experience, even if the latency is higher?
- Users want to use various devices in their “own” environment. What are the (im)possibilities for this?
- Users want to have freedom at their workstations; the ICT department does not want to facilitate this.
- Is the central desktop delivery platform scalable?
VDI has certain advantages compared to Server-Based Computing. Many customers have already experienced these advantages in practice. Indeed, there are various points of special interest when comparing VDI with SBC. The pros and cons of VDI were mentioned earlier, but this article is essentially about the fact that a large part of the points of special interest in the SBC concept also applies to the VDI solution. Some challenges in the current VDI and SBC concept are as follows:
- How will we offer graphically heavy, multimedia and resource-intensive applications from the data centre on the central desktop?
- How will we handle the fact that users want to get a laptop while this laptop also has to be used for working offline?
- Users want to be able to download and install software at their workstations. Users expect that the business-critical applications remain operational.
- Who from ICT management is responsible for the virtual workstation?
- Can the VDI environment also be used and managed in large environments?
Make use of the experiences acquired in various Server-Based Computing projects when defining and implementing project phases. How so “old wine in new bottles”?!
Question: What will the virtual workstation look like in 2010?
It is not necessary to gaze into a glass ball to get a good idea of the workstation in 2010. If you look at the needs of customers and the provision of suppliers in the application and desktop delivery area, you could say that 1+1=2010.
- Offering graphically heavy, multimedia and unified communications applications is no longer a challenge.
By using new or optimized protocols such as Microsoft Calista, SPICE, Net2Display, Teradici, RGS and Citrix ICA+, offering the above-mentioned applications from the data centre is no longer a challenge. Gigabits to the workstation is thus not a luxury, but a normal thing.
- The central workstation offered by VDI or SBC can use hardware independently, offline and offsite. Local resources are used in their maximum capacity for this execution – “bare metal,” in other words, whereby the user experience is optimal.
Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V), Citrix “Xen client” hypervisor and VMware “View” vClient will facilitate these functions.
- OS streaming technology is an important link in manageably offering operating systems for virtual and physical desktops where one can work both offline as well as online.
Citrix Provisioning Server, VHDsoft Xtreaming Technology and VMware Scalable Virtual Image will facilitate these functions.
- In a tightly managed workstation environment, an end-user can install and use independent applications without business-critical applications being hindered in any way.
Application virtualization will be further developed, making this functionality possible. Both end-users and ICT administrators are happy.
The ideal virtual workstation in 2010 will consist of a combination of desktop virtualization, OS streaming, application virtualization and hypervisor technology. A part of this solution is already available and usable today.
Further development and expansion of these solutions will ensure that the (virtual) workstation in 2010 really will be new wine in new bottles!