Virtual Desktops and N=1

This will probably shock a lot of you, but this will probably be my shortest post ever. It's been the buzz for quite some time.

This will probably shock a lot of you, but this will probably be my shortest post ever. 

It's been the buzz for quite some time.  We spent a great deal of time talking about it at the last BriForum, I hear about it from customers in almost every meeting. What is it?  Virtual Destkops.  Besides the technical reasoning of where and why it does and does not work, of which I'm pretty confident some of those issues/challenges will be solved sooner rather than later, strategically it's just one way for IT to create value for the business and reduce some costs.

I was meeting with a very large manufacturing client earlier this week and we were talking about the "user experience".  I mentioned that there has been a lot of buzz around the "N=1 principle".  I got "the look" (you know the one that says, "I have no idea what you are talking about").  I politely explained that this is where companies move away from just products and services and more to the individual "customer" experience.  So, from an IT perspective, where the business is our customer, in order to create this value for the business doesn't it make sense to use virtual desktops as a way to focus on the individual user and their computing experience? 

Citrix and VMware have talked about this user "personalization" for awhile now.  Dan Feller did a great post over on the Citrix blogs on XenDesktop Design Concepts here and here.  These two posts line out what to keep in mind when doing virtual desktops and delivering the OS and the apps to those virtual machines.  So does it make strategic and, of course, economic sense to create a new IT service around virtual desktops?  That's a big question.  IT Portfolio Management is something that needs to be looked at, but I think this is a way for the folks buried deep inside the IT organization to put your heads together and innovate.

What are your thoughts?

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That was the shortest survey I have ever seen. Is one question really a survey, or is it just a question?


This past year I have made the jump into the User Workspace Management realm.  For many of us who have made this transition, the user is the only killer app within the network that we have had the most passion for over the years.  We have jumped through hoops to individualize the experience for our users, scripts here, batch files that launch more scripts, scripts running locally, running from remote file share, group policy, adm files, and it goes on and on.  What is interesting to note is that the work of delivering this user personalization mounts exponentially with each iteration of a Hardware/OS/Application Service Delivery platform.  We lend Laptops/XP SP3/Citrix Streaming Applications a different approach than we do Terminal Servers/W2K8/Published Application environments, the tricky part of course being that the user is receiving service from both environments and demands personalization on a 24 x 7 basis.

So, to get to it, I feel your post is what has come to my way of thinking a representation of the Infrastructure vs. User analysis.  The Infrastructure will always deliver the user experience after the fact.  Your post references the Infrastructure of Virtual Desktops as a way to focus on the individual user and the computing experience.  The Virtual Desktop is only one play in the infrastructure environment, service delivery comes from other Hardware\OS\Application Service Delivery platforms as well.  What is to be done to confront this complexity, scripts, policy, outlay of capital expenditure which is in direct proportion to the underlying complexity of delivering the user experience via the Infrastructure approach?

The answer is to take the User approach first, which has the effect of decoupling the user experience from any reliance on underlying Infrastructure.  Outlook 2007 is Outlook 2007 from every Hardware\OS\Application Service Delivery platform available within the network service offering.  If the user needs to move from Laptop\XP\Locally Installed to TS\W2K3\Citrix Streamed, not a problem.  Any combination is now available once User Workspace Management has been chosen as the strategic  requirement for consistent and predictable delivery of the user experience.

The net effect of taking the User Workspace Management approach, focusing on the user first and avoiding the Hardware\OS\Application Service Delivery nightmare, is that technology is now in the hands of the business model.  If VDI saves money, then go save it.  If thin clients save money (IGEL anyone?), then go save it.  Now you can do whatever you like with the network, the user experience will always be the same, consistent and reliable.

And it gets even better for the IT administrator, but I have work to do today...:-).  Thanks for the post.


That was the worst survey ever, which asked a question that no one can really answer.  I recommend you post the question in the post, and then let us comment in the comments section (I woud repost the question, but honestly I don't remember the exact wording and since I can't view again since I answered the survey I can't repost it).



my apologies on that survey.  There were a lot more questions in there, but they didn't show up. I'm going to delete it and have you answer in the Comments section.

Sorry for the confusion


Yep, that's pretty much the million dollar question how do you deliver

App to User

And give them the best experience possible with least amount of effort and problems.  

You choose your technology on how you want to do that given the pro's / cons of each method.  We to have Desktops/Laptops local installs and separate Citrix App Server that people use for some applications.  However, we are thinking if we can get away from Desktops local installs now and move towards VDI env.  Where we don't have to constantly switch out there local desktops/laptops we could save a lot of time/money but is that really the best way/method.  I like ThinClients/Citrix but the shared environment has its issues as well.


>user experience

XenApp and XenDeskop both take a pefectly happy user able to watch Flash, video, PPT animation and make it unacceptable IMHO. It terms of multimedia, it's a big step backwards.



RES PowerFuse has been a good solution for us. If you use their shell you can provide the exact same interface on terminal server, local or virtual xp, local or hosted vista. Use Workspace Extender and you can bring a local application into the hosted environment.

Gain complete control over the user workspace, give them some control over it, and know what happens in the workspace. The application settings can follow the user from terminal server to and XP desktop, and can even support virtualized applications. What more would you want?


N=1 is what we should do...

Take an example...

In the past, we managed 100 physical computers

Now, we could manage 100 virtual servers

All are trying to get us to manage a single OS reference

That's were money saving are... The way you acheive it have no importance, only the "1" have ;-)