VDI Smackdown: A head-to-head analysis fo XenDesktop, VDI-in-a-Box, vWorkspace, and Horizon View

Are you looking for an independent overview of desktop virtualization solutions and curious about the different strategy questions?

Are you looking for an independent overview of desktop virtualization solutions and curious about the different strategy questions? Do you want detailed information about the features and functions each desktop virtualization vendor is offering!? If so the VDI Smackdown you definitely must read!
In the current market there is an increasing demand for unbiased information about desktop virtualization solutions. This white paper is focused on solutions that are anticipated to have an important role in desktop virtualization deployments. An overview of available features of each solution has been created to allow an understanding and comparison of capabilities.

The latest solutions included in the feature matrix are: Citrix XenDesktop 5.6FP1, Citrix VDI-in-a-Box 5.2, Dell vWorkspace 8.0, Microsoft RDVH Windows8/Server 2012 and VMware View 5.2; The English whitepaper can be downloaded here. The Japanese version is available here.

Empowering the end-user by giving access to Windows, Web and Mobile applications so he can access data and information systems from both private and public datacenters regardless of the device or location is the ultimate strategic objective.
The delivery of the classic (Windows) desktop interface can be divided in two segments:

  • the classic desktop and laptop, running Windows, Linux or Mac OS X;
  • the virtual desktop running in the datacenter or local on the classic workstation.

In essence “desktop virtualization” is the de-coupling of the desktop, operating system and the applications from the underlying endpoint or device. This kind of virtualization can be subdivided into two types:

  • With the first type applications are executed remotely, server hosted, and presented at the endpoint via a remote display protocol.
  • With the second type applications are executed at the endpoint, client-side and presented locally.

Making Windows, Web and Mobile applications available to the end-user, regardless of the technology being used, is an important strategic objective of an advanced IT infrastructure. The Virtual Desktop (vDesktop) is an essential component in the range of Application and Desktop delivery solutions and in essence, it provides the following functions:

  • Flexibility: Detach the vDesktop from the endpoint; Several vDesktops can be used next to one another
  • BYO: enables delivery of applications and desktops for BYO scenario’s;
  • Access: vDesktop works independently of location, endpoint and network;
  • Security: Server Hosted – VDI; data in the computing center;
  • Freedom: Every user can have his own desktop with administrator privileges when needed;
  • Management: Centrally managed and hardware independent;
  • Legacy: It is simple to offer legacy applications on a state-of-the-art platform;
  • Sustainability: Power Management, handling the necessary resources in an efficient manner

The transition to a dynamic and optimized desktop is causing many IT organizations to reevaluate traditional IT operations, deployment, delivery, packaging, support, and management methods.
Desktop virtualization is a key component in the optimized desktop. It’s important to have a Vision and Strategy around application and desktop delivery and enterprise mobility. Designing, building, managing and maintaining the desktop virtualization infrastructure using the right Technologies, corresponding vendors and products is an important step. We see a lot organizations primarily focusing on products and vendors and lacking a clear and profound vision and strategy. This approach is fine for a point solutions but a proper vision and strategy is crucial for a vNext optimized desktop. How can the vision and strategy be successful? Success = Vision x Execution x Adoption!

The following discussions and corresponding topics should be part of the optimized desktop strategy:

  • What are the use-cases? Does the use-case require Desktop Virtualization?
  • VD-why, what do you want to achieve, a business enabler, overall cost of ownership (TCO) and cost reducer?
  • What is the business-case? What do you expect as a ROI?
  • How do you deliver applications to users in a Bring Your Own (BYO) or Choose Your Own (CYO) scenario?
  • What’s your desktop delivery and migration strategy for Windows 7/Windows 8?
  • What’s the user experience using Multimedia, Video/Voice, 2D/3D applications?
  • Is Unified Communications and VoIP functionality within VDI needed? Is it supported by the VDI and UC-vendor?
  • What are the user expectations of the vDesktop? Are users involved in a proof of concept and pilot? What are their acceptation criteria?
  • What endpoints do we support and facilitate and what is the role of these devices in the end-user experience? Are the endpoints managed by the IT organization?
  • Do you want to deliver windows and web applications to mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones via VDI? What does the user wants? What is your enterprise mobility strategy?
  • What is the impact of Secure Access and Secure Networking solutions on mobile devices while connecting to the vDesktop? What is the user experience with these secure access solutions?
  • Is there a supported agent for the OS/endpoint? What is the User Experience with this agent? What is the feature and future roadmap of these agents? Is agentless via HTML(5) included and important?
  • Is image deployment and management part of the (virtual) Desktop Strategy?
  • How do you design and build the user’s profile and his ‘workspace’? Does Application virtualization fit into this strategy? The ‘User Environment Management' Smackdown can be helpful.
  • Do we need a vMachine based image management solution? How do we design, build and maintain the (golden) Image(s)?
  • Do you need context awareness? Based on user/role, device, location and various settings is access to application resources controlled and enforced when needed?
  • What is your application readiness assessment strategy? Are Windows 7, Windows 8, VDI, application virtualization and x64 included?
  • How are Windows applications delivered within the vDesktop? Unattended or manual installation, application virtualization or the applications are part of the (golden) image? What is the strategy?
  • Does the end-user needs the ability to install and update applications? Is User Installed Applications functionality needed? Does the user have the correct privileges to install or update software?
  • Do you need local or centralized storage? What storage optimization (IOPS/latency) technology is being used?
  • What is the VDI impact on storage and how does it affect the business case?
  • Do we focus on stateless (non-persistent) and/or stateful (hybrid/persistent) images? What is, for example, the impact on storage, manageability, security, legal and business-case?
  • Windows 8 or Windows 7 as core guest OS platform? x64 or x86?
  • How does the solution scale? What do we need from a scalability point of view? Is there a validated design?
  • What is the performance and bandwidth impact on the network infrastructure; LAN, WAN, WLAN, Mobile;
  • Licensing; VDI solution, guest and client operating system, Client Access Licenses and (Business) Applications.
  • Is Antivirus needed? Inside the VM or as layer on the Hypervisor? What is the real performance impact of Antivirus?
  • Is the VDI solution as a whole highly available? Is that built-in or are additional planning and solutions needed to get high availability? Is a highly available vDesktop needed?
  • Is the IT department able to adopt the technology with right knowledge and skills? What subject matter experts are needed to get and keep the VDI solution up and running in production environment? Is this expertise available? Who has overview of the complete VDI solution stack?
  • How does the desktop virtualization solution fit into existing deployment and management tools?

Bottom Line: What’s your current Enterprise Mobility and Desktop Delivery strategy?! 

Get a head start! Download our complete, in-depth, and independent whitepaper. We try to provide accurate, clear, complete and usable information. We appreciate your feedback. If you have any comments, corrections or suggestions for improvements of this document we want to hear from you! Feedback!? rsp@pqr.nl or twitter

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