I’m not against XenApp, I’m just saying….

Greetings from Las Vegas! I’m here attending the Citrix Summit and Synergy events and have learned so much already! It’s great to be here!

Thus far, I’ve attended many XenDesktop/Provisioning Server (PVS) breakout sessions as I really enjoy working on these technologies and I’m very excited about the future of these two products. In fact, I heard yesterday that by the year 2013, there will be 49 million virtual desktop users, generating roughly 65 billion dollars in VDI business. So the word is getting out, there is power in virtual desktop technologies.

I’m so excited by XenDesktop and PVS that I already desire to use it for everything, and this seems to keep getting me in trouble everytime I say it, and I can’t really figure out why.

For example, when implementing XenDesktop, its recommended that you segment your workers. Citrix uses three main classifications, Task Workers, Office Workers, and Mobile Workers. Each one of these groups uses their desktops differently.

According to the documentation I’m looking at now, Task Workers “require simple, standardized workspace at the lowest cost” as they only need a limited application set. These workers, again according to the documentation I’m reading, are ideal candidates for a XenApp shared desktop which they access thru their local XP or Vista workstation. Here, I personally wonder “Why?”

Office workers “require a fast, personalized workspace from anywhere.” Office workers require a personal workspace, potentially use/access many applications, and require more horsepower from their PC. These workers are ideal candidates for XenDesktop with applications being delivered from XenApp. I couldn’t agree more!

Mobile workers “require a flexible and portable workspace online or offline”. These workers are ideal candidates for XenApp streamed (streamed to the client for offline access) and/or hosted applications (accessed thru a Web Interface server). I don’t think XenDesktop is ready for these users, yet. With Project Independence that may change, but we’re speaking about what we can do today.

Back to the task workers, why would I want to use XenDesktop? Simple, because I believe that Provisioning Server (to be renamed Provisioning Services) has the power to transform the way businesses support their desktops.

Say I determine my company has 300 task workers and I decide to give them a desktop with a locally installed OS, that means:

a. Image these machines with our corporate image
b. I have to manage 300 machines, ensuring they are consistent with our corporate policies
c. Ensure they have the latest Windows updates installed. Sure I could use WSUS to help, but can you know, with 100% certainty, that all of the approved updates have been installed to your workstations? How much time do you spend managing WSUS?
d. I need to make sure the Anti-Virus and Malware programs are installed, working, and updating correctly.
e. When Citrix releases a new ICA client, updating when accessing from the Web Interface is easy enough, but I guarantee that there will still be calls to the help desk for assistance.
f. What do you do when the system crashes? Reload your image? How long is that process? Then depending on the age of your image, maybe you spend a bit of time updating the PC to the latest updates, etc.

I could go on, but I hope you see my point. If I use PVS to stream a common image to these 300 task workers, I can effectively eliminate the need to repeat these common tasks up to 299 times, as I would only need to manage my ONE, READ-ONLY, IMAGE FILE! I then use XenApp (See, I don’t hate it! I still use it!) to publish the application set to the end users, decoupling the OS from the applications to ensure an optimal running state. Why would I not want that?

Certainly XenDesktop is not a cheap solution and may cause some customers to chringe when they see the cost. However, please consider the following:

*The Gartner Group has estimated that it costs as much as $5,867 per year to maintain a PC and its applications.
*Citrix has stated that XenDesktop with PVS can cut that by 40%, a rough savings of $2,347 per year / per PC.

In our example, multiply that savings by 300 and XenDesktop with PVS can potentially save a company $704,000 per year. Naturally, these savings will vary and we will likely get additional data as more companies roll out XenDesktop and perform their own cost savings evaluations. But what we do know, is that it’s certainly more cost effective to perform a set of common functions once, rather than repeat it 300 times.

Well, that’s my XenDesktop story and I’m sticking to it! I believe XenDesktop and PVS provides so much power and flexibility as it tells a very compelling story. These two technologies, when used together could allow your users to utilize a single, common image, reduce your maintenance challenges, and effectively separate the applications from the desktop.

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