Lack of Application Virtualization Strategy


One app, two apps.

Red app, Blue app.

Old app, new app.

What a lot of apps there are (Based on the original by Dr. Seuss)

The pond is full of apps. And so is your organization.  And you are probably not even aware of 50% of your applications. How does this relate to desktop virtualization?  Well, many people fail in their desktop virtualization endeavors because they do not consider application virtualization, which is the 8th common mistake made when deploying virtual desktops followed by:

10.  Not calculating user bandwidth requirements

9.     Not considering the user profile

Desktop virtualization can be successful without an application virtualization strategy, but only in certain situations, and typically only in smaller, less complex environments. One of the primary goals of desktop virtualization is to simplify the management of the desktop environment. One way of accomplishing this goal is to reduce the number of images. By removing the applications from the desktop image, we need fewer images. Easy

However, the primary factor that often dictates the need for additional desktop images are application sets.

Organizations typically deal with this challenge in one of three ways:

  1. Installing every application into a standard desktop image
  2. Creating multiple images with different application sets based on different user groups
  3. Removing the applications from the desktop image and delivering via application virtualization

All three of these options are valid and work in different scenarios.  However, applying one of these options to the wrong environment will result in major challenges as the following examples demonstrate.

One organization installed all of their business applications within a single desktop image.  After the image was created and tested, it worked fairly well until certain applications required updates. Those updates sometimes caused issues with the other applications that did not appear until the image was fully deployed.  Users also started to express confusion why they could see all of the applications but were unsure what they were supposed to do with them. The user experience could have been improved by removing the non-standard applications from the desktop image and delivering via application virtualization.

In another example, an organization tried to over design a virtual desktop solution by doing the following:

A small organization consisting of 200 users implemented a virtual desktop solution.  Following the complete virtualization guidelines, the organization virtualized all of the applications via hosting and streaming technologies. Although the solution functioned for the users and integrated seamlessly, trying to maintain the different components became a struggle.  As the organization only had 4 different application sets, it would have been easier to implement 4 desktop images instead of a complete application virtualization solution.

A proper application virtualization strategy must determine

  1. If the number of desktop images is too great to manage effectively.  As the number of images increase, the environment becomes more difficult to maintain.  By virtualizing the applications, the number of images can be reduced significantly.  If, on the other hand, only a few images are required, the time and effort to support an application virtualization solution outweighs the benefit.
  2. If traditional (non-virtualized) desktops are still required within the organization. If the applications are virtualized, the traditional desktop management is simplified as these devices can utilize the virtualized applications.
  3. If hosted applications are required or if all applications can be streamed to the desktop.  By removing the hosted application component, the application virtualization aspect of the environment is simplified as fewer resources are required.

In many implementations, application virtualization is a necessity.  Integrating those applications into the virtual desktop must also be done correctly.  As a general recommendation, applications should be integrated into a virtual desktop as follows:

Base Anomalous Resource Intensive Technically Challenging
Description Core applications required by all users Unique custom-built

Uncertified Terminal Services support

Heavy system resource consumption Large, complex with many moving parts and dependencies

Frequent updates

Examples Office, Acrobat CAD/CAM, data processing Epic, Cerner, SAP
Suggested Approach Installed in desktop image Streamed to desktop image Streamed to desktop image Hosted on a XenApp server

You have options. But with any option, you need to make sure you are choosing a certain option for the correct reasons.

Daniel – Lead Architect

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About virtualfeller

Daniel Feller, Lead Architect at Citrix, is responsible for providing architecture and design recommendations for organizations looking to experience an environment where users can work and play from anywhere.

Posted on June 3, 2010, in Top 10 Virtual Desktop Mistakes and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

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