When is RDS/XenApp not enough?

When working on desktop transformation designs, many start with the VDI (personal) model. I tend to go for the RDS (Shared) model. There are many reasons why, but mainly it is because

  1. Scalability: Most agree that a shared desktop environment achieves better scalability than personal desktop environments.
  2. Storage: Due to the shared operating system, the impact on storage is mostly a non-issue
  3. Security: Although a desktop can be secured, I typically find that people do a better job securing desktops in the shared model

Like I said, I usually start with the XenApp model, but as we all know, one size does not fit all. There are occasions where the personal desktop model is required. Every time I say this, I get many questions asking what for the user requirements that XenApp cannot provide. Here is a start:

  1. Reboot control: Can you imagine if you let users reboot a XenApp server. Talk about a great way to tick off your coworkers
  2. Admin rights: I hate to say it, but some users require admin rights. Doing this on a shared desktop will cause many issues.
  3. Specialized hardware: Some users need powerful graphics cards or sound cards. It is often easier to do this in a personal (VDI) model
  4. Backgrounds: Many users want a picture of Homer Simpson on their desktop background. Silly, that can be done with shared or personal. This is NOT a valid requirement to go to a personal desktop.

Of course, I’ll save the most common one for last…

  1. User Applications: Certain users need to install their own applications. Doing this on a shared model is scary, but on a personal model, makes a lot of sense.

What other areas do you see are viable user requirements that would dictate the need for a Personal (VDI) desktop instead of using the Shared (RDS) model?

Daniel – Lead Architect
XenDesktop Design Handbook


3 thoughts on “When is RDS/XenApp not enough?”

  1. Helo Daniel, on XenApp Desktop (shared), users are able to change its session preferences like background, icons at desktop, or shortcuts at taskbar…. So, you can remove reason 4).

    I always told to my customers: Use VDI model only on users with special Software (only executable on WinXP/WinVista/Win7), and on users with special Hardware (like old peripherals with drivers only in WinXP/WinVista/Win7)… Other good reasons you told: Admin and reboot (I hate these scenarios, but…. customer rules!)


  2. Two other use cases I’ve seen are:

    Dedicated performance, think users who have exceptionally high CPU requirements and aren’t willing to accept the caveats of sbc siloing. XD on hardware or dedicated performance vm’s work well.

    Developers, developers need user installed apps and also quite like to snapshot and restore their own machines.


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