Does Personal vDisk solve the application challenge?


At Citrix Synergy 2012 the other week, I had a lot of discussions with people around Personal vDisk. This is the new technology in XenDesktop 5.6, which you can get from the Synergy session: SYN119 Deep dive on XenDesktop personal vDisk. In a nutshell, it separates the base image from user customizations allowing an administrator to still manage a single image while providing full user-level customizations. The technology looks powerful, but does it solve the application challenge?

One of the biggest challenges with desktop transformation is what to do with all of the applications. IT cannot manage all of these applications nor should we expect them to. For some time, I’ve provided an application delivery strategy that focused on a few categories for applications and an appropriate delivery strategy.  With Personal vDisk, do we throw the model out the window and simply say that all applications are done with Personal vDisk? It should work, but it isn’t a great strategy. I suggest we stick to the original recommendations for 3 of the 4 categories as follows:

Application Categories

Base

Anomalous

Resource Intensive

Technically Challenging

Description
Common apps needed by most (75%+) users Unique custom built apps used by a subset of users.
Have heavy system requirements (CPU or RAM) Large, complex apps with many moving parts and dependencies
Frequent updates
Example Microsoft Office Adobe Acrobat
Web Browsers
CAD/CAM, data processing Epic, Cerner, SAP
Primary Delivery Method Installed into desktop image ??? Installed or Streamed to desktop image Hosted from XenApp

But what do we do with the anomalous applications?

  1. Retire the applications that haven’t been used in some time (I suggest 6+ months).
  2. Get rid of the applications that are different versions, unless there is a need for an older version.

These two steps will greatly reduce the number of Anomalous applications you have to consider. The remaining applications are where your environment will be unique. You have the following options

  • Install/Host applications from XenApp
  • Install applications into desktop
  • Stream applications to desktop
  • Personal vDisk the applications

Guess what? All 4 options are correct for anomalous! These will not break your environment, but it will impact it by requiring more XenApp servers, more desktop images, more streamed packages or more more hardware for VDI users.

Which option is the right one? It depends on the skills and resources you have within your organization as well as what type of virtual desktop the users of the application are using:

  1. Application only used by a subset of Shared Desktop Users: Install into a Worker Group and publish the application
  2. Application used by Shared Desktop Users and VDI users: Install into a Worker Group and publish the application
  3. Application used by only a subset of VDI users: choose one of the three options based on your skillset
    1. New Image: Appropriate for organizations that have strong image management skills
    2. Stream: Appropriate for organizations that have strong application streaming skills (XenApp Streaming or App-V)
    3. Personal vDisk: Appropriate for remainder of organizations

The updated model looks like the following (this is the first major update to the model in 3+ years)

Application Categories

Base

Anomalous

Resource Intensive

Technically Challenging

Description
Common apps needed by most (70%+) users Unique custom built apps used by a subset of users.
Have heavy system requirements (CPU or RAM) Large, complex apps with many moving parts and dependencies
Frequent updates
Example Microsoft Office Adobe Acrobat
Web Browsers
CAD/CAM, data processing Epic, Cerner, SAP
Primary Delivery Method Installed into desktop image Retire then select appropriate for each app

  • Shared Desktop Users:
    • Host from XenApp
  • VDI Desktop Users
    • Host from XenApp
    • Install into desktop
    • Stream application
    • Personal vDisk
Installed or Streamed to desktop image Hosted from XenApp

The thing to remember, all models work for Anomalous, you just have to decide what you want to do. And you will most likely be doing a combination of the models. Think about it. If I have an application used by VDI and Shared desktop users, I will most likely host the application. But if the application is only used by VDI users, I might utilize Personal vDisk.

Daniel

XenDesktop Design Handbook

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Is Podio the Next Generation Desktop?


During Citrix Synergy last week, I was in the audience watching the demos. One demo in particular, Podio, got me thinking about the value of a desktop. What is a desktop? Is it needed? Why?

I’ve been a proponent of a desktop operating system and of desktop virtualization. Being a workshifting Citrite (what we call Citrix Employees), I use a VDI desktop every day. In fact, I’m creating this blog in my VDI desktop. Many months ago in another blog, I discussed we shouldn’t ignore or dismiss the desktop operating system yet. I said we need to focus on the users and not so much on the technology.

As I see it, the current desktop model allows users to consolidate all of their resources into a single repository. It could be better. For my job, I usually have 4-5 simultaneous projects where I am actively working on materials daily. I’m also a member of many virtual teams (more than I can typically remember) where I’m active on a weekly/monthly basis. So what happens is this:

  1. I have many browser favorites defined to each team’s sites
  2. I have many OneNote notebooks with bits of information for each project/virtual team. Many of these are from email discussions that I want to keep
  3. I have shortcuts after shortcuts linking me to the projects/virtual teams’ files.
  4. I get emails for each project and virtual team constantly, but many are out of context as it is difficult to remember what this is in reference to. I save many of these into my OneNote notebooks for reference.
  5. I use Outlook to organize my delivery dates for different items for the different projects and teams.
  6. I get a new application that is for one of the virtual teams

I don’t think I’m alone in these challenges. There is a lot for me to maintain as I’m sure many others do the same thing. There is a lot going on. My Windows 7 virtual desktop pulls all of these things together.

At Citrix Synergy 2012, I was listening to the keynote and watching the demo of Podio. I started to wonder if Podio is the next step in the evolution of the desktop. Can Podio consolidate all of my resources together better than a desktop can? If I were to go full throttle into Podio for my work, it might look something like the following

  • Each project or virtual team would have a designated workspace that I’ve subscribed to. All discussions would happen within Podio.
  • Any piece of information or file created, referenced, or reviewed for the project or virtual team would be incorporated into the Podio workspace
  • Any application needed for the project or virtual team would be integrated into the workspace
  • All milestones, timelines, people associated with the project/virtual team should be defined within the workspace
  • The experience should be the same for my iPad, my personal Windows laptop, my home PC, my phone, etc.

If these things happen, Podio might be the next generation desktop for me. Podio not only consolidates all of my resources into one location, but Podio also organizes these resources into projects or virtual teams. If all of my projects and many of these virtual teams move to Podio, does that mean I will spend most of my day within Podio and less time in Outlook? Do I still need a Windows desktop? This is something I’m going to try.

Who would have thought the desktop could get interesting J

Daniel Feller

XenDesktop Design Handbook