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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