19 Replies Latest reply on May 5, 2013 12:55 PM by skubasteeve

    What Is The Future of Application Delivery?

    chriswahl

      Every year seems to be met with an optimistic glow of it being the “year of the desktop”. By that, I mean that a large shift will push virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) into the lime light. Virtualizing a desktop is pretty easy, and lots of products out in the field can wrap a desktop OS inside of a hypervisor and provide brokerage. This is often the sticky spot, too, as the goal shouldn't be to simply “make your desktops virtual” but to completely shift the delivery method to embrace an improved desktop model. I've seen some deployments fail because a traditional model of patching desktops, doing antivirus scans, and pushing out software were laid on top of a virtual infrastructure and caused crippling failure.

       

      So let’s assume you have provided the hardware infrastructure to deliver the performance needed for a virtual desktop. Again, not terribly difficult to do with today’s modern technology. The question then becomes – how do you deliver the applications? Recall that the entire point of a desktop is to provide a platform in which the user can connect with their software. Is the answer thin apps, streaming apps, or continue with thick installed apps? I tend to think this will be a combination of the above.

       

      Have you embarked on the journey towards providing virtual desktops, or even thin / streaming applications, to your clients or users? Care to share your experience and opinion?

      What challenge have you met that had to be conquered, compromised on, or caused your project to halt or shift in a new direction?

       

       

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        • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
          bsciencefiction.tv

          WE have been virtualizing apps in our environment for a couple of years now.  Delivering virtually Office, RSA administrator and several others with a roaming desktop.  Wherever you log in, you apps are waiting.  We are now looking at moving our lower end users ( meaning those with a base image) to a virtual desktop.

           

          The one issue we have run into is older applications do not seem to like being virtual.  We actually even have a couple of applications that are so finicky, that not only are the desktops still XP but the servers that back end the can not be moved to the cloud.

          • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
            Carlo Costanzo

            Call me Old School but I still do prefer to try to Jam as many applications as I can into a 'Golden Image' and then sort out the experience with the user via Group Policies and other 'On the Fly' customizations programmatically as the user logs in.  Obviously Application conflicts and temperamental apps will force a layered approach but there 's nothing like the speed and integration that a locally installed application gives to the user.

             

            CARLO.

              • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                chriswahl

                Your'e so old school! (You told me to call you that, so I did).

                 

                In a linked clone type deployment, having an army of apps in the golden image can be done - or with a storage array that deduplicates when using full "thick" images. I'm definitely a big fan of GPOs as that's what I used to use "back in the day" to push apps. Today, though, there's so many more ways to do that - streaming, thin, or even remote app (think: XenApp) that it becomes quite interesting in how you design the app delivery.

              • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                th3cap3

                From my own personal experiences with setting up a few smaller VDI environments, applications can be a tricky thing some times. Most of the ones I worked on, we were using VMwares VDI solution with Orchestrator and the client had a few different VM templates that had specific software installed for that type of user or group so that a persons AD group would determine what image they received when logging in from their thin client. I would also think a citrix type application could work, then you would just need a VM with the citrix client on it and the person logging in will have access to all of their stuff. This would allow you to maintain your apps in a central location and have a way to control and update your desktops easier (by updating the master image and "rebuilding" all of the VMs built from ssaid image).

                • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                  RandyBrown

                  We mainly just keep the 'golden image' updated with apps but there are times when we do thinapp.  My preference would be to get to the point where more than 50% of our apps virtual.  We are slow going with this only because there are (in my opinion) many apps that just don't virtualize well.  In addition, we were told by a consultant that heavily relying on ThinApp would decrease the login time of our View desktops.  I'm not sure if this is really true or not, but if there is any chance that ThinApps would slow down the user's login time (even if it's only once a month when we refresh the VMs) we would opt out.  Login time is a critical component for us and one of the main reasons that we have switched to desktop virtualization here at the hospital and our surrounding clinics.

                    • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                      chriswahl

                      Application packaging is a big ticket item from a level of effort perspective. Especially when you have an army of apps (I typically see 400+ apps in most deployments) to try and package. Most of the time a thin application won't slow down the login time - ThinApp, for example, can stream what is necessary to kick off the app in a "just in time" fashion, and only delivers the rest as needed. But obviously our mileage may vary depending on the app. Some apps, like Office Suite, are ones that I prefer to just bake into the image more often than not for this reason.

                    • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                      riannacone

                      I think the point is what is the FUTURE of APP delivery...As with all technology there's exists a learning curve to understanding the technology and also a curve to actually delivering. Many times theses curves can happen simultaneously where learning and delivery can be accomplished at the same (or near same) rate. I feel VDI is not one of these cases....The return to processing at the core was, in my opinion, a natural evolution back to where computing began, but the recent hurdles have been what can be delivered to the end users efficiently (green screens are not the desired app). Currently I think the technology is mature enough to provide the backend support for VDI and scales very well, but there's still strides to be made in adapting the software suites to function properly in this environment. With the popularity of Cloud computing, virtual/home offices and hosted networks I see apps to be forced into the virtual environment and IS/IT staff learning to support them in this way.

                       

                      My feeling is that within 2-4 years this will be a moot topic as the world of VDI and streamlining apps delivered in that architecture will be exploding. Maybe the Topic question will be "What did we do before VDI". Until then it will definitely be a messy mixed bag of methods!

                      • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                        byrona

                        We had some early conversations about moving towards a VDI solution; however, we ultimately have decided not to go in that direction for now.  In our environment we don't have a many users to there wouldn't necessarily be a huge benefit.

                         

                        As an outsider looking in, it doesn't seem like there has been a big movement from the application vendors to support VDI environments.

                        • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                          chipsch

                          We actually sell VDI where I work (network engineer so don't mess with it to much) and in all honesty it seems to have really had a positive impact on all of the clients that I have interacted with. We are a full Citrix environment in regards to that all the way down to the hypervisor. I personally really enjoy the experience of being able to access all of my content from a cloud environment when I am not at the data centers, it just makes sense to me.

                           

                          As for challenges it would probably plugin integration's at times and getting homegrown applications published to a VDI or XenApp environment.

                          • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                            jspanitz

                            I've been part of VDI implementations and currently work at a place with a really old VDI implementation that has been given little love.  Instead, we seem to be moving back to fat clients right now.  I'm not a part of it as my main focus is network and some server.  But it seems the trouble of VDI is more than it's worth for a smaller shop like the one I'm in now.  App virtualization is much more problematic than desktop and the few times we've done it, it has saved us time in deployment but cost us more in support later on.

                            • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                              freid.42

                              I do not have much hands on with a VDI experiance outside of user experiance.

                               

                              I much perfer the way things are done here, seems that we have citirix enviroment wherere everyting is delivered virtually, but the softwarere is housed on the servers in the back end.

                              • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                                gallifreyan

                                I've seen a lot of things recently in the VDI world (Pivot3 comes to mind in particular, and Xangati from a management standpoint) that, had they been around 5 years ago, I would have jumped at. The Fastscale (acquired by EMC) model might have eventually translated into desktop (at least *nix based desktop) efficiency, deploying blocks of software that were just what needed to be installed for a given app. So, no more cups/bluetooth/pcmcia/isdn on servers and no default webserver/ldap server/dns server on desktops.

                                 

                                I was looking at centralized Windows desktops about 4ish years ago but the best my vendors (even the trusted ones) could come up with was "*wavyhands* cloud *wavyhands* roi *wavyhands* tco *wavyhands* wanna go get drinks?" And I didn't drink enough to make it worth the trouble. So my IT team had a scripted process using one of the imaging products, and they could do four laptops in an hour. If someone killed their machine, we'd have another imaged for them within an hour.

                                 

                                These days, luckily for me, I'm not doing desktop deployment or support (except for my own).

                                • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                                  gunner2510

                                  I have tried a few methods for virtualizing over the past 5 years.  Here are my conclusions.

                                   

                                  1. One Size does not fit all.

                                  2. keep your image or images clean and free of applications

                                  3. Stream Desktops and Apps if you can

                                  4. limit personalization and profiles if you can or use a profile manager.

                                   

                                  We have tried 3 different products

                                  1. Vmware View (3 different versions)

                                  2. Kaviza

                                  3. XenDesktop from Citrix

                                   

                                  We are currenly using a VMWare farm to host our Citrix Xendesktop deployment and here are the components

                                   

                                  1. 2. xendesktop servers for brokerage and desktop group management

                                  2. 2 Provisioning servers for streaming the golden images.

                                  3. 2 DHCP servers with 2 split scopes for redundancy. (configured on the PVS servers)

                                  4. Citrix Profile manager server for personlized desktops.

                                  4. thinapp and APPv servers for Streaming apps

                                  5. Citrix license server to hand out xendesktop licenses

                                  6. vCenter for vmware management

                                  7. Citrix Netscaler for client connections

                                  8. Netapp SAS disk for golden image storage and backup.

                                   

                                   

                                  We have over 300 virtual desktops running from only 500Gb of disk and 8 blade servers.  the clients range from home workers using Wyse terminals to Linux workstations that only have a web browser installed. I am willing to share more about our setup, if anyone is interested.

                                    • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                                      Carlo Costanzo

                                      gunner2510 wrote:

                                       

                                      We are currenly using a VMWare farm to host our Citrix Xendesktop deployment and here are the components

                                       

                                      1. 2. xendesktop servers for brokerage and desktop group management

                                      2. 2 Provisioning servers for streaming the golden images.

                                      3. 2 DHCP servers with 2 split scopes for redundancy. (configured on the PVS servers)

                                      4. Citrix Profile manager server for personlized desktops.

                                      4. thinapp and APPv servers for Streaming apps

                                      5. Citrix license server to hand out xendesktop licenses

                                      6. vCenter for vmware management

                                      7. Citrix Netscaler for client connections

                                      8. Netapp SAS disk for golden image storage and backup.

                                       

                                      Definitely interesting that you are running XD AND ThinApp.  I assume it is because you had already purchased View and then decided against using it.  Due to financial costs, I unfortunately rarely see that combo in the field.  I do love ThinApp.

                                    • Re: What Is The Future of Application Delivery?
                                      skubasteeve

                                      I am just now stepping into a totally new world, SCCM. Our company really hasn't touched the potential of it apparently. And it will be up to me to unlock its powers.

                                       

                                      I really hope I am able to do something with it. I dont have any knowledge of .vbs, and that is my only fear for the package delivery.