Monthly highlights – March 2010
Every month I will try to wrap up some highlights about virtualization news, personal experience or other IT related items which had my attention, this time March 2010:
Citrix developed HDX for ICA and are a step ahead of VMware, just because VMware doesn’t own PC-over-IP. What if Teradici will be acquired by another company? As a VMware View customer, should you switch back to RDP?
A great overview with several desktop virtualization vendors can be found on Brian Madden’s Geek Week: VDI Shootout – Must read!
While there is a lot of discussion about desktop virtualization, there are no massive real-life implementations yet. Is this because it is still expensive to start a desktop virtualization deployment? Maybe, but if you think it will be expensive, start with an assessment about desktop virtualization in your organization. I think there will be several cases where the “good old” terminal services are a best fit. Terminal Services evolved as well; check out the latest version of Citrix XenApp 6 with HDX technology for example. Desktop virtualization is not about VDI only; I think the real VDI (hosted VM-based desktops) will be a small piece of the cake. Especially when the client hypervisor kicks in.
VMware released ThinApp 4.5; Sooner than I expected, VMware released 4.5 of ThinApp. No real major new features, but the product has now Full Windows 7 support. This is important for adoption of Windows 7 in VMware View (waiting for View to fully support Windows 7).
Next to that there is a relink feature which makes it possible to quickly update your existing packages to the new version. Also some performance enhancements are made, increased memory sharing between multiple instances of applications. This is good news when you want to use ThinApp on a Terminal Server environment. There were some rumours that server application virtualization (eg. MS Sharepoint) should be available in this release, too bad it isn’t, hopefully this will be something for the next release.
Microsoft announcements on 18 March; Then there were some major announcements from Microsoft and Citrix, brought to us by a real talkshow :-), which can be found online. The biggest one was about more flexibility in the roaming user rights for Windows and Office. This was a major issue for companies looking for desktop virtualization and license compliancy. Next to that Microsoft announced to lower the prices for the VDA (Virtual Desktop Access) license (formerly known as VECD), when you have SA (Software Assurance) on your Windows licenses you can have VDA licenses for free. While it is a step forward there are still some enhancements needed, read this article. What to think about this “Any non-SA eligible endpoint owned by the organization that needs to access a virtual desktop must have its own Windows VDA license” ?? This means a user-owned smartphone accessing a virtual desktop will be much cheaper than a company-owned smartphone.
So when we do some calculations , it seems that it may be more cost-effective to use a “fat client” to connect to your virtual desktop. This way Microsoft is still promoting their client OS but also rich clients. Why? I think it has to do with System Center, Configuration Manager has less value in a thin client environment. With the upcoming client hypervisors (is Microsoft working on that already?), it seems Microsoft is still slowing down massive desktop virtualization adoption. They need some time to develop RemoteFX and next to that they need to transform SCCM into some kind of broker. With SCCM it should be possible to manage the client environment, where SCCM “decides” how the desktop session and applications are delivered to the client (some kind of FlexCast). These are just some thoughts, what do you think?
There was also an announcement about Service Pack 1 for Windows Server 2008R2 / Windows 7 with the availability of the Calista technology (RemoteFX). Some detailed information about this technology can be found here. The expected release date will be somewhere in Q4 2010.
Then there was the Microsoft-and-Citrix-working-together-against-VMware announcement, with a rescue action for VMware View customers. I don’t expect there are a lot of VMware View customers who need to be rescued. But with this action customers who are in de evaluation process for VMware View, will re-think their solution.
Citrix released XenApp 6; XenApp 6 includes full support for Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 and adds a number of platform enhancements including simplified provisioning, easier automation and optimized management for your XenApp farm. This means XenApp 6 is 64-bit only, which also means your applications need to be compatible with this. XenApp 6 will be made available to the XenDesktop suite as well. Citrix did a good job by working on an integration with App-V rather than only focusing on their own application virtualization solution. I’ve already installed XenApp in my own lab environment. The installation process has improved and I was impressed by the group policy integration. Now I need to find some time to dig deeper into XenApp 6, hopefully next month