Application Virtualization and VDI
Virtualization to the Max
It almost seems like virtualization is now everywhere. We started by first virtualizing servers, then we virtualized applications, and now we’re virtualizing desktops. What else is there left to virtualize…ourselves? One thing I’ve promised my readers when I started this blog is to report on the latest ideas of what I’m seeing customers do with virtualization technologies. Recently I came across a company in Canada who is looking to put together a desktop virtualization solution for professionals such as dentists, doctors, lawyers, etc. Basically, they are providing a completely managed Desktop as a Service (DaaS) platform by leveraging VDI in combination with Application Virtualization.
What are they doing?
They are using VDI to give users a common desktop so regardless of what’s going on with their physical PCs or thin clients, the VDI environment will give them a safe and stable desktop. I understand a lot of people out there are already deploying VDIs with applications to different customers. What sets this company in Canada apart from everyone else is that they’re doing this by managing just one vanilla Windows XP image. This way they don’t need to manage and maintain several different VDI images for all their different customers. As a result, they require less management meaning better TCO.
What about the applications?
The applications are being streamed in an on-demand fashion by an application virtualization and streaming technology. The applications their clients require are packaged and stored on a single server that sits in the same location as the VDI servers. The close proximity allows them to be streamed in an almost instantaneous matter. By centrally managing the applications, upgrades and patches can easily be performed without having to create and deploy new VDI images to customer desktops saving enormous amount of IT personal time and making patching/upgrading mission critical. In addition, by streaming the applications to various VDI instances from a central server, application licenses can be centrally managed and tracked so an organization can further benefit from better licensing utilization.
So how are they doing this?
They are using VDI and Application Streaming and Virtualization. They are using Citrix’s XenDesktop 4 to power the VDI and they are using Endeavors Technolgies’ Application Jukebox to stream and virtualize the applications. They have setup Active Directory to manage their users and have integrated both technologies to capitalize on the AD. Once they add applications to Application Jukebox, they can simply assign a license to an AD user group and all the users in that group can access that application via a web portal or the administrator can auto-deploy it to different VDI clients using group policy.
Professional type organizations don’t have the luxury to have an IT person at hand to troubleshoot OS or Application issues. They just need a solution that will work day in and day out without having to think about it. This type of solution is very easy to adapt because it doesn’t require any additional purchase of hardware. If and when they need new hardware, they can buy an inexpensive thin client. I think the monthly subscription price point for the DaaS will justify the outsourcing. If it’s too expensive then people will not adapt but if priced correctly organizations will see it as a no brainer. Other benefits include being able to access your desktop from any web browser in the world and the ability to easily expand or move offices without experiencing any downtime.
I believe this company will be successful with their business model of providing DaaS. They seem to already have a couple customers awaiting the release and expect to grow to thousands of desktops within a year. As that number increases, economies of scale will work in their favor and allow them to lower their monthly subscription fee while maintaining a healthy margin.