XenApp or XenDesktop or both? That is the question!

2010 saw the dawn of the Desktop Virtualization Wars, and also stiffer competition on the Server Virtualization market. All of 2010 I went around talking to customers both in Norway and also in other places on this globe about Virtual Desktops can do for them. The question it got the most was, what is happening to XenApp, is it going away? Well, I’m probably not the right guy to ask that question(under NDA and all that stuff), but I can take you down a road where we can talk a bit why XenApp still is important and why you should care about Desktop Virtualization and XenDesktop. So why should you do XenDesktop when you have a perfectly worked about business delivery strategy with XenApp in place? Well, it’s all back to the apps! If some of you came to the GeekSpeak Live Tonight “show” at Synergy San Francisco 2010 and Synergy Berlin 2010, you might have heard us CTPs talk about Applications. Yes, the same disucssion comes up all the time, the apps. As long as there will be a company that makes the Windows platform(or any other operating system based platform), there will be apps. If these apps are delivered from the cloud/Internet or hosted on a OS somewhere, there will be apps. Apps will also have compability issues. Take a bank or any other organisation for that matter, they have several apps that A: Are to old, and just work, so they will not move it, B: to expensive to change and rewrite for 64-bit OS’s or C: are to mission critical to the organisation that they will not risk downtime at all, in a change to a new system process.

So, what does this really mean? Well, IT’s job is to give access to these apps, right? In doing so they have for many years, delivered them with XenApp. Being a secure, remote solution and time and money saving method, we all know the drill. So, where does this leave us? Now that Microsoft develops only 64-bit server operating systems, this means that all these apps that are either 16-bit or 32-bit, and just don’t want to work in a 64-bit environment will be a huge challenge. Also, I’ve talked a lot to customers during 2010, that have said that they can’t upgrade to XenApp 6, because of these apps that don’t work in a 64-bit environment. These customers still run on XenApp 5 or older versions, and this is where the Virtual Desktop enters! With a Virtual Desktop delivered with XenDesktop, you can still provide the look and feel that remote users are used to connecting with, and combat the application compability issue! Why, because you can move the “problem apps” into an operating system that it works in, like Windows XP or Windows 7 32-bit, and deliver it to the user. This also benefits the user, because the already published applications can be integrated into the Virtual Desktop, so the user can access them via either their start menu, Dazzle or the Web Interface. IT gets lover TCO because of less downtime, less management and can deliver any application to any user regardless if they are 16-bit, 32-bit or 64-bit apps. XenApp can run on the latest version, with the applications that are compatibile, while the other applications run in a Desktop environment.

What is the bottom line?

The bottom line is that in combinding these different delivery mechanismes that we got, at the end of the day, we have more to manage yes, but it’s simpler to manage, because apps are usually a “no brainer” to install in a Virtual Desktop.

Please, I want a discussion around the topic, because so many people have so many different opinions on the subject! So, use the comment field or FaceBook!