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A couple weeks ago, Windows 7 turned one year old with over 240 million licenses sold. Following that anniversary, Rich Reynolds shared related information about customer successes and industry trends that are changing traditional client computing; causing vendors and customers to rethink how they do business, deliver services and gain the most from their infrastructure to enable better business agility. Today, I’d like to lay out Microsoft’s position on the Desktop Virtualization trend and guide you through how you can incorporate it into your Windows strategy for the future.
To provide some context around this trend, Gartner’s EXP Worldwide Survey of nearly 1,600 CIOs shows Virtualization as the #1 technology priority in 2010. In addition, the Gartner User Survey Analysis: Desktop Virtualization Is Top PC Investment Priority for 2011 (M. Escherich, Oct. 2010) indicates that globally, 42% of respondents plan to begin investing in or continue investing in desktop virtualization before year-end 2011 where infrastructure consolidation (45%) and application management (38%) are two of the main projects that will be enabled through desktop virtualization. In addition, IDC’s recent Virtual Client Computing Survey demonstrates that at least 30% of respondents are using one or more desktop virtualization solutions in production today.
So, what exactly do I mean when I say Desktop Virtualization?
Years ago, we approached the desktop in a manner that required treating it as a single entity – we installed applications into our base image, we tested the sum of the parts together to ensure that one didn’t break the other, and eventually rolled out many large images in mass deployment. These were the best practices we had at that time and those approaches served us well.
Now, Desktop Virtualization allows flexibility to deliver, test and manage the “layers” individually ultimately enabling you to roll out Windows 7 faster and manage it more easily. Microsoft’s virtualization technologies are completely integrated with the new Windows 7 UI, System Center and Office 2010. Let’s take a closer look at what I mean by the “layers” of Desktop Virtualization below.
OK, but what are the benefits of using these new approaches? Let’s take them one at a time.
User state virtualization enables user mobility and fast recovery of data in the event a device is lost. Because the data is stored centrally and delivered on demand when the user logs in, they get their Windows experience immediately regardless of the location they log in. If they lose their primary device, IT delivers a “vanilla machine” without needing to copy any data. Microsoft offers roaming profiles and folder redirection to address user state virtualization.
Application virtualization enables IT to deliver applications much faster to their end users with fewer interruptions. With streaming, applications are delivered on demand when the user needs them, not when IT decides to push them. Application updates happen automatically on launch without the requirement of installation or rebooting. Overall, it reduces IT labor effort in all aspect of the application lifecycle to deliver higher-quality, more responsive services to the business. Microsoft offers App-V and RemoteApp for local & hosted virtual application delivery.
OS Virtualization offers benefits in two areas. When installed on a local PC it allows you to run two versions of Windows simultaneously on the same device to address legacy application compatibility issues. I described this in my MED-V 2.0 Beta post last month.
The second approach is to virtualize the operating system and host the desktop in the datacenter. The primary benefit is that hosted virtual desktops enable IT to keep critical data secured in the datacenter by preventing applications and data from being stored on the end point devices. This approach also enables flexible work scenarios such as hot-desking, work from home and can provide better business continuity and faster return to productivity for disaster recovery scenarios. Microsoft offers VDI Suites and Remote Desktop Services to address hosted desktop scenarios.
Now you may be thinking … How can I apply this to my desktop strategy now and in the near future with Windows 7?
We recommend that you start with User State and Application Virtualization first. Both of these layers can help you realize monetary and technology benefits across all approaches to desktop management. These virtualization technologies can be applied to physical or virtual desktops, running locally on a laptop or desktop; or as a virtual desktop hosted in the datacenter.
When thinking about the OS Virtualization layer ask yourself these basic questions…
A key point to remember is that hosted desktops in the datacenter always require network connectivity.
Customers who are already invested in Citrix technologies will be pleased to know that you can integrate Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp with all of Microsoft’s Desktop Virtualization offerings. This whitepaper details additional information on leveraging MDOP’s App-V and System Center with Citrix technologies. To get a sense for how customers are taking advantage of these technologies together, check out the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and Telcom Italia case studies.
Although we didn’t discuss management in depth here, we will in future posts. If there is one thing you need to keep in mind, it’s that management is critical to your success. While some virtualization technologies will make management faster and easier, management is not displaced. Management is critical and if you have strong practices now, those disciplines can directly apply to virtualization as well. If your management is inconsistent, you will find it to be just as challenging when applying virtualization. Microsoft has simplified management of physical and virtual environments while ensuring that System Center can address both with minimal to no additional infrastructure investment.
Get it. Got it. Now you want more …. Where do you go?
David Trupkin, Sr. Product Manager for App-V/Med-V and Skand Mittal, Desktop Virtualization Product Manager are live at TechEd Europe in Berlin this week and have a great blog post over on Springboard for IT Pros where they are talking to MVPs, Partners and Microsoft Program Managers about where to get started as well as some exciting news about what’s coming in App-V 4.6 SP1! In addition, they had a chance to catch up with longtime partner Citrix, who gave a sneak peak on some new capabilities that really showcases the integration of XenDesktop with App-V, System Center, and RemoteFX.
For additional technical information, check out our newly launched Microsoft Desktop Virtualization Zone.
For cost savings and business case content, see the App-V TCO study, VDI TCO Study, and Forrester’s Total Economic Impact of App-V study and TEI companion worksheet for your environment. You can also take a look at the newly released Windows Optimized Desktop eBook which provides an overview of Windows 7 and Desktop Virtualization together in real world business scenarios.
In the coming weeks and months, I will continue to discuss trends in Desktop Virtualization, express Microsoft’s position and deliver guidance on how you can take advantage of Microsoft virtualization in your environment. So keep checking back here and feel free to post questions or suggested topics so I can address them in future posts.
I love virtualization. I hope XP mode gets better with future Windows releases. 32 bit color, 3D accelleration etc.
Great blog explaining benefits and cost savings. Microsoft and Citrix is also running joint promotion: VDI Kick Start and Rescue for VMware VDI. If you are interested in futher delivering great windows 7 experience at low cost.