Desktop Virtualization – A first approach

Dynamic Workplace Blog / 13. September 2011

The first question when thinking about desktop virtualization is: Why should you care about desktops?

They are not sexy, they are not sophisticated, and you are not going to get famous for running desktops properly.

So…why should you care about them? The main reason is because they are integral to service delivery. The desktop is the most common point of access for users and therefore of great importance for user productivity and satisfaction. Your backend services can be brilliant; your network can be high speed; but what’s the benefit of that if your users can’t access the network or the applications because the desktop is down?

Now that the  importance of the desktop is clear, the next question is: What is desktop virtualization?

In traditional desktop models, the computer runs an operating system where individual  applications are executed with their user interface displayed on the computer screen. By introducing virtualization, you break the direct connection between physical hardware, operating system and application. There are different types of desktop virtualization that we will explore later on.

The next question of course is: Why should you bother with desktop virtualization?

The main reason is to centralize the management of your user´s desktop. Let´s have a look at a “normal” customer environment. You will probably find more than 3 operating systems, more than 100 applications running on the desktops and for sure an unbelievable number of different settings.

With desktop virtualization there is “one desktop for all,” controlled and managed from a central point. This approach brings a lot of operational benefits such as asset management, patch management, license management, backup and recovery and easier deployment of desktop policies.

Unfortunately there is no one-size-fits-all desktop virtualization method. Here is a short overview of the most common approaches:

Userstate virtualization
Virtualize the link between a user´s configuration setting and / or data and store this on a server so that any connected desktop client can access a user session. 

Application virtualization
Application virtualization (also known as application portability or application service virtualization) is the practice of running software from a remote server rather than on the user’s computer. Dynamic link library (DLL) programs redirect all the virtualized application’s calls to the server’s file system. When software is run from the server in this manner, no changes are made to the local computer’s operating system, file system or registry. 

Session virtualization
Session virtualization is derived from the “thin client architecture” model. Multiple desktop clients log on to a server, running a single instance of an operating
system. Applications can run desktop integrated on the same server or published from other server without a desktop. The display and sound are transmitted to a client.

Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)
VDI is an extension of the thin client idea. In this case each user has an operating system instance on the server, running as a virtual machine. VDI is often what people mean when they use the term “desktop virtualization” in a general way.

Now let´s talk about the T-Systems approach to Desktop Virtualization.

T-Systems offer Virtual Desktops as part of the Managed Workplace Service (MWS). Managed Workplace Services are standardized and particularly cost-efficient but are tailored to three different roles: the Service Workplace, Office Workplace and Traveller Workplace.

Here is what Gartner says about our approach: T-Systems customers welcome the trend towards industrialized and standardized desktop outsourcing services. They confirm a high degree of service quality and the partnership-based approach of the ICT service provider. 

Here are some impressive figures which show the capability of T-Systems as a Workplace Service Provider: Worldwide T-Systems operates

  • 1.5 million desktop workstations with help desks in 28 countries,
  • 800,000 mailboxes based on Lotus Notes or MS Exchange

We at T-Systems consider the Service Workplace as being the most efficient for desktop virtualization. The Service Workplace is ideal for Task Worker and shift operation (e.g. Call Center). For most of our customers’ Service Workplaces, we prefer thin clients to desktops or notebooks. In that way we can help our customers to reduce their IT costs dramatically.

Here is an example:

A company with 15,000 employees can decrease its ICT costs by EUR 250,000 per month with Managed Workplace Services. The increase in efficiency: up to 30%. Further information can be found in the here. 

Let´s go more into the details of the technology we are using for desktop virtualization:

  • For the base of our Virtualization Services we use Citrix products
  • For secure authentication we use NetScaler
  • For Profile Management we use products from AppSense
  • For printing from all locations we use products from ThinPrint
  • For Application Virtualization we use App-V

In one of my next blogs I will give more details on desktop virtualization vendors (their technology, their roadmaps, and how users can benefit from that). I will also introduce how desktop virtualization in T-Systems is done.



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