November 24, 2015
While the future of technology can, at times, be uncertain, clear trends are still identifiable. The refinement of cloud technology continues to move applications and infrastructure out of the office location and into cloud data centers. This shift in the paradigm has given rise to such terms and concepts as “infrastructure as a service” (IaaS), “software as a service” (SaaS), and “platform as a service” (PaaS) among others. Now through the software provided by developers such as VMware and Citrix, desktops can also be rendered as a service, otherwise known as “desktop as a service” (DaaS). The software that makes this possible is commonly called “Virtual Desktop Infrastructure” (VDI).
This approach yields several attractive benefits for small businesses as well as enterprise organizations.
What is DaaS and Virtual Desktop Infrastructure?
Much like SaaS or IaaS, VDI technology unshackles the desktop from the physical machine. Instead, desktops are hosted virtually in a cloud-based data center and accessed remotely by whatever device is most convenient for the user at the time. Whether on a PC/laptop, thin client device, tablet, or even a smartphone, the personalized and familiar desktop experience can be accessed, utilized, and then closed only to open the same desktop again on another device.
Citrix XenDesktop: A Transition to the Cloud Era
Citrix is one of a few developers championing VDI technology with their XenDesktop application. This application allows the IT department to install Microsoft Windows at a central location and users to access their desktops from any device. Originally developed in an open source hypervisor project in 2000, XenDesktop was acquired by Citrix in 2008, and new versions of the program have been consistently released ever since. Currently, the most up-to-date version is Citrix 7.6.
Citrix itself describes the product as, “…a complete transformation that will take all Citrix solutions from the PC era to the cloud era.”
Benefits of the Citrix XenDesktop
- Any Device, Whenever It’s Needed: In a world where everyone has multiple devices, the ability for desktops to transcend the physical device empowers the mobile workforce. It enables workers to achieve a unified, consistent experience regardless of device.
- Consolidated Management: By converging all virtual apps and desktop delivery into a centralized platform, managing the environment becomes much simpler. With XenDesktop, the internal IT team can enact sweeping policy updates across all desktops at once. Furthermore, Citrix EdgeSight allows for advanced centralized monitoring of every desktop in action.
- Easy Compatibility and Public Cloud: XenDesktop was designed to be compatible with all hypervisors, storage arrays, and networks. For those companies deploying public cloud solutions, XenDesktop can also be hosted through Amazon Web Services (AWS).
- Personalized Desktops: Normally in a pooled VDI environment, desktop changes are restricted or fail to carry over between sessions. XenDesktop, on the other hand, uses Personal vDisk technology to allow each user to create a personalized desktop environment that will transfer between sessions and devices.
- Operating System Upgrades: Whenever a company wanted to upgrade the operating system desktop computers across the company, organizing and implementing the new OS proved to be a mammoth challenge of validation testing, manual installs, and administrative quagmires. Using XenDesktop, the entire process can be quickly completed from a centralized location.
Use Cases of Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
The ability granted by Citrix XenDesktop to access a desktop from any device in any location is enormously valuable in a number of scenarios.
- Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery: Because desktops are accessed remotely, employees will still be able to use their desktops on alternative devices should a disaster occur at the main office.
- Remote or Branch Offices: The XenDesktop removes the need to keep IT resources at branch offices. All necessary infrastructure to sustain the VDI deployment can be housed in the central corporate data center and then managed and accessed remotely.
- Desktops as a Secure Managed Service: Desktops can easily be positioned as a Managed Service through Mindsight. XenDesktop provides our engineers a secure and controlled way to access and maintain corporate applications. IT directors no longer need to be responsible for moves, adds, and changes to the environment. That and more can be safely handled by an experienced Mindsight engineer.
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