If you’re not a subscriber to the TechNet newsletter, it’s actually a pretty good bi-weekly resource on Microsoft technologies, events, user groups, blogs, videos and more.  In this issue however, yours truly was asked to prepare an article on Desktop Virtualisation, to which I obliged.  I thought I’d include the article here, below, for those of you who aren’t subscribers.  Admittedly, in the article, I couldn’t go into the detail I would have liked to have gone to due to a slightly restrictive word count, but hopefully the article highlights the messages I’ve been trying to get across over the last few weeks around choices in a desktop strategy.

So, without further adieu…

With the launch of Windows 7, more and more organisations are weighing up their options for their desktop strategy going forward, with Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, or VDI, becoming an attractive option with popularity growing almost daily. The question however, still remains. Is VDI the answer to your desktop problems? Certain vendors would lead you to believe that it is, yet, if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem is going to look like a nail. Microsoft, with Partners such as Citrix, Quest and Ericom to name but a few, take a different approach, with Microsoft in particular focusing on the 'Optimised Desktop' as a starting point for discussion. An optimised desktop to me, may look very different to you, so it's incredibly important to perform a thorough assessment of your users, and business requirements, before deciding on a particular solution to optimise your desktops.

To help with the assessment, Microsoft has developed an IPD Guide known as Windows Optimised Desktop Scenarios, which aims to segregate users into categories, based on their usage patterns and business requirements. These categories include Office, Mobile, Task, Home, and Contract Worker, with each having different needs to perform their role effectively. Now, there is no perfect description that will be applicable 100% of the time, but it's a great starting point. Take me as an example. I'm on the road a great deal, so the things that are important to me, to do my job effectively, include streamlined access to my corporate data, combined with local access when on the road. Security of data, both locally, and on removable devices, but also applications being provided locally, that can be used when I'm not connected to the internal network. I'm sure I'm not alone with that description, so you'll agree that a Virtual Desktop, in a datacenter, isn't the ideal solution for me, as I can't always guarantee a network connection, so to be productive, an offline solution, utilising in-box features of Windows 7, like DirectAccess, BranchCache and BitLocker, with App-V for streamlined applications offers me the best solution.

If on the other hand, I fell into the Task Worker category, perhaps in a Call-Center, or Warehouse type environment, a session-based experience (TS or RDS) would offer me the simplest, most cost effective way of working effectively. Task Workers by nature, don't need to be installing, configuring, tweaking or modifying an OS, so a well-managed session-based environment is ideal, and will allow the organisation to provide users with a working environment at a higher density than an equivalent VDI rollout, with a strong ROI to boot, with simpler licensing, and storage requirements.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't designed to dismiss VDI as 'the way to go', as for certain segments of the organisation, it could be perfect. It allows users to retain their power user status, with a rich, true desktop environment, plus overcomes barriers where certain applications won't run in a session-based environment. It can also bring a very dynamic edge to desktop delivery, enabling an agile infrastructure that can adapt to change quickly. The key thing to think about is, ensure you perform a thorough assessment, and don't simply move your current desktop problems into the datacenter, but instead, use this as an opportunity to optimise, with the right technologies, for the right user, to enable them to do their job more effectively. That answer may or may not be VDI.

With Windows 7, the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack, and Remote Desktop Services in Windows Server 2008 R2, the options around the Optimised Desktop have never been greater, so I encourage you to make use of the tools and resources available, and ensure your desktop of the future is the right one for your business.

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