Microsoft Win8 server, Citrix-Dell to debut next-gen VDI solutions

Windows 8 Server will offer three Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) options: Pooled Desktops, Personal Desktops, and Remote Desktop Sessions (formerly Terminal Services). Meanwhile, Citrix-Dell will ship this spring a turnkey VDI-In-A-Box. Gartner Group says next gen Personal Cloud will replace PC desktop by 2014

Microsoft's next generation Windows 8 Server addresses VDI head on and gives enterprise customers three flexible Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) options: Pooled Desktops, Personal Desktops, and Remote Desktop Sessions (formerly Terminal Services), the company's web site noted.

"Your IT professionals can customize a mix of deployment scenarios to meet your organization’s needs and manage all of them from one unified console," Microsoft wrote about its forthcoming server.

"Built on Hyper-V and Remote Desktop Services, VDI offers simplified installation and configuration, one centralized management console and RemoteFX for WAN improvements," Microsoft added.

Citrix and Dell plan to release this spring a "VDI-in-a-box" solution designed to ease the on ramp to desktop virtualization.

The appliance is aimed at SMBs and is pre-certified to support X numbers of desktops. The VDI-in-a-Box grid architecture runs on Dell servers.

The turnkey appliance, Citrix claims, will make "virtual desktop deployments as simple as assembling building blocks."

"It's an easy, affordable, all-in-one desktop virtualization solution that enables IT to deliver centrally-managed virtual desktops for less than the cost of PCs and is especially ideal for small and midsize businesses," wrote Lori Serure, a Citrix blogger advising partners to become certified to sell the solution. "VDI-in-a-Box delivers enterprise-grade capabilities, without their cost and complexity bringing the realization of a simplified, inexpensive desktop virtualization appliance that can be easily deployed to a large segment of the market."

Those are some rosy promises. Enterprise, medium-sized businesses and SMB customers have been as reluctant to adopt desktop virtualization as they are to adopt cloud computing, a related technology.

Server virtualization, the underlying platform of cloud computing, is another story. Its use has matured in enterprise circles. But enterprise adoption of server-centric VDI and private/public clouds? Nascent, at best.

We're not talking about client-side virtualization here. We're talking about remote access and centralized management of fully-featured desktops, first enabled by terminal services and now enabled by virtualization technologies

Brian Madden, a virtualization blogger and longtime enthusiast of virtual desktop technology, said he was surprised by the scant use of VDI technology by the audience at one of his Seattle area conferences.

"Those 1,000 and 10,000-seat deployments that are talked about by the vendors are few and far between, Madden wrote in a recent blog. "It also backs up my suspicion that the bulk of VDI deployments are simple and only require simple solutions instead of mega-complex behemoth solutions. Vendors should be paying very close attention. "

Not much has changed. In 2010, another VDI watcher, Dr. Bernhard Tritsch, http://drtritsch.com, had this to say.

"Both Citrix and VMware claim that they are the market leader and currently have a VDI user base of roughly 1.5 million each – in a market of 600 million desktops in total.  This means that VDI has a 1% market share at most, but only if all VDI licenses delivered by all VDI vendors are used in production.  That’s not too impressive, but okay, it’s an emerging market. Even if it was 5%, traditional desktops would still be dominating the market. And this is exactly what I hear when talking to customers: VDI is still a niche. Migrating their physical PCs to Windows 7 is far more important for most customers."

Microsoft today holds up its RemoteFX, Windows Server 2000 Hyper-V,  App-V application virtualization software and System Center Configuration Manager in combination with partner Citrix's XenDesktop as a suitable VDI solution.

Yet its clear Microsoft retooled its forthcoming Windows 8 desktop and server to ease VDI implementation.

"We’ve seen many enterprise organizations consider Virtual Desktop Infrastructures (VDI) to help centrally manage thin client machines – giving end users the anywhere access they need and a familiar desktop experience, while simultaneously heightening data security throughout their organization. However, there have been some barriers to VDI adoption – either concern that the user experience will not meet expectations, that it’s difficult to implement or that the storage is too costly," according to the Microsoft web site.

" With Windows 8, VDI is reimagined to offer more and address those concerns. Users will be able to get a virtualized experience that feels like a rich client experience, with things like high-definition graphics fully responsive to touch, along with high performance and support for local USB devices. Additionally, IT will be able to implement VDI infrastructures that are more cost effective and easier to manage. "

Microsoft VDI

Microsoft VDI

Given the cost of desktop management, it's a no brainer that the technology will be adopted. But I doubt we'll know it as VDI.

The intense focus on the 3rd generation platform --  characterized by the rise in use of tablets and smartphones and other mobile devices, virtualization and cloud computing, evolution of applications into services and apps and social networking -- suggests that the personal cloud will replace the personal computer in users' digital lives by 2014, according to Gartner Group analysts.

That is, corporate deployment of private/public clouds and management tools will ultimately make VDI -- or whatever it is to be called (Id offer up Personal/Professional Cloud to define the next generation desktop  -- an everyday reality.

"Major trends in client computing have shifted the market away from a focus on personal computers to a broader device perspective that includes smartphones, tablets and other consumer devices," said Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner. "Emerging cloud services will become the glue that connects the web of devices that users choose to access during the different aspects of their daily life."

"Virtualization has improved flexibility and increased the options for how IT organizations can implement client environments," according to a Gartner release also issued today.

"Virtualization has, to some extent, freed applications from the peculiarities of individual devices, operating systems or even processor architectures. Virtualization provides a way to move the legacy of applications and processes developed in the PC era forward into the new emerging world. This provides low-power devices access to much-greater processing power, thus expanding their utility and increasing the reach of processor-intensive applications."