Citrix VM Hosted Apps: Using VDI for application hosting

Among all the glitz and glam of VDI, people often forget it's also a means of application hosting. Citrix VM Hosted Apps is a new application delivery method worth checking out.

Series: It's the Apps, Stupid!

Application and desktop virtualization, streaming, automated installation and packaging, virtual machine-hosted apps -- oh my! Dig around the hottest technologies and you'll quickly see that applications have become job number one. We've built mature infrastructures, secured their networks and learned how to best operate them, so what should we focus on next?

In this ongoing dramatic series, experts Greg Shields and Don Jones take the stage to help you realize the answer that's right in front of you: "It's the apps, stupid!"

There are many ways to deliver applications these days, and VDI shouldn't be left out in the rain.

Other episodes in this series

You can use virtual desktops to deliver hosted apps, but many admins forget that when they implement virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI). One way to try application hosting is using Citrix VM Hosted Apps, an app delivery mechanism that combines application virtualization and streaming, desktop virtualization, and presentation virtualization. The company describes it as a way to "deliver applications hosted on desktops, but unlike XenDesktop, it gives users no direct access to the desktops themselves."

In this month's episode of It's the Apps, Stupid, Greg and Don discuss how VDI can be a vehicle for application hosting with products such as Citrix VM Hosted Apps.

DON:      So, how's your new consulting client?

GREG:     In a word, "meh."They caught the VDI bug and now they're laser-focused on it.

DON:      Let me guess, to the exclusion of all other application delivery methods at their disposal, right?

GREG:     Right, but the concept of application delivery isn't new to these guys. They have a few old-school Terminal Services -- er, I mean Remote Desktop Services -- admins on staff and strong skills in application virtualization.

DON:      What's the issue then?

GREG:     The virtualization team is pushing hard to "move all our desktops into the data center."

DON:      A virtual power play.

GREG:     More like a group of well-meaning people getting really excited about the latest shiny technology.

DON:      You're the consultant. What advice have you offered?

GREG:     The usual story: VDI is only one in a growing array of application delivery approaches.

DON:      I've gotta say, IT's fascination with VDI has a lot in common with the Terminal Services storyline that started a decade ago. History seems to be repeating itself.

GREG:     What storyline is that?

DON:      You're the Terminal Services MVP. Remember the shift away from presenting desktops toward presenting applications?

GREG:     Funny, but I get your point. That was back when Citrix Published Applications were all the rage. We'd say, "Why deliver double desktops, when you can give users just the applications they need." So, what's the parallel today?

DON:      At its core, VDI is a delivery mechanism, right?

GREG:     Right.

DON:      But VDI doesn't have to be limited to merely delivering yet another desktop. You can use virtual desktops as a home for published applications and application hosting, too.

GREG:     That's right! I’d almost forgotten about VM-hosted applications. The concept of hosted apps has been around a while, but Citrix VM Hosted Apps is relatively new as actual buttons to click.

DON:      Don't forget: VMware has a similar product called VMware AppBlast, and Microsoft offers this kind of application delivery in their stack, too.

GREG:     Remind me how Citrix VM Hosted Apps work again.

DON:      Citrix VM Hosted Apps require a bit of integration to work successfully, but the concept of hosted apps goes like this: User needs application. He clicks on a website or Start Menu item to launch that application. When that happens, the application gets provisioned to a virtual desktop, often through an app virtualization and streaming technology. Once the application is provisioned to the virtual desktop --

GREG:     … just that application gets presented back to the user --

DON:      … in a seamless window. Thus, a VM-hosted application.

GREG:     Don, you're a genius. Application hosting with products like Citrix VM Hosted Apps is perfect for organizations that want VDI and have experience with Remote Desktop Services, application virtualization and application delivery.

DON:      Remember, keep their attention focused on the applications --

GREG:     I know, I know, not just the desktops. Because at the end of the day, what does the business care about? It's the apps, stupid!

Read all episodes of the It's the Apps, Stupid series.

Join the conversation – Give us your comments.

This was first published in March 2012

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