What's in a name? Demystifying app delivery and VDI product naming

Products change their names more often than professional athletes. (Metta World Peace, anyone?) But when it comes to VDI product naming, that can get pretty confusing.

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!"

Other episodes in this series:

The new age of application delivery methods: More than just install

Citrix VM Hosted Apps: Using VDI for application hosting

Reverse seamless windows: The secret to local apps on remote desktops

Virtual desktop applications: Learning from Terminal Services' mistakes

What's old is new again, but what's different? Oftentimes, it's merely the same -- except for the name.

IT vendors are fascinated with changing the names of products and features, and then serving them back up as something new. Nowhere is this more prevalent than with application delivery vendors. Remember WinFrame? MetaFrame? Presentation Server? How about XenApp? They're all the same product from Citrix Systems, Inc., with a shiny new title to excite you anew with each release.

With all the attention in app delivery today focused on virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), there's an old approach that's beginning to see a newer -- and possibly sexier -- name. Don and Greg clarify the VDI product naming confusion, particularly around Published Desktops in this month's episode of It's the Apps, Stupid.

DON:      Hey Greg, think fast. What's this fruit?

GREG:     Uh, it's a dried plum.

DON:      Wrong. It's a prune! How about this fish?

GREG:     I believe that's mahi-mahi.

DON:      Wrong again! It’s actually dolphinfish.

GREG:     Why the food fetish today?

DON:      I'm actually focusing on their names. Do you ever wonder why product names get changed?

GREG:     I'm guessing in some cases the original name didn't resonate with people. For others, the name got so ingrained in society that the products lost their sex appeal.

DON:      You've got it.

GREG:     As I recall, the point is that It's the apps, stupid! Are you trying to also tell me that It's the names, stupid?

DON:      I am, primarily because we're seeing a major VDI product naming shift right now in app delivery. Remember Published Desktops?

GREG:     Of course. They're a core part of server-based computing. A Published Desktop is a server desktop you deliver to users through a remote protocol such as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) for Microsoft or ICA/HDX for Citrix.

DON:      Was a core part.

GREG:     Was?

DON:      They're not called Published Desktops anymore. Now they're called Hosted Shared Desktops, at least if you're Citrix. Microsoft has started calling them Server Hosted Session Desktops.

GREG:     Huh? Why the name change?

DON:      My money's on the notion that in a world of VDI, Published Desktops just aren't exciting enough anymore.

GREG:     You mean that VDI's got people so excited, they've forgotten about tried-and-true app delivery mechanisms such as good old Published Desktops … er … Server Hosted Session Desktops?

DON:      Probably. Give 'em a new name and people believe there's more to the VDI products themselves. In fact, Citrix has been doing the VDI product naming changeroo for a long time.

GREG:     Oh, don't I know it. I started working years ago with this product called WinFrame. Since then, it's been rebranded into MetaFrame, Presentation Server and now XenApp. And don't get me started about all the changes inside the product. The Citrix Management Console became the Access Management Console, the Presentation Server Client became the Citrix XenApp Plugin for Hosted Apps --

DON:      … which I think is now part of Citrix Receiver --

GREG:     … and don't forget the old Program Neighborhood, which I think they just called XenApp for a while before pulling it completely. You know, you can still find PNAgent artifacts in some areas of XenApp Services configuration tools.

DON:      Citrix isn't the only culprit here. Don't forget Microsoft changing Terminal Services to Remote Desktop Services (RDS).

GREG:     Get this: I'm hearing rumors now that they're considering wrapping everything people think of as RDS and VDI into a new product called --

DON:      … called what?

GREG:     VDI. They're considering calling it VDI, for goodness sakes.

DON:      Great. More VDI product naming confusion.

GREG:     Yes, but I guess more sex, too -- at least with the VDI products.

DON:      And that's my cue to get outta here.

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

This was first published in May 2012

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