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Desktop virtualization wish list includes simplicity, power

It's the time of year to make your tech wish list and hope that what you want -- pre-packaged apps, a universally compatible VDI client and simple VDI licensing -- comes true.

With Christmas just around the corner and all the kids making their annual wish lists, it occurred to me that it might be fun to make a desktop and application virtualization wish list for the coming year. While I don't actually expect Santa to deliver on any of these particular holiday wishes, I do think that it will only be a matter of time before software vendors make at least some of my wishes a reality.

Here are five wishes that I hope come true:

        1. Applications that come wrapped in packages

Anyone who has ever used Microsoft App-V or similar application virtualization tools knows that the application needs to be packaged first. In the case of App-V, the packaging process can be broken down into seven steps. Properly packaging an application can be a tedious chore, especially for someone who doesn't have a lot of experience with application virtualization.

Microsoft has tried to simplify the package creation process by offering App-V Package Accelerators that streamline the packaging process for tricky applications, such as Adobe Reader and Microsoft Office. However, I hope software vendors offer pre-packaged applications or, at the very least, provide their own package accelerators. (Who doesn't want to receive a nice package at Christmas?)

        2. A universally compatible VDI client

Another Christmas wish is for a universally compatible virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) client. (I know -- keep dreaming, right?)

Actually, the idea isn't quite as crazy as it might sound. Ericom offers a product called AccessNow that provides RDP access from any HTML 5 compatible Web browser. I admit that this isn't exactly a universal VDI client. It only works for RDP-based sessions and, technically, the product isn't really a client at all -- AccessNow is a server-side product.

The nice thing about this approach, however, is that as long as the server is running AccessNow, any HTML 5-compatible Web browser can act as a universal VDI client. Absolutely nothing extra has to be installed on the client. Not Flash, not Silverlight, not Java -- nothing.

        3. Simplified licensing

OK, this one is really a stretch, but my third wish is for simplified VDI licensing.

VDI licensing requirements vary widely depending on the solution that you are using. Even so, I have yet to see a decent VDI product that includes all of the required licenses. Normally, you need server operating system licenses, virtual desktop access (VDA) licenses, server client access licenses, licenses for the VDI software and more. It would be really great to purchase a single license that covers the entire VDI environment. (Of course, that would be all but impossible in multi-vendor VDI environments.)

        4. Plug and play VDI

Perhaps a more realistic Christmas wish is for plug and play VDI.

Most of the VDI solutions on the market are relatively complicated to deploy. Even Citrix's Kaviza VDI-in-a-Box product, which is designed to be easy to deploy, takes an hour or two to set up and requires that the administrator know how to work with virtual machine templates and images.

I would like to see vendors produce a set of modular VDI appliances. Just plug an Ethernet cable into a connection broker module, enter a few simple configuration parameters and it is up and running. Need to provide fault tolerance or scalability? Just plug in another appliance and it will automatically load balance the existing virtual desktops. Again, Kaviza comes close to delivering on this wish, but I would still like to see an even easier setup process.

        5. Powerful virtual desktops

My final wish this holiday season is for truly powerful virtual desktops.

VDI has come a long way over the last couple of years, but there are still some things that aren't really practical to do in a VDI environment. For example, computer aided design (CAD) and the development of first-person shooter games are done on physical PCs because such applications are graphically and computationally intensive.

I realize that some of the items on my Christmas wish list (such as simplified licensing) will remain a fantasy. But given the degree to which VDI has improved over the last two or three years, I am confident that some of my wishes will eventually come true.

Read more from Brien M. Posey

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, is a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional for his work with Windows 2000 Server and IIS. He has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and was once in charge of IT security for Fort Knox. As a freelance technical writer, he has written for Microsoft, TechTarget, CNET, ZDNet, MSD2D, Relevant Technologies and other technology companies.

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