When starting to transform a desktop, many people get stuck at one of the first decisions: What type of virtual desktop should I implement? (VDI, RDS, Local VM, etc) There are so many options for so many use cases that we are stuck analyzing our users until we confuse ourselves even more. The problem is we are trying to start by dealing with all of these exceptions. We let all of these unique use cases confuse and stall our efforts. This is why when doing desktop transformation; you need to start with the easiest use cases first. This isn’t because we can’t do the difficult use cases; it is that as the project team, you need to show progress. And the easiest use cases will allow you to show success quickly.

Honestly, when looking at the easiest use cases, it is a pretty safe bet to go with a shared desktop model (RDS/XenApp). Although many don’t talk about the shared desktop model much because everyone is so focused on VDI, it is an approach that is tried and tested. In fact, I remember working with an organization in 1998 that was doing desktops on the predecessor of RDS/XenApp, which was called Windows NT 4.0 Terminal Services Edition with MetaFrame 1.0. And guess what… It worked

Of course you can find loads of information talking about how the shared desktop model is more scalable than the personal desktop (VDI) model, but one aspect that is always missing is Comfort.

Oh my, one of these “marketing” words right? Yes, but here is what I mean.

If I do a personal desktop (VDI), I will get a Windows 7 desktop with applications and it will work. If I do a shared desktop (RDS/XenApp published desktop), I will get a “Windows 7″ desktop with applications and it will work. However, I also get something else. I can also access the applications seamlessly, where the desktop interface is hidden from the users view (some people call this a published application or seamless apps)

Many of you old-time XenApp users are thinking, big deal. We’ve done this for ages. Correct, we have, but now we have people trying to access the desktops/applications from tablets and phones. On my iPad or Android phone, I first had access to my Personal desktop (VDI). It worked, but it wasn’t comfortable and I’ve heard people say it was unnatural. I tend to agree. It was too hard to launch apps. If I’m trying to launch an app from the iPad, why do I want to first go to the Windows 7 desktop? Ummm, I don’t. I just want to launch an application. If I start with the shared desktop (RDS/XenApp), I get to choose between a full desktop and a single application, whereas the personal desktop (vdi) requires me to use the full desktop.

When starting desktop transformation, start with the shared desktop (RDS/XenApp). Work through the user groups that can work in a shared desktop environment. Once those groups are complete, we move onto the exceptions, which are probably fewer than you think. Stay tuned for more

Daniel – Lead Architect
XenDesktop Design Handbook