AWS have launched Amazon WorkSpaces, a virtual workspace that Amazon says is "half the price of "on-premise VDI solutions" (for a look at the figures take a visit to TechCrunch where Alex Williams details the comparison). I use the word "launched" in its "headline grabbing" sense rather than its literal sense. As of today, two weeks after the announcement, you can still but apply to be on the list once a preview is available. Undoubtedly, the Desktop as a Service (DaaS) equivalent of going to buy a camping chair and a Thermos flask before camping outside the shop to get the best opportunity in the sales. (other vacuum flasks are available)
Still will Desktop as a Service succeed when Amazon does it?
DaaS just needs to be cheaper?
AWS have clout. And form. Many are trying to enable a DaaS platform. I've worked with some comenable ones: VESK in the UK for example. Or, Desktone. Desktone, as an example, started out with consumerised model, but found greater success when they offered a technology stack that could be used both on and off premise.
You can take AWS's figures with a pinch of salt - amortization over a month is fine, but for enterprises this is likely a transformation project: as such, so you're likely going to be looking at an investment that'll be provided over 3-5 years. What is the cost comparison then? What network links do you need to the web? What's the migration cost for going off-premise? What's the business change cost for removing applications? What's the cost for introducing new applications to that environment?
Fundamentally, it is foolish to suggest that virtualised desktops are cheaper than physical desktops. They aren't. Get over it. Virtualised desktops offer far more flexibility. That flexibility comes at a price: not a costly one - but a price none-the-less. Or an investment depending on how you look at it.
No one buys a desktop
Ultimately, no one buys "a desktop". This isn't a dig at falling PC sales indeed, qwerty may well save it. No, no one buys a desktop, they buy a thing to run their applications on. And the handy thing about a virtualised desktop, is that it is efficacious in allowing your enterprise applications and data to be readily accessible across a range of devices and over a broad number of locations.. that have network access.
Desktop Virtualisation isn't just about Virtualising the Desktop
The route to a successful DaaS migration for enterprises can be an arduous path. DaaS is perhaps the most complex -aaS to implement. The architects design and price a solution based on a very specifically scope environment to hit a headline price. Rarely does anyone factor in the cost of change for the enterprise to work within that tightly designed scope, or have senior execs bought into the change in the first place. The sales guy promises the C-level team you'll be able to change the environment because the cloud is "flexible". Yet, that can shaft the architect's vision on scalability, because the architects haven't designed for that flexibility. Everyone is unhappy.
And that's before we get the data in or linked to. Or access to authentication. If we get that far: everyone can end up getting grumpy. For DaaS to be successful wherever the desktop resource is must be on a fast network link to where the data is: otherwise the user experience is awful, and user experience is a key component of a DaaS implementation project.
I liked Nivio when it came out as a package of services (although sadly it appears to be no more). It had a Windows Server Session Hosted back-end (the only viable way of licensing DaaS today) and a very nice app store so you could choose standard applications. It also integrated with a Dropbox type solution for off-line working. But they struggled: the small company end of the market can work with their apps and data just fine without a full hosted desktop and so where is the value of offering that service?
While Desktone's aquisition by VMware, AWS's "release" of Amazon WorkSpaces and tenuously Citrix's scalable and integrated XenDesktop 7 release are all interesting I think any call of 2013/4 being a/the "year of DaaS" as false.
Desktop-as-a-Service (Daas) doesn't rely on technology for success: the service relies on apps and data and change management for success. While you're being starry eyed on the technology, you're going nowhere. Your technology must be able to accommodate putting the environment that hosts your apps near your data.
To transform enterprises from working with physical PCs to virtual desktops is a slow process. A cumbersome process if not well managed. It is very rarely a commodity sell. If your business model is to appeal to a some student demand to run a desktop to run a java app - they can do that already on the devices they already have: why would they pay $35 a month to do it again only when they have network access?
The real market is always The Enterprise. But what does the Enterprise need a desktop for? Today, it is a necessary component, however there is great evidence to see the future of the corporate "desktop" evolving into a platform of commonality. Services such as Office 365 and Google Apps, environments such as Alfresco or Podio allow the application to exchange data easily. For those future apps, the Desktop is increasingly irrelevant. Yet - there is a huge wealth of data that can only be accessed through applications that sit on a Windows desktop. That won't change soon.
Enterprises typically have that data in-house. Implementing a strategy to "save money" by putting their desktops outside of their network separates the application delivery environment from the data, and potentially occludes the ability to deliver the application.
This concept was succinctly explained by Chris Marks from Esteem - who likened "the Desktop" to the little-plastic-thing-holding-all-the-cans-beer together. Where you drink the beer and how is not the concern of the plastic thing: it's just keeping things together up until the point you want to consume it. From an enterprise user perspective its the apps and data (or beer) that is important: how that is delivered is irrelevant (although will need to change to be more environmentally friendly and modern - you cut up your plastic thingies to prevent wildlife getting stuck in them right?).
Will Desktop as a Service succeed when Amazon does it?
Today, AWS desktops isn't even "a thing". It is the promise of "a thing". You sign up to maybe get on the beta. AWS will be able to deliver scale of hardware: but the key for successful uptake will be in getting the enterprise customer data and applications in place, or a change in process in those enterprises to fit a new way of working. For DaaS to be successful, that is the key delivery and no where in the advertising blurb is that addressed.
Any DaaS provider must address enterprise migration and application sustainability: or they end up just being an aas.
To virtualize your Citrix XenApp servers, or not? It is still a noble question. Virtualization underpins today’s data centres as companies look to drive down costs of providing services, and to quickly and effectively respond to demand for change.
But, what are the benefits of virtualizing servers hosting Terminal Services? Granted, the majority of those servers are running Citrix XenApp, but Citrix XenApp isn’t the only product on the market. Quest vWorkspace, Ericom Powerterm WebConnect, ProPalms, Systancia, to name a few, all offer additional services like Citrix XenApp to the core Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH) formerly known as “Remote Desktop Services” or “Terminal Services”. Yet, given the large market share Citrix still commands the question is more often than not, why Virtualize Citrix XenApp?
Is a Physical Citrix XenApp Host “good enough”?
<p ">When virtualizing applications and desktop, Microsoft’s RDSH service still provides the most cost effective licensing option for supporting users at scale across a variety of devices as shown in Login Consultants useful white paper on Decoding Microsoft’s VDI Licensing Arcanum.
While XenDesktop 7 introduced App Edition, this is still too new technology for many organisations. Citrix XenApp 6.5 R2 is considered more mature and reliable and, today, has a greater number of features. RDSH servers, such as Citrix XenApp, are often cited as being ‘unvirtualizable’. They typically run with high utilization of CPU, memory and disk resources. As RDSH server farms often support a high number of users, core server builds tend to be standardized, and application deployment to those servers automated. If you’ve already a standardized and automated environment, if you’ve already high hardware utilization: why go to the bother and cost of adding in another service? Simply moving to XenApp 6.5 on 2008R2 is often considered “good enough”. However, a extra investment can reap greater rewards. What other services can virtualized Citrix XenApp drive?
To read more visit Benefits Virtualizing Citrix XenApp
Hang on, lads... I've got a great idea...E2EVC review, Rome
The E2EVC Virtualisation Conference is a non-commercial, virtualisation community Event, its mission, to bring the best virtualisation experts together to exchange knowledge and to establish new connections, to boldly cram a weekend of presentations, Master Classes and discussions into one weekend. To bring together virtualisation vendors, product teams and independent experts with those IT admins, managers and consultants out in the field.
E2EVC started in 2003 with just 4 people and was called Pubforum. It continued until popular demand asked for a more expense/time justifying name change. Hence E2EVC. But it is more than just a sweet name change. After ten years of events around Europe the conference has grown to an industry recognized key event for its bringing together of key industry shapers in a social forum.
Two days of presentations which cover topics from Systems Centre orchestration to bringing possibly the greatest concentration of Citrix CTPs, Microsoft MVPs and VMware vExperts in the same venue - through to how to be an Citrix CTP...sound good? As I've mentioned before - this is the one conference where I book up for the next one, while I'm still at the previous one.
And again, I am not the only one who does this.
As ever, while it is always splendid to meet old friends there were a number of new faces and new presenters - which only contributes to the event's success. As we move into 2014 there is going to be a US version I wish it all the very best but I think it'll take some time to grow to the level of event that is delivered in Europe.
So, what is an E2EVC conference like? How technical was the technical content? Could you get wi-fi and at least answer some emails in a break? What makes this the type of event that convinces Microsoft MVPs, Citrix CTPs, and VMware vExperts to give up their family time, travel around the globe and pay high beer prices for?
A quick review of E2EVC XX Rome seems in order.
Location, Location, Location
There are typically two E2EVC events a year - one in the spring, one in the autumn.
2013's autumn venue was good. The deceptively swish H10 Hotel Roma Citta according to Nike running a nice round 13k there and back to the collesium.
The hotel's conference facilities were pretty good. Decent sized rooms, plenty of plug sockets, good sized displays, plentiful pens and water. The large room format had two pillars, little odd if you were a single speaker. Comfortable temperature. Plenty of room outside to mingle, all on a single level. For the second time, food was provided for lunch - which was good excellent. Could have done with more coffee.
Wi-fi that was in the main stable and good enough for browsing and checking email, although the hotel did fail under pressure. Learn offline prezi.
A great choice as a conference venue.
You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!
There is a running joke at E2EVC: if you attended, you could expect a certain amount of "agenda flexibility", still - it can rankle.
That said, I was not alone in thinking this was, again, a professionally organised and managed E2EVC event. All the more impressive as there is only a small team in charge and it is not their day job. And now we had a new feature - a shuttle service to the venue. Sessions more or less started on time, sessions more or less stayed to schedule. Video and Audio for later (if you remembered to take the personal mic off mute).
I liked the option of adding the events to your calendar - but it'd have been handy for the .ics files to have been updated.
I'd have liked to have stayed longer in the Splunk Masterclass session. There was a lot in v6 that I hadn't seen. Still, when your own demo environment falls on its bum you have to make some sacrifices.
Vendor sponsorship is always key to events such as E2EVC. It was interesting to deliver my first vendor session. Given the attendance at our session I hope Atlantis Computing will be sponsoring again in Brussels. SMS Passcode again showed that they can promote their authentication product and still pack a room. Good to see new vendors like Control Up. Very interesting to see vendors such as AMD giving a presentation. Good to see marketing kept to a minimum, vendors have a great deal of 1-1 time given the communal nature of E2EVC.
You must learn, Keats, there are more things to life than breaking and entering
If I had to pick three most useful sessions that I didn't contribute to, clambering to the top of a very strong technical pile would be, in no particular order .
Andrew Morgan's Reverse Application Deep Dive - there's an exhibit in joy and passion in a particular subject. Useful information, great insight - the type of session that makes you want to go and leave the room and implement it *even if you don't need to*. Useful stuff.
Aidan Finn'sSession Storage Spaces and SMB 3.0 Storage for Hyper-V in Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 - Aidan is as bias and passionate towards Microsoft as the day is long but always great to listen to and incredibly informative and concise. I learned a lot in this session. Some really impressive features are available: useful to get an understanding of not only the benefits of SMB3.0 and EMC's belief in the protocol but the deupe features, storage tiering features, file storage optimisations that are available in 202. Very cool.
Roy Textor's 7up! - The Citrix XenDesktop 7 Mythbuster! I liked the range of this session. I know when helping to organise UK Citrix user group sessions it can be easy to focus on the deepest dive and sometimes there is great benefit in taking a step back and appreciating the view.
Honorable mentions to Esther Barthel for a first time presentation on the benefits of Storefront, to Shaun Ritchie for delivering practically in the graveyard under great adversity - what a trooper. To Liselotte Foverskov (Danish VMUG) and Andrea Mauro (Italian VMUG) for widening the VC net. And, Perrine Crampton, Citrix Community Programs Manager at Citrix : Jane Rimmer (a virtualization "veteran" who I've incredible respect for) wrote an interesting blog post critiquing Citrix's community engagement. In Rome, Perrine articulated a great vision for the future of Citrix's community engagement at E2EVC - I look forward to contributing to that.
And of course a mention to every other attendee who I said hi to: good to meet you.
E2EVC Round Table
What exemplifies the ethos of E2EVC is that the round table session at the end. A format we have unreservedly stolen at the UK Citrix User Group and always popular. A session-in-the-round: literally. The room's chairs are moved and you speak/shout/argue in a circle. While there is a moderator, the floor is open to any speaker to talk about a range of topics. Typically early topics are "what did you think of the conference/the future of VDI" it expands to issues of deployment, configuration, industry trends. This is not a session where you are talked at, but a session where you contribute to. It can go on for hours: gets a bit more lively with white russians.
The format allows a recognized industry expert such as a CTP, MVP or vExpert to learn from an admin in the field. Too often major industry events incorrectly elevate the highly qualified to exclusive tracks: E2EVC facilities the fact that everyone needs to learn, all the time, regardless if your dress sense is stuck in the 70s.
All be it what one fact we all learned was it is always fun to share and that the future of VDI beyond 2-3 years is too hard to call.
What did you not like?
Conference wise, not being able to go to two sessions at once - as ever. Being pulled out of a session because someone can't apply a patch properly. Getting "toilet door" and "front door" mixed up.
That said, I liked the return of Alex's keynote having a "meet people to win a prize".
There - that's the best I've got "bad" wise.
Yes. That good.
You'll be making a grave error if you kill us...
The next E2EVC conference is in Brussels May 30, June 2, 2014. You'll be able to book from here.
I found it interesting that it has been mooted there will be an E2EVC in America: post Citrix Synergy 2014.
What enamored me as ever with this conference is its inclusion, sense of networking, sense of community. There are always people cannot attend as a weekend format undoubtedly impacts on family time. Still, the E2EVC conference has developed an overlapping core of attendees that drives the whole event. That core understands the ethos, welcomes it, encourages it. New attendees can find themselves having a beer with a blogger they've always followed, out to dinner sat next to a product manager, sharing a beer with a person they had a conversation with on twitter.
It doesn't rely on forums, but on personal connection as Jane said.
Old school interaction.
The E2EVC is a best of breed community conference on virtualization and worthy of your time to attend. Don't just take my word for it..
It is going to be a busy week.
But, the new week is going to be fun because it was pleasing to finally get the confirmation certificate that states Gilwood CS is, for the third year, assisting the Foundation of Light in signing up for corporate membership.
The Foundation of Light uses the power of football involve, educate and inspire more than 42,000 young people and their families across the North East each year through a broad range of innovative and award-winning programmes that can help change their lives. To find out more about the Foundation of Light's work browse through what they do, and if you too are prompted to help, you can donate on-line.
Gilwood CS is very proud to be supporting the Foundation of Light through sponsorship, support and sharing. Please visit the website, see the great work they do, get involved.
Because, with the world at your feet, success is 98 and ¾ percent guaranteed - think of the mountains that you can help move.