Desktop Virtualization: 5 Popular Flavors, Explained

By Kevin Fogarty, CIO |  Virtualization, Citrix, desktop virtualization

1. Remote Hosted Desktops: What most people think of when they think "terminal services." A server runs one image of an operating system or application and many clients log in to it using connection broker software that is the only part of the software hosted on the client machine. Client machines operate only to show an image on the monitor of the application that user is sharing, and to transmit keyboard and mouse input back and forth. Advantages: Low cost, high degree of control over data and applications. Disadvantages: Performance depends on the quality of the network connection; display protocols often can't handle complex graphics; some applications designed for desktops can't run in shared mode on the server; inflexible for end users, who can't store data locally, use most peripherals, or move data back and forth using thumb drives. Does not work when disconnected. Example vendor offerings:Software: Citrix XenDesktop; Wyse ThinOS; Microsoft Remote Desktop Services; Microsoft Enterprise Desktop Virtualization (MED-V); VMware View Manager. Hardware: Pano Logic Device, Remote; nComputing thin clients; Wyse thin clients; Sun Ray Ultra-Thin client; Symbiont Network Terminal; Rangee Thin Client

2. Remote Virtual Applications: What you get in every Web application you've ever used. Differs from shared desktops in that the only thing required is a browser and standard Web protocols (HTTP, HTTPS, SSL, etc.) to create secure connections and transmit graphics and data. Depending on design of the applications (think Flash downloads) the end-user's machine may process some of the application's logic or graphics, or may only light up the monitor and send clicks to the server. Advantages: Doesn't require that IT control the hardware or software environment of the end user. Disadvantages: Doesn't allow IT to control the hardware or software environment of the end user, which could affect performance. Does not work when disconnected. Example vendor offerings: Citrix XenApps; Microsoft Remote Desktop Services; VMware View; VMware ThinApps.

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