Category Archives: VDI

CRN’s “Power 100: The Most Influential Women of the Channel 2016”, Why Smart IT Leaders Connect with Maria Dinallo and Parallels

CRN’s “Power 100: The Most Influential Women of the Channel 2016”, Why Smart IT Leaders Connect with Maria Dinallo and Parallels Maria Dinallo, Parallels’ Senior Director of Channel Sales has been honored in CRN’s “Power 100: The Most Influential Women of the Channel 2016”. CRN Power 100 honorees were selected on the basis of their […]

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5 Questions to Ask Your VDI Vendor

Contemplate. Business concept illustrationWhether you’re a mid-sized enterprise that’s work-from-home-friendly or a large corporation based largely on remote workers, there will come a time when you’ll want to consider how to optimize your workspace technology for the way your employees work. One solution is virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), a technology that provides a consistent desktop experience across devices and locales. First introduced in the mid-2000s, VDI has expanded the definition of the office to include everything from an Uber ride to a flight.

If you’re in the market for VDI, you have several options, but know there is no one size fits all solution. I’ve worked with thousands of organizations globally and have seen the different methods companies use to select their VDI solutions. In my experience, there are a handful of questions that can help you save time and money. Here are the top five questions I recommend you ask your prospective VDI providers:

  1. How do you envision the digital modern workspace?

The golden rule for any software salesman is to “sell the problem you’re solving, not the product.” Likewise, a VDI company should demonstrate an understanding of the modern worker and the business consumer. Out of 75 IT professionals, 48 percent expected to see their companies expand BYOD policies in 2016, according to a survey by our partner Workspot. Meaning, the modern worker is expecting companies to provide a secure, fast, and easy solution to fit their work needs no matter where they’re working. VDI is a fit for many types of workers, including IT pros and designers specializing in high-end CAD, PLM, and 2-D/3-D graphics.

You’ll want to work with a vendor who understands your vision for how VDI will address challenges specific to your business. Requesting a few case studies from the vendor will give you a sense of not only what the company can deliver, but also what they perceive as the value-adds for your business. If the results they are showcasing vary widely from what you’re trying to achieve, it may be best to look elsewhere for your VDI solution.

  1. What are the top three challenges businesses want to solve in the context of the modern workspace?

Any reputable vendor should be aware of and offer realistic solutions to issues like data security, workforce connectivity and inefficiency. Asking this question will give you an additional sense of the vendor’s proficiency in enterprise operations and specific use cases.

For example, if you’re a company in a regulation-heavy space (think health care, finance, military and government) one challenge may be ensuring secure connection whether the employee is an accountant in the U.S. or a high-end designer in Asia. VDI should be as secure as physical ware, and in fact, vendors have spent the last decade perfecting the translation of hardware functionality to the virtual desktop. Make sure the vendor is familiar with processes for integrating VDI, access and network security solutions, which are essential for creating a strong, and safe, virtual workspace.

Solving problems. Business conceptIn industries where employees often work off-site or in remote locations – like consulting or land surveying – a major challenge is keeping workers connected, while keeping it simple. One of the benefits of VDI is that it relieves IT of the tremendous burden of supporting personal devices and remote access for any employee who asks. It gives IT time back to invest in the network, after the potentially costly and lengthy process of implementation, of course. Given the possible challenges of set-up, your vendor should be able to speak to VDI’s value to technical staff – you’ll want this ammo in your bargaining arsenal.

Another issue VDI can address is productivity loss for workers in the field. For example, an insurance agent going out to accident sites will fill out several forms, and then return to the office just to fill out those forms again because the mobile form isn’t compatible with desktop. VDI lets the agent access the same form across devices. It’s helpful to ask which companies your vendor has worked with in the past to gauge their understanding of areas for productivity gain. If they have several customers in your industry, they may have more insight into the myriad of ways VDI can help your organization run more efficiently. Ask: How do you solve historical challenges around cost, complexity, and performance? Then listen for a detailed and tailored answer.

  1. What are the main challenges in deploying VDI and how do you support the organization throughout implementation?

The answer to this question is critical to your success integrating VDI technology into your business operations. Some vendors offer to deploy VDI that day, while others will expect you to wait a few months – or many months – for proof of concept. Some will promise scalability, and others will demonstrate it. Finally, some will work with you shoulder-to-shoulder, while others will take a more hands-off approach.

You should consider your preferences carefully when choosing a VDI vendor. Since problems arrive at the worst of times, I believe that VDI providers should also have experts available at any hour to ensure application delivery and troubleshoot errors. Others may feel budget or familiarity with the company are top priority. Whatever your must-have is, make sure to identify it early on. Otherwise you may feel overwhelmed by choices that in many ways look identical.

  1. What are two of the unique selling points/advantages of your biggest competitor?

This question may throw your prospective vendor off a bit, but their answer can be quite telling. If your provider can be open and honest about their competitors, they are more likely to be honest about their shortfalls. Keep in mind they’ll probably also counter with their own unique features. The best companies will have a deep understanding of other products in the sector, enabling them to evaluate and develop their own product more effectively.

  1. What is your product roadmap?

You’ll also want to ask about the company’s roadmap and how it may shift in response to competition or the company’s own goals. We’re seeing the complete transformation of the daily life of the average worker and technology is improving across the board. These changes are sure to have an impact on the VDI technology of tomorrow.

What the impact is largely depends on the company in question. Some companies are smaller and more nimble – they’ll emphasize performance and cost-effectiveness.  Others are legacy, which tend to build based on a deeply entrenched model of doing things. Whether or not the standard works for a given technology, you can be sure the legacy organization will have resources to spare.

Both big and small dogs are getting in on VDI, but the best option is largely subjective. With these questions, you’ll be able to assess what each vendor brings to the table and make the choice that will bring your workforce into the future.

Written by Ruben Spruijt, Field CTO at Atlantis Computing

Get Your Apps Anywhere

The advent of virtualization and cloud computing has brought a great transformation in the IT segment. Office desktops are now a thing of the past. Thanks to virtualization technology, businesses are now able to centrally host Windows applications and publish them to remote devices with ease. There are two ways to get your apps anywhere. […]

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What is a Virtual App?

The advent of virtualization technology has brought revolutionary changes to IT procedures. Many IT components, from servers to networks, are now virtualized. With the smartphone dominating the IT world, “virtual app” and “application virtualization” are the latest industry buzzwords. So what is a virtual app? In a traditional IT environment, applications are installed on each […]

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VDI-in-a-Box EOL Opportunities with Parallels 2X RAS

Citrix VDI-in-a-Box, the desktop virtualization software from Citrix for small and medium-sized businesses, is coming to an end. In the Q4 2012 Citrix Systems Earnings Call, Citrix CEO Mark Templeton announced its End of Life (EOL). The end of extended support for Windows Server 2003 will be on 24 August 2016. Citrix acquired VDI-in-a-Box from […]

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CTO Focus Interview: Gunnar Berger, Citrix

CTO Focus InterviewIn the third installment of our CTO Focus Interview series, I got to speak with Gunnar Berger, CTO at Citrix (View Part I and Part II of the series). Gunnar is a well respected thought leader who previously worked as an Analyst at Gartner and joined Citrix last June. Gunnar is on a mission to make VDI easier and cheaper to deploy. I’d highly recommend following Gunnar on Twitter to hear more from him.


Ben: What are your primary responsibilities at Citrix?

Gunnar: A lot of what I do at Citrix is on the back end and not necessarily public facing. In the public view, it’s more of looking at a long term strategy. Most roadmaps are looking ahead 12-18 months. I can be influential in these plans, but I am really looking at the longer term strategy. Where are we going to be in 3-5 years? How do we actually get to that place? How do you take today’s roadmap and drive it towards that 5 year plan? One of the main reasons I took the job at Citrix is because I want to fix VDI. I think it costs too much and is too complex. I think we truly can change VDI at Citrix.


Ben: What are some of the challenges you face as a CTO?

Gunnar: One of the main challenges when looking at long term strategies is that things can happen in the short term that can impact those long term plans. That’s every CTO’s challenge regardless of industry. In this particular industry, things change every single day. Every couple of months there is a major merger or acquisition. You have to be nimble and quick and be ready to make adjustments on the fly. My background at Gartner is very relevant here.  I have to make sure I understand where the customer is now and where they will be 3-5 years from now.

If you look at the history of Citrix, look back 5 years and you see they made an incorrect prediction on VDI. You can create a long term strategy and have it not work out. If you aren’t correct with your long term strategy, it’s important to capture that early on and pivot.


Ben: What goals do you have for 2015?

Gunnar: I have three main goals heading into 2015. The first is doubling down on applications. The second is to review the complexity and costs of VDI. The third is to “bridge to the cloud.”

1. Double down on applications

Citrix over rotated on VDI but now the pendulum is moving back. VDI has a place but so does RDS. We are doubling down so that XenApp is not a second class citizen to XenDesktop. Apps are what users want, XenApp is our tried and true solution for pushing these apps out to users on any device.

2. Review complexity and cost of VDI

My overall goal is to make VDI easier to deploy and cheaper to deploy. This plays into a long term strategy. Let’s face it, VDI deployments take a lot of time and money. I can’t remember where it was that I heard this stat, but for every dollar of a VDI sale I need to sell $12 in everything else. For a customer to buy one thing they need to buy $12 of something else…not an ideal situation for the customer.

We need to solve that issue to make it less costly. I’m unapologetically a fan of VDI. I think it’s an extremely powerful technology that has a lot of great benefits, but it is currentlycostly and complex. Luckily, in my position I get to work with a lot of really smart people that can solve this so I’m confident that Citrix will make VDI what I have always wanted it to be.

3. Bridge to the cloud

This is where Citrix Workspace Services comes into play. You will start seeing more and more of this from Citrix over the next several months. Essentially this is the unification of all of our different products (i.e. XenDesktop, XenApp, XenMobile, NetScaler, etc.). We will be “SaaS-ifying” our entire stack, which is a massive undertaking. We really want to improve the admin experience by creating a single administrative interface for users of all different product suites.

The goal is provide the same benefits to an enterprise that an end user receives from products like the ChromeBook – automatically get the latest version so you never have to update manually. We want to get to the point that no matter what, customers are always operating on the most recent versions. This obviously benefits the customer as they are getting the latest things instantly.

Citrix isn’t going to try to become a cloud provider. To do that you need billions of dollars. We’re building a bridge to enable users to move seamlessly from on-prem to off-prem. You want to be on Azure or Amazon? We can do that.

The idea is that this becomes the middle ground between you and those cloud providers. What I like about being the intermediary is being able to dial up and back between clouds seamlessly to allow customers to stand things up and test them in minutes instead of days.


Ben: Citrix has made heavy investments in mobility. Where do you see mobility in the next 3-5 years?

Gunnar: Honestly, I want to stop talking about mobility like it’s something special. Everything we are doing these days is mobile. Mobile Device Management? Mobile Application Management? We need to drop the mobile from this story. It’s device management. It’s applications management. As far as where mobility fits in with Citrix – it’s inherent to the big picture much like the necessity to breath. I say this to paint a picture because it’s in our DNA. This is what Citrix has done for the last 25 years. In today’s world with smartphones and tablets, we take apps and make them run elsewhere just like we have always done.


Ben: Throughout your career, what concept or technology would you say has had the most drastic impact on IT?

Gunnar: Hands down virtualization. Virtualization is the root of where cloud started. Cloud is the most disruptive technology moving forward, and it all started with the hypervisor.


Are you a CIO/CTO interested in participating in our Focus Interview series? Email me at

By Ben Stephenson, Emerging Media Specialist


VMware Horizon 6: Updates, Improvements, and Licensing Changes

By Chris Ward, CTO

I got a late start on this blog post but I’m a fan of the saying “better late than never!”  VMware officially shipped Horizon 6, the long awaited major update, to its end user computing product set late last month. There are numerous updates and improvements across the product set with this major release, but there is also a change in how it is licensed. In the past Horizon was consumed either as individual products (VIEW, Mirage, Workspace, etc.) or as a suite which included all components. With this new release, VMware has transitioned to its traditional product hierarchy which includes Horizon Standard, Advanced, and Enterprise editions.  

Each edition builds on previous versions with additional features added into the mix. The Standard edition basically amounts to what we’ve known as VIEW in the past.  It is the baseline VDI feature set inclusive of the connection and security servers, PCoIP protocol, ThinApp application virtualization, and linked clone functionality. Moving to the Advanced edition adds in the Mirage management, Remote Desktop Session Host (RDSH), Horizon Workspace, and vSAN integration.  The Enterprise edition adds vCOPS monitoring and vCAC/vCenter Orchestrator integration.

One of the more exciting features of Horizon 6 is RDSH application publishing. This is a big deal because it’s been a glaring missing checkbox when comparing Horizon to Citrix in the past. This feature allows you to configure Windows terminal server (RDSH) farms which are configured to publish individual applications rather than full desktop sessions, very closely resembling Citrix XenApp. Why’s this a big deal?  Well, it can save a lot of back end horsepower when you can have 50 users share a single RDSH VM to run a few applications rather than needing 50 desktop VMs in traditional VDI. This allows a more flexible architecture so you can deliver each application in the best way possible, rather than being forced into deploying only full desktop operating systems. 

Mirage integration with the traditional VIEW product has improved as well.  While not 100% there, you can now get some of the Mirage OS/application layering functionality inside the VDI environment while still being able to use Mirage in its native capacity as a physical desktop management platform.  vSAN integration is a big step forward in potentially minimizing the typically large storage costs for a VDI environment, and the inclusion of vCOPS in the Enterprise edition is great as it provides very deep insight into what’s going on under the covers with your Horizon infrastructure, including deep PCoIP analytics.  Finally, the Workspace component of Horizon has improved greatly, allowing you to provide your end users with a single web page whereby they can access VDI desktops, RDSH based published applications, Citrix XenApp published applications, ThinApp packaged applications, and SaaS based apps such as Office365, Google Apps, etc.

With this release, VMware seems to be delivering on its promise that the EUC space is one of its 3 strategic focus areas.  I look forward to further improvements, along with the integration of Airwatch into the Horizon family in upcoming releases. For now, Horizon 6 is a very big step in the right direction. 

Have you tried or migrated to Horizon 6 since the launch?  If so, please share your thoughts!


Are you interested in learning about how you can extend your data center into the cloud with VMware vCloud Hybrid Service? Register for our upcoming webinar!



Breaking Down a BYOD Initiative

An Interview with Matt Mock, IT Director at GreenPages Technology Solutions

Ben: What encouraged GreenPages to adopt a BYOD policy?

Matt: The biggest reason we implemented a BYOD policy was that it offered the ability to give users the flexibility to use the technology that they are most comfortable with. Our IT department was getting frequent requests for non-standard equipment. This forced us to do one-offs all the time and made support very difficult.

Ben: How was the policy made? Who was involved in creating it?

Matt: The policy was created after many months of research. We looked into what other companies were doing, researched the costs for hardware and internal support, and interviewed different departments to see what was needed. We involved people from the top down, getting buy in from senior management to start. In addition, we also worked closely with the accounting department to make sure BYOD wouldn’t cost more than traditional hardware refreshes would. Our department did a proof of concept, then a pilot group, and then a gradual rollout. This allowed us to tweak the policy as needed.

Ben: Who has access to the BYOD program?

Matt: Not all departments. The program is for those where it makes the most sense from both a financial and support perspective. We didn’t want to grant BYOD to someone who couldn’t handle the issues on their own that would in turn create more technical support. We rolled it out to groups with specific requirements that weren’t going to cause us to spend more time on internal support.

Ben: Can you describe some of the highlights of the policy?

Matt: Within the policy we specify eligibility for the program, provide exact cost and reimbursement methods, and outline user responsibilities and requirements such as how to get hardware support. We also provide more specifics around what is and isn’t covered in the policy.

Ben: How do employees go about getting hardware support?

Matt: The user assumes responsibility of hardware support and is required to get a warranty. IT will help facilitate support but will not be responsible for the device. This goes back to making sure IT doesn’t spend more time supporting BYOD than they would have previously.

Ben: Makes sense.

Matt: I should also mention that GreenPages’ VDI environment allows us to offer the flexibility of BYOD with multiple devices because everyone can get the same experience regardless of the device used. Utilizing VDI also alleviates concerns around corporate data loss. If a device is lost or stolen, a person doesn’t have access to corporate resources just because they have the corporate device.

Ben: What have some of the main benefits been of the program?

Matt: The main benefits have been employee satisfaction and a decrease in hardware support for internal IT.

Ben: Some people think there are immediate cost savings from BYOD, but Chris Reily (GreenPages’ Director of Solutions Architecture) recently wrote a blog post cautioning people not to expect ROI in the first couple of years. Is this true?

Matt: Correct. You end up spending the same amount on hardware but support costs go down and employee satisfaction goes up. Direct ROI is difficult to measure when offering reimbursements. A company can avoid offering reimbursements but then you are greatly effecting employee satisfaction. If you give reimbursements, you probably end up spending the same over all amount.

Ben: What is your overall opinion of BYOD?

Matt: BYOD is not for every company nor is it necessarily for every employee within a company. A key thing to remember is that your infrastructure has to be ready for BYOD. If it is, then it’s a great perk and a great way to reduce time spent on internal support. It’s also a great way to allow new technologies into the organization and not have to give strict guidelines on what is and is not allowed.  Our BYOD initiative has also helped save my team time so that we can focus on more strategic projects that will help the business.

If you have questions for Matt around his experience implementing a BYOD policy, leave a comment or email us at


Top 10 Ways to Kill Your VDI Project

By Francis Czekalski, Consulting Architect, LogicsOne

Earlier this month I presented at GreenPages’ annual Summit Event. My breakout presentation this year was an End User Computing Super Session. In this video, I summarize the ‘top 10 ways to kill your VDI project.’

If you’re interested in learning more, download this free on-demand webinar where I share some real world VDI battlefield stories.