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Solving the Virtual Desktop Puzzle Part 3

By Harley Stagner | Feb 23, 2011 | Insights, Virtualization

In this series we’ve already looked at virtual desktop storage efficiency with “linked clones” and user profile management options. In this post we will discuss another piece of the desktop image that can potentially be offloaded to the network. The applications.

Remember that in a virtual desktop environment one of our goals is to make the “gold” master image as vanilla as possible. We do this by offloading unique components of the desktop off of the image and onto the network. VMware has a way to virtualize your applications so that they can be offloaded onto a network share. This means that the applications can be streamed to the user when they log in to their desktop. So, the desktop becomes disposable and the user gets the appropriate applications when they log into any virtual desktop. So how can we do this?

We do this with a VMware product called ThinApp. It even comes bundled with the VMware View Bundled licensing. ThinApp allows us to package an application as a single executable file. All of the DLL’s and bits that the application requires at runtime are packaged in this single executable file. So, nothing actually gets installed on the desktop in order to run the application. Once the application is packaged it can run from the desktop hard drive, an external hard drive, a cd, a dvd, and even from the network. Basically, if you have an operating system and a place to store the packaged ThinApp’ed application, you can run it.

If you run the packaged application from the network, then each user can have the application streamed to their virtual desktop instance when they log in. There is also the added benefit of the packaged applications running on the appropriate storage tier if we are running a tiered storage solution. So, we’ve taken care of the user profiles and applications to make the desktop image as vanilla as possible. Our user profiles and our applications can be centrally managed along with our desktops. We can now treat multiple desktops as a single pooled unit. No more Microsoft patch Tuesday woes, no more uncontrolled virus or spyware outbreaks, and fewer user desk side trips.

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