Part I of the Deep Dive into XenDesktop series reviewed the architecture. Part II covered the install and management tools. Part III reviews an example XenDesktop Pilot Architecture. This presentation is based on the “XenDesktop Pilot Reference Architecture” document by Dan Feller. Here is the the introduction to Dan’s white paper –

Properly delivering desktops to users is a core requirement for just about any business. If users are unable to use their desktops or applications, the business cannot function at full utilization. Every few years, just about every business undergoes a massive rollout of a new operating system, new hardware or new applications requiring a swarm of individuals to build, test and rollout the newest systems to the masses. Because of this enormous undertaking, many organizations hold off on beneficial upgrades, which oftentimes limit how fast the organization can turn to changing market demands.

There are automated tools from numerous vendors to help in the deployment of new applications and operating systems, but the question should be raised if deploying applications out to the user population is still the best approach. This type of approach incurs numerous consequences impacting the user and the business like:

  • Loss of end-user device opens up significant security concerns for lost data
  • Corruption of the operating system or application by malicious or inadvertent acts requires extensive troubleshooting and administrative time resulting in end-user downtime
  • System upgrades are delayed due to the costs associated with the procurement of new hardware.

    Instead of going down the old approach of deploying operating systems and applications to thousands of physical workstations, a dynamically provisioned virtual desktop environment will offer organizations the ability to provide their users that latest environments without the time and costs associated with a large-scale desktop rollout. Before the rollout begins, it is recommended a pilot program is launched that validates the recommended design based on business and user requirements.

    This document provides a reference architecture for a XenDesktop Pilot. It is broken up into the following components:

  • Virtual Desktop Requirements
  • Solution Overview
  • Technical Architecture

Dan put together a list of requirements for this Pilot Reference Architecture –

The pilot is the last stage of testing and validating the design and environment build before moving towards a full-scale production rollout. A small set of users will work with the production-level environment and validate the solution is functional and meets the overall virtual desktop requirements. For the architecture defined throughout this document, the following requirements are used:

  • Users should be able to personalize their virtual desktop environment with application configurations, environment settings and user preferences. The personalization settings should follow the user from system-to-system.
  • Users should be able to continue working within their virtual desktop even if there is a failure of a component within the environment.
  • Users should be able to get access to their virtual desktop securely and over remote connections without relying on a VPN client
  • A single base standard image should be used for all users within the pilot group.
  • Updating the operating system with the latest security patches should only be required on a single image. Those changes should be propagated to all users’ virtual desktops.
  • Users should only see the applications they have been assigned as seeing all applications causes confusion.

I have broken the great content of the pdf into smaller, bite size chunks to make it more digestible within a slide format (especially the step by step tables). Before each step in the tables, I added in the reference diagram with a big arrow that points to the step within the diagram. There are a lot of slides, but the amount of content on each slide is much easier to swallow in this format IMO.

Click here to view the presentation in full screen at Slide Share.

This presentation does have several slide notes that provide additional detail. You can view the slide notes here.

Frank Anderson on the XenDesktop team has created a few screencasts covering the features of XenDesktop. You can watch his short screencast covering the provisioning and lifecycle management features of XenDesktop here. Frank’s screencast on user experience is available here.

Download the free XenDesktop Express Edition here

Thanks to Dan Feller for putting together an excellent whitepaper and allowing me to convert that content into this format. I hope you find this useful.