I’m starting to get a feeling of deja-vu every time I read or hear an argument about what is a better way to deliver desktops – desktop OS virtualization (aka “VDI”) or server side app virtualization (aka “SBC”).

I’m starting to get a feeling of deja-vu every time I read or hear an argument about what is a better way….. OK, lets CTRL-C the deja-vu loop and get to the point – I am reminded of all those technology arguments like PC vs MAC, IE vs Firefox, Windows vs Linux etc. etc.

I can’t fault the proponents of either approach for their ….er… passion but I do wonder if this passion clouds objectivity somewhat. This occurs more in written arguments such as blogs and comments. When the discussion is  face-to-face such as a Geek Speak, it appears to be more pragmatic and objective, with an understanding that it really all depends on applicability. The consensus when Rick Dehlinger led a discussion at our Summit Geek Speak was that either approach will be successful or not depending on the use case.

For much of the last decade and a bit, there has really been only two options – fully installed desktops or what we used to refer (in Citrix, it’s still widely used out there ) as “Server Based Computing”, whether that was vanilla TS or winfr…metafra..presentatio…XenApp. With desktop virtualization technologies maturing to the point where they can be deployed beyond edge cases within an enterprise or Gov’t environment, there is now a third alternative. Accepting that VDI related technologies have had less time to mature than SBC, the fact that Citrix and other vendors desktop virtualization products are being successfully implemented shows that they are mature enough to be used.

Whenever a new technology has reached a certain level of maturity, the proponents (sometimes called “Zealots”) will declare it to be the solution for every use case. Others (sometimes called “Neanderthals”) reject it out of hand. This is now happening with VDI. I’m not complaining as I think the debate is useful in identifying the benefits and drawbacks of either approach depending on the use case.

I’ll try to distill the debate down to a few words, remembering that these are not necessarily my own opinions:

  • VDI technologies are still immature – especially remoting protocols and management tools.
  • SBC leaves a lot of apps on the table – those that are either completely incompatable or do not run well
  • Either approach does not completely suit mobile workers – due to the need for “offline” operation
  • Provisioning is cool – this seems to be the consensus and one with which I totally agree. I’m a great fan of Citrix Provisioning Server both for datacenters and desktops and think its a real game changer – and no, I am not in that product group .
  • Neither approach has completely cracked personalization or profile management
  • For knowledge/office workers, the ability to install personal apps is important but not yet available.

Forgive the simplicity in this list, and I’m sure I’ve missed some important points which will no doubt be pointed out in the comments. And, to be honest, that is what I am hoping for. I’d like to see some true, experienced based, dialogue on which use cases have been solved by VDI or SBC, or both or neither. As such, I am hosting a live discussion during Geek Speak Virtual which we are holding as part of the “Turbocharge your Datacenter” virtual event this Thursday December 4. I’ve uploaded a video of the Summit Geek Speak session that Rick did, and you can chat live with others, including some of our CTPs.

To take part, register at http://www.citrix.com/cdclive and then navigate to the “Exhibition Hall” where you will find the “Geek Speak Lounge”.