As the first opportunity to really interact with customers and partners on a large scale after the XenDesktop 4 and FlexCast announcements, Tuesday’s CitrixLive!was a really exciting day for many of us at Citrix.  Ron Lott, Frank Anderson and I had the opportunity to do the Q&A sessions for FlexCast, our name for the uniquely numerous methods Citrix has of delivering virtualized desktops and applications, all under one product, XenDesktop 4.  As my XenDesktop counterpart SME, Frank is an incredibly savvy technologist and fellow Citrite, with a rather impressive employment history with some of Citrix’s largest and most successful partners, customers, and XenApp rollouts.  I knew him when he was at Disney and Emory, but have really enjoyed watching him work over the last couple of years in a vital role on our XenDesktop product team… just a great guy to work with.  But I digress…

Back to FlexCast and the delivery options:

Simply put, FlexCast is all about enabling the broadest class of capabilities under a single product from a single vendor, in order to enable IT buyers and engineers to focus on the right implementation for their environment and users, without getting caught up in what many are finding to otherwise be a costly, multi-vendor solution that usually doesn’t quite cut it.

After some of the questions on FlexCast during the CitrixLive! Event on Tuesday I thought it would be a good idea to start a blog series about FlexCast On-Demand Apps by presenting the matrix of application and desktop delivery options included in XenDesktop 4.  Dan Feller has posted a quick video over in his “Ask the Architect” Blog that goes into this as well.  Dan’s posts are always a great resource so please check them out.  In follow on posts we will go into more detail about specific implementations from this matrix, which grows much larger when you take into account that some users actually use multiple desktops and scenarios, sometimes all at the same time.

In the matrix I have included traditional installation as “End-point Installed”, not to include it as part of FlexCast, but to acknowledge it in perspective to the options enabled by FlexCast. 

I have also separated “Online streamed/app-v” and “offline application streaming/App-V” in order to clarify the target platform for these on-demand delivery types. “Offline” in the Citrix vernacular describes the ability of an execution platform to run an isolated app without requiring an active connection to to a back-end XenApp server. 

App Type \ Desktop Type Hosted
Online Installed
Online Streamed to Server
Online App-V Streamed to Server*
Offline Application Streaming
Offline Microsoft App-V**
End-point Installed*** 3rd Party 3rd Party 3rd Party 3rd Party 3rd Party

* Requires Microsoft VDI Suite – Premier
** Requires Microsoft VDI Suite – Standard
*** Manual or 3rd Party ESD installs are not part of FlexCast 

As you can see, there are 28 discreet options to be considered for any single desktop implementation. This can at first sight be a little overwhelming.  I would argue that this is much less overwhelming than being forced into one particular desktop or application delivery solution and then trying to address all of the complexities of a growing number of access scenarios (i.e. are all of the users on campus? How many branches do we have to serve and what are the idiosyncrasies of each one?  What do you mean the CEO is working from a remote island with crappy internet access, next week, but still wants to work like they are on the dedicated 10Gb link we installed in his office yesterday)  OK, maybe that last one was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point. 

With all of the other considerations to take into account, being hobbled by any solution that can only address the problem in a single, specific way, because that is all it can do, is often like painting a car with push broom, yep the paint will go on, but is the end result really what you were hoping for?  Citrix FlexCast pretty much covers every consideration that needs to be taken into account for cost effective desktop and application delivery.  Especially in light of current economics and increasing budget constraints, let alone consumer based end-user expectations that are outpacing the current capacity of corporate IT to deliver acceptable usability and service levels.

In the flexibility line of thought and in light of all of the pressure we are all under in a down economic climate, I’d like to share an excerpt that hit me from one of my favorite books while I was looking at this matrix and reflecting on the great opportunities that On-Demand Apps and XenDesktop 4 introduces.

All three quotes are from one book, they are not in sequence but they cover three thoughts…

The opportunity: 
Today is your day.
You’re off to Great Places!
You’re off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.”

The Trap to avoid:

“You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space, headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.”

The Reward for getting it right:

“Oh! The Places You’ll Go!

You’ll be on your way up!
You’ll be seeing great sights!
You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.

You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead. Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best. Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.”

Wow, I almost feel like Stuart Smalley after that one, anyway thanks for allowing me the tangent, and oh yes, thanks Dr. Seuss, one of the 20th centuries greatest philosophers!

Now, back to business… I am looking for the community to help this blog series evolve by asking questions, sharing examples, and pushing us to deliver more in those areas where you have real pain but no real solution yet.  These are the things that I would really like to be talking about, so let’s have at it!