With 2012 drawing to a close, I’ve seen an uptick in customer queries about migration options for their old RingCube vDesk deployments. For those of you not familiar with that product, it was a workspace virtualization solution that basically separated a Windows installation into two parts – the host part and the workspace part. The workspace functioned like a “light VM” in the sense that it behaved like a unique machine, had its own hostname and Active Directory identity, and could be managed much like a regular VM (app installations, etc). Unlike a VM, however, it used the host machine’s Windows installation and thus didn’t require additional OS deployment and associated patching concerns.

In the beginning, vDesk was tailored to run on physical endpoints (later, we added support for running in a VDI environment). Over the years, protocols improved, bandwidth increased, and datacenter costs fell. By the time RingCube joined Citrix last year, VDI deployments were more commonplace, and this was one of the reasons RingCube had in the interim developed a VDI-specific product (now known as Personal vDisk, a feature built into XenDesktop and VDI-in-a-box).

As their vDesk maintenance contracts expire, customers are now reaching out to their sales teams for upgrade and migration options. When considering a replacement (there really isn’t a direct migration path for vDesk workspaces) solution, I’ve heard some common concerns:

  • The new solution must be secure – no data stored on endpoints (or encrypting data at the endpoint)
  • The new solution must offer high performance (video/voice/multimedia)
  • The new solution must be scalable (thousands of users) and easy to maintain (specifically updates and upgrades)

I’ve been steering customers toward XenDesktop and XenApp for upgrade options, and suggesting they also take a look at Excalibur as it has support for both applications and desktops (and also includes the personal vDisk feature for those customers that need it). Of course, all the above recommendations address the above concerns in an easy to understand way. Customers that had deployed vDesk on physical endpoints (or used vDesk’s workspace check-in/check-out capability) would probably find XenClient Enterprise a good fit today as it offers a similar offline/endpoint-based experience. If a customer’s planned migration is due to happen in the immediate near-term, there are already good solutions we can offer in the existing XenDesktop, XenApp, and XenClient products (in case the customer can’t afford to wait for Excalibur).

Of course, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation and each customer has unique requirements, but between today’s XenDesktop, XenApp, and XenClient solutions and what Citrix has on tap in Excalibur, we’ve been able to propose some compelling recommendations for migrating away from vDesk.