XenDesktop offers a great solution for organizations looking to refresh their PCs regardless of whether they decide to run the virtual desktops centrally in a data center, or run the virtual desktops using the processing capability on the PCs themselves with XenDesktop Local Mode.

In this post, we’re going to do a deeper dive into using XenDesktop Local Mode for your PC refresh…

What is XenDesktop Local Mode?

XenDesktop Local Mode is an umbrella term for capabilities that enable running virtual desktops locally.  It includes both XenClient and DesktopPlayer.  DesktopPlayer runs virtual desktops on a Type-2 client hypervisor, which is ideal for BYO laptops since it does not disrupt the user’s existing base operating system, but still allows IT to deliver a centrally managed and control the corporate virtual desktop. XenClient runs virtual desktops on a Type-1 client hypervisor, for greater control and management of the client, and is ideal for the scenario described in this blog post.

With XenDesktop Local Mode, PCs are turned into “virtual appliances” – eliminating the headaches associated with traditional PC management. Here’s a quick summary of the benefits, with more detail on each below:

  • Same infrastructure cost model as traditional PCs
  • Desktop management costs savings of 70-90%
  • Increased reliability
  • Data security
  • Support for Branch Offices and distributed locations
  • Seamless mobility

Same infrastructure cost model as traditional PCs

With XenDesktop Local Mode, your virtual desktop is actually running on the PC itself, so you get the benefits of virtualization while leveraging the processing power and storage on your PCs.  Because the desktop workload is running on the PC, the infrastructure cost model is identical to a traditional PC deployment using a traditional PC management system.  But while the infrastructure investment is the same, the desktop management cost savings are tremendous…

Desktop management costs savings of 70-90%

As a general rule, it’s much easier to manage virtual machines than native physical machines. When server virtualization was first developed, many organizations bought it for workload consolidation, but they quickly realized that manageability was the true benefit. With virtual machines, you can easily move them, use templates to create new ones, etc. Moreover, with a native machine, the updates are made real-time inside a running OS and many things can go wrong.  For example, if the machine loses power, is disrupted by a user, or loses network connectivity, the update can fail.  XenDesktop Local Mode can synchronize a centrally managed golden image with thousands of endpoints to ensure the integrity of the images on the endpoints – eliminating patch failures and application conflicts.   That being said, XenDesktop is NOT trying to replace solutions like Microsoft SCCM at all – SCCM provides a lot of capabilities around inventory management, master image management, etc. What XenDesktop does is complement SCCM to make PCs and laptops a lot more manageable, reliable, and secure.

Increased reliability

When something goes wrong with a PC, the IT group may spend a bit of time trying to understand what’s happening and resolve the issue, but if it cannot be figured out relatively quickly, the most efficient answer is often just to re-image the machine.  But with XenDesktop Local Mode, users can reboot to get to a pristine golden image and recover from most malware and corruptions without the need for IT intervention.

Data security

With XenDesktop Local Mode, full disk encryption can be enabled at the hypervisor level, below the OS, so that the data is protected even if the machine is stolen.  While this is less likely for desktop PCs, it can still happen, and for sensitive applications, many organizations greatly value this added level of protection.  Moreover, additional policy controls can be enforced – for example, disabling access to certain USB devices, such mass storage devices that can be used to steal corporate data.

Support for Branch Offices and distributed locations

With XenDesktop Local Mode, users in branch offices experience the same performance as users in the main office – regardless of the network connection, because the virtual desktop is running locally on their PC.

Seamless mobility

XenDesktop not only offers the ability to run virtual desktops locally – it also include Remote PC, which offers users the ability to access their desktop from anywhere.  By including the Remote PC agent in the golden image, IT can enable users to access their desktop from anywhere.