Feeds

Virtualised desktops: provisioning done the MS way

Two paths to IT happiness

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

A virtualised desktop offers huge advantages, both to the user and to the IT department.

For anyone using a laptop at home or on the move, the experience is the same and everything is exactly as when they left it.

What they see is the image of a desktop running in a virtual machine on a server in the data centre. Users log onto the server via their browsers and are offered a virtual desktop and other resources appropriate to their role. They have entered a secured virtual environment where they can start being productive.

From an IT perspective, a virtualised desktop offers easier, centralised management and a decoupling of the hardware from the operating system and application set.

This makes the desktop more secure and insulates the software, which avoids the perpetual race to upgrade hardware.

That is the promise, and essentially there are two ways of delivering it.

Suits you, sir

The first and most cost-effective way, also known as session virtualisation, is suited to very thin clients, users with fairly standard needs such as call centre employees, and places where the network link can be relied upon.

For this you need a server running Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 or later. This includes Remote Desktop Services (RDS), whose core job is to manage the process of connecting to a machine which has been configured by the IT admins.

Applications then run in that session as if they were on a physical device. The connection, including the screen image, is delivered by the Remote Desktop protocol, which allows multiple users to share the resources of the server.

If end-users need more than a handful of standard applications, the alternative is to use a form of virtual desktop infrastructure. This is suited to home and mobile workers who need access to the corporate desktop, and places where the network link may be intermittent.

A bit rich

The desktop – one per user – runs as a virtual machine on a host server in the data centre. The desktop experience is richer than with RDS and closer to what is offered by one running locally, while giving the IT department the benefits of more control and centralised management. Additionally, there is a much wider range of available applications.

For this scenario you will need a virtual machine host running a hypervisor such as Microsoft Hyper-V. The system's connection broker knows which virtual machine to offer the user and manages the processes of authentication with a directory service, or similar.

It then connects the client to the right machine, which might be running on one of many hosts. Because the user has established a connection with the broker, reconnecting in the event of a dropped link is simplified: all it needs to do is re-establish the link from one of its cached sessions. IT admins can manage the process with Microsoft System Center.

It is all very different from dumping a box on users' desks and leaving them to install the operating system and get themselves up and running.

Virtualisation makes desktop management easier and, for a wide range of users, offers a good compromise between local processing that delivers the full-fat media experience and a desktop focused on the task at hand. ®

The next step in data security

More from The Register

next story
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Mathematica hits the Web
Wolfram embraces the cloud, promies private cloud cut of its number-cruncher
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
Mozilla shutters Labs, tells nobody it's been dead for five months
Staffer's blog reveals all as projects languish on GitHub
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Protecting users from Firesheep and other Sidejacking attacks with SSL
Discussing the vulnerabilities inherent in Wi-Fi networks, and how using TLS/SSL for your entire site will assure security.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.