Providing Universal Access to Virtual Desktops

— Brought to you by 2X Cloud Computing guest blogger Brien M. Posey —

Organizations that deploy a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure often do so because they are hoping to realize some of the benefits such as easier management and improved security. The sad reality is however, that these benefits often remain elusive.

One of the biggest reasons for this has to do with the Bring Your Own Device craze. Up until a few years ago, virtual desktop environments were relatively easy to support. End-users accessed virtual desktops primarily from within the corporate network using either PCs running thin client software or dedicated zero clients. Today this simply is not the case. Users expect to be able to access their virtual desktops from beyond the network perimeter, and on all manner of devices.

The expectation for universal access to virtual desktops has historically proven to be a huge challenge for administrators. One of the reasons for this has to do with the fact that a client component is required in order to establish virtual desktop connectivity. Unfortunately, this client is anything but universal. Windows PCs require one version of the client, while iOS devices require another. A separate client is needed for each operating system environment.

Simply providing end-users with the correct client for their devices can be a big enough job, but the difficulty is compounded by the fact that virtual desktop client software evolves over time, which means that updates need to be periodically applied to the end-user devices.

Providing universal access to virtual desktops can also be a support nightmare. I once saw a user who was upset because the virtual desktop client would not installed on his 386 computer that ran Windows 98. Similarly, I recall seeing another user frustrated with a failed client installation on a computer running Windows XP. The problem was that the computer was so infested with malware that the operating system was barely functional. In both cases, the helpdesk was burdened with trying to sort out the problem even though the users were not using company hardware.

One great way in which organizations can provide users with access to virtual desktops without having to deal with these types of issues is to make the virtual desktop sessions available through a web interface. Technology exist today that allows virtual desktop sessions to be accessible from any device that is equipped with an HTML 5 compatible web browser.

Providing web-based access to virtual desktop sessions solves a number of problems. First, using web-based sessions does away with the problem of having to maintain a separate client for each operating system. Any device with a compatible web browser should be able to access the virtual desktop sessions, so the need for deploying and maintaining a dedicated client component goes away.

Web-based sessions are also easier to support. If the user can access the Internet and has a compatible web browser, they should be able to access their virtual desktops. The helpdesk will never have to determine whether a dedicated client component is of the correct version or if the client software is functioning properly.

Finally, the use of web-based clients provide the end-users with a greater degree of flexibility. In the past, users were only able to access the virtual desktops from devices that have been provisioned by the IT department. By removing the need for a client component, the need for provisioning is also removed. As such, end users can access the virtual desktops from brand-new devices that have never been provisioned, or even from a hotel kiosk.

Organizations that operate a Virtual Desktop Infrastructure should seriously consider making the switch to a web-based interface. Doing so relieves much of the management and support burden while also providing a better overall end user experience.

About Brien M. Posey

Brien Posey is a ten time Microsoft MVP with two decades of IT experience. Prior to becoming a freelance technical writer, Brien served as CIO for a national chain of hospitals and healthcare facilities. He has also worked as a network administrator for some of the nation’s largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox.

Since going freelance in 2001, Brien has become a prolific technical author. He has published many thousands of articles and numerous books on a wide variety of topics (primarily focusing on enterprise networking). In addition to his writing, Brien has provided consulting services to clients and speaks at IT events all over the world.

About 2X Software

2X Software is a global leader in virtual desktop and application delivery, remote access and cloud computing solutions. Thousands of enterprises worldwide trust in the reliability and scalability of 2X products. 2X offers a range of solutions to make every company’s shift to cloud computing simple and affordable.

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