User Group Summary: Is the desktop just another application?

The source concept for this leapling meeting was Daniel Feller’s post ( – Is the desktop just another application?

How do you do desktop transformation? What is involved? How can you manage that process and if it’s hard this time – can you build something that will make it be easier next time? How nice will lunch be? Will England beat the Dutch? Let’s do last to first.

Football? Brave effort, but experience trumps fresh faced vigour. Still, oh so nearly.

Lunch? Thanks to our sponsors  eG Innovations, Liquidware Labs and Matrix42 lunch was very good. I thought, the best lunch I’d had at an independent event – ever. Brown bags?! Salmon was a *choice* – take that alternative user groups.

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not in a great position to say, blow-by-blow how the first half of the day went as the day-job took precedence meaning that I may have rocked up from lunch onwards. So, I’m going to openly steal from my experience of attending the E2E Conference, which was held in London in November 2011, where I saw early versions of the morning presentations: I’ve caveated those write-ups with a <blag>: but there is a point to that.

It’s a goal of the user group to share ideas and information – if you see a pertinent presentation, if you plug into wonderful webinar then the UK Citrix User Group exists to help you share that resource, indeed enhance it by having a place to discuss it with your peers.



Anyhoo, the day covered included:

  1. Flexcast engineering for the end user
  2. Cutting through the “wow-to-how”
  3. Is the desktop just another application?
  4. Round table: “XenApp or XenDesktop – how do you choose between your children?”.
  5. XenApp Desktop Experience

Again, thanks to eG Innovations, Liquidware Labs and Matrix42 for sponsoring the event, providing lunch, and an honourable mention to AppSense for coming along, scribbling their own notes, contributing and also chipping in with the main sponsors for some beers at the end.

”Flexcast engineering for the end user”

<blag>David Gaunt, Lead Systems Engineer @Citrix presented ‘this is how it could be if you glued it altogether‘ in conjunction with “here are your decision choices for how you glue that“. How XenApp/XenDsktop should and can fit and recommended decision points. David spoke on how users might present their requirements and how to cure management headaches. The slide deck can be downloaded here. When I saw the presentation I was impressed with the conviction and vision. David isn’t averse to saying where the pain points are (always refreshing) but at the same time has suggestions on how to counter that.</blag>

Cutting through the “wow-to-how”

<blag>This presentation, in my opinion, is a Carlsberg presentations for VDI: probably one of the most useful presentations you will ever see.  Any fool can make things seem bigger and complex, write far more words than necessary. Often, when you’re looking to understand the process of transformation to desktop virtualisation that is what you are presented with. It takes skill, and a bit of courage, to move in the opposite direction. This is what Chris Marks sets out to do in his presentation. Chris critiqued the concept of virtual desktop delivery and a desktop transformation life-cycle. It is informative, it is valuable, it is well worth your time to review which you can download here.</blag>

Flexcast engineering for the end user – web conference with Dan Feller

This was a new venture for the user group – a live web link. But, for a chance to speak to Daniel Feller, Lead Architect within the Worldwide Consulting Solutions group, it was well worth pushing the boundaries.

Dan gave a great visual presentation which everyone followed, and about a third of the room good a direct insight into his thoughts and were able to interact. Damn big rooms and long tables, damn them to heck. Still, everyone learned lessons.

As I write, Dan is likely still snowed in. Dan, if you’re reading: don’t eat the yellow snow.

Round table: “XenApp or XenDesktop – how do you choose between your children?”

Always a popular session – key recommendations and discussion points included.

    • “When implementing a service, how much time is spent re-mediating apps, and how much time designing the back-end?”. A common cause for extending transformation projects is the fact that the time needed to put the applications from where-they-are-now to somewhere-else can often be an unknown.  The key focus here was “how do you gather your knowledge about what applications your organisation has? you can ask the customer/business for sure but the answer is often “meh, dunno“. A reference to sponsors LiquidWare and Centrix Software to help you here. A key message from the session was understand application usage to focus effort on remediation – because remediation can have the largest impact on a transformation project’s resources..
    • ThinApp, App-V, Citrix Streaming – which one? Experience suggested that Thinapp is the easier to work with, and has a range of deployment options, but has little in the way of deployment management options unless you choose .msi files and integrate with AD. App-V was suggested as the most comprehensive solution available: but can be more taxing in terms of initial effort and resources required. Likewise, there was a thought that, if you’ve selected Citrix Streaming, go you, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Still, App-V often wins out because of its breadth of application support, range of management options and the fact that for many customer you may well already be licensed to use it across a range of environments.
    • XenDesktop vs XenApp – which is better? XenDesktop can makes application remediation easier: you can maintain a win32 OS; it looks like an modern home PC with its option for a fancy Aero interface. However XenApp 6.5 has a function that enables you to make the published interface look just like Win7, indeed if it was simply a “look and feel” many corporates turn off the fancy Aero stuff anyway. Yet importantly, XenDesktop suffers from the fact that Microsoft still doesn’t provide a sensible desktop OS central virtualisation licensing policy. The Microsoft VDA license is complex for in-house deployments, it doesn’t sit well for desktop-as-a-service vendors, and it is a year-on-year cost for each non-SA covered device. This is not the case with RDS CALs. XenApp sat on RDS still offers a far easier model to license and scale.
    • How do I handle the politics? When introducing change, a common issue is – how do you help/make “the business” decide on what it wants, and who is responsible. Change is typically not hampered by technical issues alone – and quite often the failure to reach decisions drags out time-lines. The key finding was “this is a bit tricky isn’t it? it would be far better without users“. We may well revisit this topic again.
    • Citrix XenApp 4.5/5/6 EOL in 2013 – problem or not? It’s been mentioned in a couple of places, and Citrix themselves have had their Lifecycle Announcement CTX122442 since 2009. The impact that this would have for organisations was discussed in relation to “what are the drivers to change from ‘what you have now’ to the latest versions of XenApp/XenDesktop”. For some, this was a factor in moving towards the new environment, for others (some who were still supporting MetaFrame) – come 2013 there would be new additions to the environments marked as ‘legacy support’. A key agreement was that “business drives and finances change, if the business doesn’t see value – change will not happen

Thanks the Wellington Hall for making us welcome, and again,  eG Innovations, Liquidware Labs and Matrix42 for sponsoring and AppSense for chipping in for beers as we were full for speaker slots. Finally, congratulations to Scott Rennie for winning the Kindle prize sponsored by Liquidware Labs

The next user group meeting will likely be after Synergy San Francisco. We are still working on events outside of London – thanks to all those who volunteered to assist. As ever we’d of course love to let you wax lyrical with a case study – good or bad.

As ever, if you’ve any questions, suggestions or just want to stick in your 2ps worth on anything on the above feel free to join us on LinkedIn.



  1. Something that occurred to me only after the meeting, is that in Windows 8, the desktop is just another application. The desktop is quite different when compared to current versions of Windows.

    On Windows 7, the desktop is the primary interface to access applications, whilst on Windows 8, the desktop is the primary interface to access legacy applications (i.e. anything not Metro).

    Of course, it will take time for businesses to deploy Metro applications (or they just might skip Windows 8 all together), so the legacy desktop will be with us for some time