Applications are the way users get their jobs done.  Application delivery is different for legacy Windows applications, web applications, mobile applications, and cloud framework applications. 

Legacy Windows applications require application virtualization to be streamed from a cloud-like resource.  Application virtualization is a companion to desktop virtualization.  Instead of installing an application on a user desktop, the application is “installed” in a standalone format that can be streamed from the data center.  Application virtualization basically tricks the software into thinking it is running on Windows.  Though, not all legacy Windows applications can be perfectly virtualized.  This Application virtualization will not run as a web application, mobile application, or cloud application.

Web applications are also a companion to Desktop virtualization as they are inherently device agnostic, and can run be run through a virtual desktop browser.  However, web applications typically create a tension with browser version support.  It is expensive to keep re-certifying web applications against ever changing browser releases.  Web applications can store a significant amount of data and plug-ins in user profiles, which puts an additional cost and performance burden on cloud-hosted desktops.

Mobile applications coming from mobile “app-stores” and cloud framework applications (like Hadoop) are emerging and improving all the time.  In some cases, these apps may bypass the need for desktop virtualization at all.  The key clarification to be aware of is that legacy Windows application virtualization is NOT compatible with either mobile applications or cloud framework applications – that will require additional development and testing.

Mission Focus

As a customer of desktop virtualization, focusing on user experience and cost reduction are the keys to success.  Driving profiles, applications, and data into cloud-like hosting is a good idea for many mission-focused enterprises.  By understanding the realities of virtualizing operating system hosting, cloud hosting, and application delivery, you will be able to help drill down and decide if “going virtual” is truly the right fit for your enterprise.

To read more about why many government agencies and private industries are making the switch from traditional networks to Virtual Desktop Solutions, learn how the Virtual Desktop Solution integrates with cloud environments to enhance information sharing, and find out what we're doing with virtual desktop services, check out the other stories in our series, linked below:

Visualizing Virtualization
Virtualization: Forecast Calls for Clouds
Virtual Desktop Services


The writer of this Virtualization series, Ben Goss is BAE Systems' Virtual Desktop Service Provider technical lead. He brings technology and lessons learned that improve cost and user experience for our government customers.