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Consider desktops in the cloud for BYOD

Tom Henderson | May 21, 2012
Desktop-as-a-Service is an interesting way for IT execs to provide cloud-based Windows desktop sessions, as well as shared resources such as storage. DaaS can help companies roll out new desktops and support Bring Your Own Device policies.

The landing URL (the starting page that clients access via a browser) can be customized with organizational logos and imprints. It's also possible to link to third party trouble-ticket applications and systems management applications. We found out about Desktone through an announcement by Quest Software that its applications will soon be able to resource-manage Desktone's portal and DaaS resources under their "umbrella.''

The Citrix infrastructure helps expand accessibility; common desktop operating system browser connections are available, as well as various Citrix Receiver clients for devices ranging from iOS and Android through Linux, Mac OS, and of course, older and newer versions of Windows. This would also hold true for other DaaS service providers we tested.

The Desktone speed was very good in our light performance testing, and we encountered no difficulties using Windows 7 instances. We'd like to see stronger password and smartcard use, as we could change passwords to those easily cracked by dictionary attacks, although passwords are wrapped by the default https session encryption.

Desktone was fast and easy to provision, made easily accessible by the largely Citrix-based connectivity infrastructure. Performance was good, and extensibility to existing networks should be simple.


The dinCloud client is vWorkstation from Quest Software. On Windows clients, that means Flash is used, although there are other client-types that don't use Flash, like the iPads and other devices under iOS and Linux. The vWorkstation software gave us a rapid access under Windows 7, but requires a few user-side settings (that can be scripted, if you're gifted) on other platforms. The results, however, are pretty spectacular for users.

If you've used Windows 7 on a desktop or notebook, subject to your connection speed, you get an identical experience. Our connection was fast, and it was difficult to tell that it wasn't the resident host operating system on our clients. The caveat is that we have a strong broadband connection and couldn't detect any latency at all. Those with slower connections or congestion may experience weaker response. Those searching for a remotely-hosted Windows 7 session that feels like a hypervisor-based Windows 7 session will be pleased.

The administrative experience for dinCloud is very simple, and it's not for civilians, although civilians/users can be given policy-controlled choices. DinCloud presented us with an organizational URL and a base set of users; then we were required to update to Adobe FlashPlayer 10+. The landing URL was called, a link was provided and the sessions began.

The vWorkspace client supports RDP, ICA, and even VNC (although potentially unencrypted) access protocols, and logged us on quickly, but took a bit of work to get Firefox 11 working; IE 8/9 worked easily to access sessions. There is also a dinCloud Server offering, but this was not tested.


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