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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.

In use, Nivio was the longest to load a session unless it was a persistent session (which still takes a little time to set up a session). That said, the length of time was less than a half minute, and sessions performed well according to the benchmark we used. Nivio has a youthful appeal to it that betrays its depth of configuration. It was refreshing.

ICC Global Hosting

ICC Global hosts a number of line-of-business applications for a variety of ISVs and says its "sweet spot" is sessions for five to 500 users. Like others in our DaaS testing, ICCH uses Citrix infrastructure, and after a customer intake and provisioning process, we logged into Citrix XenApp.

As with others that we tested, Citrix XenApp provisioned us with a Windows 2008R2 "terminal" session, and it was extraordinarily fast, due to a short four-hop connection between our facilities in Bloomington and from nFrame, our hosting facility in Carmel, Ind., and their sites in Atlanta and eastern Kentucky. Other may have our experience depending on their connectivity. The XenApp software is available for a variety of Windows and Mac hosts, and we found all of them -- MacOS, Linux, Windows, and Android, via Citrix Receiver, equally featured in terms of resource sharing and speed.

After an initial provisioning exchange, we were given a URL, logon, and initial passwords. From there, all was lightning fast, and the plain-vanilla Windows-over-Citrix experience. ICCGH was otherwise fastidious regarding building up the provisioned desktops quickly, and has experience in multi-tenant, ISV environments.

ICCGH also has experience in putting together a variety of Active Directory environment extensions, or isolated, server-based authentication mechanisms through the use of VPNs. A number of VPN configurations are supported, including IPSec, GRE, and PPTP that allow "islands" of resources to be connected (or not) for extension, isolation, or application-specific off-premises pools of resources.

Like other DaaS provider services tested, ICCGH can make available local resources such as disk storage, USB, printers, etc., or otherwise control them through either customer-supplied policies or those imposed by Active Directory connections. Microsoft-savvy admins will feel at home.


The Applications2u (A2U) environment is also underpinned by Citrix infrastructure, and downloads Citrix Receiver on initial access for users. There are a wide variety of compatible Citrix Receiver clients available -- meaning Windows machines, Macs, iOS and Android; some of the clients are more difficult to install than others, but Windows and Apple users shouldn't have much problem.

Applications2u with Citrix Receiver allows a fully virtualized desktop experience, and/or allows only Windows-compatible applications to be accessed. The apps-only experience is A2U's secret sauce (a version of XenApp is also offered by ICCGH that provides a similar service), and it's done well. Using the Receiver, remote applications can be launched on a Receiver-launched device, rather than an entire Windows 7-ish desktop. This permits "foreign" applications to run wherever communications and security mandates permit.


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