You know when you are thinking of someone and then they call you? Well this is how I felt today when I received the announcement today that Citrix has aquired RingCube.
Just yesterday I wrote about the the “Data Problem” around Virtual Desktops and Applications (see blog C.R.A.P. Is King). This announcement from Citrix signals an important move in the right direction. What RingCube brings to VDI is the ability to represent all of the Computer Residue of Applications and Personalization (C.R.A.P.) from a standalone PC and layer it on top of a shared/read only VDI instance. In practise this means that the IT shop can manage a single image for a large number of users and yet provide the user a fully personalized environment (including apps that they have installed themselves).
The RingCube approach is to quantify all the data created by the user into a standard VHD file container. At runtime this set of data is layered over the shared/read-only desktop instance. In this approach you get a ‘best of both worlds’ scenario in that a single desktop image can shared to many users, i.e. through Provisioning Services, and yet the user experience is fully customizable. We have deployed other solutions to address this problem but they come with high system costs and add considerable complexity to the environment.
While this doesn’t address the larger issue of persisting this data across multiple operating systems and platforms, it does potentially provide a very elegant solution to the “Data Problem” in a pure VDI environment. Although Citrix has not yet made any specific product announcements, I predict that this functionality will influence adoption for organizations that want a simple and cost effective way to move existing PC’s into a centralized VDI solution.
This potentially could be a more elegant solution to the question posed by Gabe Knuth “Is P2V-ing your existing machines into a VDI environment really an option?” In that article, Gabe explores this and cites one of our customer case studies in which P2V was actually the best way to transition the desktop into VDI. Only time will tell how well this works in practice, but we will be watching carefully and would love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the meantime!