Desktone: The Great and the Concerning

On 28 November 2012 by Pete Petersen


While many VDI solution providers have languished, or stagnated, over the years, one continues to stand out in nearly every conversation about any cloud-based VDI hosted solution: Desktone.

Desktone claims that their service is a Desktop As a Service solution. And in the strictest definition, they are correct. However, organizations need to go in realizing that the solution is really up to the organization to implement and manage. In other words, it’s helpful to realize that the responsibility for patching Windows 7 belongs to the organization, not to Desktone. However, the hardware and virtual hardware are all managed by Desktone. Putting it that way sets an important demarcation line and defines the type of implementation an organization can expect on top of Desktone infrastructure.

Desktone has its place and has certainly hit a sweet spot in the market. It’s easy for an organization to get on board. The management tools are simple for administrators. The press is good. The name is trusted.

That all being said, organizations need to go in understanding several things about an implementation on Desktone.

  • Your IT staff is still needed. It’s not a fully-managed hosted VDI solution. It’s a platform for your organization to run its desktops on top of. The desktops still need to be managed. Desktone provides some of the tools, but you will need to bring some of your own.
  • Image management is an important consideration. Desktone provides some utilities to make this easier, it’s still an IT maintenance item, and your organization will need to be strategic about its management of images.
  • Profile/persona management. This is all up to the organization, which leads to third party software.
  • Business continuity. Desktone reports that outages of 30 or more results in credits for affected outages, but does not indicate what the credits are (for the month, for the day, or just for the outage duration). In the nuts and bolts, most service providers are boasting 3 9’s of availability (99.9% available). This means that your desktop can be down for around 44 minutes per month, and still be within SLA. Is this good enough? Many larger organizations demand (or at least shoot for) 5 9’s (99.999% available), which is in the neighborhood of 5 minutes of downtime per year for an implementation or component.
  • Disaster recovery. If your desktop is destroyed for whatever reason (Desktone storage hiccup, host farm disaster, data center disaster, or whatever), your options are limited, and you may need your own way to get users back online, or a plan to spin up in an alternate data center if things got really bad at Desktone.
  • OS patching. This is still yours. Nothing changes here.
  • Application delivery. This is also still yours. Traditional delivery methods can still be used, but your application delivery methods need to be solid to minimize impact to the users’ Desktone desktops. Strong consideration should be given to application virtualization tools such as Microsoft App-V, which many organizations are already licensed to utilize but are leaving that bit of technology on the table.
  • Connecting applications to their data. While there are ways of going about this at Desktone, this is a difficult task at best. Bridging back to premise data is difficult, and spinning up a hosted database is also not in the mainstream of a Desktone platform.

These are just some of the items that should be in the list of considerations as your organization heads down the path of a Desktone implemenation. Establishing a relationship with an experienced partner is critical as any organization embarks down the VDI path. Project Leadership Associates is a trusted partner that specializes in VDI implementations, large and small, and is well-equipped to help your organization efficiently into a well-managed VDI solution.

There are other ways to go about a cloud-hosted Desktop As a Service. SolidCloud comes to mind. This is a fully-managed hosting solution that takes care of all of the concerns listed above.

Bottom line is, whichever way your organization decides to go, the including the important considerations up front will help the cloud-hosted desktop migration project go much more smoothly.

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