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Virtual desktops and applications are increasingly interesting to me.    
Today I decided to move my company, Evolve, from Quickbooks 2007 to Quickbooks 2010. I’ve never been a huge Quickbooks fan, but QB 2010 has some dashboard features that actually make a big difference in the way I use the program, and put the information I need to know in a single integrated view. Regardless, doing upgrades like this is normally a huge pain.

I have four machines I use: At the office, I have a iMac. At the home office, I have a Mac Pro, and I carry a MacBook Pro and a Dell Mini 9 as my mobile solutions. All the Macs have Windows VMs. If I were to get in my DeLorean and go back, the upgrade today on my four systems would have been a huge pain. Each desktop would need the CD, license code, links to the database location, etc. I would have spent considerable time reinstalling the application.

Instead, I upgraded our terminal server’s installation, updated the published app, and pushed out the link on each desktop. Done. Seamless. And, best of all, the apps are available on my Macs too. (Try it – the v2 of Remote Desktop Connection for the Mac supports published apps).

It changes the way we look at application deployment.     

Desktops are similar – one of my biggest worries has always been data lingering around the desktops and laptops we have in the office. While Windows 7 makes management and redeployment easy, I still loathe the thought of data living out on desktops and laptops around the environment. A stolen laptop or a crashed hard drive can cause significant issues, and not only cost us potential data, but cost us time to redeploy.  

As we look to replace those systems, our plan is to move those desktops into our data center, virtualized. This means thin clients to connect, centralized and secure data to work on.  I’ve already loved the way we do application deployment to desktop this way, so desktops are the logical next step.  

Not every system will be deployed this way, obviously. But as I look around my office, my engineers and service coordination staff are largely static. They’re in the office, working on desktop systems always connected to the Internet. It’s mostly me who moves around. And those same engineers actively like the idea of being able to easily access their desktop directly when on a customer site.

Citrix and VMWare both see this as the future. On the day I wrote this, Citrix released XenDesktop 4 and Dazzle. There’s even a new Reciever client, including an iPhone client. Because clearly what I need is to be able to work in QuickBooks on my iPhone. But the idea that I could… it opens up a lot of new possibilities.   Applications unbound to the platform.  If I can run Quickbooks on iPhone, on my Mac, and from any terminal, that makes me pretty productive. This vision of unbound applications is compelling, and what has me thinking about virtualized desktops and applications more and more as I design systems.


Dave Sobel is the founder and CEO of Evolve Technologies, a consulting firm that provides information technology (IT) and computer networking services to the small business, faith-based and nonprofit communities in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia. 

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