Blending local Windows apps into the virtual desktop

Posted by Thai Pham on

Running a full screen virtual desktop on a Windows PC or thin client, you would have had no visibility to locally installed applications. But with the new Local App Access feature of XenDesktop 7 and XenApp 6.5 Feature Pack 2, now those local Windows apps can be seen without having to escape from your VDI or Hosted Shared desktop.

Why is this valuable?

One use case for Local App Access is Bring-Your-Own-Apps. If a worker wants to listen to a music player app, for example, IT isn’t likely to let them install that app or their music files in the data center. But with Local App Access, they can listen to music from a player on their laptop or PC with no impact on corporate resources and without needing to awkwardly exit from their virtual desktop to stop playback or skip to the next track. In a world where our work lives and personal lives are increasingly blended, many employees value being able to run their own apps while they are working.

Another great use case for Local App Access is real-time communications using apps that haven’t yet been adapted to use our HDX optimized architecture for client-side media processing. The advantage of client-side media processing is that it has no impact on server scalability. On top of that, there is zero degradation in audio-video quality since the media traffic doesn’t even go through the server. But while optimizations are available for Microsoft Lync, Cisco Jabber and Avaya one-X Communicator, not all softphones and UC clients can be delivered in an optimized fashion. The generic alternative of media-over-ICA can provide a good user experience but at the cost of server load, especially with webcam video. So Local App Access offers another approach whereby that multimedia workload can be redirected to the user device.

Have you followed Citrix’s advice to keep desktops and apps separate for easier manageability? Local App Access provides an alternative method of delivering apps into a user’s virtual desktop. Until now, the recommended approach has been to deliver apps over ICA into the virtual desktop, with a second ICA hop to the user device. But with Local App Access, you can composite apps into the virtual desktop locally on the user’s Windows PC or thin client; two single hops instead of a double hop. This can reduce latency and improve interactivity.

Finally, Local App Access addresses some challenging edge cases. Examples include DVD copying when the user is on a long haul network connection, watching TV using a tuner card, connecting a FireWire device, or using a client-server app that demands very low latency to a regional backend.

With Local App Access, all locally-installed applications are listed in the Start menu under “Local Programs” and Local app windows and notification area icons appear seamlessly inside the desktop.

Local App Access is available both for desktop OS workloads (VDI) and Windows Server workloads (Hosted Shared).  And it is included in the Platinum editions of both XenDesktop 7 and XenApp 6.5 FP2.

Source: Citrix's Blog

desktop virtualisation

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