Home > All, Azure, Microsoft, RemoteApp > Which #DaaS architecture is right? – #Azure, #RemoteApp, #Microsoft, #Citrix, #Workspace

Which #DaaS architecture is right? – #Azure, #RemoteApp, #Microsoft, #Citrix, #Workspace

I really feel for you Solution Architects out there that have to struggle with how to revamp your companies or customers Hosted Desktop/App services. They may be provided by a service provider today, or you do it yourself on-premise and manage them, or you’ve already taken the step to purchase it as a true DaaS/SaaS service from a public cloud provider. Today the options are many, and too many if you add all the hosting models and the technology options you have. From a business perspective you’re getting the heat to deliver something with the word “cloud” in it just because it’s hot, and management then expect that TCO is sooooo low and that you have now problems in delivering at all within a couple of weeks and you can scale up and down without any issues at all from a financial or technical perspective… 😉

Often you also don’t even have the business, security, functional or technical requirements either so you’re supposed to come with the magic solution that fits all needs! 😉

My personal view is also that some of our vendors/partners out there don’t seem to have one (1) clear strategy either (at least not officially).

Some are building and providing their own “cloud architecture” models for DaaS for partners to build on (VMware, Citrix, Microsoft etc.), and then they also are providing specific models for certain partners as well that run on top of other cloud solutions, like Citrix Service Provider (CSP) offerings on Azure or on-premise. As a partner to these companies you also are in a tough spot, are you to partner with them and deliver their technology on your infrastructure, or shall you wait until they deliver a fully working public cloud offering (like WorkSpace Services) and then add your added value on top of that? Options are many and I don’t think that Citrix has given their whole story yet, I still think that they business wise need to go where Microsoft is going by providing a DaaS service by themselves directly to customers and thereby also “cut” the partner network out because once the technology and self-service becomes to easy then what shall they add as value then? There will always be customers that wants help to onboard, operate etc. of course but this will be another type of service and many Citrix and Microsoft partners need to be become more solution focused and get away from the SME space and deliver integration and more IT management consulting skill sets instead.

But let’s get back to more technology…

I’ve been kind of waiting to get some time over to test the RemoteApp service in Azure. I personally think that this is the future and they way that many small to medium size business fairly short shall start to look at. Not all of these companies have the skill set or financials to look at building a good Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) offerings of Windows applications internally. I’m a bit annoyed though that out of the box there isn’t any Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS) offering and that it’s still just the RDS/Hosted Shared Desktop model that is provided. A real Hosted Virtual Desktop or VDI offering would be nice and a license model that goes with it from Microsoft.

There are today so many different options that companies that want to provide or consume a DaaS service can leverage today, Citrix Service Providers have all of their options in terms of technology stacks (CloudStack, CloudPlatform, CSP for Azure, App Orchestration 2.5, Microsoft System Center, Azure Pack and all options that are out there)… but which one shall/can you select? And what if you’re NOT a Citrix service provider and have a huge datacenter and haven’t already done your CAPEX investments around compute, network and storage etc..? Where do you then turn?

I think that here is where RemoteApp and a future Workplace Services offerings with Citrix on top would be great! You as a customer can turn to a partner/consultant company to get guidance and assess all your requirements and then easily be provisioned an environment that is of the “standard cloud offering” or get a customised one tailored specifically for your needs.

Like in my little demo scenario here I provisioned a fully functional RemoteApp environment that hosted all of the Microsoft Office 2013 apps that I use and also got a lot of storage at the same time… in almost no time at all!

Azure RemoteApp helps employees stay productive anywhere, and on a variety of devices – Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, or Android. Your company’s applications run on Windows Server in the Azure cloud, where they’re easier to scale and update. Users can access their applications remotely from their Internet-connected laptop, tablet, or phone. While appearing to run on the users’ local device, the applications are centralized on Azure’s protected, reliable platform.

Azure RemoteApp combines Windows application experiences with the powerful capabilities of Remote Desktop Services on Microsoft Azure – the cloud for modern business.

I also like the licensing model:

  • Azure RemoteApp is priced per user and is billed on a monthly basis.
  • The service is offered in two tiers: Basic and Standard. Basic is designed for lighter weight applications (e.g. for task workers). Standard is designed for information workers to run productivity applications.
  • Pricing: Each service has a starting price per user that includes 40 hours of service per user. Thereafter, a per hour charge is applied for each user hour up to a capped price per user. You will not pay for any additional usage beyond the capped price in a given month.
This means that you’ll get Office 2013 managed for standard information workers of a max price of 23 USD/month including management of the RDS Image and Office etc. and it also includes user data storage. Then you could of course also upload your own image with your apps as well and publish. Pretty good price model and will be interesting to see if this is what we will deliver in the future for all small/medium size companies instead.
As a comparison you can compare RemoteApp pricing then with the example if you would build your own RDS environment in Azure according to the following good guidelines: http://msdn.microsoft.com/library/azure/dn451351.aspx
A little follow up TCO example below. This Azure hosted RDS example would give the 25 user company a dedicated RDS solution in Azure for 27 USD/month from a CAPEX perspective (HW + SW/licensing), I know that this is not a CAPEX investment if you go for it but you should compare it to your CAPEX investment you need to do if you would purchase compute, network, storage, licenses etc. The main point also is that  this does not include any OPEX costs needed to support and operate it. This would be great for providing a Hosted Desktop/Software service for a line of business app… but here you’re already at 27 USD/user/month, and RemoteApp is at 23 including user storage of 50Gb (where Microsoft also manage the “image and software” from a life-cycle management point of view.
image

RDS on Azure example quote:

More Azure solution pricing examples: http://blogs.technet.com/b/uspartner_ts2team/archive/2014/10/14/more-azure-solution-pricing-examples.aspx

What if you then also shall put Citrix on top of that… cost increases of course and still you’re kind of limited of being a SPLA or CSP in order to build this, or you go and ask a SPLA/CSP to provide it for you if you’re an end-customer.

But back *again* to the test-drive that I did of RemoteApp…

So how does it really work then? Well, it’s as simple as this:

First of we create a RemoteApp collection:

CreateCollectionRemoteApp

Then that goes off and starts provisioning it and you’ll see the progress:

CreatingCollectionRemoteApp

Once that is done you’ll see that the collection is provisioned:

RemoteAppCollectionProvisioned

Now you have to go on and setup a user account, this is of course also where you could leverage other means to integrate with Azure AD but for this demo I’ll just setup a local Azure AD user account.

CreateUserInDefaultDirectory

CreateUserInDefaultDirectory2

CreateUserInDefaultDirectory3

Now we have a user account provisioned, let’s install the client on the Mac that I’m using to get going! Go and download the Remote Desktop client from the App Store:

InstallMicrosoftRemoteAppClient

Once installed Open it:

OpenRemoteAppClient

When it pops up for the 1st time you’ll get the prompt of updates that have been done, select “Don’t show this again” and click Close.

OpenRemoteAppClient2

Then click the Microsoft RemoteApp button on the right to get going..

ClickMicrosoftRemoteApp

Enter your credentials that we provisioned in the Azure AD:

EnterUserNameForRemoteApp

 

Once again you have to enter the username and password (why two popups?)…

LoginToRemoteAppClient

 

Once successfully logged in the app is loading your subscriptions and then shows them in the Microsoft Remote Desktop UI:

RemoteAppIsLoadingSubscriptions1stTime

StartAnApplicationFromRemoteApp

Of course when you click it the RDS session is initiated and it just works as you can see PowerPoint launches and I can register with my subscription that I already have… 🙂

PowerPointIsRunning

So is this then all you need? Is it good enough for the standard information worker? I’d say that this is ok, but still I wonder WHY would I just run the Office suite on a RDS och Hosted Desktop service at all? Why not just run Office365 and install Office locally on the device that I’m having? Of course not all companies are ok with data being on unmanaged devices, or it could be that you decided to use thin clients or by any other means that you have client server applications that you add as well that require back-end components like SQL etc that may not be exposed on the Internet. So this is a way forward for sure, but the TCO model needs to be understandable and IT organisations needs to understand what costs that are covered by this public cloud offerings (datacenter, power, cooling, network, compute etc.) to do real cost comparisons to they just don’t think that the public cloud is expensive.

The other thing is also to ensure that you get service availability and that companies start trusting Internet as a core component in their stack, just a week ago many had issues with the Internet in Sweden just because of the major DDoS attack that took down one of the largest service providers, but of course Microsoft have some ideas and good ones with for instance Azure ExpressRoute that can mitigate sandpit some more trust in a public cloud to those who are afraid of Internet…

But this is one way forward and I think that if Citrix Workspace Services on Azure becomes as easy as this and prices continue to drop and license models are adopted then this is the future, because why would you build your own datacenter or DaaS offerings locally if you on’t have special regulatory reasons and it’s not your core business and you think you can beat the big boys from a TCO perspective?

Just imagine the ones that still are out there building their old architecture of expensive SAN-storage, dedicated virtualisation solutions and just don’t get the large-scale benefits that the big cloud providers do, it just gets too expensive. Of course new technology are making the stack simpler to operate and thereby reduce OPEX and CAPEX (like Nutanix etc.) but this may not be enough, they still require the skill set internally etc.

Well, this became a long babbling post.. the future will tell us where we should have gone and I still don’t think that much will change in the coming 2 years. Many that are stuck on 2003 and 2008 will build the old way (unfortunately).. but if you like to get some new view points and build a great stack for your on-premise DaaS or IaaS then give us at EnvokeIT a call, we can help you! We have a lot of experience within this areas and can assist you in your strategy or with realising the value of the strategy you already have by designing and implementing the best stuff out there!

Cheers and Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

//Richard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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