Return of the Terminal Server

While at Citrix Synergy in Barcelona and at AppSense Management Summit in Daresbury over the last two weeks, I had many opportunities to exchange thoughts with customers, community peers and colleagues. One of the topics discussed most was the announcement of Citrix Excalibur as part of project Avalon, which is a solution designed to deliver Windows from the cloud. Avalon was first introduced at Citrix Synergy in San Francisco earlier this year (see also my blog article The VDI Party is Over), but in Barcelona things became a lot clearer.

In essence, Citrix finally acknowledges that the PC era (= Windows era) is far from being over yet. Delivering Windows desktops and even more Windows applications to any device is still hot and may well continue to be hot for quite a while. But despite the predictions of many market analysts, using VDI seems not to be the preferred method for this purpose. It rather looks like XenApp and Remote Desktop Session Host (= Terminal Server) are back in customers’ focus.

Many customers said that their users are actively asking for the “good old” way of delivering remote desktops and applications through Terminal Services as an alternative or an extension to locally installed Windows environments. IT department have solid knowledge about how to fulfill this request – many of them have done it with growing success for so many years. Most applications are compatible with multi-user environments and 64-bit Windows by now. This is good news for the next generation of Citrix XenApp included in Excalibur, but also for Microsoft’s Windows Server 2012.

My theory is that enterprise customers – and their users of course – will accept Windows Server 2012 remote desktop services with or without XenApp much faster than Windows 8. Most probably Windows 7 with a set of locally installed core applications will be dominating physical enterprise PCs for a long time. Adding access to remote applications combined with application streaming in a smart way will most likely provide the necessary flexibility for a modern, agile work style. It is not so much a technical question if these remote applications will be delivered from Windows Servers located in the cloud or in on-premise datacenters. It is rather a question of regulations, compliance, corporate culture and security. Independently from running Terminal Servers in the cloud or on premise, the technology foundation stays the same.

To me it looks like enterprise customers prefer an evolution rather than a revolution. Interesting times ahead for Terminal Server experts…

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