With both desktop and application streaming, the provisioned operating system and applications use the client’s local resources, without the overhead of permanent installation on the client. For example, financial services firm Russell Investments Group saw application deployment shrink from four weeks to 1.5 weeks after it began using Microsoft’s SoftGrid, says Greg Nelson, an IT analyst at the company.
Typically, a set of stub services is transferred to the local cache at connection time, and other resources are streamed as needed. “When you run an application, you need only 15 to 20 percent to start using it, so it can be network-delivered,” says David Grescher, director of marketing for SoftGrid at Microsoft.
Streaming does delay initial application access, acknowledges Bill Washburn, operations analyst at California State University at San Marcos, which uses Altiris’ technology. “But once the application is installed, people say it’s the best they’ve ever seen it run,” he says.
Russell Investments’ Nelson says that although desktop and application streaming should theoretically use more network resources than terminal services do, that’s not always the case. For example, printing and working with large files can swamp the network in a traditional terminal services architecture. Desktop and application streaming can avoid that by using local printers and local storage.
One big advantage of streaming is that IT has fewer images to maintain. That benefit applies in spades to application streaming products from Altiris and Microsoft.
For example, CSU’s Washburn says that Altiris’ Software Virtualization Solution solves a long-standing annoyance with SPSS’s statistical software. Each year, a new license key is issued and must be updated at every user’s desktop. But with Altiris’ software, Washburn simply updates the server copy, which is provisioned to users automatically when they call the application.
Although the technologies from Ardence, Propero, Stream Theory, and Wyse centralize applications and data, they also let users store data locally as well (a PC’s C drive is remapped to become its D drive when their software runs). Moreover, because Altiris’ and Microsoft’s application streaming tools let you set up applications in their own virtual layer or session, IT can avoid the regression testing across the whole application set whenever a program is modified or added, says Russell Investments’ Nelson.
With the solutions offered by Altiris, AppStream, and Microsoft, the client PC can have its own operating system and applications installed, while the server pushes centrally provisioned applications into local desktop caches. In this fashion, IT can distribute resources
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