One of the advantages that Citrix had over VMware in the EUC space was the ability to just publish specific applications to users with the MetaFrame/Presentation Server/XenApp line of products. This suite utilized the Microsoft Terminal Services/RDSH roles on Windows Server to present users with centrally hosted and managed applications as if those applications were installed locally on their computer.
Application publishing was one of the new features that VMware added in Horizon 6.0 when it was released earlier this summer. Like XenApp, this feature relies upon Windows Servers with the Remote Desktop Session Host role.
The new application publishing feature reuses a lot of the infrastructure that is deployed to support virtual desktops. This feature utilizes the same connection servers and security servers as the virtual desktop environment, and access to the published applications is done through the Horizon Client. This provides a single point of management for the entire environment.
Why Publish Applications?
Application publishing technology is not new. Citrix and Microsoft have both had versions of this technology for some time. Many of the reasons for using those programs also apply to the Horizon application publishing feature.
The most common reasons I know of for publishing out applications are;
- You want to centrally manage and provide access to core/critical Windows desktop business applications
- You work in multiple locations and want applications to follow you – such as medical personnel in a hospital
- You want to provide secure access to specific applications to remote users.
These are just a few of the reasons to publish out applications, and that list is by no means exhaustive.
The licensing model for publishing applications from servers using Remote Desktop Services is different from the licensing model for virtual desktops. Like virtual desktops, Remote Desktop Services is not covered under the standard Windows licensing, and Microsoft requires separate RDS CALs to enable this feature on Windows Servers.
A separate license server is required to manage the RDS CALs. If this license server is not available, the RDSH services will shut down after the trial period expires. Configuring the RDS license server is beyond the scope of this series, but there is a good walkthrough here.
More information on licensing Remote Desktop Services can be found on the Microsoft site, and you should contact your Microsoft licensing rep if you have any questions. The whitepaper in the link also covers licensing Microsoft desktop applications such as Office in RDS environments.
The next article in this series will cover how to configure a Windows Server as an Remote Desktop Session Host and add it into Horizon View as an application host. Publishing out applications will be covered after that, and the final article in this series will cover how to access published applications from within a Horizon View virtual desktop.