back to article How farsighted is Microsoft's Azure RemoteApp?

Microsoft is stepping on more vendor toes. At the TechEd North America 2014 keynote in May, the company announced the preview release of Azure RemoteApp, which appears to be a direct competitor – at least in part – to Citrix's virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) solution. Running an application on any device sounds like it …


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  1. Adam 1

    what's the difference

    Between this and what you could do with remote apps in vanilla 2008r2?

    1. Neil Alexander

      Re: what's the difference

      Not really anything, other than streamlining the process significantly.

    2. korpo53

      Re: what's the difference

      Only really that you can spin capacity up and down based on your needs, which could theoretically save you money.

      I manage Citrix for the company I work for, and we have to have capacity to handle a set of users using certain apps 12x7. The other half of every day, those servers (well, VMs) sit idle. If it turns out that buying "high" capacity for 84hrs/wk and "low" capacity for 84hrs/week via Azure costs less than the servers and licenses and such we'd use to provide that capacity via Citrix, then we'd save money overall. In addition, the business is always opening new stores on short notice (to IT), and we have to have capacity to spare to handle that. Occasionally we have to buy new hardware off-cycle to handle the extra load. With Azure, we just write a bigger check going forward.

      It's an interesting idea for pushing out web-based apps, office apps, things like that. I don't know that I'd want to do anything that talks to a back end database or local files or anything. It seems like you're just asking for performance problems putting your client apps far away from their data.

      1. AdamFowler_IT

        Re: what's the difference

        Great points korpo53. The other consideration I can think of is licensing - you don't have to pay Citrix fees.

        Of course, if your database was moved to Azure too then you wouldn't have those issues, which I'm sure is part of MS's plan :)

  2. martin_hamilton

    Wait for the "App Store"

    If you squint a bit, Microsoft are in a good position to deliver "Legacy Windows App as a Service" off the back of Azure, Windows Store, OneDrive etc. RemoteApp isn't quite it, yet, but we're getting close.

    This is hugely interesting for CIOs, given the amount of effort (== FTE) required to manage a fleet of Windows machines, package apps, track licensing etc. Also hugely threatening (and not just for those FTEs) in terms of the dreaded "disruption" that might ensue.

    Some further thoughts (from a ChromeOS perspective) from a couple of years ago...

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      Re: effort [..] required to manage a fleet of Windows machines

      Sorry, I must have missed something there. Are you saying that CIOs won't need to manage a fleet of Windows machines anymore once every app is in the cloud ?

      Of course not, people still need them to access said apps, so the fleet of machines isn't going anywhere. The fleet of Windows licenses might be, though, because once all apps are in the Cloud and accessible via Web interface, why pay Microsoft ? You'll be able to install a different OS that costs less (no I will not say the name) and users will only need to know how to launch the browser. Heck, you can even auto-launch said browser when the user logs on.

      I get the license management improvement, that is a given. But for the rest, sorry, the Cloud is not going to lessen the PC nightmare at all for CIOs. And when the Cloud goes titsup, which it does for numerous reasons, then if you have put everything in there, you have instantly reduced your fleet of PCs to deadweights until the situation is resolved.

      That's the kind of thing that gets a CIO fired.

      1. dogged

        Re: effort [..] required to manage a fleet of Windows machines

        It does indicate that you would no longer have to upgrade crappy old applications for, for example, supported operated systems.

        Need to run something that was coded for IE6/ActiveX ?

        You have these choices:

        1. Kill yourself.

        2. Upgrade it at [X] cost.

        3. Stick with XP because of this one application, with all that entails.

        4. Use Citrix and pay 24/7 static costs or host it yourself.

        5. Have MS deliver it as a service.

        On 4 or 5, your managers can even use the horrible MacBook Airs that they demanded because of shiny without worrying about the platform.

        1. Trevor_Pott Gold badge

          Re: effort [..] required to manage a fleet of Windows machines

          The answer to "Need to run something that was coded for IE6/ActiveX ?" is always "kill yourself." :P

  3. dogged

    Powerpoint, Visio...

    That could actually be worth it for Powerpoint and Visio.

    Only Project Managers and architects need them all the time - for the vast majority of developers they're "once in a blue moon oh crap do I have to do a presentation?" thing or something to do pretty diagrams for a proof-of-concept/business case.

    With the exception of (probably) Outlook, you could maybe say the same for all of Office. I wonder what the billing/licensing options are?

    1. AdamFowler_IT

      Re: Powerpoint, Visio...

      The licensing part is a bit unknown at the moment, AFAIK.

      If you're on an Enterprise Agreement, you roll up yearly on how many people have access to things like Visio. But if you used Azure to temp give access and take it away, and it's not available to the user at the time of True Up, then you don't pay for it at all.

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