Server-Based Computing

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2008-03-21 Print this article Print

Server-Based Computing

While the buzz around desktop virtualization has grown recently, the trick of separating a user's desktop session from his or her local hardware has been around for some time now in the form of server-based computing products such as Terminal Services and Citrix's Presentation Server (now called XenApp). These familiar products enable administrators to divvy a server or cluster of servers residing within their companies' premises into managed desktop environments for multiple users.

Server-based computing products offer a number of benefits for desktop virtualization, including a high desktop environment-to-server density ratio and, since application data remains server-side, a good story around data protection.

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Another important benefit of server-based desktop virtualization is the maturity of these products. Since Citrix began pushing this form of application delivery, vendors, resellers and administrators have encountered and overcome various implementation issues. These include providing users with printer and peripheral access and enabling users sharing a common environment to access different sets of applications.

The biggest downside of desktop virtualization via server-based computing is the network connectivity that it requires. Without a reliable link to the back-end presentation servers, users cannot access their desktops. Also, certain applications do not install or run happily within a server-based computing environment, which obviously does not work well for users requiring these applications.

Finally, since server-based computing users are sharing a common environment under a single machine, users requiring fuller control over their operating environments-??ísuch as developers who must be able to reboot their systems--will find the model an unsatisfactory fit.

As Editor in Chief of eWEEK Labs, Jason Brooks manages the Labs team and is responsible for eWEEK's print edition. Brooks joined eWEEK in 1999, and has covered wireless networking, office productivity suites, mobile devices, Windows, virtualization, and desktops and notebooks. JasonÔÇÖs coverage is currently focused on Linux and Unix operating systems, open-source software and licensing, cloud computing and Software as a Service. Follow Jason on Twitter at jasonbrooks, or reach him by email at

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