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A conversation about Application Delivery: Part two

In the last post I showed you the first few pictures that I drew during my conversations with folks that either want to know "why application delivery" or for folks that have an application delivery infrastructure, but are only doing XenApp.  The next steps here are to now tell the story of "delivery" instead of "deployment".  At this level of conversation we are wrapping in Citrix technologies like, Provisioning Server, XenDesktop, XenServer, XenApp, et cetera.  At the end of this conversation the one thing that is critical is to get a design review/assessment done.  That way you can make sure you have a holistic view of your infrastructure and in the case of an already existing environment you aren't carrying over any problems from the old to the new.

The one thing I want to point out here is that you need a good sized whiteboard.  I like to keep all the drawings on the board so that everyone can see the progression of the discussion.  What you will also find along the way here is that your audience is going to ask a lot of questions.  This is what I love about whiteboarding.  It really gets folks engaged and talking.  You'll be amazed at how easy the ideas and feedback will flow when you get going.

So this is the point in the conversation that evolves into the "delivery" section.  This is really where it starts to get cool.  I start by writing the word "DELIVERY" and drawing this picture, but first without the words in the boxes.  So just leave the boxes blank for now:

So in order to drive the point home about getting out the "old way" of doing things (distributed computing) to more of a delivery architecture, the above picture points out a few things.  First, to centralize as many of the applications and desktops as possible, with as few standard images as possible close to your datacenter.  From there you deliver these dynamically, on-demand to end users.

So once you have the picture above and you talk about centralizing and delivering apps and desktops from a central location, explain what you mean.  How?  Easy.  In the first box closer to the "application icon" you will write in "App WL" for "application workload".  Here is where I explain that what you now have is a standard catalog with a "master" image of all of your application workloads (Exchange, SAP, SQL, et cetera) that can be delivered dynamically to either your physical or virtual servers.  Of course, I'll tell you to virtualize as many servers as possible, but by following this thought the rest of the way through you now have a very highly efficient datacenter, even for those servers you can't virtualize.  Make sense? 

The next box you are going to write in "App UI" for "application user interface."  For Windows apps this delivery mechanism will be XenApp. From here you can either be "virtualized" on the server or streamed to the client and virtualized there for mobile and offline users.  For the Web applications your delivery mechanism needs to ensure that the applications are optimized for best performance, security and efficiency.  This delivery mechanism would be NetScaler.  You can better illustrate that concept by drawing a line across the App UI box and on the top of the line writing Win and on the bottom writing Web.

The next box you will label Desktop.  Here is where I love explaining the beauty of Provisioning Server, XenDesktop and XenServer.  The whole goal here is to separate the delivery of applications and desktops.  By just moving the desktops into the datacenter with all of its applications hard-coded in we don't solve any problems.  My best practice way to do this is to deliver a pristine XP or Vista desktop and then deliver the applications into that desktop from separate application delivery controllers.  You benefit from two things here: 

  1. You eliminate compatibility problems
  2. You create a more stable, high performance environment

Finally you will draw an arrow to a box labeled "PC" next to the user icon on the previous drawing.  This now illustrates the "delivery network" that will be optimized to deliver apps and desktops to any user around the world in the most efficient manner possible.

The next thing here is to talk about management and "orchestration" of workflows with the necessary tools.  The tool to create those workflows is the Citrix Workflow Studio that I highlighted in an earlier post.  Integrating the individual management consoles for the different components of this type of solution with what you might already have in place from HP, IBM, Microsoft, et cetera.  You can illustrate that by adding the already existing picture you drew like this:

Citrix Workflow Studio will allow you to "orchestrate" communications between all the different Citrix products more easily and will make it easier to integrate into your exisiting systems management solutions.

So now you have made your case and management has bought in.  You now need the next steps.  The next steps involve what I like to call a "design discovery".  You could also call this an Infrastructure Assessment.  Why do you want to do an assessment?  This gives you a chance to understand the strengths of your current application delivery environment, the risks and opportunities inherent in your current application delivery approach, how your company strategic goals map to a new approach to application delivery and to roadmap the delivery of applications for both the short-term and the long-term.

I hope this has helped you better formulate a way to get more buy-in from management to expand or implement an application delivery infrastructure.

Let me know your thoughts.

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