Providing a quality user experience for business-critical applications is essential. Failure to do so can lead to business continuity issues, loss of profit, or even an inability to retain employees.
Consider a financial trading company with specific trading software. If this software is unavailable or unreliable with poor UX, it could directly negate potential profits by delaying a critical trade.
There are many ways to deliver applications to the end user, including desktop as a service (DaaS), VDI, published application, application delivery controller (ADC) and remote deployment. These methods fall into two main categories: centralized and decentralized application delivery services.
What is Centralized Application Delivery?
In a centralized environment, application and application delivery services are kept in one place. This means that the application and all associated data resides in one place and does not leave the consolidated infrastructure. When end users access the application, they must log in to the centralized environment via a vpnvirtual office or other method and work within that system.
The application server, database server, application data, and application front end are all on the same network. When a user logs into a desktop environment and launches an application from the centralized environment, only the image of the application – essentially a live interactive video stream – is transmitted to the user’s device. final. This delivery is often done over the Internet and with an ADC, which translates the images into a HTTPS login, allowing end users to save access to the application.
Benefits of Centralized Application Delivery
The biggest advantage of a centralized environment is that users can access the application from anywhere and anytime through any device.
Another important advantage is data security within the application. It never leaves the centralized environment. Data cannot leak on devices that are neither secure nor private.
Centralized application delivery services reduced the environmental management burden. IT administrators only need to update the application in the centralized environment. They don’t need to push updates to end-user devices, as all user-facing apps and data remain in the centralized environment.
Disadvantages of centralized application delivery
The main drawback of this approach is its complexity. A centralized environment requires an infrastructure where the user can log in to start the application. This infrastructure must be accessible from the outside via the Internet.
Consider a typical Citrix centralized environment as an example of this complexity, although application delivery services from other vendors have similar challenges. Organizations will need several components for their infrastructure, such as a license server, a SQL database, Delivery Controllers, Storefront, VDA, an imaging system — MCS or PVS — and a Netscaler ADC.
In some scenarios, IT teams also need to worry about application performance within centralized application delivery services. Sending the app image back and forth to the end user’s device can provide a better UX than sending the app data itself. However, the performance depends on the type of application and the quality of the network connection. A highly graphical application, such as AutoCAD or Photoshop, will perform less well when sending the application’s image over the Internet, as these applications require significant GPU power. Add vGPUs to a centralized environment is doable but will make the environment even more complex and expensive.
Types of centralized application delivery
Types of centralized application delivery include VDI, DaaS, and virtual applications. The main difference between DaaS and VDI and published virtual applications is that VDI and DaaS deliver a full desktop experience by sending the image of the complete virtual desktop to the centralized environment. In contrast, a virtual application is just the image of the application. The most popular solutions such as Citrix CVAD, VMware Horizon and Microsoft Azure Virtual Desktop can create complete desktop and virtual applications.
What is Decentralized Application Delivery?
Decentralized application delivery creates a separation between the application infrastructure and the application front end, which means that the application and the database server are in a centralized environment. However, the application itself resides on the end user’s device. Application data can live in between, meaning it can reside in the centralized environment or on the end user’s device. Users can often work from anywhere and anytime, but they still need their own devices. To access applications through this method, users must connect to the environment through a VPN and establish a connection to the application data on the back-end.
Benefits of Decentralized Application Distribution
A significant advantage of decentralized application delivery is its reduced complexity and cost. Users only need a device with the app installed and a basic VPN to do their job. Likewise, performance is a key benefit of decentralized application delivery. An app running locally on a device often runs faster than an app from a centralized published environment. This is especially true for graphics applications which can benefit significantly from running on a local device with sufficient GPU.
Disadvantages of Decentralized Application Delivery
Security is a major drawback to this approach to application delivery. Leaving company data on the end user’s device means the data must be fully encrypted and protected through Azure Information Protection and Data Loss Prevention tools or through fully secure tools, such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager. Another downside is the management overhead. Managing all end-user devices through the tools is extra work. Additionally, pushing app updates to all of these devices can be a hassle for IT teams.
Types of decentralized application delivery
The most common type of decentralized application delivery is through unified endpoint management (EMU) tool such as Microsoft Endpoint Manager — formerly Intune. IT departments can also opt for an automatic deployment tool, such as Ivanti Automation and ServiceNow Orchestration. The big difference between these tools is that a UEM tool can deploy apps and manage the device through policies, security rules, and other mechanisms. In contrast, a deployment tool can only deploy applications.
Hybrid Application Delivery: A Third Approach
Organizations don’t have to choose between centralized and decentralized. There are many examples of deploying hybrid applications in the enterprise. For example, there is software as a service (SaaS) applications that IT teams can deploy. SaaS application servers, databases and application data are stored centrally. However, the end user can access and run the SaaS applications over the Internet without the need for a centralized application publishing infrastructure.
Another great hybrid approach are workspace portals that combine SaaS, on-premises, and published virtual apps in one place for the end user. This gives IT teams more flexibility in deploying a specific application while the user only has to worry about one application interface.