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MDOP Is The Hidden Gem of Microsoft's WS 2008 R2 and W7 Releases

Network World has a new article  out delving in the trifecta of the Microsoft WS 2008 R2, Windows 7 and Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack releases. Live Migration, application virtualization (via Kidaro and SoftGrid), Direct Access VPN-less connectivity, AppLocker, and more recently, virtualized XP hosted within Windows 7...these are some of the many things in these three releases we've been hearing about for a long, long time, and now they are showing up in Microsoft products. I could choose any one of these, or more, as highly significant capabilities within W7 or WS 2008 R2, but frankly, I've most anticipated what Microsoft Desktop Optimization Pack (MDOP) is bringing to the table, which are largely enabled through Softricity SoftGrid.

During 2008, I wrote about several acquisitions Microsoft made in the app virtualization space; KidaroSoftGrid  and Calista  along, with the challenge of disaggregating the desktop  while still being a Windows desktop centric OS company. Microsoft's managed to split those hairs and deliver Kidaro's and SoftGrid's features largely through MDOP. While my guesses into exactly how Microsoft would deliver app virtualization to us wasn't spot on, we are seeing the disaggregation of the desktop, but in just a more subtle form than I expected. I was looking for a new generation of OS, one based around componentized applications, virtualized and  distributable to different elements of the network, enabled by a thinner, more lightweight desktop OS enabling app virtualization. Still, in some ways this is happening. You can even see it in SharePoint's Excel app services, which pushed Excel processing, graphing and display for lighter weight delivery through the browser. Okay, back to MDOP...

What I find truly interesting is the lack of fanfare Microsoft is putting around MDOP. First its name. Anything with "optimization pack" in its name sounds like an optional, relatively small feature set upgrade. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Microsoft's effectively delivering a major portion of their application and desktop virtualization strategy in MDOP. Not familiar with MDOP? Need to know more? Here's a summary of what MDOP is about or virtualization (there's actually a lot more than what I've listed here.)

  • Apps centrally managed and delivered from the server to the desktop, a.k.a the Citrix XenApp/XenDesktop/XenServer strategy
  • Apps decoupled from the host desktop operating system
  • Apps delivered as virtual service, distributing load onto servers rather than desktops
  • Greater administrative control over the desktop, locking down and controlling apps, their installation, access and execution

There are many of things in MDOP besides just app virtualization, such as desktop monitoring and control, and group policy management, and compliance control. The benefits to gain from MDOP are very broad and will facilitate even greater desktop management. I just find it remarkable that so much of the app virtualization strategy we've waited for Micorsoft to deliver is contained within this seemingly mild-mannered optimization pack. Even so, expect MDOP to be a baseline for any IT organization with a sizable desktop and app population that must be managed.

If you'd like to know more about MDOP, here's the overview page  and a slideshow.

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