BusinessContinuity_0.jpg

NetConnect Blog - Your Resource For IT Tips, Tricks and News

Desktop Virtualization – Analysis and Selection

Posted by Amber Vogel on Dec 9, 2015 9:30:00 AM

The trend in providing mobile access to apps and information is shifting to providing the ability to work anywhere. There are no limitations to location, time, or device. Employees want the flexibility to work anywhere and have the same experience they do while they are at their desk in the office. This trend is bringing desktop virtualization to the forefront of IT strategy and there is homework involved to make it successful.

Key questions to answer for considering desktop virtualization: 

  1. Is the organization a good candidate for desktop virtualization?
  2. What does the market look like and who are the vendors?
  3. How does an organization choose a vendor?
  4. What are the implementation considerations?

Desktop Virtualizations Assessment

Prior to moving forward with the other stages of desktop virtualization it is important to perform an assessment of the environment to determine the following:

  • How many systems are good candidates for virtualization?
  • Is the user currently receiving an acceptable experience?
  • Are there any latency challenges within the environment?
  • How many applications does the organization have and out of them which ones would should/can be virtualized?
  • How do the users and applications group together in pools?
  • How many images would the organization need?
  • How would my infrastructure environment change? (Servers, storage, etc.…)

Market Analysis

Following the determination of whether to move forward with desktop virtualization, the next step is taking a look at the market. This will provide insights into trends, vendor options, and features.

The following should be included on the market analysis report:

  • Infrastructure
  • Connectivity
  • Features
  • Support
  • Company Performance/Strategy
  • Cost Estimate

Selection Considerations

The market currently has a limited number of players however the depth and breadth of these vendors is changing. As the demand for desktop virtualization grows, so does the competition. Vendors are continuing to focus on the user experience and mobility. Desktop Virtualization vendors are typically adding these features through acquisition. Citrix and VMware continue to be the leaders but other vendors are creeping up on them. Some questions to answer prior to selecting a vendor may include:

  • Does your organization have a brand preference?
  • What does the current infrastructure environment look like and does one vendor fit in better than others?
  • How much does the organization want to spend?
  • Does one vendor have features that another does not offer yet?
  • Does the vendor have a solid road map and how is the company doing?

Implementation Considerations

Something that is often overlooked in implementing desktop virtualization is the collaboration and shared ownership it requires. It takes the server team, desktop support, security team, etc. to roll out and maintain this environment. In the past, desktop deployment tended to operate in silos. In order for desktop virtualization to be successful, these teams need to continuously collaborate.

Also, be prepared for user impact. If users are used to installing their own apps or streaming music their world could quickly change. Change management is a critical component of a Desktop Virtualization project and should be planned for.

Conclusion

Obviously there is a lot of detail that goes into the analysis above. The purpose of this article is to give you the framework for moving through the process. Desktop virtualization is not always the answer but when an organization decides it is, the work does not end there, it only begins!

The table below is also a good reference for keeping your desktop virtualization on track.What-it-offers-and-success-criteria.png

Use-for-and-Dont-use-for.png

Forrester, Server Hosted Virtual Desktops, 2015

Network Center, Inc. can help you plan for virtualization by analyzing your environment and aligning your requirements with the appropriate vendor. Contact us today to learn more.

NCI Contact Us Button

Topics: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure, VDI

Desktop Computing in the Palm of Your Hand: Through VDI

Posted by Eric Kupfer on May 6, 2013 3:58:00 PM

VDIThe way end users interact with the corporate IT infrastructure and access the data they need in many cases has not changed significantly for some time. However, it's no secret the way people consume technology in their personal lives is much different than it was a few years ago.

Tablets and smartphones have been outselling PC's for years. Cloud based services such as iTunes, iCloud, Dropbox or nearly every product developed by Google in the past decade, has been created to allow instant access to the information and resources  you need regardless of where you are, the type of device you are using or the time of day. Due to what has been called the "consumerization of IT" users are beginning to expect the same anywhere, anytime access to corporate resources.

Additionally, in organizations large and small, the true costs associated with providing the end user workspace are more quantifiable than in the past. Historically the primary IT cost associated with end users was tied to the procurement and installation of the hardware itself. When considering the IT budget for end users, IT decision makers might have added up the cost of purchasing the PC, monitor, etc. and perhaps an hour of IT staff labor to connect the device to the network. Most IT decision makers now realize this is flawed arithmetic and the real costs tied to end user support are related to ongoing support, operating system and application maintenance, etc. The cost to support users is now less of a tangible capital expense and more of an intangible operating expense.

To address this realization, IT departments struggle to create a user environment that can be centrally managed using fewer IT staff; where applications and patches can be easily deployed and corporate data can be secured as centrally as possible. Typically this is accomplished to some extent using many different products and ultimately requires a compromise in performance and/or usability.

A virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) may help address many of the issues relating to end user computing and management. By adding a desktop management and orchestration layer to the server virtualization technology that already exists in many environments, virtual desktops keep data and processing centralized and protected in the corporate data center while providing the end user self-service, private cloud based access to computing resources.

VDI advantagesMost people are now familiar with the concept of server virtualization and understand the benefit of the technology. Extending the management capability, high availability and performance of the data center to the end user makes sense but it has been difficult to justify the investment required for small and medium businesses. Luckily technology changes quickly and what was expensive and out of reach a short time ago may now be possible.

One of the biggest reasons virtual desktops are more affordable is due to the fact that server virtualization is now a mainstream technology used by companies of all sizes.  Also, large amounts of compute and memory resources are inexpensive and high performance shared storage equipment is available at entry level prices and now in production at most organizations.

By broadening the reach of the data center to include end user environments, several challenges facing IT departments can be addressed:

  • Patch management and application deployment is simplified, by updating a parent image one time, the other linked images are also updated.
  • The users "PC" is now running on server-class hardware and storage which is built with redundant components to insure uptime. In the event of hardware failure, downtime is minimized by leveraging the high availability characteristics inherent with an underlying hypervisor environment.
  • Data resides in the corporate data center where it can be controlled, secured and backed up rather than on a user's laptop, iPad or other mobile device.
  • A separate unique desktop or a single application is delivered to each user as opposed to more traditional server based computing models such as Microsoft Remote Desktop Service or Citrix XenApp which use a multi-tenant approach. This improves performance and stability and minimizes compatibility issues that are often encountered with server based end user computing.
  • Resources can be allocated to individuals or groups that have higher performance computing needs or more demanding applications. Even demanding applications such as CAD can be run in VDI environments.
  • Adding or moving a user is as simple as having the user log in. The environment flows with the existing user or is created dynamically for new users out of a pool of available resources.

what is vdiUnfortunately, all of these benefits to the IT department will not mean much if the end user is not happy with how the system operates. The end user will realize the following advantages:

  • Because the VDI environment is the same from device to device at any location, the user is presented a consistent and familiar interface.
  • Even though the desktop resides in the data center, the user experience can be full featured. This means delivering high quality two-way sound that can be optimized for Unified Communications and softphone applications. Streaming video, 3D graphics and the ability to play rich media content is supported.
  • A user's desktop can be delivered to nearly any device on demand.  If a user connects to a traditional Windows desktop with a touch based device such as an iPad or other tablet, enhancements have been added that allow applications to be launched and files accessed using a touch friendly menu system/launch bar.
  • Should users need to access the corporate desktop using a kiosk or other device where client connection software cannot be installed, a fully functional desktop can be run in any HTML 5 compatible browser with no plug-in's or additional downloads. 
  • Allows for secure remote access to the corporate desktop and data without the hassle of a VPN connection.

A virtual desktop infrastructure provides a flexible platform that can help address some of the traditional challenges facing IT administrators while allowing them to bridge the gap and enable the increasingly technology savvy and mobile workforce. Prior to a PC refresh or server/storage upgrade cycle is an ideal time to consider a VDI pilot project.

Ask us how virtual desktops could help empower your end users, ease the burden of endpoint management and add value to the investment that has already been made in your organization's data center.

Contact Us Today!

Topics: Technology Solutions, NetWork Center Inc., Virtual Desktop Infrastructure

Subscribe to Email Updates

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all