Virtual desktop infrastructure is certainly more usable and useful than it was in the past, but the technology is by no means at the “set it and forget it” level. It probably never will be--given the complex nature of providing users with what they need, when they need it, in a productive but safe way. However, the potential benefits of VDI make all of that worth it—for some companies. To see whether your organization is up for VDIs’ challenge, here are five considerations.
VDI can save companies money through centralized management, streamlined hardware requirements, and more, but it also requires a highly fault-tolerant back end infrastructure to prevent any single point of failure causing the VDI system to go down. Other cost considerations include:
- Will you need to buy new hardware? Can employees use their own computing devices?
- Do you need a new operating system?
- What workloads will VDI serve and what resources will it require?
- Will users need training?
2. Performance Issues
Companies need to be prepared to turn on a dime, adding apps and services and increasing throughput as needed. VDI historically hasn’t been great at enabling companies this flexibility. In a VDI environment, unpredictable workloads can cause a performance hit, with storage often at the root of the problem. To avoid this, many companies over provision. However, that’s an expensive option, especially over time. Vendors are attempting to overcome the VDI storage challenge through combining storage area networking (SAN), software-defined storage, flash, SSD, cache and other technologies in different ways. Companies will need to examine their existing storage and networking infrastructure to determine what changes are necessary to optimize VDI performance.
3. Image Sprawl
One of the benefits of VDI is the ability to develop standardized images for specific user roles. You could easily create a different image for employee, but, of course, that would defeat the purpose. The fewer images you have to manage, the better. To determine the ideal number of images and resources required to run them, IT should work closely with business counterparts. IT and business stakeholders should also meet on a periodic basis to discuss whether new images should be added and/or older ones decommissioned.
4. Change management
In the past, many considered VDI to be a dumbed-down version of a full desktop computer experience. Ten years ago, that assessment was probably fair. But today, given the widespread use of the cloud, users shouldn’t experience a huge change. Regardless, with any change, there should be adequate notice and training. Using your company intranet or internal social network, share the details of the upcoming VDI implementation. Create an FAQ, and be sure to extoll the benefits that employees will notice along the way. You should also set up training sessions, and include time for a question-and-answer session.
VDI can be a double-edged sword on the topic of security: Data is more secure when stored in the data center compared with endpoint devices, but the entire network may be less secure when the workforce is accessing it remotely from potentially insecure connections. Companies should implement security best practices, such as patch maintenance, regular malware scans, implementation of data loss prevention and anti-spam systems, and so on. It’s also important to go over end user security best practices with employees, such as the use of strong passwords and caution when connecting from public places.
VDI can save companies time and money, not to mention make them more secure--but only for those that understand the challenges and how to effectively address them.
Underwritten by HPE, NVIDIA, and VMware