Desktop virtualization can provide secure remote access to applications and data, but the implementation comes with significant challenges.
The need to support work-from-home strategies has renewed interest in desktop virtualization. With virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI), all components of each user’s desktop environment are stored in the data center or the cloud and delivered to the user on nearly any device. By freeing the user from a physical workstation, VDI enables remote access to applications and data in a familiar desktop experience. VDI also improves flexibility, security and operational efficiency by eliminating the need to manage desktops individually.
However, VDI requires significant data center resources and can be difficult to deploy. Implementation requires extensive analysis, planning and testing as well as a broad range of technical skill sets. Organizations that are interested in pursuing desktop virtualization should partner with a technology solution provider with specific expertise in VDI.
In the past, organizations implemented VDI primarily to reduce the costs and operational overhead associated with managing traditional desktop hardware. VDI eliminates the need to push out patches and updates to individual workstations and troubleshoot any problems that arise. All of that can be done in the data center with the installation of desktop images.
Centralized management improves security by ensuring that patches and updates are installed in a timely manner. It also ensures that security policies are applied consistently across the environment and makes it possible to back up desktops using data center infrastructure.
VDI makes it faster and easier to implement new desktop applications and to deploy desktops to new employees. Generally, VDI can lower capital costs by extending hardware lifecycles — as long desktop hardware can support the VDI client, there’s no need to upgrade. Operational costs are also reduced by eliminating the need for IT personnel to perform desk-side support. Faster problem resolution increases both end-user and IT productivity.
All of these benefits are still part of the value proposition of VDI. Today, however, the primary focus is on remote access. VDI gives employees the flexibility to work from home to meet today’s social distancing requirements. Having access to virtualized desktops allows employees to be more productive, fulfill client requests more quickly and make faster decisions.
Few organizations have the data center resources needed to fully leverage VDI. If productivity and customer service are regularly dragged down by performance issues, VDI won’t be successful. Some of the implementation challenges include:
- Lack of Server Resources and Network Bandwidth. When a number of users are working remotely or participating in a bandwidth-heavy event, performance issues are all too common. “Boot storms” caused by users simultaneously logging into virtual desktops at the beginning of the workday are also notorious for causing bandwidth bottlenecks. Organizations need to have more than enough server resources and network bandwidth to weather these and other storms.
- Insufficient Storage. Storage represents a major challenge because all virtual desktop environments are centrally stored on servers, and images and data from virtual desktops are constantly being updated. Organizations will need to implement high-performance, highly scalable storage to meet these demands.
- Licensing Requirements. Organizations that utilize VDI will likely need to purchase licenses for virtual desktop clients as well as the operating systems and applications for each virtual machine. Licensing requirements can be highly complex and difficult to manage.
All of this underscores the need to choose a technology provider that can help you evaluate the viability of VDI for your organization and develop the most effective strategy. Working with an experienced technology provider will help ensure a successful VDI implementation and a high-quality experience for your remote users.