Virtual desktop solutions require careful thinking around capacity planning, security, user experience, BYOD and resource management.
VDI took the market by storm and many thought it was the direct answer to many of their desktop problems. Initially, there were some challenges because data center managers never really understood the requirements of the early VDI technologies. In the early days, there were some flawed VDI deployments. The situation has naturally changed as the technology has matured, but with any deployment, each organization will have specific business requirements. Regardless, there are five key steps that IT managers should always follow when embarking on a VDI project.
1. Pay attention to sizing and capacity requirements. Sizing and capacity planning are absolutely critical factors when creating a VDI environment. Is data being stored on spinning disks or is all flash storage required? What about graphics needs? Will you have a large number of users launching VDI sessions all at once (aka, a boot storm)? User settings and workload location all require space. However, I/O is another consideration. For example, a boot storm or massive spike in usage can cripple a storage area network (SAN) that is not prepared for such an event. Through monitoring I/O and controller metrics, administrators can make decisions which will determine performance specifics for their storage system. Solid-State Disk (SSD) or onboard flash cache may help prevent spikes in I/O.
2. Establish good security practices. There are several security considerations for any VDI project. First think about how you will apply anti-virus protection. In some cases, your VMs will require greater levels of insight and visibility, so you’d want to deploy agent-based AV technologies. However, if you’ve got a kiosk running a locked-down VM with little user interaction, a simple agentless solution can help. Data loss prevention (DLP), intrusion prevention services (IPS) and intrusion detection services (IDS) each provide granular security controls around VDI. For example, if Social Security numbers are getting transferred within a network against protocol, these types of systems can catch it and stop it from happening.
3. Control BYOD and the end-point. VDI is a very diverse technology. This means you can bring rich desktop experiences to a number of different types of end-points and devices. For any BYOD initiative, have a sound device and user control policy in place. Provide a list of supported devices to help ease the burden of managing too many types of devices. Monitor thin clients, zero clients and even kiosks to know who is accessing the device, and that they are following corporate security policies and procedures.
4. Consider the user, their experience and efficiency. How you set up and manage user profiles, deliver applications and monitor user performance are all important considerations. Within the hypervisor and VDI management ecosystem, you can set granular controls around user access, device-based policies and even application delivery. For instance, admins using VMware vSphere can set AV scan schedules, ensure the integrity of storage repositories, and integrate with other security technologies.
5. Use the power of virtualization for better management. A solid management plan can make all the difference in the success of your VDI deployment. For example, golden images and server provisioning helps administrators quickly provision resources to VDI workloads. Similarly, hypervisor VM redundancy capabilities (how VMs failover if there is an event) allow you to create powerful high availability and resiliency policies. Remember, today’s VDI ecosystem is a lot smarter. You can now set specific alerts and monitoring thresholds to find issues before they become major problems.
Finally, don't forget about management and training. Take the time to learn the key metrics for keeping a virtual environment proactively healthy. Educate your staff so that they can not only support the end-user more efficiently, but they can take full advantage of the virtual infrastructure.
Underwritten by HPE, NVIDIA and VMware.