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VDI and the Asian CIO

Ross O. Storey | March 4, 2011
MIS Asia editor Ross O. Storey discussed the emergence of VDI with NetApp's strategic consultant, Ajoy Philip.

Virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) is expected to be a major growth area for Asia enterprises over the next three years to 2014.

MIS Asia editor Ross O. Storey discussed the emergence of VDI with NetApp's strategic consultant, Ajoy Philip.

 What is your definition of desktop virtualization and your description of the concept?

Desktop virtualization can be broadly defined as creating individual client computing power from centralized compute, storage and applications. Each virtual machine contains a virtual machine monitor or desktop that allocates resources dynamically and transparently. Multiple operating systems run concurrently on a single physical computer and share hardware resources with each other. Additionally, different virtual machines allow multiple network subscribers to maintain individual desktops and applications on the same physical computer.

Enterprises in Asia have not yet warmed to the idea of desktop virtualization. Why do you think this is so and what stands in the way?

In tandem with the increased adoption of virtualization technologies, there is a growing interest in the virtualized desktop infrastructure (VDI) among Asian organizations. This is largely due to the anticipated savings in costs associated with desktop maintenance, which makes up a large portion of IT budgets in many companies.

Even so, VDI is staying on the fringe in many IT environments. In Asia, the reasons include the cost per seat of virtualized desktops relative to using physical desktops, maintaining a positive user experience and aligning organizational structures to support a virtualized desktop world.

Costs: Virtualized desktop installations require significant data storage. Having desktops virtualized on a server does not take away the need to maintain desktop disk images. In reality, the cost of centralized storage is significantly more than using internal disks on personal computers (PCs). However, this concern can be easily addressed by leveraging on storage efficiency technologies such as snapshots to reduce the number of images in storage, de-duplication of data to remove similar copies of disk data and thin provisioning to avoid overprovisioning capacity for storing images.

User Experience: The centralized storage and administration of desktop images presents a risk of managing simultaneous boot-up of multiple desktops, for example, during morning or after lunch hours. This significantly increases the input/output activity (boot storm) which can cause delays in provisioning data and in turn affects the user experience. Increasingly, virtualization and storage vendors are adding cache capabilities to their storage layers so that data can be easily cached till the storm is over. Virtualization vendors are continuing to improve the speed of WAN and LAN protocols that will also

reduce latency of data and enhance the user experience in a centralized storage environment.

Data usage and ownership: Managing data diversity in a centralized storage environment is challenging. A large number of users, combined with the broad range of data types, can create dynamic shifts in storage requirements. For example, frequent deletion of the temporary files by users can swing storage requirements by 15 to 40 percent. Data ownership is also an area of concern in a VDI


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