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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.

virtualization? What is the feedback?

The feedback from organizations has been largely positive, particularly around benefits to control security and administration. On the flip side, there have been occasional concerns about maintaining consistent user experience, particularly in environment that needs to support multiple users 'booting-up' their systems at the same time. However, for many organizations, this concern can be easily addressed through storage optimization techniques that eliminate anticipated delays in system response times.

Storage is a critical part of any desktop virtualization solution. Many of the potential advantages of desktop virtualization can be limited by higher storage costs and inflexible infrastructure. In view of this, organizations building up their desktop virtualization environment should look for solutions that can:

  • Reduce VDI storage costs by deduplicating redundant data stored across virtual desktops, user directories, and backup and DR copies.
  • Provision thousands of virtual desktops in minutes with nearly instant, low-overhead storage cloning.
  • Provide users continuous access to their virtual desktops with 99.999% storage availability, automated disaster recovery, and VDI performance acceleration that addresses desktop boot or login storms.
  • Back up all virtual desktops and user data directly on the storage system while cost-effectively keeping a daily history of every desktop for months or years. Storage vendors like NetApp offer tight integration with desktop virtualization software such as Citrix

XenDesktop and VMware View to deliver the flexibility, high availability, and cost effectiveness required to maximize the virtual desktop environment.

What effort should enterprises spend on training and educating their staff before they introduce desktop virtualization?

Enterprises embarking on VDI need to be aware of organizational issues including structure and ownership policies over the PC data being centralized and virtualized. To address this, organizations must first understand fully the usage profiles and access rights of stakeholders such as desktop users, data centre administrators and end users. This will help them educate users on new work practices that may be required in the VDI environment and hence ensure a smooth transition and pleasant user experience.

IT administrators must also be trained in data management and storage best practices that will optimize the performance of a VDI environment. With the anticipated increased in storage footprint, storage efficiency technologies such as deduplication and thin  provisioning will become imperatives. Organizations should also investigate using lower cost storage (Tier 3) with appropriate levels of cache and redundancy built in for failure risks.

Is there anything else you'd particularly like to add to our discussion about VDI?

It is critical to design VDI solutions appropriately. The single biggest obstacle to VDI implementation success is when the design has been sub-optimized due to inadequate testing of the performance requirements on the network and storage. VDI design should start and end with the user experience - after all, it is end-user computing.


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