infoTECH Feature

April 07, 2017

3 Tips for SMBs in the VDI Market

By Special Guest
Patrick Brennan, Atlantis Computing

In today’s modern workforce, employees are just as comfortable meeting in coffee shops as they are in conference rooms. Small- and medium-business leaders see the need to support employees who work outside the confines of the physical desktop or office, offering the flexibility to work from any location. IT must be just as flexible to meet the changing needs of growing numbers of workers.

Many organizations turn to Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to meet these needs with a consistent desktop experience across multiple devices, eliminating the need to manage individual systems, instead having just one centralized resource management process.

VDI environments don’t come so easy with SMBs who lack the time, budget and resources to experiment with VDI. However, there are some steps that can simplify VDI and bring a new deployment within reach for SMBs. 

Offer the Best User Experience while Remaining Within Budget

The top requirement for any VDI is a great user experience. IT wants to deliver a standard for performance while keeping costs low. VDI requires some planning to succeed, and it always comes down to user experience. If the user experience suffers, the VDI project will fail.

Success isn’t just simply cost savings or better performance but a balance of priorities. The cost of a VDI project includes the upfront capital expense, consulting and infrastructure (compute, storage, networking, virtualization and associated software). Performance is directly correlated to cost; a lack of budget can result in lower performance, and incorrect sizing and scale, all of which would impact user experience.

Workers transitioning from a standard PC to a virtual desktop expect equal or better performance, yet most VDI deployments provide a fraction of the storage performance required per desktop. The most critical aspects of user experience such as boot (startup), logon, application launch and search require vast amounts of storage performance. Often, to lower the cost of VDI, critical features and functionality are turned off, which are tradeoffs that could impact overall productivity.

SMBs can improve performance and simplify management by using emerging technologies such as software-defined storage that create new resources out of existing hardware or hyperconverged appliances that integrate compute, storage, virtualization and networking into a single device. These solutions can increase the disk performance of the VDI desktops to 6x to 10x that of a PC

Combine Compute, Storage and Networking with Virtual Desktop Deployment and Management

For workspaces, IT can eliminate a jigsaw puzzle of multiple tools and processes by combining compute, storage and networking with virtual desktop deployment and management. Businesses can simplify different deployment and delivery models, eliminate unnecessary management tools and infrastructure components, and reduce effort required to architect, design, and deliver the VDI.

Pre-integrated VDI products not only make it easier for businesses to deploy virtual desktops and server-hosted applications, but to also slash costs and increase the ease of scale. Automation features help administrators quickly set up users with their application environments per their role, department or function within an organization. An integrated workspace stack, computing power and all-flash storage provides growing enterprises with a VDI platform that supports a healthy number of users to start and grows with their organizations.

Along the way, IT departments can lower the cost of the workspace and gain new single-pane management that provides automated, dynamic workspace provisioning, monitoring, analytics and reporting.

Protect Employee Data

Employees using traditional desktops and laptops present huge problems in data protection, because if the hardware fails and the data hasn’t been backed up, that data is probably gone. To avoid this, IT needs to regularly back up the devices; protection for VDI is a mission critical component for employee productivity every day. Even the smallest businesses need IT to support RPO/RTO goals to ensure 24/7 access to corporate data.

VDI simplifies data protection because each user’s computer is basically a centrally managed virtual machine. IT can better protect the resources for virtual desktops and hosted applications using a combination of granular, space-efficient snapshots and replication at the volume level across multiple locations. One administrator can manage data replication between these sites as a single entity. Policies can be set to ensure snapshots are taken regularly, retained for a specified time for compliance and replicated to a remote site or cloud service for disaster recovery purposes.

A few years ago, VDI was once thought to be a technology project that only large enterprise IT organizations had the know-how or budget to tackle. Today, emerging technologies and approaches in software-defined storage and hyperconvergence can make VDI a much simpler and cost-effective strategy for SMBs. By looking for opportunities to integrate workspace management software with infrastructure management, growing enterprises can dramatically balance cost and performance to ensure the best user experience. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle

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