Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) is an in-demand technology from organisations looking for greater efficiency along with reduced CapEx and OpEx IT costs. VDI adoption is currently more common in healthcare and other public sector organisations, but is becoming popular for supporting structured-task workers in call centres, kiosks and trading floors as well as for providing secure remote access. According to Gartner, the growth in hosted virtual desktop services will come from hybrid-cloud infrastructures.
But adopting VDI can throw up new complexities and with the opaque nature of hybrid-cloud infrastructures, deploying and optimising VDI performance can become a daunting task. That means there is an opportunity for solution providers to offer a guiding hand, with expert advice and best practices, to help simplify operations, smooth the transition to hybrid-cloud environments and ensure a successful VDI implementation. Here are seven steps to VDI profitability for you to consider:
Step 1: Develop a compelling business case
Solution providers, system integrators, managed service providers and their vendors, need to work together to help customers understand the business case for VDI hybrid-cloud migration. This includes everything from deployment, setup and maintenance to licensing and ongoing support. It is important to evaluate the VDI pathway to ROI and SLA attainment and understand the challenges around regulatory compliance, while also providing stakeholders with information, including organisational costs to justify the migration.
Step 2: Assess the existing infrastructure
Provide a complete assessment of the virtual infrastructure and storage requirements to determine the right percentage of the virtualised environment and hypervisor vendor mix, along with complete distribution details. You will also need to review the performance and capacity considerations of the storage system including network storage and attached storage assets, along with the supporting security framework.
Step 3: Evaluate the user environment management
Break down the user environment between two categories: employee users and non-employee users and differentiate between knowledge users and task users. Be sure to consider important metrics like desktop requirements, monitor support, profile persistence, and audio profiles. Perform a virtualisation assessment to determine the total number of users, device drivers and average load time, along with user experience requirements.
Step 4: Assess profile location and user personality
Evaluate existing desktop metrics including storage, memory, offline needs, central processing units and network. Determine mobile users, number of stationary task workers, sizing factors and offline use to develop a roadmap that clearly outlines deployment priorities; and don’t forget to include storage inferences, peak time analysis and performance evaluations.
Step 5: Map the pros and cons of application virtualisation
Examine all architectural options for a fully-flexible approach and pull together best-of-breed technologies designed to suit your customers’ business needs. Whether you opt for Citrix, Microsoft or VMware, don’t forget to consider desktop delivery and remote protocol options to make sure you are rolling into the right-fit VDI platform.
Step 6: Define a framework to facilitate a pilot
Help your customers create a custom framework based on a predefined user base and define scenarios and metrics; a dev-environment pilot or synthetic VDI project will help in testing the solution before you make the big investment. Based on the findings, you can develop a roadmap and design a VDI platform that employs best practices and reference architectures.
Step 7: Deploy and direct VDI
The implementation phase is the final and the most critical activity. It must be carefully planned to facilitate seamless user migration. Before your customer schedules a roll out timeline and implementation date, finalise the resources that meet the business needs and also improve the performance of the IT infrastructure. Don’t overlook how to execute a feedback loop that captures performance metrics and allows continual process improvement.
Getting the best out of your VDI
Whether a VDI project performs well post deployment is highly dependent upon real-time visibility of performance. When thousands of users are working in a shared live production environment, enterprises can quickly begin to encounter end-user complaints about unexpected problems. Even with a dedicated team of administrators, it can be difficult to get to the root cause and remediate the degrading condition. The situation can get acute when the performance issue is caused by transient resource contention storms across converged or conventional siloed IT environments.
Virtualised services on converged infrastructure are impacted by two main business issues: under-provisioning of resources, which can result in performance problems, while over-provisioning of resources results in efficiency problems.
Under-provisioning causes inter-workload and intra-workload resource contentions, resulting in unpredictable and transient performance. Degradation in business service delivery often results in user dissatisfaction and loss of revenue. Over-provisioning causes resources to be poorly utilised resulting in slack, directly related to unnecessary costs.
There are tools available to ensure a VDI platform does not get caught up in the complexities of contention storms, converged infrastructure conflicts and works at optimal performance levels. With real-time, highly-granular visibility into the entire VDI estate, it is possible to avoid cost overrun, save money, meet SLAs, and mitigate the risks.
Atchison Frazer is CMO at Xangati, providing performance visibility and analytics from the infrastructure to the end-user. This includes quality of experience metrics for VMware Horizon, Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop, which show connect, login and reconnect transactional response rates for many thousands of users.