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Dell claims VDI projects must focus more on the client used than the datacentre

Hardware giant Dell tells users that a good VDI experience requires more than just big datacentre investments

Enterprises intent on delivering a good user experience to virtual desktop users need to focus less on the datacentre and more on what type of client to use, according to Dell.

User experience has always been a major stumbling block for many projects in this area, as IT departments struggle to deliver a virtual desktop to employees that performs better and is more reliable than using a traditional PC.

To achieve this, CIOs are often required to make big datacentre investments in storage, servers and networking to ensure the desktop being delivered to the user is responsive and equipped to cope with a wide variety of tasks.

However, with more enterprises entertaining the idea of going down the converged infrastructure route when building out their datacentres, IT departments can now afford to spend less time worrying about hardware provisioning, according to Dell Cloud Client Computing marketer David Angwin. 

Instead, he added, IT should concentrate more on the client-side of virtual desktop delivery.

“In the past, the client was considered the least complex part of a desktop virtualisation environment, while the datacentre has always been really complex, and that’s where people have tended to focus their attention,” Angwin told Computer Weekly.

“Dell and others have done a lot around pre-configured architecture, appliances and all of these sorts of things over the past couple of years to really make the datacentre part of the equation much simpler to deal with.

“You still need to pay attention to the datacentre, but at the same time it’s important not to overlook the client side of things,” he added.

Particularly in light of the difference the right client can make to the security, ease of management and power consumption of an overall virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) setup, Angwin said.

Dell VDI announcements

His statements coincide with the slew of VDI product announcements Dell is planning to make at the coming VMworld US customer event in San Francisco.

These include the roll-out of an updated version of Dell’s proprietary operating system, Thin OS 8.1, which Dell claims is so small – around 10MB – and tightly coded that it is virtually immune to viruses.

The offering has been beefed up from both a security and performance point of view this time around, said Angwin.

Read more about virtual desktop infrastructure

The company is also planning to take the wraps off a revamped version of its online thin client and mobile management tool, Cloud Client Manage.

Both are geared towards helping make VDI projects easier for enterprises to plan, run and deploy from a client-side perspective, Angwin said.

“A lot of people looking at desktop virtualisation think it’s all about the datacentre, but we’re really stressing the point that the client piece matters,” he added.

“With these products you’ve got the opportunity to really simplify what is on the desktop, and whenever we talk to customers that have deployed the technology, they’ve always seen a big drop in desktop support, time and cost.”

Paolo Vecchi, CEO of open-source technology distributor Omnis Systems, told Computer Weekly there are many reasons why users tend to focus on the datacentre when it comes to VDI.

“VDI is very input/output operations per second-intensive, and VMWare and Citrix both require very expensive and complex infrastructures to run well, which often need to be coupled with flash-based arrays to cope with input/output requests,” he said.

For this reason, it can be difficult for VDI adopters to achieve a fast return on their investments, unless they take a more desktop-centric approach to deployment, added Vecchi.

“It is undeniable that VDI can bring huge benefits to many types of organisations in the private, public and education sector but for most of them is still more cost-effective to use automated software deployment on PCs than invest in new traditional VDI infrastructure,” he said.

Read more on Virtualisation management strategy

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