Why VDI?

Posted on October 22, 2013 by Adam Burnham

Earlier this month, we brought together our partners VMware, Cisco, Nimble Storage and Broadleaf Services, as well as plenty of interested IT professionals for lunch and an intensive afternoon of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) education and discussion. Topics ranged from what is driving VDI deployments, what some of the key benefits of VDI are and how to get started.photo 3

Four major VDI drivers were identified and discussed at the event:

1) Microsoft Windows 7 (and 8) migration – These upgrades are a reason for companies to consider moving to a VDI instead of undergoing a costly and time-consuming migration to the new software every few years. The timing would be right to change the process at the same time and to make the next upgrade cost less.

2) Outsourcing – Many companies today hire partners to do tasks that are not part of their core competency – think accounting, HR, etc. The issue is that these outsourced partners typically need access to your system, and a VDI can make it easier to connect your outsourced partners and to ensure they only have access to what you need them to use.

3) Mobile Users/Remote Offices – Employees in this day and age like to work from where they are. Period. By enabling desktop access from anywhere, you give them what they need to do their jobs successfully while also being able to control security as they connect to your network. While BYOD’s acceptance has made it important to allow employees to access their desktops from any device, at any time, this has only increased the importance of protecting what can be accessed on your network. With VDI, costs are lowered as you do this because desktops and users can be managed centrally.

4) Business Continuity – Support is performed remotely; new computers are provisioned quickly in case of lost or damaged devices; and a remote operation can be quickly set up in cases of disaster recovery.

Several benefits of VDI deployments were discussed at the gathering – many that would be useful to pair with an above need to help sway your company/your boss that now is the time to shift to VDI. These benefits include IT support cost savings; improved company security; quicker onboarding or deletion of employees from the system; increased employee productivity/less downtime; more efficient, safe outsourcing; easier and less costly upgrade and update management; ability for IT team to work on more strategic matters as they’re spending less time managing the process .

So once you have buy-in, what’s next? The folks assembled at Markley agreed that there is a four-point macro-level plan to get started with VDI:

  • Step 1: Assess: You should review your organization and understand your infrastructure and storage needs based on performance, data and application usage. What are your network requirements? How much bandwidth do you need? Storage can really be what drives up cost-per-seat, so be sure to look at worst-case scenarios. Part of this should also be classifying users in different groups – and, of course, establishing the criteria for return-on-investment (ROI) at the start, so you can measure success.
  • Step 2: Design: Next, you should aim to leverage use-cases to define infrastructure needs, including storage. Look at sizing tools and pre-defined architectures to figure out exactly what your organization needs to be successful. Plan out every aspect of the process from what you need, to how you roll it out. Do your laptops and/or mobile devices have enough memory? Are there certain groups of employees that need more memory/increased performance than other groups?
  • Step 3: Deploy: Use a phased approach to migrating users to VDI. Start with your most tech-savvy employees and work your way through the company, creating a successful deployment story as you go, empowering employees to help when there are questions, and enabling you to fine-tune things along the way. Set up monitoring of the complete environment, track key metrics and listen to user feedback along the way.
  • Step 4: Grow: Scale your infrastructure and add additional users as you go. Make adjustments as needed, in real-time, based on ROI and how you match up with your expectations.

All in all, it was a great day – and very informative for our attendees. Following the sessions, the attendees and partners toured New England’s largest and longest operating multi-tenant, mission-critical telecommunications and data center facility here at Markley Group to see firsthand how the company’s history of data center excellence and cloud services can assist their VDI deployments.

Look for future opportunities as we close out 2013 and head to 2014 to connect with these partners in the halls of Markley Group. We’re working on planning some future events, so stay tuned!