Feature

Application delivery and security cause VDI angst

NEW YORK -- If you have trouble virtualizing applications, securing your data center or delivering remote desktops, you're not alone.

At TechTarget's Modern Infrastructure Decisions summit this week, speakers and attendees spoke their minds about some of the common setbacks with desktop virtualization. Deciding how to deliver applications and meet end users' needs is tricky for many organizations. For others, the problem lies with latency or weak data center security.

Check out these five quotes on desktop and application delivery to see what's plaguing IT pros.

"The desktops are easy. It's the apps that are the problem."
Ashish Patel, head of storage infrastructure for a financial asset management firm

Patel, a VMware View user, said he wants to get to 90% of apps virtualized but is finding that very hard to do. With so many diverse applications out there, it's not always realistic to deliver all your apps with the same method. Many graphics-intensive applications, for instance, don't play well with virtualization.

That's also an important consideration when you're deciding whether to use persistent or nonpersistent desktops for VDI. Since nonpersistent VDI provides users with a clone of a master desktop, admins often need app virtualization to customize the end-user experience.

"The best way to know what application your users need? Sit down and see what they're using."
Brian Katz, director of mobile engineering, Sanofi

When IT doesn't listen to its users, those users tend to go out and download their own applications to meet their needs. Whether it's on a traditional PC, virtual desktop or mobile device, you can prevent this from happening by keeping tabs on user wish lists. For instance, if they are using Dropbox to sync and store files but you don't want them using that service, look into similar tools for corporate use.

"With server-hosted desktop virtualization, the false sense of security is that you're in the data center, so you think 'we're cool.' But the data center is where the hacker wants to be."
Matt Kosht, IT manager, SEMCO Energy Inc.

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Sure, your data center network is probably more secure than your office network, but desktop virtualization security needs to happen on multiple fronts.

You need to secure the endpoint devices, whether they are thin clients, repurposed PCs or even tablets. Put a firewall between your office and data center networks so anything that gets into the office doesn't have direct access to the data center as well. And watch out for activities that require you to open the firewall a bit more, such as remote printing.

"If anyone has tried to type over a virtual desktop that's hosted in a country other than your own… ugh."
Steve Damadeo, IT operations manager, Festo Corp.

Another common challenge desktop virtualization admins face is network management. Latency can cause slow virtual desktop performance and end-user frustration, especially if the desktop is streaming from a remote data center. Make sure you have enough bandwidth to support more virtual desktops than initially you planned for, and if you're connecting over a WAN, consider optimization technologies.

"Don't put data in the cloud if it's going to make you lose sleep that it's there."
David Linthicum, senior vice president, Cloud Technology Partners Inc.

Many organizations are still wary of cloud security. If you're considering hosting virtual desktops in the cloud, you have to determine whether Desktop as a Service provides the right amount of protection for your applications and user data.

Plus, who maintains control of that data? Different vendors offer different levels of management for IT, so make sure you understand the cloud provider's policies before you hand over virtual desktops. For instance, find out whether you can install your own antivirus software and do your own patch management.


This was first published in April 2013

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