Today's virtual and remote desktop management: A guide to fitting in

How VDI fits into the new desktop management

With so many types of endpoints nowadays, desktop virtualization brings the winds of change to traditional IT shops everywhere.

With remote workers and virtual PCs in the mix, desktop management just isn't the same anymore.

In many organizations, the endpoints that IT now has to manage include remote and virtual desktops, as well as mobile devices. Desktop virtualization brings major challenges when it comes to monitoring, security, customization and the end-user experience.

At the same time, IT pros can use virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) and Remote Desktop Services (RDS) to deliver applications to those endpoints in a simpler, more efficient way. But virtual desktop management is a whole new ballgame, and IT needs to remember that these technologies require different techniques for backup, disaster recovery and more.

Desktop virtualization plays a big role in the changing face of endpoint management, so it's time to consider how this trend fits into your organization. This guide covers all you need to know about managing your remote and virtual desktops in the virtual, mobile age.

Table of contents:

Desktop virtualization brings new ways to deliver apps

Now that desktop virtualization is an option for many organizations, IT shops need to consider when it's a good idea to deploy virtual desktops. There are many evolving ways to deliver desktops and applications.

Desktop virtualization comparison: VDI vs. RDS
If you have diverse endpoints to manage, you'll find that different types of users will benefit from VDI and RDS. With VDI, each user's desktop runs on its own virtual machine (VM) -- making them more secure. But, that also means you'll run into heavy usage times that can strain VM storage. Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services tool allows users to remotely access desktops and applications and tends to provide better high availability.

Who should really use virtual desktops?
Endpoint management is all about the user. Before you implement virtual desktops, you need to evaluate your VDI users and determine who needs what. For instance, do you have remote, mobile or roaming users? Are you providing virtual desktops for executives or power users? Desktop virtualization means you can tailor desktop and application delivery options according to specific users' needs.

Breaking down application delivery options
As desktop management evolves, your application delivery choices are changing too. If you're considering alternative ways to deliver applications, look into VM-hosted apps, reverse seamless windows and other options. Installing applications locally to your desktops is no longer the most cost-effective or streamlined method.

When is VDI right for desktop application delivery?
In the virtual world, desktop management is about delivering apps in the most efficient way to provide the best user experience. Deploying VDI across your entire organization isn't always the best way to deliver some applications. Application streaming or remote delivery options might be a better bet.

The rise of BYOD and remote desktop management

Not only has virtualization changed desktop management, but it's altered the when, where and how of data access. Employees' mobility is increasingly becoming a force to be reckoned with. When it comes to remote and mobile access to corporate information, desktop virtualization can make device management simpler -- but it's not without challenges.

Data access control methods for BYOD security
The bring your own device (BYOD) trend goes hand-in-hand with desktop virtualization. Many organizations now want to provide access to workers' desktops and data anywhere. But BYOD security is a major issue, and IT needs to gain control of endpoints before you sign off on a mobile initiative.

How application streaming and VDI can improve BYOD security
Desktop virtualization and application streaming can calm some of IT's fears about BYOD security. With a VDI session, mobile users can access desktops and apps that are hosted on the company's back-end servers instead of on the devices themselves. Because of this new angle to endpoint management, client components have become an important part of providing roaming access.

Connecting to Remote Desktop Services in a mobile world
Microsoft's remote desktop and application delivery tool, Remote Desktop Services, isn't just for desktops anymore. Employees want to connect to virtual desktop sessions from mobile devices, but IT needs to take into account security measures, network access and support.

Desktop virtualization isn't server virtualization

Many IT pros wrongfully assume that server virtualization is similar to desktop virtualization. But if you're going to support virtual desktops and remote sessions, you need new tactics for monitoring, securing and managing those devices.

Why server virtualization tools won't work for VDI monitoring
Virtual desktops are more unpredictable than virtual servers because users have more control. (Users determine when to power their virtual desktops on and off, for example.) Plus, each user has different demands that can affect VDI performance, such as if they use graphics-heavy apps. Other VDI components to monitor include connection brokers and licensing servers.

VDI storage requirements: Do you need a new array?
Choosing how to configure storage for VDI is one of the most important decisions you'll make. You need to make sure you have enough space for ever-changing virtual desktop needs. Determine whether you need a completely new storage array or if you can segregate virtual and physical desktop loads on one system.

Preparing your network for VDI
Before you implement virtual desktops, sketch out the potential network demands. VDI tends to increase latency and decrease throughput, so it's especially important to monitor your peak usage times. VDI network performance also depends on whether you have connected or disconnected VDI.