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How does user location affect VDI capacity planning?

When coming up with a VDI capacity plan, IT must account for exactly where users are located and possibly consider an SD-WAN or edge computing.

When it comes to VDI capacity planning, IT professionals must account for where their users are located, as well...

as how users connect to their desktops.

The farther away users are from the data center, the more bandwidth the deployment requires to support them. To meet this demand, IT pros might need to increase the capacity of their local area network (LAN) more than they originally anticipated. That means expanding not only the cables that support the network, but also updating the components that connect the network together, such as routers, hubs and switches.

WAN considerations

For many organizations, the primary concern is not delivering services to users via the LAN infrastructure, but rather delivering them to the users who reside outside the corporate firewall. When users connect over a wide area network (WAN) or the internet, network limitations and transport problems can become even more pronounced, often resulting in severely degraded and unreliable performance.

Referred to as edge computing, this approach implements a local VDI deployment closer to where the users work.

IT might need to supplement or replace some WAN-specific components, such as asynchronous transfer mode switches or WAN link controllers, with newer technologies to address potential bottlenecks. IT might also need to add capacity to the WAN connections themselves by leasing additional line services, for example. Although this is a costly prospect, it can make the difference between a failed or successful VDI deployment.

Other factors to keep in mind during VDI capacity planning

When VDI capacity planning, IT must also account for network redundancy, failover and disaster recovery (DR). With VDI, users are more reliant on their network connections than ever, and they must be protected from extensive downtime and disruptions in service. IT pros must ensure that their DR systems can seamlessly limit data flow interruptions, while also accounting for the increased bandwidth requirements that come with delivering virtual desktops outside the firewall.

IT might also consider implementing software-defined WAN (SD-WAN) for automating the distribution of network traffic. SD-WAN uses software-defined networking to determine the most effective way to route traffic between branch offices and the data center. For example, Citrix NetScaler SD-WAN can automatically route traffic across broadband, wireless and Multiprotocol Label Switching network links.

Consider edge computing

Another consideration when VDI capacity planning is whether to move some of the workload processing to the branch offices themselves. Referred to as edge computing, this approach implements a local VDI deployment closer to where the users work using technologies such as converged or hyper-converged infrastructures. The challenge with this approach is that it adds to management complexities because administrators are now supporting multiple locations.

Once IT pros have a good sense of their users' locations, they should set up a pilot project and measure bandwidth consumption. Only then can they ensure that users will get the services they need when they need them.

This was last published in March 2018

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