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3 VDI implementation best practices for IT to follow

When IT plans for VDI, it must factor in VDI implementation best practices, such as user habits and the applications users require, to ensure that they don't run into performance problems.

When IT begins planning for VDI, there are numerous VDI implementation best practices it should employ.

VDI presents many benefits, including centralized IT management. To take full advantage of these benefits, IT must consider its users' needs, which vary significantly from organization to organization. These needs should dictate how IT builds, maintains and makes changes to its VDI.

Factor in user location

Considering user location is one of the essential VDI implementation best practices. The greater the distance between the user and the data center, the more bandwidth he requires for his workstation to function properly. Connections to the organization's data center via a WAN require a lot of planning from IT to provide suitable desktop performance for users.

IT can divide users into four categories based on the locations from which they work. Local users who work exclusively on site with direct access to the LAN are the simplest user type to factor in because they always work with direct access to the infrastructure.

Delivering desktops to remote users can be a costly endeavor if the users are far away from the data center.

With remote users who work from one consistent, off-site location and roaming users who alternate between on-site work and remote work, IT can plan to deliver desktops to specific off-site locations to ensure that users can connect to their desktops

To deliver desktops to off-site locations, IT may have to upgrade network hardware components, such as WAN link controllers, to confront bottlenecking issues. Delivering desktops to remote users can be a costly endeavor if the users are far away from the data center.

Mobile users who work from unpredictable locations are very tricky to account for. If an organization has many mobile users, VDI may not be a good option. If IT pros have no choice but to work with mobile users, they should consider investing in edge computing, which redistributes processing to the outer limits of a network and as close to the endpoints as possible.

Consider worker type

User behaviors, such as when users start their work day and what applications they use, can also influence an organization's VDI needs.

Another example of the VDI implementation best practices IT must factor in is when users boot their devices. When organizations have many users that boot their devices at the same time, VDI may not be able to handle all the data requests. These boot storms can elongate the time it takes for devices to start.

IT has a few options to address boot storms. Adding IOPS, a unit of storage measurement that denotes the maximum number of reads and writes that can occur in a data transfer between different storage locations, can help improve VDI performance at peak usage times. IT can also boot desktops before the wave of user boots, which can prevent boot storms entirely.

One of the most essential VDI implementation best practices is factoring in different worker types. It is common for IT to encounter task, kiosk, knowledge and power workers. Task workers who typically only work with a few simple applications for repeatable tasks and kiosk workers who work with shared, public devices can easily use nonpersistent desktops.

Power users who work with more resource-intensive applications and knowledge users who require an array of applications, including office productivity apps, are better candidates for persistent desktops because they likely need to retain certain settings from session to session.

Understand how VDI affects other systems

IT may run into issues with other systems after deploying VDI. These concerns boil down to issues with IP address and bandwidth consumption.

Organizations that use physical desktops with thick clients -- devices with most or all of the virtual resources hosted in the machine -- only require one IP address for the desktop and the device.

Thin clients -- low-cost endpoints that rely on the network to deliver most of the virtual resources -- actually take up two IP addresses. The thin client itself requires one IP address and the virtual desktop requires another. If users work with more than one device, each device they use to access their virtual desktops requires its own IP address, as well, which can more than double or triple the IP addresses that each user needs.

A good example of VDI implementation best practices is using IP address management tools to monitor address consumption, anticipating the total number of addresses needed per user, and planning ahead so virtual desktops do not deplete the organization's IP address pools.

VDI also consumes a significant amount of internet bandwidth when users access desktops from outside the company firewall. If IT does not account for the increase in bandwidth consumption, it can slow down other company networks and harm the overall user experience.

Bandwidth consumption also depends on how users work with their virtual desktops. Video streaming, for example, consumes much more bandwidth than using Microsoft Outlook.

There are no magic tricks for reworking users' bandwidth consumption, so IT must anticipate this potential variable and build its back-end hardware accordingly.

This was last published in September 2018

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