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Four bad VDI management habits to kick in 2018

Bad habits with VDI can kill a deployment. In 2018, it will be critical to keep storage, graphics processing, thin client savings and security monitoring in mind.

The shift into a new year is a great opportunity to make some changes, including eliminating bad habits. Maybe you want to cut out those midnight snacks or stop skipping the gym.

IT should also put bad VDI management habits in the rearview mirror in 2018. Some VDI shops might have tried to cut back a little too much in the past, leading to performance problems, or they haven't made accommodations for the rise in graphics-intensive applications. Whatever the case, kicking these four bad habits when it comes to VDI management can make for a top-notch 2018.

Skimping on storage

To avoid major VDI performance problems, it's important that IT does not cut corners with storage. It is common to try and stuff as many virtual desktops into as little storage space as possible to save money. This can allow Boot storms, antivirus scans and unpredictable user behavior to clog up the UX. A lack of storage can also cause I/O latency and contention problems as virtual desktops fight for resources.

IT can use monitoring tools to make sure there is no suspicious activity on the network.

One way to combat capacity issues is to turn to an all-flash array. The price of all-flash arrays has dropped to the point where larger organizations should definitely consider the technology. With an all-flash array, VDI shops get deduplication and compression, which both work to eradicate redundant data throughout the deployment. In addition, IT can put I/O bottlenecks in the past and include more desktops per disk than with other storage methods. And now that there are multi-level and triple-level cell arrays, IT can store more than a petabyte of data, because these arrays store two or more bits per cell instead of the traditional one bit per cell.

Forgetting the security benefits of VDI monitoring

A good monitoring tool improves VDI management by giving IT professionals insight into how everything is working throughout the deployment, from the user experience down to the security measures. They can analyze how the virtual desktops are running on smartphones versus how they're running on laptops, for example.

From a security perspective, IT can use monitoring tools to make sure there is no suspicious activity on the network. If IT does notice an intrusion, it can pinpoint exactly which connection was responsible. IT pros can also combat malware by severing an infected desktop's ties to the network.

Overlooking thin clients

One way to save money with VDI is to adopt thin clients for users who only need to access a single app or web browser. The Raspberry Pi is the cheapest option, checking in at just $35. It is little more than a circuit board, so IT has to tack on memory cards, cases, keyboards and more for it to be a viable endpoint, but it's still cost-effective.

Google Chromebooks are options as well and have a range of prices. The lower-end options, such as the Dell Chromebook 11 3180, are under $400. The real savings with Chromebooks come from the time and effort IT saves on VDI management. Chromebooks run automated security audits and perform verified boots each time they power on, for example. During a verified boot, the Chromebooks scan themselves to see if any systems files have been changed. If it detects tampering, it resets itself.

VDI shops can also consider NComputing, which has a line of N-series thin clients designed to work with Citrix desktop virtualization. These thin clients, which include the N400, N500 HDX SoC and the N600, use system-on-chip technology to bring all the circuits and parts the devices need to function onto one microchip. They range in price from about $200 to $300. Igel Technology, Lenovo and HP Inc. also offer cost-saving thin client options.

Ignoring the need for better graphics processing

It might seem ridiculous that a user who only accesses Microsoft Office or works exclusively in a web browser needs the same graphics processing power as someone using computer-aided design apps, but that's the reality now. Users of all kinds need to be able to stream videos and access large visual files without any performance hiccups.

For VDI management to deliver the graphics processing goods, it should look into virtual graphics processing units (vGPUs), which take the burden off users' endpoints and place it on the host server. The devices just have to decode what the server sends their way. Nvidia offers a few vGPU options such as the Grid Virtual Applications, which can send Windows apps to Citrix XenApp or Microsoft Remote Desktop Session Host desktops. Intel also offers a vGPU product called Graphics Virtualization Technology.

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