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How to plan a VDI test before a full deployment

Whether IT is running VDI for the first time or simply tweaking the back-end hardware, testing VDI is a complex but necessary part of deploying virtual desktops.

When IT professionals deploy VDI, they can run into many potential pitfalls, including over- and under-provisioned...

resources, delivery issues for remote workers and application compatibility problems.

Whether an organization is just setting out on its VDI journey or it's planning to make significant alterations to its existing deployment, IT must test changes before implementing any in production. IT can test a cross section of desktops and user types to understand the deployment's exact needs.

A well-executed VDI test addresses concerns around bandwidth requirements, desktop latency, application and printer compatibility and more. Once IT professionals are comfortable with the testing results, they can deploy VDI across their organization knowing they resolved issues before they even occurred.

What should IT do a VDI test for?

One of the central aspects of a VDI test is determining the resources each user requires. The storage and memory requirements of a user who runs video editing software will far surpass the needs of a user who only runs Microsoft Outlook and Word. IT pros must use a VDI test to determine just how large that resource disparity is so users can avoid performance issues.

Another resource-based aspect of a VDI test is desktop logon time. Resource shortages during boot storms can cause major delays for users attempting to log on, leading to user frustration. IT should create a boot storm during its testing to determine how logon times are affected and address the issue.

Resource shortages during boot storms can cause major delays for users attempting to log on, leading to user frustration.

For issues such as desktop performance and logon times, IT must set measurable VDI performance goals for the test results, such as maximum acceptable amounts of latency and average desktop logon time, based on its organization's needs. Some organizations might be able to handle long logon times, but others, with time-sensitive functions in fields such as banking, may be inclined to pay a high cost to minimize logon times.

How to run the test

Virtualization vendors provide testing tools in products such as VMware Workstation and Citrix Workspace that IT can use to run a test deployment.   

Each tool has its own set of directions to follow, but with VMware Workstation, IT professionals should start the testing process by defining the conditions of the VM that will run the test, including the application usage and available disk space, RAM and CPU for each desktop. IT must define the host itself, in this case, VMware's ESXi hypervisor.

Once the test deployment is ready, IT should open its virtualization platform management console, in this case, VMware vCenter, and instruct it to add the ESXi host and run the test VM. At this point, IT should integrate the VM into Active Directory (AD) to track, alter and manage the test deployment.  

What should IT do with the test results

With the results of the VDI test, IT professionals now have more information on how their performance and resource requirement estimates will hold up in reality. If the test results indicate over- or under-provisioning, then IT should rework estimates and run more tests until the VM performs at a satisfactory level.

IT pros must go beyond simply looking at logon times to determine the test's success; they must also factor in any crashes, latency issues and hardware or software compatibility problems across all user types. AD and the VDI management console provide IT with the necessary performance metrics to judge the results.

When the VDI test yields results that align with estimates, IT can move forward with its deployment plan. IT pros may encounter unexpected issues when they scale up the deployment to their entire organization, but testing the VDI plan in advance ensures that they won't be blindsided by major provisioning or performance issues.

This was last published in October 2018

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