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TetherView desktop disaster recovery offers a way into VDI

With standby virtual desktops from TetherView, IT can forgo full-fledged backup data centers for disaster recovery. The company CEO details use cases for the technology and more.

Many people view VDI as too expensive or complicated, but it has come a long way since its inception. With new...

technology from TetherView for desktop disaster recovery, IT pros might be more likely to try VDI on for size.

TetherView, a private cloud and virtual desktop provider in Oceanport, N.J., now offers nonproduction standby virtual desktops, which it hosts for customers in TetherView's own private cloud to serve as a fail-safe when something goes wrong. Organizations can purchase standby desktops as one-for-one replicas of specific physical or virtual desktops, or in desktop pools that are not specific to any one user. Customers are allowed to use the standby virtual desktops in production for 10 days a year. The company uses a flat-fee model and charges per virtual desktop for both its hosted production and standby options. 

Here, TetherView CEO Michael Abboud explains where the idea for standby desktops came from, the use cases for desktop disaster recovery (DR) and other scenarios, as well as how this model could affect VDI adoption. 

How did you develop the idea for standby virtual desktops?

Michael Abboud, TetherView CEOMichael Abboud

Michael Abboud: An investment bank -- they'll go out, and they'll lease a 10,000-square-foot space that's geo-redundant from their primary location. They'll keep it cold, they'll stage it with a bunch of computers, and they'll have machines and servers ready to go. That's not really efficient, because during a disaster, the biggest challenge is moving the people. Let's assume it's a natural disaster; your down time is going to be just as much, if not greater, [if] they can't get to that DR site.

This idea of standby virtual desktop does a couple of things. It's a low barrier of entry for you to test out VDI. It is cheap. It's a real business continuity solution, because you're not having to recover to anything. It's much quicker and reduces your recovery time objectives ... because, now, the users can access their virtual desktops from any machine, anywhere.

What is the goal of standby virtual desktops for IT?

It's a low barrier of entry for you to test out VDI.
Michael AbboudCEO, TetherView

Abboud: True business continuity. The recovery point doesn't have to be something as catastrophic as a hurricane. It can be something as simple as, 'I left my laptop in a taxi, and I'm on my way to a presentation. Now what?' You just pick up any device, anywhere, anyplace, anytime, and you can access the standby virtual desktop. It could be, 'My laptop needs an update, or I'm going to get a new laptop.' So, it could have other uses besides traditional [desktop] disaster recovery pieces in giving you flexibility.

The desktops can literally be a one-for-one replication of your production desktop. It also gives you a way to dip your toe into this idea of virtual desktops and [the cloud].

TetherView's private cloud
TetherView's private cloud setup

In addition to desktop disaster recovery, what are the ideal use cases?

Abboud: If you're doing an upgrade, a hardware refresh or you're doing a move. The standby virtual desktop gives you that extra layer of flexibility and agility to address whatever it is you might be facing. A security breach like the Intel security breach on your physical machines, [for example]. This allows you to say, 'OK everybody, turn those machines off right now. Go to your standby virtual desktop for the next two days until we [can] address this threat.'

It's most applicable to organizations that look at disaster recovery and are paying a lot of money for [it].  We find that this also gets the conversation started about, 'Why am I not using virtual desktops in production anyway?' Right now, I would say about eight out of 10 conversations that we have that start out with standby virtual desktops turn into production desktop conversations.

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Would you use standby virtual desktops as a DR option? Why or why not?
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I am curious to see how you can replicate my production environment in real time and keep it up to date.
Especially for a large organization - you would have to run live replication to the DR site where those VDIs and file servers are located.
Also, VDIs are accessed through the internet and what it my internet goes down? Would a cellular hotspot have enough bandwidth to support a seamless connection?
You guys should do a deeper study on TetherView - they have some very bold claims.
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