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4 unforeseen challenges of running VDI in the cloud

VDI in the cloud is different than an on-premises deployment, even if you take the lift-and-shift route. Here's what to expect during a transition to the cloud.

If your CIO says cloud in just about every sentence, there's a high probability you will be transitioning VDI resources to the cloud. There are many benefits associated with VDI in the cloud, but you may run into some unforeseen problems.

Let's walk through some similarities and differences, with a focus on a few unexpected challenges, so you as an IT admin may be better prepared for the transition.

The same, but different

A VM is a VM is a VM, right? Not quite. Deploying a new VM in the cloud is basically the same as an on-premises environment, although the administrative interface and functionality of each cloud provider varies. You can expect a learning curve, no matter which provider your organization chooses.

One option to transition to VDI in the cloud is to use a lift-and-shift strategy. During this process, you migrate workloads and data from your on-premises environment to the cloud without making any changes to applications or authentication methods. By doing this, your environment is essentially the same, just housed in another data center.

While this is certainly easy and fast, you may consider other options instead. As you plan to transition away from on-premises Citrix VDI, you can eliminate the need to maintain the Citrix Gateway, StoreFront and other infrastructure servers by adopting Citrix Cloud.

Less control

You can expect a learning curve, no matter which provider your organization chooses.

While the gains far outpace the deficits, the cloud is essentially compute rental within someone else's data center. That means your computing resources are not running under your full control. You can deploy cloud-based virtual desktops and servers, reboot them and assign network configurations, but the ultimate ownership of that data center belongs to the provider. If a Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Platform data center experiences a major failure, you can't do much about it, except expect that it won't be a good day.

Troubleshooting problems

Troubleshooting can be more complex, because you don't have access to the base hypervisor or the multi-tenancy configuration. If infrastructure servers are controlled by a third party, such as Citrix Cloud, it's not possible to self-help by reviewing the Citrix Gateway or Delivery Controller logs in order to assess an issue. Instead, you must work with tech support to resolve many issues.

Cost concerns

Moving to the cloud likely won't be less expensive than your on-premises VDI resources. Most cloud bills are based on resource consumption, so you can reduce costs using Citrix's Autoscale feature, for example, and minimizing the number of virtual machines that are running at all times. 

Most people work a 40-hour week, and there are 168 hours in a full week. So, if you can turn off your VDI resources 50% to 75% of the time, your savings will be notable. However, 24-hour operations, such as hospitals and some government agencies, don't have this option.

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